Amnesty steps up action against Israel

The security wall in Jerusalem: Amnesty International's UK branch plan exhibition on the wall

The security wall in Jerusalem: Amnesty International's UK branch plan exhibition on the wall

Amnesty International’s UK branch is continuing to highlight Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with an exhibition planned in London for next month directed against its security barrier.

“Against the Wall” features art and graffiti on the wall in the West Bank “which cuts through Palestinian communities with devastating effect”, according to the publicity.

The event follows a meeting last night on Israeli policy in East Jerusalem entitled “Capital Murder: Inside the Israeli authorities’ regime of discrimination and control in Occupied East Jerusalem”.

Journalist Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid: A Beginners Guide, described what was happening in the city as “a microcosm of Israeli apartheid”.

Mr White told the audience of 70 that a “shocking finding” of a United Nations study last year was that 87 per cent of East Jerusalem was unavailable for Palestinian construction.

Referring to a newspaper report that the Israeli authorities planned to surround the area with nine national parks, he said it would enable them to “market apartheid as being a tourist attraction”.

Najwa Silwadi, a Palestinian activist in Jerusalem, who addressed the meeting by video link, accused Israel of using its judicial system as a way to “ethnically cleanse Jerusalem of its indigenous people”.

Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty campaign manager, rejecting the idea that the human rights organisation disproportionately focused on Israel, said that it had made a priority of work on countries such as Iran, Burma and Sudan.

He noted that the human rights organistion also raised violations by the Palestinians, pointing out that it had posted a new item online urging action on behalf of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza.

Asked whether Amnesty might hold a meeting on Mr Shalit too, he replied, “Could do, why not? We will also talk about the thousands of Palestinian prisoners as well. We will have to do that if we want to be consistent.”

When Jonathan Hoffman, joint vice-chairman of the Zionist Federation, brought up a point on South Africa, Mr Benedict retorted: “You should be careful about bringing up this issue of apartheid in South Africa when you are representing a particular strain of government that did a lot to sustain apartheid longer than it should have done.”

    Last updated: 9:18am, May 17 2010