Amnesty International claims to have a policy of “impartiality and independence,” central to its efforts to “systematically and impartially research the facts of individual cases and patterns of human rights abuses” around the world.
In sharp contrast, Amnesty International and its various country branches systematically hire researchers and campaigners with histories of anti-Israel activism. These employees write analyses on Israel that are both inaccurate and blatantly prejudiced, and advocate for BDS (boycotts, divestments, sanctions) campaigns. (A similar problem exists at Human Rights Watch, which employs anti-Israel activists – Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Country Director; Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director Middle East and North Africa Division; and Joe Stork, Deputy Director Middle East and North Africa Division – to work on Israel-related issues.)
Most recently, in 2017, Amnesty-USA hired Raed Jarrar as Middle East and North Africa Advocacy Director and Allie McCracken as North American Campaigner. These two individuals exemplify the organization’s troubling ideological approach to Israel and retreat from the universal principles of human rights.
Before joining Amnesty, Jarrar served as Government Relations Manager for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), one of the main NGOs in the US promoting BDS campaigns against Israel. The group also encourages Israeli youth to dodge the draft. In July 2015, Jarrar participated in the AFSC conference titled “Acting in Faith with AFSC” where he spoke about supporting boycotts and divestment. On July 29, 2015, Jarrar spoke at a Congressional briefing “Gaza One Year Later: The Quest for Accountability,” to “examine Israel’s misuse of US-supplied weapons in Gaza and call on lawmakers to hold Israel accountable for its violations of US and international law.” The briefing featured speakers from US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (formerly known as US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation), Adalah, and Defense for Children International- Palestine (DCI-P).
On September 9, 2011, Jarrar tweeted a cartoon celebrating the attacks on the Israeli embassy in Egypt, a fundamental violation of international law.
— Raed Jarrar (@raedjarrar) September 10, 2011
In July 2014, Jarrar promoted a petition to “Charge Benjamin Netanyahu and the apartheid state of Israel for War Crimes against Humanity,” which referred to the 2014 Gaza war as a “genocide by Israel.”
— Raed Jarrar (@raedjarrar) July 26, 2014
In January 2016, commenting on an article about Russian anti-aircraft systems and ISIS, Jarrar tweeted “yet, that same anti-aircraft system allowed #Israel to assassinate a top Hezbollah operative in Damascus,” seemingly complaining that Russia did not prevent the assassination of a terrorist leader for Hezbollah, an organization responsible for thousands of deaths in Israel and Syria.
— Raed Jarrar (@raedjarrar) January 1, 2016
On October 30, 2017, Jarrar was denied entry into Israel. He was scheduled to lead an Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) delegation from October 28 – November 10, 2017, aimed at “Learn[ing] about threats to the environment, the exploitation of natural resources, and the struggle of Palestinian communities to maintain access to land and water.” IFPB sends “3 – 4 delegations to Israel/Palestine every year,” claiming to expose the “everyday violence of war and occupation” and promotes BDS including calling to “End US Military Aid to Israel.” (According to an Amnesty press release, Jarrar was traveling to Israel for “personal reasons…following the recent death of his father.”)
On November 23, 2017, Jarrar presented his distorted version of events in an opinion article in the New York Times.
From 2011-2016, McCracken served as the co-director of CODEPINK – a leading BDS organization in the US. McCracken is also on the Board of Directors of Tree of Life, an NGO highly active in promoting BDS, and in September 2016, McCracken was scheduled to speak at a Capitol Hill briefing titled “What is BDS?” The event was cancelled following the withdrawal of congressional sponsorship. In September 2015, McCracken participated in a US Campaign for Palestinian Rights conference, giving a workshop titled “BDS 101: Building a Campaign.” In October 2014, McCracken called for the US to stop funding Israel’s military stating, “Under President Obama, we’ve actually increased US military aid to Israel, up to $3.8 billion every year…we’re giving it to Israel, which is using it to buy weapons, mostly from American weapons manufacturers, to kill people in Gaza.”
Jarrar and McCracken are not the only long-time professional anti-Israel activists employed by Amnesty. Amnesty International has been employing several individuals, including Kristyan Benedict, Saleh Hijazi, Deborah Hyams, and Edith Garwood, who have made antisemitic statements, volunteered for NGOs, such as the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that has recruited human shields for terrorists, and/or have engaged in various forms of anti-Israel activity such as BDS.