Amnesty International (AI)
|Founded||1961 by British lawyer, Peter Benenson.|
|In their own words||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.”
- 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.
- In 2016, Amnesty announced plans to open Middle East & North African regional offices in Beirut, Tunis, and East Jerusalem. The Beirut office was opened, but as of August 2017, the Jerusalem office was not functioning.
- In 2017, to mark “50 Years of Dispossession,” Amnesty introduced a campaign calling upon governments to “ban Israeli settlement goods from entering your markets, and to stop companies based in your country operating in settlements or trading in their goods – and help put an end to the cycle of violations suffered by Palestinians living under Israel’s occupation.” This language mirrors that used by the UN bureaucrats preparing the discriminatory UNHCR blacklist indicating the close cooperation between the UN and BDS organizations.
- On August 25, 2017, Amnesty posted an article on its website, accompanied by a social media campaign, to mark “50 years since Israel issued Military Order 101,” claiming that the law “punishes Palestinians for peaceful political expression.” Amnesty’s analysis of “four facts” grossly manipulates and misrepresents the law (see NGO Monitor’s analysis here).
- In August 2017, Amnesty condemned the Israeli government’s decision to close the Al Jazeera bureau in Israel, on the grounds of incitement. The NGO has no expertise on media issues.
- In July 2017, during the violence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that included the murder of two Israeli police officers, Amnesty International published a press release (July 27, 2017), based on claims originating with “Amnesty International staff at the scene” Magdalena Mughrabi. The press release accused Israel of attacking “peaceful crowds at Jerusalem holy site.” Amnesty further alleged that this was an “entirely unprovoked attack” and that Israeli police used “unnecessary and excessive force to disperse a peaceful gathering,” ignoring that Palestinian rioters “began hurling rocks at security forces” and “some stones fell at the Western Wall plaza below,” forcing the evacuation of groups of Jews praying there.
- From May 21-June 3, 2016, Edith Garwood, Amnesty USA “country specialist on Israel and Palestine”, and Alicia Koutsoulieris, Amnesty USA “case coordinator on Israel and Palestine,” toured Israel and the West Bank with Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB), American Friends Service Committee (who are listed as the official sponsors), and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). The trip participants met with Grassroots Jerusalem, BADIL, and Omar Barghouti, co-founder and Steering Committee member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). The official objective of the trip was to learn about “the effects of incarceration and detention on Palestinian society… The delegation also includes meetings with Israeli military refusers, imprisoned for their opposition to military occupation.”
- On May 28, 2016, Amnesty International hosted ICAHD-UK’s Spring Conference. One of the main goals of the conference was to “CONNECT current BDS campaigns in the UK with those in I/P [Israel\Palestine.]”
- ICAHD leads BDS campaigns, including accusations of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” etc.
- 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 superintendent 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 2016, Amnesty released the document “Time to Address Impunity: Two years after the 2014 Gaza/Israel war,” accusing Israel of war crimes. The document is filled with highly inflammatory and subjective rhetoric, such as accusing Israel of acting “above the law,” perpetrating “relentless” attacks, “unprecedented death and destruction,” “massive bombardment,” and “unrelenting onslaught.” Amnesty accuses Israel of being motivated by “revenge.”
- Accuses Israel of “Maintaining its military blockade of Gaza and therefore collective punishment of the 1.8 million inhabitants there, as well as failing, like Palestine, to comply with a UN call to conduct credible investigations into war crimes committed during the 2014 Gaza conflict.”
- 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.
- Following the 2014 Gaza War, Amnesty published a number of reports detailing Hamas’s deadly role in the war. Amnesty did not reflect these findings in its allegations against Israel.
- 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.”
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 Saghal 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.
- On May 12, 2016, Amnesty International held an event together with Al Quds Andalucía, featuring Ahmad Jaradat and Sergio Yahni of the Alternative Information Center (AIC), to mark the 68th anniversary of the “Nakba.” At the event, Irene Carretero of Amnesty International alleged that activists and human rights organizations are harassed and persecuted in order “to prevent them from supporting the BDS movement against apartheid” (NGO Monitor translation).
- 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.
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