Tag Archives: amnesty international

Now Amnesty International’s Kristyan Benedict compares Israel to Islamic State.

Amnesty International’s crisis response manager for Syria Kristyan Benedict just can’t help himself. In 2012 after Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defence against Hamas Benedict tweeted:

“Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”.

Ellman, Halfon and Berger all happen to be Jewish.

Amnesty’s subsequent disciplinary investigation found that tweet “ill-advised and had the potential to be offensive and inflammatory but was not racist or antisemitic”. Benedict was merely made to apologise.

A year earlier Amnesty made Benedict apologise for physically threatening me after I questioned Benedict’s guest presenter Abu Dheer who produced to an Amnesty audience the following very possibly fake photo of a young Palestinian boy with a Star of David allegedly carved into his arm by an Israeli soldier using broken glass.

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Benedict called me a “war crimes denier” for questioning the photo and then threatened me physically.

As you can see, the Star of David is too perfect to have been made by broken glass on a screaming boy’s arm and the plaster doesn’t cover the supposed wound properly.

Now Benedict has compared Israel to Islamic State, also known as ISIL (Islamic State in the Levant), with this tweet:

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#JSIL means “Jewish State in the Levant”, a sickening comparison to the murderous ISIL.

Obviously, not on any level can Israel be compared to Islamic State but in the prevailing febrile anti-Israel atmosphere Israel is now regularly being compared so alongside the usual comparisons to Nazism and apartheid South Afria.

So this latest tweet by Benedict, sadly, comes as no surprise. Maybe Amnesty will carry out yet another investigation and make him apologise a third time. Who knows.

But Amnesty does itself a disservice by continuing to employ Benedict. When considering his “JSIL” tweet, his B52 “joke” and his theatening behaviour in response to the questioning of that fake photo why would anyone seeking objectivity take seriously any report that Amnesty produces on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

(For your information here is a debunking of that latest Amnesty report accusing Israel of war crimes during this summer’s Operation Protective Edge)

 

What does David Hearst mean by “the folk”?

On Friday night I went to Amnesty’s London HQ to hear Ben White publicise his updated book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by journalist David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

Hearst refused to allow me the opportunity to put a question to White during the Q&A instead preferring to announce in front of everyone there:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

I sent Hearst the blog I wrote about all this. CifWatch crossposted it over at their site. Here is Hearst’s response together with my reply:

What does Hearst mean by “the folk”?

There was an apparent attempt by the Israeli Embassy in London to have the Amnesty event called off. White has his own version of that supposed attempt. We don’t know the Israeli Embassy’s side yet.

I had nothing to do with any alleged attempt. Neither did CifWatch. I don’t work for the Israeli Embassy. Hearst knows this.

Hearst may have meant generally “the Israel lobby”. Peter Oborne describes “the Israel lobby” as supporters of a foreign power who influence British policy. It’s a nice idea that I can influence British policy, but my solitary vote at the ballot box apart I just can’t.

Hearst hasn’t replied to my request for clarification of what he meant by “the folk”. One wouldn’t wish to come to a conclusion without his explanation.

Debate and full disclosure are to be encouraged unlike what, sadly, passes for “debate” at Amnesty.

Unless I hear from Hearst his use of “the folk” will remain a complete mystery.

(For more on this see CifWatch)

Boycotted at Ben White Amnesty event as David Hearst announces “I know who you write for”.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

White and Hearst in discussion at Amnesty last night.

Last night (shabbat) I was at Amnesty International’s London HQ for the launch of Ben White’s updated Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The event was chaired by David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian.

After White’s talk he had a Q&A with Hearst after which members of the audience were allowed to ask White questions. Well, most of them anyway.

I had my arm raised for half hour while Hearst took questions from those sitting around me, before taking questions from the other side of the room. While my arm was still raised Hearst called an end to questions.

Feeling rather frustrated I asked whether I could put a question to White. Hearst declined my request and replied:

“I know exactly what you’re up to. And who you are. And who you write for.”

Sinister or what! Here’s the exchange:

So, what was I up to? Who am I? Who do I write for? Well, since starting this blog in 2009 I have mainly written for myself. I have occasionally written for the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and CifWatch, but I never realised writing could get me boycotted.

But here’s the point; I have never had any dealings with Hearst. So, how did he know who I was?

He was obviously primed but why? I have never been disallowed from asking a question at Amnesty before, although I was once threatened at an Amnesty event by Amnesty Campaign Manager Krystian Benedict, who has since been moved to work on Syria and who was present last night.

My question to White was going to be simply this: Seeing that White relies heavily on statements by Israeli politicians to paint Israel as racist (see slides below) I wanted to know whether the same could also be said of White particularly after he once stated that (British Jewish author) Howard Jacobson’s face was “another reason to support a boycott of Habima”, the Israeli theatre company.

I’m sure White would have batted that away quite easily, wouldn’t he? He reads my blog (he mentions it), so he should feel free to leave an answer below.

White started his talk addressing the Israeli Embassy’s apparent attempt to stop last night’s event taking place and went on to dedicate the evening to “all those people, including the Palestinians, who have sacrificed so much for liberation”.

Here’s the clip:

He then proceeded to talk about Israel’s continued “Judaisation”, particularly in the Negev and Galilee, and Israel’s “brutality”, “racism” and “apartheid” (including towards Israel’s own Ethiopian and Mizrahi Jews).

White loves nothing more than portraying Israel and Israelis as child killers. Apparently, Israeli soldiers hide near schools so they can kill Palestinian children (see slides below).

White finished off by telling his love struck audience that “Israel is afraid”.

Meanwhile, if last night is anything to go by I’m sure that Middle East Eye, David Hearst’s new website, will be a beacon of democracy and one of many and varied views…..

Slides used by Ben White last night:

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(Ben) White Wash at Amnesty.

Ben White showing off his well-trolled quotes at Amnesty last night.

Ben White showing off his well-trolled quotes at Amnesty last night.

Ben White was last night handed the opportunity by Amnesty’s UK branch to call for the destruction of Israel. Not necessarily in the way Hamas would wish to achieve it, but White wants Israel changed from a Jewish state into another Muslim Arab state. This is what White thinks is “justice”.

Lest we forget, White once wrote “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are.”

For that and other statements of his there was a small protest outside Amnesty last night. Once sign read “Amnesty is great, except on Israel”, which is probably about right. Amnesty will stand up against other human rights’ abuses except when they are against Israel. They raised their voice in anger when Gaddafi was cruelly tortured before being executed, but when Israeli soldiers are kidnapped or Israeli children are bombarded by Hamas rockets from Gaza Amnesty falls silent.

Amnesty’s opposition to Israel’s existence is now, sadly, almost policy. Virtually no month passes without there being an anti-Israel event and never will there be a pro-Israel voice on the platform. One of Amnesty’s roles is to try to bury Israel.

White was promoting his new book Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy and it will be instructive to jump straight to the end of last night’s talk.

After calling for “A future based on a genuine co-existence of equals, rather than ethno-religious supremacy and segregation”, with its obvious anti-Semitic connotation of Jewish supremacy, White said (see clip):

“Instead of asking ‘can we return?’ or ‘when will we return?’ Palestinian refugees can ask ‘what kind of return do we want to create for ourselves?’ I think that’s a kind of beautiful phrasing actually that speaks to the liberation of the imagination that has to take place as we move towards securing a peace with justice”:

I can’t see Israelis ever voting for their state being changed into a Muslim Arab state, so what White is basically promoting is more war and bloodshed.

White’s talk, probably like his book, was a long list of out-of-context and out-of-date quotes.

He started with an apparent quote by Balfour in 1919 – “in Palestine we do not propose to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country” – and ended with one by Moshe Dayan’s father, MK Shmuel Dayan, from 1950 – “Maybe (not allowing the refugees back) is not right and not moral, but if we become just and moral, I do not know where we will end up”.

White must spend many nights trolling through the internet and old books looking for quotes that support his pursuit of Israel, but it is obviously a money-making exercise judging by the queue of people waiting for him to sign their copy of his 90-page book.

In between quotes he criticised Israel for what he calls the “Judaisation” of the Galilee and the Negev and for Israel not allowing “Palestinian citizens of Israel”, as he calls them, to live in Israel with their spouses who come from the West Bank and Gaza. The serious security implications for Israel if it allowed the latter are obvious, but Israel’s security isn’t high up on the list of White’s priorities.

During the Q&A he praised the protests during the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall saying that the protests:

“Were targetting a body, the IPO, that receives funding from the Israeli state and also does concerts and stuff for Israeli soldiers.”

He raised the accusation of anti-Semitism aimed at him and said:

“The irony of the accusation of anti-Semitism against me in this context is that it is precisely opposition to all racism that informs my personal opposition to Israeli apartheid”.

And when someone asked him about Hamas and its policies White simply said that the evening wasn’t about Hamas but he hoped that the questioner would “support efforts to end the discriminatory practices against the Palestinians”.

It seems that Hamas is not much of an issue for White or Amnesty, whereas the Jewish state’s existence is.

More clips and photos from last night:

Ben White on “Jewish and Democratic?”

Ben White on “Judaisation” -

I bought this last night as no one else was buying.

I bought this last night as no one else was buying.

War on Want at Russell Tribunal: “More direct action coming.”

Rafeef Ziadeh, Asa Winstanley, John Hilary, Joseph Dana, Frank Barat at Amnesty.

Rafeef Ziadeh, Asa Winstanley, John Hilary, Joseph Dana, Frank Barat at Amnesty.

War on Want’s John Hilary spoke of more direct action against firms complicit in Israel’s “breaches of international law”. He was on a panel at Amnesty International on thursday night for the launch of a book about last year’s London session of the Russell Tribunal.

In response to a question from Eva Jaciewicz, a member of the Polish Palestine Solidarity Campaign and who last year daubed “Free Gaza and Palestine” at the Warsaw Ghetto, about the possibility of occupying the workplaces of companies doing business with Israel Hilary endorsed the targeting of security company G4S, especially in light of its security role in next year’s London Olympics.

Here’s a short audio of the discussion. Frank Barat speaks first followed by Rafeef Ziadeh and Hilary:

Audio: Barat, Ziadeh, Hilary at Amnesty on G4S.

Hilary also spoke about anti-Israel activists going into shoe shops and trying on Caterpillar boots and then staging anti-Israel protests. Staff were unable to ask them to leave while they were wearing the boots.

Here’s the relevant clip which includes a short discussion on whether Hamas was invited to the Russell Tribunal:

Frank Barat, who coordinated the London RTOP, had initially started off the evening telling us how clearly international law is on the side of the Palestinians and how little Israel can do about this.

He said the word “Apartheid” scared Israel and its supporters, especially when people like Desmond Tutu are saying what is happening on the West Bank is far worse than what happened in apartheid South Africa.

This, Barat thought, was a good way to attack RTOP’s detractors and he reiterated RTOP’s call for:

1. Israel to dismantle its system of Apartheid.
2. All states to consider putting pressure on Israel to do this including severing diplomatic relations.
3. The prosecutor of the ICC to accept jurisdiction over Palestine.
4. Global civil society to replicate the spirit of solidarity that contributed to the end of apartheid South Africa and to support BDS.

There were only 43 people in the audience at Amnesty; not a good sign of global solidarity.

Asa Winstanley, who edited the book briefly ran us through its content and Rafeef Ziadeh, a Canadian Palestinian “refugee” now living in the UK, called the “Nakba” an “ongoing process” and reiterated the BDS movement’s call for Israel to:

1. End the occupation of all Arab lands.
2. Create equality for Palestinians everywhere, including in Israel.
3. Allow Palestinian “refugees” to return to their homes in Israel.

She said she couldn’t believe that Israel could consider someone like her to be such a threat.

Joseph Dana, an American Jewish blogger with +972 Magazine and living in Ramallah, referred to the Palestinians in Bil’in, where he covers the weekly protests, as offering “Ghandian-like unarmed resistance” and he encouraged the use of Twitter and Facebook to combat the Jerusalem Post, Associated Press and Thomas Friedman, who is calling for the Palestinians to adopt non-violent resistance while, according to Dana, he is ignoring just that.

Dana predicted that there will be a “new unarmed Intifada” and he holds every Israeli responsible for Israel’s “transgressions” and spoke of the non-violent protests in Bil’in as being what “drives Israelis insane”. He said:

“Artists don’t come to Israel anymore. Israeli society wants to be considered a normal western country…The boycott pinpoints that issue of normality and says ‘no, you are not a normal society. You have to be held accountable for the transgressions that you are committing on a regular basis. Even if you are not directly committing them you are part of the society that’s doing that.'”

If that’s true then Dana, who lives in Ramallah, is indirectly accountable for the massacre of five members of the Fogel family by a Palestinian, including three month old Hadas who was decapitated while she slept.

Here’s the relevant clip:

Amnesty and Middle East Monitor’s Israel hatefest love-in.

It is getting boring writing about Amnesty International and its hatred towards Israel but Michael Weiss wrote a recent blog asking “Why is Amnesty hosting a Hamas-friendly publisher of racists?

On May 23rd its London office is hosting Middle East Monitor’s (MEMO) “Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel?” event.

Weiss is Communications Director of the Henry Jackson Society and a spokesperson for Just Journalism.

As he points out in his piece MEMO is run by Dr Daud Abdullah who signed the Hamas-supporting Istanbul Declaration which calls on the ‘Islamic Nation’ to fight any ‘foreign warship’ attempting to block arms smuggling to Hamas. Presumably, such a ‘foreign warship’ could include one from the Royal Navy.

Weiss also quotes from a MEMO essay by Khalid Amayreh titled Netanyahu’s Lebensraum in which Amayreh denies that “these pathological liars from Eastern Europe…had any truly historical rights in the land of Palestine”.

Weiss signs off his piece asking us to ring Amnesty (02070331500) to ask why it is hosting this conference.

But according to Weiss Amnesty’s response is:

“Providing space for an event does not mean that we necessarily agree with all of the views of participants. The key point is that free debate takes place.”

Presumably, then, when Amnesty puts on its own conference it does “necessarily agree with all of the views of the participants”, like the one on April 13th where a photo was shown of a Palestinian teenager with a perfect Star of David, allegedly, tattooed on his forearm by an Israeli soldier using nothing more than broken glass.

Will Amnesty investigate this photo? Where is this Palestinian now? Surely, there would still be a scar on his forearm eventhough this incident happened some 8 years ago. I asked Ala Abu Dheer, who showed the photo, to email me details of the case so I could take it up with the Israeli Embassy, but I’m still waiting for the email.

But in response to Weiss’s piece MEMO has just posted an incredible rant by Khalid Amayreh titled Honest People can’t be indifferent to Israeli fascism.

Amayreh’s response is a slur on the 6,000,000 Jews executed by the Nazis. It has to be read to be believed and to see what Amnesty has become by hosting such a vile organisation like MEMO.

Here are some quotes from Amayreh’s piece:

“I have no problem comparing Israel with the worst criminals in history, including Hitler’s Nazis. It is true that Israel has not introduced gas chambers into Palestinian towns and villages (although relatively innocuous tear gas is often used in confined spaces, against the manufacturers’ recommendations, with often lethal results). However, gas chambers were never the only extermination method used by the Nazis. Israel has been killing and tormenting Palestinians in a variety of ways that, for sheer brutality and evil, don’t differ in substance from Nazi Germany’s murderous behaviour. Moreover, it is important to remember that the Nazi Holocaust didn’t begin with Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen…”

To compare the fate of the Palestinians to that of the 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered by the Nazis is vile and mendacious.

And he writes “The minute a Zionist Jew sets foot on Palestinian soil in order to live on land stolen from its rightful owners; or live in a house seized at gunpoint from its native Palestinian occupants, this Zionist Jew loses his sense of morality.” If someone wrote something similar about an immigrant African to the UK could they not be accused of inciting racial hatred?

Amayreh also talks of “hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims” having lived in “Palestine” when the Zionists arrived. He has wiped the many indigenous Jews already living there off the map.

He signs off by saying that “Zionists are the last people who are fit to lecture the Palestinians on the evils of terrorism…Israel represents ultimate terror…For arrogant Zionists to call us terrorists is, to quote Professor Norman Finkelstein, ‘beyond chutzpah’.”

But I do agree with his last words that “Palestine will be free”. Yes, free from the women oppressors and anti-Semitic Jew killers of Hamas who also execute their own, Palestinian, people by thowing them off the tops of tall buildings while their hands are tied behind their backs if they don’t follow Hamas’s strict religious and political doctrines.

This is the Hamas that is supported by MEMO and the MEMO which is being hosted by Amnesty.

Amnesty Event: “Israeli soldier used broken glass to cut Magen David into Palestinian boy’s forearm”.

Would an IDF soldier really do this?

Would an IDF soldier really do this?

Last night I went to Amnesty International for an event called Deliberate Discrimination Deliberate Deprivation: The Denial of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories chaired by Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty’s Campaign Manager.

There were five speakers who each gave a ten minute cameo talk on how Israel had stolen Palestinian land, had destroyed and stolen Palestinian water resources, had destroyed Palestinian health care, had destroyed the Palestinian education system and had destroyed Palestinian cultural and political life.

Each speaker used slides of photos (mainly old ones), statistics and maps to illustrate their points. We were told about the deaths of Palestinian children, one from an asthma attack at a checkpoint. Dr Asad Khan spoke of how Palestinians are arrested in their hospital beds and taken away by Israeli soldiers who are “accompanied by Israeli doctors”.

I took photos of many of the hundred or so slides. Some of them are below, but one photo really disturbed me.

It was taken in 2003 and shows a Palestinian boy with a Magen David cut into his forearm (see above). The caption reads:

“The soldier, checking student’s ability to bear pain, took a piece of glass and broke it and taking Qasem’s arm, cut into it a Star of David (April 30th 2003)”

After the event I wanted to discuss the provenance of this photo with Ala Abu Dheer. He shook my hand and invited me to visit Palestinian towns with him to show me how the Palestinians were living and promised to email me details of the case of the Palestinian boy.

He asked me what I would do about it and I told him I would try to get Israel to investigate. However, I said that if an Israeli had done this surely we would have seen the photo by now. I asked him what he would do about Hamas’ crimes.

Then events took a surreal turn. An Amnesty official went to get Kristyan Benedict who proceeded to tell Mr Abu Dheer that there was no point in talking to me as I was a war crimes denier. On the way out Kristyan proceeded to tell me, inter alia, that he would “smack me in my little bald head”. As you can hear he also suggested that I put it on my blog, so here it is:

Kristyan Benedict – Amnesty Campaign Manager.

I usually get on well with Kristyan, so I really don’t know what came over him. During the Q&A earlier in the evening, after I had asked a question, he told the audience that he and I go back a long way and that we usually have a man-to-man discussion after an event. I didn’t realise it would be this man-to-man though!

At least I wasn’t bitten by anyone, but these events are proving more and more intimidating to attend if you want to put Israel’s side of the equation.

Anyway, here are some of the other slides, and a photo of Cara Flowers holding up bottles of water to illustrate how little water Palestinians, allegedly, drink/use compared to Israelis. She said the ratio is four to one in favour of Israelis:

Cara Flowers holding up two bottles of water.

Cara Flowers holding up two bottles of water.

(Notice the calf sitting there)

(Notice the calf sitting there)

(L-R) Cara Flowers, Dr Asad Khan, Dr Victoria Mason, Kristyan Benedict, Stephen Royle, Ala Abu Dheer

(L-R) Cara Flowers, Dr Asad Khan, Dr Victoria Mason, Kristyan Benedict, Stephen Royle, Ala Abu Dheer