As Amnesty International published an anonymous 85-page report condemning Israel on Thursday, NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem-based charity watchdog, highlighted the backgrounds of Amnesty’s researchers, several of whom were full-time anti-Israel activists before joining the human rights group.
Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s international legal counsel, told The Algemeiner on Thursday, “We are not sure who wrote the report because Amnesty doesn’t say — in violation of NGO fact-finding guidelines established by the International Bar Association.”
The only name associated with the report, on its press release, was Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, who has managed to leave few footprints anywhere online; even Luther’s public LinkedIn profile provides little clue to his experience or credentials.
The cover photography from the report was courtesy of Haim Schwarczenberg, who describes himself as a “photographer and activist in Israel” on the anti-Israel blog Mondoweiss, to which he contributed a report last year. Schwarczenberg’s Facebook account features a stream of hundreds of photos showing Arabs igniting tires to hurl at soldiers, aiming slingshots, and, of course, throwing rocks at the Israel Defense Forces.
Herzberg said that what NGO Monitor has been able to confirm is that “the Israel researcher based in London, Deborah Hyams, was a human shield in Beit Jala; the Amnesty US Israel researcher, Edith Garwood, used to be a member of the International Solidarity Movement. Also, another one of the researchers, Rasha Abdul-Rahim, describes herself as ‘a ranty Palestinian activist‘ on Twitter.
“Again, I don’t know if any of these people worked on the report, but their hiring certainly shows that Amnesty doesn’t care about objectivity or the credibility of its reporting,” Herzberg said.
In a 2012 research note, NGO Monitor said, “Amnesty claims that it maintains a policy of ‘impartiality’ and is unbiased in its research of allegations of human rights violations.”
“Despite this claim, Amnesty employs an anti-Israel activist as a researcher in its ‘Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority’ section,” NGO Monitor said.
“This individual, Deborah Hyams, has a well-documented history of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and, correspondingly, weakens Amnesty’s credibility and claims of neutrality.”
On its website, NGO Monitor elaborated on Hyams’s extensive background in anti-Israel activism. In 2001, when Hyams volunteered as a “human shield” in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, it was to deter Israeli military responses to recurrent gunfire and mortars targeting Jewish civilians in Jerusalem. In 2002, Hyams stated that some “of Israel’s actions, all the way back to 1948, could be called ‘ethnic cleansing.’” In 2008, she was signatory to a letter claiming Israel is “a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land.”
Prior to joining Amnesty, Hyams worked for “some of the most radical political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict,” according to NGO Monitor, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), Rachel Corrie Foundation, and Ma’an Network. “Any of these affiliations should have been a red flag for Amnesty,” the watchdog said.