Following the May 6 arrest of Ittijah head Ameer Makhoul on charges of allegedly spying for Hezbollah, Amnesty International, Adalah, and other NGOs misrepresented Makhoul as a “human rights defender.”

Amnesty claimed that Makhoul’s detention was “designed to hinder his human rights work” and referred to the “unlikely event that there are genuine grounds” to prosecute Makhoul (emphasis added). Amnesty did not provide any basis or evidence for this evaluation of the case.

Amnesty’s application of the “human rights defender” label is part of a wider trend of distortion. In February 2010, the organization defended an alliance with Moazzam Begg, a reported supporter of the Taliban, stating that “jihad in self-defence” is not “antithetical to human rights.”

Similarly, Adalah labeled Makhoul “a political activist and human rights defender,” and implied that his arrest was linked to “attacks against human rights organizations in Israel working to defend Palestinian rights.”

Ameer Makhoul’s anti-Israel activities as head of Ittijah are characterized by demonization and hate-speech. During the Gaza war, an Ittijah email claimed, “the IDF is turning Gaza into kind of an extermination camp, in the full sense of the word and with the full historical relativity.” Ittijah’s campaign preceding the April 2009 Durban Review Conference reiterated the original BDS call from the 2001 Durban NGO Forum, as well as the language of “colonial racist state under the Motto: Zionism is Racism − Israel is an Apartheid.”

Adalah, Mossawa, and the I’lam Media Center said Makhoul’s arrest reflects the “political persecution on the part of security officials and the silencing of Arab citizens in the State of Israel.” Adalah also alleged that Makhoul was being “subject to torture”.