So what is the logical response when you are Amnesty International’s crisis manager for Syria and there has been a recent chemical attack on his own civilians by President Assad at Khan Sheikhoun followed by 100 Syrian civilians killed by a suicide bomber as residents of the villages of Fuaa and Kafrya were being taken to safety?
Well, if you are Kristyan Benedict you arrange a meeting at Amnesty about human rights in Israel!
Benedict, Amnesty’s crisis manager for Syria, is notorious for comparing Israel to Islamic state, making a sick joke at the expense of three Jewish MPs on twitter and for threatening me when I questioned, at one of his events, an obviously doctored photo of a Palestinian boy with a Star of David allegedly carved into his arm by an Israeli soldier.
On Wednesday 19th April at Amnesty in London he assembled a panel of four human rights activists:
Rachel Strouma – Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
Rina Rosenberg – Adalah, which is based in Israel.
Neil Sammonds – Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk – Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah.
The event was called In Pursuit of Accountability – Israeli and Palestinian NGOs working together for human rights.
Rosenberg spent her 15 minutes citing the hundreds of complaints made against the Israeli army by Adalah and other NGOs and the Israeli army’s lack of response. For example, 500 complaints were made againt the army after the 2014 war relating to 360 different incidents. The apparent result was just one indictment for looting.
Then Strouma spent hers detailing examples of maltreatment and torture of Palestinian prisoners and the lack of trust that Palestinians have in the Israeli judicial system. She concentrated mainly on the apparent three days spent by Palestinian prisoners in vans as they are transported to court from prisons and back.
She claimed that one Palestinian admitted to a crime he didn’t commit rather than spend three days in a van.
van Hoydonk works for Al Haq. The General Director of Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah, is Shawan Jabarin who was and allegedly still is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian which is responsible for hijackings and assassinations within Israel and around the world.
van Hoydonk spent her 15 minutes updating us on the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into war crimes during the 2014 war.
During the Q&A I asked van Hoydonk whether considering her boss was, and possibly still is, a member of the PFLP, a proscribed terrorist group responsible for the murder of many innocent civilians, she really considers her own organisation, Al Haq, a human rights organisation?
Sadly, she refused to answer as you can see below (from 1 minute 25 seconds). Neil Sammonds stepped in on her behalf to explain that this was an event to address the problems in the Israeli justice system but there will be other fora to explore Palestinian issues:
The issue of the 1000 Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers was also brought up during the Q&A. Rosenberg referred to them as “political prisoners”. So while Adalah is trying to bring prosecutions against Israel soldiers it cannot even admit to Palestinian terrorists being anything more than “political prisoners”.
After the event the audience and panel members were invited to drinks and nibbles by Amnesty which is ironic considering the issues of hunger strikes, torture, murder and intentional destruction that had just been discussed and alleged.
It takes all sorts.