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The JC Leader: Amnesty & Jews

The Jewish Chronicle Leader column, January 26, 2018

    (Photo: Getty Images)
    It should be shocking that a human rights organisation — or any organisation — should declare itself Judenfrei. But outrageous as Amnesty International UK’s decision to bar the Jewish Leadership Council from its offices may be, it is not remotely shocking.
     
    Amnesty is a far cry now from the admirable organisation set up by Peter Benenson.
     
    How shocked he would be that it is now an ally of  groups who threaten human rights — organisations such as CAGE, which notoriously described “Jihadi John” as “a beautiful young man”, and MEND, which embraces and promotes Islamists.
     
    It was naïve of the JLC to attempt a rapprochement with Amnesty, which has already provided ample evidence that it has a problem with Jews. In 2012, for example, its then campaign manager, Kristyan Benedict, tweeted an antisemitic joke about three Jewish MPs. He has since been promoted. 
     
    But now Amnesty has taken this a stage further and banned a Jewish charity from its offices specifically because it is a Jewish charity.
     
    Amnesty’s supposed defence — that the JLC supports settlements — gives the game away. The JLC has never issued a statement or spoken in favour of settlements. But to Amnesty, it seems, British Jews as a whole should be held responsible for the actions of an Israeli government with which it disagrees. (As it happens, the JLC’s former chair, Sir Mick Davis, repeatedly spoke out against Israeli policy.)
     
    In one sense, we should be grateful for Amnesty’s behaviour: there is now no room for doubt that the distinction between being anti-Israel and antisemitic that it and some of its fellow campaigners use is pure sophistry. For Amnesty, Islamist organisations are welcome partners but Jewish charities beyond the pale.
     
    That is antisemitism, pure and simple.
     
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