Amnesty boss attacked over Israel claims

By Marcus Dysch, May 17, 2012

An Amnesty International director’s claim that she had not received complaints about the charity’s work with Israelis and Palestinians has been disputed by the Zionist Federation.

During an interview with the JC last month, Kate Allen denied that Amnesty displayed bias in its work in the Middle East. She said she had not received any letters of complaint or concern from the Jewish community or supporters of Israel.

ZF executive director Alan Aziz said he had read Ms Allen’s comments “with dismay” as his organisation is still waiting for a response to a letter it sent her in January.

Mr Aziz wrote to Ms Allen this week requesting a meeting to discuss “other concerns that we have with Amnesty’s position towards Israel”.

Ms Allen had defended Amnesty’s work, saying she was “very proud”, amid widespread criticism from groups supporting Israel. She denied that the charity’s reports on the region had been “one-sided” and said critics had taken complaints too far.

In the interview, she said: “I’ve had no representations from the community. Nobody has written to me. Let’s be clear, I haven’t had a letter.

“Where there have been complaints about events, I know they have been looked into and people have been responded to. I’ve not had representations from the community about bias in our work.”

In his letter to Ms Allen this week, Mr Aziz wrote: “We are still awaiting a response from you to our chairman’s letter of January 12 on the matter of Ben White having his book launch hosted by Amnesty.

“You claimed to have no knowledge of the event and that Amnesty regularly lets out the building. Yet this event was advertised quite strongly on your own website.”

An Amnesty spokesman said there were “limits” to how many letters Ms Allen could deal with personally, and said the charity would now review how it deals with correspondence.

He added: “Our senior representatives are always willing to meet organisations to discuss these matters face to face whenever we can, and we are currently in the process of replying to a number of correspondents about this.”

Last updated: 11:12am, May 17 2012