Amnesty International's Goldstone Campaign, with a review of statements from other NGOs
- Amnesty International has issued 15 statements in support of the Goldstone Mission and its report since April 2009.
- All four members of the commission and one of its staff researchers have conflicts of interest involving Amnesty. The close ties with the organization led to numerous citations to Amnesty publications.
- At a May 2009 NGO townhall meeting with Goldstone, Amnesty presented a detailed outline for the investigation. Their recommendations correspond to the framework of the public hearings and the final report.
- Diakonia, Oxfam, Trocaire, Amnesty-Europe, FIDH and Palestinian NGOs – Adalah, PCHR, Al Haq, etc. – have used the Goldstone report to bolster their calls for “war crimes” cases. This lawfare includes international (ICC) and universal jurisdiction forums.
- B’Tselem condemned the Israeli government for not cooperating with the Goldstone mission and “provided assistance to the investigative staff….”
- But even B’Tselem criticized Goldstone for falsely “framing of Israel’s military operation as part of ‘an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience.’”
Note: This report is a follow-up to NGO Monitor’s publication: Human Rights Watch: Selling Goldstone’s Indictment, October 15, 2009
As in the case of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International has invested significant resources in promoting the UN Human Rights Council’s Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza War, chaired by Richard Goldstone, and his report. In parallel, Amnesty appears to have greatly influenced the direction of the mission’s activities.
Additionally, European government and EU-funded Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, who were also cited extensively in the Goldstone report (B’Tselem: 56 times; Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR): 50; Al Haq: 40; Adalah: 38), have been lobbying intensively for the implementation of Goldstone’s recommendations. Palestinian groups have emphasized legal processes – particularly the International Criminal Court and universal jurisdiction statutes – to pursue “war crimes” cases against Israeli officials.
1) Amnesty’s Campaign Supporting Goldstone
Between Goldstone’s appointment in April and October 20 (one month after the publication of Goldstone’s report), Amnesty issued at least 15 statements supporting Goldstone’s mission and the report.
These statements support the flawed report and praise the UN Human Rights Council for adopting it, urging the General Assembly to implement its recommendations. Although Amnesty notes the divided HRC vote on the resolution (25 in favor, 11 abstentions, 6 against, and 5 did not vote), its campaign allies with those countries who endorsed the report: primarily repressive regimes and systematic human rights violators Saudi Arabia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Cuba.
See: Appendix 1: Amnesty Statements Supporting Goldstone
2) Conflicts of Interest: The Goldstone-Amnesty Links
Several members of the Goldstone Mission have significant links to Amnesty International. Correspondingly, Amnesty was among the most cited NGOs in the report, with 27 references.
In March 2009, three of the four mission members – Goldstone, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Travers – signed a clearly biased letter drafted by Amnesty stating that “events in Gaza have shocked us to the core.” The fourth member, Christine Chinkin, was previously a consultant to Amnesty International. During the Gaza fighting, Chinkin declared Israel’s actions to be a “war crime” and delegitimized Israel’s right to self-defense.
In addition, Goldstone mission staff researcher, Sareta Ashraph, is a UK lawyer and a member of Amnesty International. Her history of anti-Israel political activity includes organizing a 2003 Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights “lawfare” lecture given by Raji Sourani, head of PCHR (see below), and leading lawfare attorney, Daniel Machover. Additionally, prior to the mission’s establishment, Goldstone was regularly cited in Amnesty publications.
3) Amnesty’s Role in Influencing the Direction of the Mission’s Activities and Report
In May 2009, Goldstone convened a “townhall meeting” for NGOs in Geneva, facilitating personal connections between officials from these organizations and mission members, and providing “evidence,” and ask questions regarding the mission’s activities. At this event, Amnesty circulated a detailed outline to guide the investigation. Amnesty’s recommendations correspond closely to the direction of Goldstone’s investigation in the public hearings and the final report, including addressing “Israeli use of human shields,” the “shooting of unarmed civilians,” “damage to infrastructure,” “environmental impact (water and sewage),” and “psychological impact.”
One incident detailed by Goldstone, an alleged attack on the Bader Flour Mill, was uniquely mentioned in Amnesty’s report. Other NGOs and Palestinian news outlets did not report it. The inclusion of this event suggests that Goldstone’s selection of incidents were strongly influenced by NGO cues, in particular from Amnesty.
4) Amnesty Support of Goldstone by Making Light of Garlasco Nazi Fetish
In a September 16, 2009 post on Amnesty-UK’s blog, Neil Durkin of Amnesty’s media unit falsely accused Israel of failing “to confront [the Goldstone report] head-on.” He then mocked criticism of the Nazi memorabilia fetish of HRW’s Marc Garlasco – a highly offensive practice that is outlawed in many parts of Europe and is completely at odds with those claiming to support human rights – and a charge that Garlasco has not denied. Durkin writes:
After HRW, is Amnesty International next? Are we set to be outed as a hotbed of Holocaust-deniers? Will key Amnesty researchers be unmasked, shown to be furtive collectors of David Irving DVDs? What about that Neil Durkin? Didn’t he once go to an “Oi” skinhead gig in the early 80s where the audience was wall-to-wall bovver boys all in thrall to The Cockney Rejects? (Yes, but I can explain…)
5) Other international NGOs and Goldstone
In September 2009, a coalition of international NGOs including Oxfam, Amnesty International – Europe, Diakonia, Trocaire and Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) released an inflammatory paper about the “key inconsistencies in the European Union’s position on the Middle East Peace Process.” Amongst the tendentious claims, these NGOs alleged that there is “overwhelming evidence of major violations of international humanitarian law” and condemned the EU for its “ambiguous” support of the Goldstone report. The NGOs also expressed disappointment over the EU’s failure to “strongly condemn” Hamas and call for accountability regarding intra-Palestinian violence, while avoiding strong statements against Israel.
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) urged the UN Security Council to fully endorse the report and threatened to “fil[e] complaints based on the principle of universal jurisdiction and  contribute to the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor’s preliminary analyses and investigations.”
Additionally, EU-funded EMHRN (based in Copenhagen) accused Israel, the US, and the EU of a “peace now, justice later” approach” that “consolidates the prevailing culture of impunity.”
6) Israeli NGOs: B’Tselem et al.
B’Tselem, which has been campaigning for an “independent and credible investigation” of the Gaza War since January 2009, urged Israel to cooperate with the Goldstone Mission, and also “provided assistance to the investigative staff of the Goldstone mission from the beginning to the end of its research.” And after Goldstone’s report was published, B’Tselem executive director Jessica Montell claimed that “Israel has only itself to blame” for its one-sided conclusions and recommendations. She also stated that Israel was “shoot[ing] the messenger and bury[ing] its head in the sand.”
B’Tselem later criticized Goldstone for the “framing of Israel’s military operation as part of ‘an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience’” and “the very careful phrasing regarding Hamas abuses.” But this highly political NGO continues to “advocate for… its principal recommendation: that Israel investigate suspicions that its forces breached international humanitarian law.”
Other Israeli political NGOs promoting the Goldstone report include the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Adalah, Bimkom, Gisha, HaMoked, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Yesh Din, and B’Tselem. These groups issued a statement calling on Israel to “take the report seriously” and “cooperate with an international monitoring mechanism that would guarantee both the independence of that investigation and the implementation of its conclusions.”
7) Palestinian NGOs
A group of European and EU government-funded Palestinian NGOs, including Adalah (Israeli Arab, also funded by New Israel Fund), Addameer, Al-Dameer, Al-Haq, Al Mezan, the Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA), Defence for Children International-Palestine Section and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), concluded that the report showed the need for “accountability” via the Security Council and the ICC, or through universal jurisdiction (i.e, lawfare). They also called for states to “re-evaluate their relationship with Israel.”
In a separate statement, PCHR called the Goldstone Report “a landmark in the pursuit of human rights and the rule of law in the occupied Palestinian territory.” PCHR also falsely claimed that “the Israeli system is fundamentally biased against Palestinians, and  justice is unattainable” despite the hundreds of cases before the Israeli Supreme Court examining Palestinian rights, in many of which, Palestinians have been successful.
Amnesty Statements Supporting Goldstone:
UN must urge Israel and Palestinians to carry out Gaza investigations, Amnesty International, October 15, 2009
Action, not words, needed from Foreign Affairs Committee on Gaza report, Amnesty Ireland, October 8, 2009
Amnesty International Calls for UN Secretary General to Refer Goldstone Report on Gaza to UN Security Council for Action, Amnesty USA, October 2, 2009
Israel leaves crucial questions unanswered as Goldstone report discussed at UN, Amnesty International, September 30, 2009
Gaza: New letter to Miliband urges UK to fully support Goldstone report at United Nations, Amnesty UK, September 24, 2009
Irene Khan urges US government to examine Goldstone report, Amnesty International, September 18, 2009
Shooting the messenger (and everyone else): investigating war crimes in Gaza, Neil Durkin, Press Officer, Amnesty UK, September 16, 2009
Justice Now Deters Future Crimes in Israel and Gaza, Amnesty USA, n.d.
UN must ensure Goldstone inquiry recommendations are implemented, Amnesty International, September 15, 2009
Israel-Gaza: Implementation of UN Fact finding mission recommendations crucial for justice, Amnesty International, September 15, 2009
Israel/Occupied PalestinianTerritories:Impunity for war crimes in Gaza and southern Israel recipe for further civilian suffering, Amnesty International, July 2, 2009
Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: UN Security Council must move from rhetoric to concrete measures for accountability and peace, Amnesty International, May 14, 2009
Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israeli army probe lacks credibility and is no substitute for independent investigation, Amnesty International, April 23, 2009
UN urged to ´find truth´ about Gaza conflict, Amnesty International, March 16, 2009
Israel must investigate army’s conduct in Operation Cast Lead, B’Tselem, October 19, 2009
A time for soul-searching, Jessica Montell, Jerusalem Post, October 1, 2009
Goldstone Report: Conference Call with Fred Abrahams and Jessica Montell, Fast for Gaza, September 30, 2009
Independent apparatus needed for investigation of Operation Cast Lead, B’Tselem, April 22, 2009
Israel and the Palestinians must assist the UN mission investigating human rights violations during the fighting in Gaza, B’Tselem, April 6, 2009
Israeli and Palestinian NGOs:
Ensuring the Implementation of Human Rights Council Resolution on the Goldstone Report: PCHR Director Addresses EMHRN Meeting in Madrid, PCHR, October 18, 2009
Al Mezan Commends HRC Endorsement of Goldstone Report Recommendations; Calls for Ensuring the Rule of Law and Accountability, Al Mezan, October 17, 2009
PCHR Welcomes Hamas Decision to Investigate Allegations of War Crimes, Comply With Goldstone Report, PCHR, October 16, 2009
PCHR Director Attends 12th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, Meeting of International Commission of Jurist’s Executive Committee, and Meets with ICC Prosecutor and Palestinian Minister of Justice (Ramallah), PCHR, October 15, 2009
Calling for HRC Special Session to endorse Goldstone recommendations, SIGNED BY: Adalah, Adameer, Al-Dameer, Al-Haq, Arab Association for Human Rights, Al-Mezan, Badil, Defense for Children International – Palestine Section (DCI-PS), October 13, 2009
Human Rights groups in Israel provide initial response to Goldstone Report, SIGNED BY: Association for Civil Rights in Israeli (ACRI), Adalah, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, HaMoked, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel (PHR-I), Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Yesh Din, October 4, 2009
Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Decision of Palestinian Leadership and International Pressure an Insult to the Victims, SIGNED BY: Adalah, Addameer, Al Dameer, Al Haq, Al Mezan, Arab Association for Human Rights, Badil, DCI-PS, Ittijah, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) and others, October 3, 2009
PCHR: Human Rights Council Must Endorse Findings and Recommendations of Goldstone Enquiry, PCHR, September 29, 2009
URGENT APPEAL: The Goldstone Report – An end to impunity?, DCI-PS, September 26, 2009
The PHR-Israel Stand upon the release of the Goldstone Commission report, PHR-I, September 19, 2009
Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Support Work and Recommendations of UN Fact Finding Mission: Demand Effective Judicial Redress and the Protection of Victims’ Rights, SIGNED BY: Adalah, Addameer, Al-Dameer, Al-Haq, Al-Mezan, Arab Association for Human Rights, DCI-Palestine, PCHR, and others, September 16, 2009
Israeli Human Rights Groups Respond to Goldstone Report, SIGNED BY: ACRI, Adalah, Bimkom, B’Tselem, Gisha, HaMoked, PHR-I, PCATI, and Yesh Din, September 15, 2009
Briefing provided to the EU ahead of the release of the Goldstone Report, PHR-I, HaMoked, B’Tselem, September 3, 2009
Submission of Human Rights Organizations based in Israel to the Goldstone Inquiry Delegation, SIGNED BY: ACRI, Gisha, PCATI, HaMoked, Adalah, PHR-I, n.d.
Israeli Human Rights organizations respond to UN Report on Gaza, SIGNED BY ACRI, B’Tselem, Gisha, PHR-I, Yesh Din, PCATI, Bimkom and HaMoked, May 5, 2009
Click here for NGO Monitor’s analysis of NGO statements during the Gaza War
Click here for NGO Monitor’s analysis of the Goldstone Mission
Click here for additional coverage of the Goldstone Mission