Amnesty apologies for Israel 'war crimes' accusation

By Leon Symons, January 14, 2010

Amnesty International has apologised to the co-chairs of the Northern Ireland Friends of Israel after alleging that they had defended “war crimes” committed by Israel.

Steven Jaffe and Terry McCorran had threatened to sue Amnesty’s branch in Northern Ireland unless the allegation was withdrawn. The threat drew a swift and unreserved apology from local director Patrick Corrigan.

In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph last month, Mr Jaffe and Mr McCorran criticised Amnesty’s support of attempts to indict Israeli MKs wanting to visit Britain on war crimes charges.

They said that the stance was “a breathtaking betrayal of its own core values” and that under any other circumstances Amnesty would “deplore this deeply”. But where Israel was concerned, they said, Mr Corrigan “defends the stance as the ‘key principle of universal jurisdiction’.”

Mr Corrigan said in his letter of apology: “Mr Jaffe and Mr McCorran made no such attempt [to defend war crimes] and that my statement to this effect was not justified by the contents of their previously published letter.”

Mr Jaffe said: “Sadly, the words ‘war crimes’ and ‘Israel’ trip off the tongue all too lightly so far as Amnesty is concerned. In this case, those who call themselves friends of Israel are described as ‘defenders of war crimes’

Last updated: 4:34pm, January 14 2010