Amnesty needs a wake-up call

By Eric Lee, July 25, 2014
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Imagine Israel without guns or ammunition, without the Iron Dome, helpless before the armed fanatics of Hamas. Of course, we can’t imagine such a thing. But Amnesty International can.

Its response to the current fighting in Gaza is a campaign to “stop the arms, stop the killing” -- and Amnesty is concerned about only one side. They write “The death toll is rising as rockets rain down on the citizens of Gaza … nobody is safe from the indiscriminate bombing. Israel says it’s targeting ‘Hamas operatives’ but most of the dead are civilians.”

No mention of Hamas rocket attacks, terrorist infiltrators, attack tunnels, the right of self-defence.

Amnesty calls “on the UK government to halt the supply of arms to Israel.”

This view has a long history in Amnesty.

Four years ago, I ran as a candidate for the Board of Amnesty’s UK Section, which has a quarter of a million members. Though only a small fraction of them voted in those elections, I placed fifth out of the 10 candidates, four of whom were elected. And I ran on platform explicitly critical of Amnesty’s views on Israel.

Amnesty lost its way a long time ago when it turned against Israel. It is not alone in that view, which is shared by many in the UK and elsewhere. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Amnesty remains a democratic organisation where the members can change policies.

Amnesty won the Nobel Peace Prize for good reason. It does fantastic work in defence of human rights. It should not be allowed to sleepwalk its way into irrelevance with these kinds of stupid and uninformed positions on Israel and Palestine. Amnesty needs a wake-up call now.

Eric Lee is a founder of Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine (TULIP)

Last updated: 3:10pm, July 25 2014