Summary: Amnesty International and EMHRN issued condemnations of the January 29 Jerusalem bus bombing, in strong contrast to many other major international and Palestinian NGOs. The silence from the other human-rights based NGOs illustrates the serious questions that have been raised about their adherence to an unbiased and universal agenda.

The major international and Palestinian NGOs were conspicuously silent following the January 29, 2004 Jerusalem suicide bombing that murdered 11 people. Indeed, Oxfam, Miftah, HRW, and Save the Children, all of whom claim to advocate the universal human rights, failed to even produce a passing news item.

However, in sharp contrast to the above-mentioned NGOs, Amnesty International “strongly” condemned the attack, and demanded that, “Palestinian armed groups put an immediate end to suicide bombings and other deliberate attacks against civilians.” In addition, Amnesty noted that such “deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians constitutes crimes against humanity.”

It should be noted that Amnesty International released its condemnation of the Jerusalem suicide bombing on the same day the attack took place – a marked improvement over the organizations’ previous response to the November 15, 2003 Istanbul Synagogue bombings, which was voiced five days after the assault.

EMHRN, founded “to promote dialogue and respect for human rights and diverse cultures throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region”, simply recycled the above-mentioned Amnesty press release condemning the Jerusalem bombing. EMHRN reacted similarly to the November 15, 2003 Istanbul Synagogue bombings, when it re-posted press releases of Amnesty and HRW regarding the attacks.

The failure of the major international and Palestinian NGOs to explicitly condemn the latest Jerusalem suicide bombing and previous attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets both in Israel and abroad raises serious questions about their adherence to an unbiased human rights agenda.