Jerusalem – Amnesty International-UK’s (AIUK) decision to reject a campaign against antisemitism in the UK highlights the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of what was once a leader in human rights advocacy.
On April 19, AIUK held its 2015 Annual General Meeting, and adopted 16 of 17 motions. The only proposed resolution that was rejected called on AIUK to “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK,” as well as “Lobby the UK Government to tackle the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain” and “monitor anti-semitism closely.” According to the motion, “neither AIUK nor the [Amnesty] International Secretariat have undertaken research or campaigning work specifically on anti-Semitism in the UK.”
The AIUK vote also took place in the context of repeated antisemitic incidents within the organization itself — in particular the activities of staff member Kristyan Benedict, who currently is listed as “crisis response manager.” Benedict has a history of obsessive anti-Israel attacks and antisemitic outbursts. One example involved a threat of physical violence against a pro-Israel attendee of an event that Benedict chaired. A second example (November 2011), Benedict tweeted an attack on three British MPs whom he characterized as war-mongers, all of whom are Jewish. This prompted an inquiry into Amnesty by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism, seeking clarification on the organizations policies towards preventing antisemitism. He has investigated by AUIK for some of his rhetoric; however, serious steps have not been taken.
Amnesty-UK’s refusal to condemn antisemitism also comes at a time when levels of antisemitism in Europe are at levels unparalleled since the end of World War II. Nevertheless, an Amnesty-UK official offered a misleading technical justification, claiming that “our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus.” In fact, AIUK has initiated “single focus” campaigns frequently in the past, for instance, approving “overwhelmingly” a 2010 resolution on Sinti and Roma Communities, and stating: “Within the last year widespread discrimination and violence against Sinti and Roma communities has intensified in a number of European countries, which Amnesty International has published within respective country reports.” AIUK’s silence on antisemitism stands in sharp contrast.
In this context, we note that NGO Monitor research has repeatedly shown that Amnesty International and AIUK disproportionately single out Israel for condemnations, and focus attacks on Israel while ignoring severe and systematic human rights violations in the region. Many Amnesty officials and “researchers” have a history of intense anti-Israel activisms, promoting the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli guilt, to the exclusion of universal human rights. AUIK’s decision to turn its back on antisemitism is consistent with this immoral record.