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.
- Amnesty International operates an office in Jerusalem under the leadership of Saleh Hijazi, former Public Relations officer for the Palestinian Authority’s Office of the Ministry of Planning in Ramallah. (See more on Hijazi below.)
Defending those linked to terror
- In September 2017, Amnesty referred to Addameer fieldworker Salah Hammouri, who was arrested on August 23, 2017, as a “human rights defenders.” Hammouri was previously arrested in 2005 for “attempting to assassinate Ovadia Yosef…and for his involvement with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.”
- 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.”
- On August 17, 2015, a series of articles published in the Times (London) revealed that Yasmin Hussein, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In December 2020, Amnesty, alongside a number of Israeli, Palestinian, and international organizations, declared that “Israel must provide necessary vaccines to Palestinian health care systems.” The NGOs falsely claim that Israel has “legal obligations” to “ensure that quality vaccines be provided to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and control,” while altogether ignoring that Palestinians residing in Jerusalem are part of the Israeli health care system; that under the Oslo Accords the PA is responsible for health care of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza; and that the PA had adopted its own vaccine policy for its population.
- In August 2020, following the Israel-United Arab Emirates peace deal, Amnesty posted on Twitter, “Make no mistake: As reported, the #UAEIsrael deal does not include Israel completely abandoning plans for further illegal annexation of the occupied West Bank, and comes while Israel continues to build illegal settlements and systematically abuse Palestinian human rights there.” Amnesty also tweeted that “No diplomatic deal can change the legal obligations of Israel as the occupying power under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, nor deprive Palestinians of their rights and protections guaranteed under international law.”
- In March 2020, Amnesty supported the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s decision to launch an investigation against Israel because “For over half a century Israel has committed crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations in both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”According to Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director Phillip Luther, “Today’s decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is a historic step towards justice after decades of war crimes and other crimes under international law committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This announcement offers a crucial opportunity to break the cycle of impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
- In July 2019, Amnesty filed an amicus brief on behalf of Omar Shakir, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) staffer and BDS activist, after the renewal of his work visa was denied due to his BDS ties. Amnesty defended Shakir’s and HRW’s BDS support as “public calls on businesses to respect international law [,] part of their peaceful human rights work.”
- In May 2019, Amnesty launched a “Nakba website” titled “70+ Years of Suffocation,” which described “the heartbreaking struggles of Palestinian refugees.” As part of the launch, Amnesty called for people to “show solidarity with Palestinian refugees and demand that Israel respect their right to return.”
- In May 2018, during the violence on the Gaza border, Amnesty accused Israel of using “excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way. This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be wilful killings constituting war crimes.” According to Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Magdalena Mughrabi, “For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity.” Amnesty ignored the violent nature of the protests, which have consisted of an organized armed attack on the Israeli border and IDF positions, attempts to destroy and breach the border fence, and sustained arson, rocket, and mortar attacks on Israeli civilian communities.
- In May 2018, Amnesty International hosted ICAHD-UK’s annual conference, “From constructing homes to constructing one-state,” supporting a “one-state solution,” meaning the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The conference stated that “Palestinians liv[e] under a brutal military occupation that traumatized their society” and called to “start actively campaigning for one-state.”
- On April 13, 2018, Amnesty demonized Israel in a statement titled “Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to ‘Great March of Return’ protests” and called for “independent and effective investigations.” According to Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Magdalena Mughrabi, “For the past two weeks, the world has watched in horror as Israeli forces unleashed excessive, deadly force against protesters, including children, who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity.” Amnesty ignores the violent nature of the protests, which included Molotov cocktails, arson, and attempts to breach the border fence with Israel.
- In January 2018, Amnesty International-UK was scheduled to host a debate between Hillel Neuer of UN Watch and Fred Carver of the UN Association. The event was canceled by Amnesty on the grounds that it was “currently campaigning for all governments around the world to ban the import of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements. We do not therefore think it appropriate for Amnesty International to host an event by those actively supporting such settlements.” No evidence was provided to support the claim that either of the planned participants “actively supports such settlements.”
- On November 29, 2017, Amnesty launched a campaign titled “The Occupation of Water” stating that “50 years on, it is time for the Israeli authorities to put an end to policies and practices which discriminate against Palestinians in the OPT and to address their desperate need for water security.” The campaign makes false and distorted claims regarding Palestinian access to water.
- In November 2017, Amnesty launched the “world’s biggest human rights campaign” calling on the Prime Minister of Israel to “drop all charges against Farid al Atrash and Issa Amro, Palestinian human rights defenders, who want an end to illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land… a war crime stemming from Israel’s 50-year occupation of Palestinian land.”
- 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 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.]”
- 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 antisemitic sentiments including the claim that Israelis detain Palestinian children to harvest their organs and that the Zionists control the media. In March 2016, the U.S. government cancelled Tamimi’s visa for lying on his application form; specifically for “failure to expose prior arrest and conviction”.
- In April 2015, Amnesty International-UK held its 2015 annual conference and adopted 16 of 17 motions. The only proposed resolution that was rejected called for the organization to take steps to address rising antisemitism in the UK.
- In November 2017, Amnesty released a statement “highlighting Israel’s discriminatory policy of settling Jewish civilians in Palestinian territory – itself a violation of international humanitarian law – and system of control over Palestinian land and other resources” and will “consider whether the situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories meets the international definition of apartheid.”
- In March 2017, Amnesty participated in “Israel Apartheid Week” in South Africa. During a joint statement by Amnesty International University of Cape Town, an Amnesty activist stated that she was there to “call out the white, oppressive, racist state that is Israel” and that “we are here to dismantle any form of the white supremacist state.”
- 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.
Allegations of “war crimes”
- Distorts international law, misusing terms like “collective punishment,” “occupying power,” and “disproportionate” in its condemnations of Israel’s Gaza policy.
- 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 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.”
- 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.”
No Way to Treat a Child
- In February 2021, Amnesty called for the UK government to “halt exports” of Elbit arms to Israel.
- In August 2020, Amnesty launched a campaign for the release of Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the BDS movement.
- Amnesty has lobbied intensively in support of the discriminatory UN database of businesses operating across the 1949 Armistice line, aimed at bolstering BDS campaigns against Israel. Amnesty has published numerous statements and letters to the UN “targeting some of the businesses that are profiting from human rights abuses by operating in the illegal Israeli settlements.” According to Amnesty, the database “would give a glimmer of hope to the Palestinian people enduring half a century long military occupation, and stand as a reminder that the international community is committed to putting an end to the illegal settlement enterprise that is stifling their economy, depleting their natural resources, and undermining their human rights.”
- In July 2020, Amnesty-UK launched a campaign against TripAdvisor to “TELL TRIPADVISOR TO CHECK OUT OF STOLEN LAND” claiming that “Thousands of Palestinians have had their homes destroyed, their land stolen and their rights to live, work and move freely denied…online tourism giants, like TripAdvisor, are profiting from these human rights violations.” The campaign calls on TripAdvisor to delist any companies, tourism sites, or holy sites that are located beyond the 1949 Armistice lines.
- Following the publication of the UN’s BDS blacklist (see more above), Amnesty UK reintroduced and revised its campaign, utilizing the blacklist as rationale for attacking TripAdvisor, stating that “The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has now released a report on companies with specific links to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Trip Advisor is amongst the hundred or so exposed. Several other digital tourism companies have also been named, including several digital tourism companies including Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Booking.com…Tell TripAdvisor and the rest to abide by their international obligations and stop profiting from human suffering – stop advertising holidays in Israeli settlements.”
- In June 2020, in the context of Black Lives Matter protests, Amnesty-UK’s Crisis Response Manager Kristyan Benedict wrote an article titled “TripAdvisor’s attitude to racism & injustice is ‘Palestinian Lives Don’t Matter’” stating that “Next time you see a tweet from a company like TripAdvisor saying it ‘stands’ with anti-racism protesters, it will pay to check the small print. For as long as it persists in profiting from human rights violations against Palestinians, TripAdvisor will stand accused of hypocrisy when tweeting about racism and injustice.”
- In January 2019, Amnesty published a report on the “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” alleging that “the Israeli government has political and ideological reasons for developing a tourism industry in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank,” and has “constructed many of its settlements close to archaeological sites … [as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of the OPT.” The report denies Jewish connections to historical sites and faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians.
- In July 2018, Amnesty supported the Irish “Control of Economic Activity (Occupied territories)” bill which would criminalize the importing or sale of “settlement goods” and the provision or attempt provision of “settlement services.” The language of the bill reflects a broader goal of isolating Israel and implementing a discriminatory BDS agenda.
- On November 29, 2017, to commemorate International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, Amnesty International UK called to “Ban the sale of Israeli settlement products in UK markets” and “Stop companies in the UK from operating in settlements or trading in settlement goods.”
- 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.
- In 2018, Amnesty continued its campaign, pressing 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.”
- 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 April 2018, Amnesty “renewed its call on governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel.”
- 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.”
- In violation of its policy of “impartiality,” Amnesty employs numerous anti-Israel activists and BDS campaigners with well-documented histories of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
- In May 2020, Amnesty International Board Member Syksy Räsänen criticized Germany’s decision to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, implying that Israel’s actions are worse than Hezbollah. According to Räsänen, “Hezbollah is banned because it ‘calls for the violent elimination of the State of Israel and questions the right of the State of Israel to exist…Replace Israel->Palestine, and this describes most Israeli parties…Admittedly, there is the difference that most Israeli parties have been implementing the elimination of Palestine, not just called for it.”
- In April 2020, Amnesty International’s Gaza-based research consultant Hind Khoudary condemned a Zoom webinar that took place between Palestinians and Israelis on the “12-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade and how the coronavirus is affecting things.” She tagged three Hamas officials, and soon after, the leader of the Gaza-based “Gaza Youth Committee,” the NGO that organized the webinar, was arrested by Hamas on charges of “holding a normalization activity.” Khoudary later statedshe felt no shame “for fighting normalization with Israel.”
- Raed Jarrar
- Jarrar, Amnesty-USA’s Middle East and North Africa Advocacy Director, served as American Friends Service Committee’s Government Relations Manager (2014-2017).
- 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.”
- 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).
- 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.”
- On September 9, 2011, Jarrar tweeted a cartoon celebrating the attacks on the Israeli embassy in Egypt, a fundamental violation of international law.
- Allie McCracken
- McCracken, Amnesty-USA’s North American Campaigner, served as the co-director of CODEPINK – a leading BDS organization in the US and is also on the Board of Directors of Tree of Life, an NGO highly active in promoting BDS.
- 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.”
- Edith Garwood
- Garwood, Amnesty-USA’s “Country Specialist on Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Palestinian Authority used to volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group dedicated to provoking violent confrontations with Israeli troops and impeding their movements, often during anti-terror operations.
- In 2008, Garwood published an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer, titled “Let the Refugees Return,” claiming: “The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, rocket fire into Israel, illegal settlement growth, checkpoints, suicide bombers, the crippled Palestinian economy, The Wall, and the lack of adequate access to medicine, food and clean water require attention, but are only outgrowths of the root problem — the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” …”[m]ilitias expelled Arabs using home demolitions, massacres, rape, beatings, bombings and widespread threats of terror.
- Saleh Hijazi
- Hijazi previously worked as a Public Relations officer for the Palestinian Authority’s Office of the Ministry of Planning in Ramallah and in 2007 he was listed as contact for the NGO “Another Voice” – under the group’s signature “Resist! Boycott! We Are Intifada!”
- On March 9, 2011, Hijazi, while as a researcher for Human Rights Watch, spoke at a UN conference where he described how his father was supposedly arrested by the Israeli authorities “when the Israeli military could not find an activist neighbor.”
- Deborah Hyams
- Deborah Hyams, “Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority” researcher, has worked for some of the most radical political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), Rachel Corrie Foundation, and Ma’an Network.
- In 2001, Hyams volunteered as a “human shield” in Beit Jala (near Bethlehem), to deter Israeli military responses to recurrent gunfire and mortars targeting Jewish civilians in Jerusalem.
- Hyams employs demonizing language regarding Israel: 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.” Hyams also stated in 2002 that “[some] of Israel’s actions, all the way back to 1948, could be called ‘ethnic cleansing’.”
- Kristyan Benedict
- 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).
- Frank Johansson
- 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.”
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