Charles Jacobs, in Jewish Advocate (‘Is it Amnesia or Amnesty’ Jan. 27, 2008), responds to Amnesty International (part of ongoing dialogue).

When even Israel’s far-left Rabbis for Human Rights warn that the 2009 UN Conference on Racism could turn into an anti-Israel hate fest like the 2001 Durban affair, then all of us should worry.

After my column on "Durban II," Joshua Rubenstein, head of New England’s chapter of Amnesty International, berated me in the Advocate for criticizing his organization’s role as enablers of anti-Israel campaigns. He said Amnesty really couldn’t do much about the 2001 UN Durban Conference, where Jews and Jewish nationalism were targeted viciously and defamed. But that’s just not true: Amnesty could have walked out – even if that meant following the lead of the U.S. State Department and, gasp, the Israeli delegation. Instead, Amnesty stayed and pretended that this was noble or courageous. But abandoning the Jews to the Durban mob was ignoble and cowardly.

The claims of Amnesty officials notwithstanding, none of the delegates who attended the NGO Forum at Durban provided any evidence that Amnesty officials actively opposed the anti-Israel agenda, which was adopted by consensus, in the first place. This time around, shouldn’t they be asked to do more than meekly regret their failure to, in Rubenstein’s words, "head off the ugly incidents that in fact did take place?" Here’s what we should ask: Will Amnesty work to ensure that the same defamation of Jews won’t happen at the 2009 Conference? Will Amnesty see to it that its obsessive and one-sided reporting on Israel won’t be used as a bludgeon in the planning for the next Durban conference? In the all-important preparatory committees, now in progress, will Amnesty try to ensure that all human rights issues will be discussed and not just the Arab-Muslim strategy of "boycott, divestment and sanctions" of "apartheid" Israel? Oh, and will Amnesty say publicly if it intends to abide by the UN Resolution (sponsored by the Islamic Conference – the most powerful UN voting bloc) that prohibits attributing to Islamism any abuse of human rights, even when the abusers are following Islamic law or custom (take, for just one small example, the murder of apostates)?

Would Amnesty go on record against anti-Jewish prejudice now by endorsing the petition that the very progressive Rabbis for Human Rights just signed? Would Amnesty publicly warn the UN not to let the human rights community’s principles be hijacked by anti-Semites and anti-Zionists – again? Would Amnesty threaten to boycott any meeting that is a repeat of Durban? Would Amnesty pull out of the Durban process – and yes, give up all the junkets and consultations and meetings, the essence of the UN gravy train – and hold an alternative, real human rights conference instead? Amnesty could really do these things – and stand up for the principles it was established to uphold. Why would it not? And if it doesn’t, why should anyone take Amnesty International seriously ever again? These are the questions that the Jewish community needs to put to Amnesty International.

Related Articles:

This article is a follow up to a December 27, 2007 article by Jacobs: "Keeping hate off the agenda", The Jewish Advocate Online.

Response to Joshua Rubenstein´s "Letter to the Editor: Conference Sets Its Own Agenda", January 04, 2008, Prof. Gerald M. Steinberg.

"Amnesty’s deep flaw", August 20, 2007, Dr. Charles Jacobs, The Jewish Advocate.