BDS IN THE PEWS
Amnesty International (AI)
August 02, 2015
Updated August 9, 2015
For updated information see "Amnesy International" Failed Methodology, Corruption, and Anti-Israel Bias" (published December 3, 2014; updated February 23, 2015).
- Website: www.amnesty.org
- Founded in 1961 by British lawyer, Peter Benenson.
- Amnesty International (AI) describes itself as a “worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all.”
- Claims to be “Independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion… it does not support or oppose any government or political system.”
- Amnesty International Secretariat: 2014 total income of £61,743,000 (accessed July 28, 2015).
- Amnesty International-UK: 2014 expenses of £23 million.
- Amnesty International-US: 2013 expenses of $34 million (latest available; accessed July 28, 2015).
- Although AI claims that it does not “accept any funds for human rights research from governments or political parties from governments or political parties,” it has received governmental funding, including from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.
- Political Advocacy: Disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation, focusing solely on the conflict with the Palestinians, misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict, and ignoring more severe human rights violations in the region.
- In violation of its policy of “impartiality,” Amnesty employs two anti-Israel activists with well-documented histories of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Deborah Hyams and Saleh Hijazi, as researchers in its “Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority” section.
- Beginning September 2015, Amnesty co-sponsored a speaking tour in the United States for Bassem Tamimi. Tamimi was convicted in 2012 of encouraging Palestinian youths to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. His appearance in a third grade classroom sparked outrage, and the school's superintendant denounced the remarks as "inflammatory." Tamimi has, in addition to inciting violence, expressed support for anti-semitic sentiments including the claim that Israelis detain Palestinian children to harvest their organs and that the Zionists control the media.
- The only resolution rejected by Amnesty-UK at its 2015 annual conference was a motion that called for the organization to take steps to address rising antisemitism in the UK.
- Allegations of “war crimes”: Distorts international law, misusing terms like “collective punishment,” “occupying power,” and “disproportionate” in its condemnations of Israel’s Gaza policy.
- In July 2015, launched an online “Gaza Platform,” to “map Israeli attacks in Gaza” during the 2014 Gaza conflict. The Platform repeats the baseless and distorted accusations of Al Mezan and Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), does not employ credible research methodology, and reflects Amnesty’s lack of military and legal expertise.
- Following the 2014 Gaza war, Amnesty published a 48-page report, “Families under the Rubble,” purporting to document “the devastating toll on civilians and civilian property was out of all proportion to any military advantage [achieved by Israel] from the attack and/or that Israel failed to take necessary precautions to minimize harm to civilians and damage to civilian objects.” By Amnesty’s own admission, its methodology in attempting to investigate was faulty and incomplete, and it cannot possibly possess the requisite information to draw meaningful conclusions.
- Published a February 2014 report, “Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank,” alleging that “Israeli forces have repeatedly violated their obligations under international human rights law by using excessive force to stifle dissent and freedom of expression, resulting in a pattern of unlawful killings and injuries to civilians.”
- AI hosted a “Russell Tribunal on Palestine” on November 8, 2010, dealing with “Corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of International Law.”
- Lawfare: On February 2, 2009, several media outlets reported that AI transferred files to the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor regarding alleged “war crimes” committed by Israel. These reports made no mention of any AI initiative regarding Hamas war crimes aided by Iran and Syria.
- AI defended the exploitation of British courts by pro-Palestinian “lawfare” activists. Amnesty-UK Director Kate Allen, along with other NGO officials, signed a letter published in the Guardian (“We must not renege on war crime laws,” January 16, 2010), protesting proposed changes to British law that would limit the unregulated access to UK judges that allows for politically motivated cases.
- Arms embargo against Israel: Amnesty regularly campaigns for an arms embargo against Israel, while ignoring the massive flow of offensive weapons and explosives from Iran and Syria into Gaza.
- In 2015, Amnesty International – UK called on Britain to cancel all arms exports to Israel, claiming that “By supplying arms – even indirectly –the UK could have helped to facilitate war crimes.”
- An April 1, 2009 press release (“Shipment reaches Israel, President Obama urged to halt further exports”) revealed that AI tracked a vessel carrying arms across the Atlantic Ocean and through the Mediterranean Sea. Amnesty-USA accompanied this report with a call for action, including letters to Secretary of State Clinton labeling Israel a “grave violator of human rights” and demanding to know the “reason behind sending these arms now.”
- Defending those linked to terror: In 2015, blogger "Elder of Ziyon" revealed that, in 2007, Amnesty campaigner Saleh Hijazi's Facebook profile picture was a photo of Leila Khaled, a PFLP terrorist and airline hijacker, while in 2012, his profile picture was a photo of Khader Adnan, a leader of the Islamic Jihad terror organization. In addition, while studying at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, Hijazi wrote his thesis on "Yasser Arafat: A Palestinian Prophet in the Formation of Palestinian National Identity."
- Following the January 2011 conviction and sentencing of Ittijah head Ameer Makhoul on charges of spying for Hezbollah, AI claimed, “Ameer Makhoul’s jailing is a very disturbing development...[He] is well known for his human rights activism on behalf of Palestinians in Israel and those living under Israeli occupation. We fear that this may be the underlying reason for his imprisonment.”
- In 2010, senior staff member Gita Sahgal was suspended after she condemned AI’s alliance with an alleged Taliban supporter.
- On August 17, 2015, a series of articles published in the Times (London) revealed that Yasmin Hussein, currently Amnesty International’s Director of Faith and Human Rights and formerly Director of International Advocacy, has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and possibly to Hamas.
- “Apartheid” rhetoric: The release of the report “Troubled Waters – Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water” (October 2009) coincided with a campaign alleging that “Israel’s Control of Water [is] a Tool of Apartheid and a Means of Ethnic Cleansing.” Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, spoke at the Amnesty-UK release of the report, as well as at other Amnesty-UK events.
- Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty UK’s “crisis response manager,” has a strong anti-Israel obsession, fueled by global conspiracy theories. On November 19, 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, he tweeted: “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon & Luciana Berger walk into a bar....each orders a round of B52s (inspired by @KarlreMarks Bar quips) #Gaza.” The three people he characterized as war-mongers are British Members of Parliament, all of whom are Jewish. (See here, here and here for more on Benedict’s anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric).
- In August 2010, the executive director of Amnesty-Finland, Frank Johansson, referred to Israel as “a scum state” on his blog. Amnesty International Australia has been accused of exercising improper oversight over its Facebook page, where several racist and antisemitic comments have been posted. One such comment states: "May god send another Hitler and rid the world from the cancer called the Jews."
- In December 2013, admitted to working with the Alkarama foundation, a Geneva-based organization claiming to promote human rights, whose Qatari co-founder, Abd al-Rahman bin 'Umayr al-Nu'aymi (Nu'aymi), has been accused of financing Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen.
- On April 21, 2012, ICAHD-UK held its Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting at Amnesty-UK’s Human Rights Action Centre. ICAHD leads BDS campaigns, including accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” etc.
- Israeli Embassy Complains to Amnesty Over Manager's Hamas Retweet, Jewish News, August 6, 2015
- Questions for Amnesty on the Rafah Report and Pseudo-Fact-Finding, NGO Monitor press release, July 28, 2015
- Amnesty's Reports on Hamas Refute Its Allegations Against Israel, Evelyn Gordon, Commentary Magazine, May 28, 2015
- Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Question of Hamas, Gaza, and Israel, Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations (Pressure Points blog), May 28, 2015
- Amnesty Using Hamas crimes as Another Excuse to Attack Israel, Elder of Ziyon, May 27, 2015
- Statement on Amnesty's Annual Report, NGO Monitor press release, February 24, 2015
- Is Amnesty International Anti-Semitic, Michael Curtis, The American Thinker, April 27, 2015
- Amnesty UK Shot Down One Resolution This Year: Tackling Antisemitism, The Algemeiner, April 21, 2015
- Amnesty International: Failed Methodology, Corruption, and Anti-Israel Bias, NGO Monitor Monograph, December 3, 2014
- Amnesty's Disproportionate Focus on Israel, NGO Monitor Report, December 7, 2014
- Amnesty International: Founding, Structure, and Lost Vision, NGO Monitor Report, December 2, 2014
- How Amnesty International Suppresses Free Speech, Alan Dershowitz, The Jerusalem Post, November 11, 2014
- Amnesty and HRW Attempt Pseudo-Investigations in Gaza, NGO Monitor press release, August 19, 2014
- Amnesty's Invesnted Gaza Accusations, NGO Monitor press release, November 4, 2014
- Media Impact: Amnesty International 'Trigger Happy' Report, NGO Monitor in the Media, March 5, 2014
- Amnesty International Report Reflects Lack of Expertise and Mythodology, NGO Monitor Press Release, February 26, 2014
- Amnesty Doubles Down on Islamism, Michael Rubin, Commentary Magazine, January 11, 2014
- Second Class Rights: How Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch Fail Women in the Middle East, Anne Herzberg (author) and Gerald M. Steinberg (editor), NGO Monitor Report, December 10, 2013
- Amnesty admits links to activist accused of funding Al Qaeda, The National, December 22, 2013
- No Impunity for HRW & Amnesty: Investigate Partnerships in Wake of Al Qaeda Allegations, NGO Monitor Press Release, December 23, 2013
- Amnesty Australia Permitting Ugly Anti-Semitic Comments on Its Facebook Page, J-Wire, December 16, 2013
- Dear Amnesty International, Do You Even Know How Drones Work?, War Is Boring blog, October 23, 2013
- Amnesty International focusing on the wrong protesters, Or Avi-Guy, AIJAC, July 9, 2013
- Amnesty’s “Administrative Detention” Report: Issues of Credibility and Bias, NGO Monitor Analysis, June 7, 2012
- Breaking Its own Rules: Amnesty’s Researcher Bias and Gov’t Funding, NGO Monitor Reports, June 4, 2012
- Human Rights Hypocrisy in Gaza, Gerald M. Steinberg, The National Post, November 20, 2012
- Amnesty International’s Moral Equivalence, Omri Ceren, Contentions blog (Commentary), October 18, 2011
- Amnesty International: Defending those linked to terror, NGO Monitor Analysis, February 3, 2011
- Statement Of NGO Monitor Int'l Advisory Board On Frank Johansson of Amnesty-Finland's Blog Post, Press Releases, August 30, 2010
- NGO Monitor letter to Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty Int'l, Correspondence, August 26, 2010
- Moral Collapse: Amnesty International in 2009, NGO Monitor Reports, May 26, 2010
Amnesty International and the Tragedy of Human Rights Day, Gerald M. Steinberg, The Times of Israel, December 10, 2015
Amnesty International Rejects Call to Fight Anti-Semitism, Stuart Winer, The Times of Israel, April 22, 2015
Amnesty´s War on Israel: Accusations of "Unlawful Killings" without Evidence", NGO Monitor Report, October 28, 2015
Why is Amnesty International Sponsoring a U.S. Tour for a Palestinian Promoter of the Blood Libel?", Yair Rosenberg, Tablet Magazine, October 16, 2015
More Amnesty Violations of Basic Ethical Standards: The Case of Yasmin Hussein, NGO Monitor report, August 18, 2015
EU Research Funds Wasted on Amnesty´s Hollywood-Style CSI Adventure, Gerald Steinberg, BlogActive, August 13, 2015
Just Like Its Namesake, Amnesty´s CSI: Gaza is About Pseudo-Forensice, Naftali Balanson, The Jewish Chronicle, August 6, 2015
Nothing But Window Dressing: Amnesty International´s New "Gaza Platform", NGO Monitor press release, July 7, 2015
Amnesty´s Report on Palestinian Violations: Political Fig Leaf Without Substance, NGO Monitor analysis, March 26, 2015
Statement on Amnesty International-UK´s Rejection of a Resolution to Campaign Against Antisemitism, NGO Monitor press release, April 22, 2015
Amnesty International: Failed Methodology, Corruption, and Anti-Israel Bias, NGO Monitor monograph, December 3, 2014
Amnesty International: Founding, Structure, and Lost Vision, NGO Monitor report, December 2, 2014
Amnesty´s Disproportionate Focus on Israel, NGO Monitor report, December 7, 2014
Caveat Emptor: Consider Amnesty´s Non-Methodology and Lack of Credibility, NGO Monitor press release, December 8, 2014
Experts or Ideologues, NGO Monitor report, February 23, 2015
Amnesty´s Q&A on the Gaza War: Many Questions, Few Answers, NGO Monitor report, August 7, 2014
Another Amnesty Gaza Report Fails All Credibility Tests, NGO Monitor analysis, November 5, 2014
Findings, But Few Facts, Anne Herzberg, The Jerusalem Post, November 29, 2014
Second Class Rights: How Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch Fail Women in the Middle East, Anne Herzberg (author) and Gerald M. Steinberg (editor), NGO Monitor Monograph, December 10, 2013
International NGOs, The Arab Upheaval, and Human Rights: Examining NGO Resource Allocation, Gerald M. Steinberg, Northwestern Journal of International Human Rights, 11:1; 2012
A Farewell to Arms? NGO Campaigns for Embargoes on Military Exports: The Case of the UK and Israel, Gerald M. Steinberg, Anne Herzberg and Asher Fredman, Israel Affairs, 19:3; 2013