On February 17, 2016, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and 10 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, advising him to open an investigation into “gross violations of human rights” in Israel and Egypt. The lawmakers cited Amnesty International “and other human rights organizations” in suggesting that Israel has carried out “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinian terrorists. Secretary Kerry was asked to determine if these killings would restrict military assistance to Israel, as per the Leahy Law. While the small number of signatories reflects the widespread rejection of this false claim in Congress, the media impact is significant.
Anti-Israel groups who collaborated on the letter
Multiple anti-Israel organizations contributed to the letter. NGOs involved in this campaign are involved in anti-Israel BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions), demonization and lawfare activities. As a result of their strong political biases and their methodological errors, these groups are not accurate sources of information.
- Amnesty International– Amnesty regularly publishes methodologically flawed, one-sided reports condemning Israel and accusing it of human rights violations. They
- Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)- JVP seeks to drive a “wedge” in the Jewish community over support for Israel. The group is currently involved in a campaign targeting Airbnb, and lobbied for the Presbyterian Church and the TIAA-CREF retirement fund to adopt divestment resolutions.
JVP trains BDS activists, promotes divestment resolutions on US campuses and leads public BDS efforts such as opposing a free trip to Israel for Hollywood actors and producing a pro-BDS, fake edition of the New York Times.
- American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)- AFSC is involved in BDS campaigns on campuses and churches in the United States and partners with JVP in training BDS activists. The group also works to encourage Israeli teenagers to dodge the draft, a violation of Israeli law.
- National Lawyers Guild– National Lawyers Guild, a Marxist organization, engages in anti-Israel “lawfare,” using legal means to promote BDS as well the narrative of Israeli “war crimes” and “genocide.” It has launched a campaign to strip the Jewish National Fund (JNF) of its tax-exempt status in the U.S.
Involvement of members of Congress in recent anti-Israel activities
- Nine of the signatories of this letter also signatories of a June 2015 letter to Secretary Kerry, claiming that Israel tortures Palestinian children during detention. The 2015 letter was organized by AFSC and Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P).
- Nine of the signatories boycotted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 2015 speech to Congress. The #skipthespeech campaign was led by JVP, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and Roots Action.
- Eight out of the signatories receive funding from JStreetPAC, designed to help elect politicians sympathetic towards JStreet’s goals.