Tag Archives: Amnesty

Employee of alleged PFLP terrorist is panellist at Amnesty International.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty. on Wednesday night.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty on Wednesday night.

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.

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.

amnestyboy

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:

kristben

#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)

The “Jewish community” comes under attack at Amnesty.

The UN's Hamed Qawasmeh (right) next to the chairperson at Amnesty in London on Monday.

The UN’s Hamed Qawasmeh (right) next to the chairperson at Amnesty in London on Monday.

It didn’t take too long for yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty International to spill over into criticism of Jews. It was Monday night and Hamed Qawasmeh had finished speaking on the subject of Human Rights in Hebron and Area C of the West Bank.

Qawasmeh is a long time employee of the United Nations and his current remit is to “document human rights violations in the southern West Bank” (apparently human rights violations don’t extend as far as the recent cold-blooded murders of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, one in Hebron itself. Neither murder was mentioned during the event).

Qawasmeh described how Israel uses its control of Area C (granted to Israel under the Oslo Accords) to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians. It does this, he said, by refusing to grant building permits, by demolishing Palestinian homes, by evictions and by building military zones and nature reserves so as to confiscate more land. Then there are the roadblocks, checkpoints and “separation wall”.

He claimed the Israeli government refuses to allow Israeli electricity companies to build electricity pylons for Palestinian homes near Jewish settlements.

Quite magnanimously, Qawasmeh did say that he had no problem with Israel wanting to protect its own people by building the wall, but that the wall should stick to the “1967 border” and not snake into the West Bank.

During the Q&A I stated that “settlements” are not illegal and that the so-called “1967 border” was not a border but merely an armistice line. I also said that when visiting Hebron twice I had seen many palatial Palestinian-owned houses en route.

I had intended to go on to ask how there could be any peace while Palestinian Authority television shows Palestinian children saying they want to become “martyrs” and with the Hamas calling for the murder of Jews via their Charter.

But by then the audience was getting restless and vocal and the chairperson was telling me I had taken up enough time. I tried to persist with my question but it got lost in a noise of insults. Meanwhile, a woman from the audience approached me and held my arm while asking me to leave the room with her.

I slumped back into my chair and stayed silent as the discussion moved onto how Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian children on their way to school and how Israel rounds up large numbers of Palestinian “kids” and tortures them under interrogation.

I felt I had to challenge such allegations, upon which Abe Hayeem rose to his feet (you can read all about Hayeem here). Hayeem pointed at me and said:

“He must be removed. He disrupts every meeting. He signifies the sort of people that are in Hebron. And I suggest that your (Qawasmeh’s) presentation should be made to the Jewish community here. The total injustice and criminality of what has happened here doesn’t penetrate him…”

This seemed to be a totally unprovoked attack on “the Jewish community”. But instead of being criticised for such an outburst Qawasmeh assured Hayeem that he gives his presentation to Israelis and also to “Jews who come from the States”.

On leaving the room at the end of the event I was confronted by a young woman who told me that her grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor, would be ashamed of my behaviour. Someone else told me that she had no problem with Hamas. I was also twice told that my manner was too aggressive and that I was “not helping my own cause”.

Overlooking these shenanigans was Amnesty’s campaigns manager Kristyan Benedict. Benedict once tweeted “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar…each orders a round of B52s … #Gaza”. The three MPs happen to be Jewish. He also once threatened to beat me up after another Amnesty event, again after I had questioned what I had heard.

According to the Jewish Chronicle Benedict was forced to apologise for his tweet and Amnesty said that he would “focus his energy on managing AIUK’s crisis work, particularly the human rights crisis in Syria”.

But on Tuesday night he wasn’t focusing on Syria. He was at this disgusting anti-Israel event, albeit not chairing it for once.

Old habits obviously die hard.

Accused of racism at Amnesty after admitting to being Jewish.

Itay Epshtain (ICAHD), Kristyan Benedict (Amnesty) at Amnesty's London HQ last night.

Itay Epshtain (ICAHD), Kristyan Benedict (Amnesty) at Amnesty’s London HQ last night.

When you go to an anti-Israel event chances are you’re not more than a few feet from an anti-Semite. Last night after yet another anti-Israel event at Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre had finished I was immediately confronted by audience member Chris who politely asked if I was Jewish. I answered yes, obviously, but found that Chris wasn’t very happy with me .

I then switched on my recorder and this is how the conversation continued:

Chris: Jewish people feel connected by race or religion. Your support and the support of a lot of people in the Jewish community stems from that connection.
Me: What connection?
Chris: The one I just described about ethnicity and religion. That connection is the basis of the support that seems to come from the Jewish community, people like yourself.
Me: We also support a Palestinian state as well.
Chris: I think to people who are independent, which I am, I’m not Israeli, I’m not Palestinian, I’m not Jewish, to an independent observer it is so patent the immorality of what Israel is doing. And it is so patent that it is painful that Jewish people support this immorality on the basis of race and I think it is a kind of racism.

You can listen in to the full conversation by clicking on this link:

Chris on Jews at Amnesty’s London HQ.

Chris had just been at the talk by Itay Epshtain, co-director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Epshtain had given the usual anti-Israel talk, which included statistics about house demolitions, pictures of demolished houses and those maps of Israel and the West Bank.

Epshtain, who lives in Tel Aviv and who previously worked for Amnesty in Israel, wasn’t sure whether a one or two-state solution might be the best way forward and wanted all Jews and Palestinians to decide, but affirmed that boycott, divestment and sanctions was one “tool” to be used by “civil society” to put pressure on Israel.

Epshtain added that Israel might have committed both war crimes and crimes against humanity due to alleged breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

He then suggested that we, as in the audience, were paying for the “displacement and demolition” caused by Israel. We have to pay for the subsequent rehousing through our UK taxes and also via the EU (see clip at end).

Shame Epshtain didn’t tell the audience that we were also paying his salary and for his extravagant trips to London via ICAHD’s EU funding.

Epshtain described how Israel had “Judaised” the Galilee, which wasn’t supposed to be part of Israel under UN Res. 181, after 1948 and then used that as a template for “Judaising” the West Bank. And he claimed Palestinians get 20-30 litres of water per day compared to the WHO recommended amount of 100 per day while Israeli settlers, apparently, get 400 per day.

As for the illegality of the settlements Epshtain cited the totally irrelevant “advisory opinion” of the International Court of Justice as the main authoritative decision.

Surprise, Surprise Epshtain didn’t mention UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the British Mandate for Palestine which, arguably, allow the settlements to be there. He didn’t mention Hamas, Gaza or the Hamas Charter, which calls for the murder of Jews. Security for Israelis doesn’t seem a major issue for ICAHD.

During the Q&A I asked why, if things were so bad in the West Bank, Palestinian life expectancy there was higher than in most countries in the world according to the CIA World Factbook. Epshtain just muttered that he didn’t know whether the CIA World Factbook was correct.

If you’d like to meet Epshtain and, probably, Chris you can attend ICAHD’s AGM on 23rd March 2013. Can you guess where it’s taking place?

Correct. Amnesty’s Human Rights Action Centre.

Here is Jonathan Hoffman’s account:

http://www.thejc.com/blogs/jonathan-hoffman/amnesty-hosts-yet-another-anti-israel-headbanger

Clip of Epshtain from last night:

Amnesty International now censoring free speech and bloggers.

An example of the lies about Israel that Amnesty tells.

An example of the lies about Israel that Amnesty tells.

I was hoping to write about the Amnesty event Demolitions & Discrimination against Palestinian Citizens of Israel: The case of Al-Araqib but when I turned up last night I found I was on a banned list of six people because of someone’s comment on this blog.

Underneath my coverage of Amnesty’s event on 23rd May about Israel’s so-called control of the media Roberta Moore commented:

My two cents:

This conference should have been cancelled.
There are ways to force people to cancel such conferences. Threaten to bring the EDL. It works. For those that do not work, we infiltrate and disrupt. (Like I did with the One Society many cultures).

Our passive protests are NOT working guys! We need to change tactics. I know and I have just the thing to disrupt such conferences and ensure everyone gets out of the room 😉
No one gets hurt.

We must use a new approach.”

In hindsight I should have moderated this comment due to the threatening insinuation. I usually try to moderate comments like this, but some I don’t moderate because someone may have already criticised the commenter. In this case someone did just that by stating immediately:

“I agree that more active protests are desirable. But not from the EDL.

My hope was for more criticism of the EDL and its approach. But I do not believe that if the EDL was going to disrupt a future Amnesty event they would discuss it openly on my blog.

I think that most bloggers will accept it is quite a task moderating a blog and keeping an eye on every comment.

The last thing I would wish to do is to encourage any kind of disruption to an event.

But if you listen to the audio of my exchange with Tom Fyans, Amnesty’s Head of Campaigns, who was on the door to greet me, he was convinced that Roberta Moore and three of her associates, myself and Jonathan Hoffman were coming to disrupt the meeting.

Tom Fyans – Amnesty Head of Campaigns

Well, I have never disrupted an event before. And Roberta Moore and her three associates did not turn up last night.

As I made clear to Fyans I despise the EDL but he was trying to connect me and Jonathan to them on the basis that two or three of their members turned up to protest outside that same Amnesty event on 23rd May.

But how can I stop people turning up to protest?

I hope my being banned had nothing at all to do with my coverage of recent threatening behaviour and anti-Semitic ongoings at Amnesty including:

1. Middle East Monitor contributor Khalid Amayreh referring to Jews as “kike” on my blog Amnesty and Middle East Monitor’s Israel hatefest love-in while that event on 23rd May was presented by Middle East Monitor.

2. A lie that an Israeli soldier used a broken piece of glass to carve a Star of David into a Palestinian teenager’s forearm (the Star of David is too perfect and the plaster in the wrong place to cover the supposed wound). After that event Kristyan Benedict, also of Amnesty, physically threatened me. Amnesty never told me what happened to Benedict. Fyans refused to comment on it last night also.

Benedict is still working at Amnesty, while I cannot cover his ability to use Amnesty’s respected reputation to continuously attack Israel in a host of very unsavoury ways.

Meanwhile, the decision to ban me went straight to the top of Amnesty, it being rubber-stamped by Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK.

Abdel Bari Atwan at Amnesty: “I get worse coverage in the Jewish Chronicle than Hitler would!”

Greg Philo, Victoria Brittain, Abdel Bari Atwan and Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty last night.

Greg Philo, Victoria Brittain, Abdel Bari Atwan and Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty last night.

Last night at Amnesty journalist Abdel Bari Atwan held up an old JC front page, which had a headline about him that he didn’t like, and claimed he gets worse coverage than Adolf Hitler.

He spoke along with Tim “But Hamas was democratically elected” Llewellyn and Phil “We wait in fear of phone calls from the Israelis” Philo, while Victoria Brittan chaired and made sure not to take any pro-Israel questions in the Q&A. So much for Amnesty claiming:

“Those who disagree with MEMO, or indeed any apsect of the event, are of course welcome to attend and make their point in a reasonable way.”

We were treated to default rhetoric about Israel controlling the media and dominating ALL the political parties. Llewellyn said the problem was with the political system in this country where “the Liberal, Labour and Conservative parties, were definitely completely and utterly dominated by the pro-Israeli lobby”.

And during the Q&A Abe Hayeem, of Architects for Palestinians, complained that “Jewish Media, specifically the JC and Jewish News, ingrain propaganda in the community”.

Philo was there to, basically, flog his new book More Bad News From Israel but spared the time to accuse Israel of having a “sophisticated propaganda system” which led to the BBC making inappropriate statements like “Israel’s attack on Hamas enters its second week” when it should be speaking of “Israel’s attack on the Palestinians”.

He spoke of the way the media portrayed Israel as just responding to rockets, but ignored Israel’s attacks in the previous three years and that “many children had been killed”.

As a consequence, said Philo, although the public had sympathy for the Palestinians they wanted the Palestinians to stop firing rockets at Israel. They were repeating the language of the news that Israel “had to respond”.

He quoted a woman in one of his focus groups who said:

“When I saw the pictures of the dead children, it was dreadful. I was in tears. But it didn’t make me feel that the Palestinians and Hamas were right. I think the Palestinians haven’t taken the chance to work towards a peaceful solution.”

Philo said it was like she was reading out the Israeli press material. Philo asked the interviewee afterwards what was the source of her beliefs and her reponse was “(BBC) Radio 4. Avid Radio 4 listener. I got it all from there”.

When Philo told her that it was Israel that broke the ceasefire before Operation Cast Lead and that Hamas had agreed to stop the rockets if the blockade was lifted she claimed, apparently quite affronted, “that can’t be so, I would have known that”.

He said the reason for the lack of truthful information in the media was the pressures that journalists, especially those at the BBC, were coming under. One said “We wait in fear of the phonecall from the Israelis. The only issue then is how high up from their organisation has it come and how high up our organisation it has gone.” He said that minutes before going on air journalists have been discussing words they are allowed to use.

“That is the level of tension inside the organisation. Journalists aren’t biased, but are just playing it safe,” he said.

Former BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Llewellyn, couldn’t wait to slag off his old employer. He had already written a Guardian piece that day accusing the BBC of “imbalance and distortion” over their “coverage of Israel and Palestine”. The piece is a rehash of his Guardian article of seven years ago. What fun around the dinner table Llewellyn must be!

His main complaint last night though was about the BBC’s Death in the Med which, he said, portrayed the Israeli soldiers who boarded the boat as acting in “self-defence” when they killed some of those on board the Mavi Marmara.

His talk was basically a rant about how the BBC didn’t properly address his complaints. He referred to one response from the BBC as a “tendentious piece of garbage”. Well, join the club, Tim!

He even felt sorry for Jeremy Bowen, the BBC’s current Middle East correspondent, who is also, apparently, constrained in what he is allowed to say:

“Short of defying their bosses at the BBC I cannot see what they can do. Defying their bosses means they will be shoved sideways or fired. The system is weighted against many BBC, ITV and other reporters. I can feel Jeremy Bowen’s pain as he is dancing around the basic question. If he has no courage to confront the BBC, then I despair.”

As for Bari Atwan, or Barry as he likes to be called, he really is “the special one”. He moaned about how BBC’s Newsnight kept mysteriously dropping him at the last minute for the likes of Bibi Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Imagine that, Barry being dropped in favour of a world statesman! How low down can Newsnight get.

And, apparently, the Israel lobby even caused the BBC to stop him being referred to as a Middle East “Expert” or “Analyst” and he was targeted by said lobby for being the “most impressionable”. Talking about putting onself on a pedestal.

But then came his Hitler rant. To suggest that Jews might think him worse than Hitler really is a case of exaggerating his self-importance.

You can hear all this below and there are some photos of the protest outside Amnesty and a clip of Victoria Brittain summing up. In the clip she is referring to Abdullah Abul Rahma, who has recently been released from prison, and the village of Nabi Saleh and what happened there “last Friday”. She wants you to ask yourself why you didn’t see this on any TV screen. I have watched the clip (below) but cannot see anything that could possibly knock Al Qaeda, Libya, Syria or Bahrain out of the headlines.

But then, having been brainwashed by the Jewish Chonicle, I would say that wouldn’t I.

Counterintuitively, I came out of the meeting pleased that they were creating their own monster about Israel. Making people feel paranoid must be Israel’s latest weapon.

Peter Benenson was the founder of Amnesty.

Peter Benenson was the founder of Amnesty.

Pro-Israel activist outside Amnesty. MEMO is accused of supporting Hamas.

Pro-Israel activist outside Amnesty. MEMO is accused of supporting Hamas.

Audio of last night’s talks:

Greg Philo at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Tim Llewellyn at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Abdel Bari Atwan at Amnesty, 23rd May.

Q&A at Amnesty, 23rd May.