BDS IN THE PEWS
Amnesty International (AI)
February 23, 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.”
- It claims to be “Independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion… it does not support or oppose any government or political system.”
- AI 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.
- Allegations of “war crimes”: Distorts international law, misusing terms like “collective punishment,” “occupying power,” and “disproportionate” in its condemnations of Israel’s Gaza policy.
- AI’s report, “Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction” (July 2009), charges Israel with “war crimes” during the conflict. The 127-page publication ignores considerable evidence that Hamas used human shields, minimizes Palestinian violations of international law, and promotes boycotts and “lawfare” against Israel.
- During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, AI unjustifiably accused Israel of “war crimes” and “deliberate attacks on civilians,” and relied on Lebanese “eyewitnesses” to allege that Hezbollah did not operate in population centers.
- 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: Campaigns for an arms embargo against Israel, while ignoring the massive flow of offensive weapons and explosives from Iran and Syria into Gaza. 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: 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 Saghal was suspended after she condemned AI’s alliance with an alleged Taliban supporter.
- “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.
- 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.
- Funding: In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, AI reported an operating budget of approximately £21 million. In prior years, £30 million represented “approximately one quarter of the estimated income likely to be raised during the year by the movement´s national sections.” The majority of the funds come from individual donors, through AI local branches.
- Although AI claims that it does not accept donations from governments or political parties, in 2008 the organization received a 4-year grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), totalling to £3,149,000. In 2010, AI received £842,000 from DFID. Amnesty International and its branches have also received funding from the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.
- 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 Q&A on the Gaza War: Many Questions, Few Answers, NGO Monitor Report, August 7, 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
Caveat Emptor: Consider Amnesty´s Non-Methodology and Lack of Credibility, NGO Monitor press release, December 8, 2014
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
Experts or Ideologues, NGO Monitor Report, February 23, 2015
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
Amnesty International´s Invented Gaza Accusations, NGO Monitor press release, November 4, 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
Statement on Amnesty's Annual Report, NGO Monitor press release, February 24, 2015