I have just published a forensic 200-page report on Amnesty international, the world’s largest humanitarian NGO.
The overarching conclusion is that Amnesty International has an institutional hostility towards Israel that borders on obsession, with the NGO visibly attacking Israel more frequently and with far more energy, than it does any other nation.
When all of the evidence presented is collected together, it is as if Amnesty has declared war on Israel.
The research was some of the most detailed I have carried out and it was commissioned by Jewish Human Rights Watch. I followed over 50 Amnesty social media accounts and monitored the output of over 40 staff and volunteers who work or have worked for the NGO.
I poured through 100,000s of social media posts. The process took several months and involved rigorous checks to try to identify what Amnesty were doing and how much of their time was spent focusing on Israel.
I was shocked by the findings. I knew when I started that accusations of bias against Amnesty were not new.
NGO Monitor, an Israel-based NGO that analyses anti-Israel bias has frequently been critical of Amnesty. Even having read their detailed analysis, I was still unprepared for what I found.
The report provides examples from the absurd to the foul. One Amnesty human rights researcher publicly asked non-Jewish citizens of Israel not to vote in an election. How cruel a twist is this, in a world where voting rights are so frequently denied.
An Amnesty media manager for the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region was found advising Palestinian terror groups like Hamas not to publicly identify their martyrs if they were lost in an action, but rather to have the west believe the fallen were innocent civilians.
An Amnesty consultant tweeted an image of two Islamic Jihad terrorists, with a love heart — and she wrote the word ‘heroes’ above the images. In the same week she tweeted that others in Gaza should be careful about what they say publicly — so as not to harm ‘the resistance’.
A Deputy Regional Director at Amnesty — a person charged with reporting on human rights violations throughout the Middle East and North Africa region — not only obsesses only about Israel but was once a Palestinian activist who used to have Leila Khaled, the PFLP hijacker, as his Facebook profile picture.
The list goes on and on.
In the field, Amnesty eagerly employ people with a history of anti-Israel activism, then sends them in as ‘unbiased human rights workers’ to report on what is happening. Their gruesome and biased accounts then provide the motivations for constructing far larger Amnesty campaigns against Israel.
How did an organisation that seeks to be ‘impartial’ possibly think that employing anti-Israel activists to report on Israeli activity was acceptable?
When monitoring an Amnesty researcher in Lebanon, I soon discovered she had studied at SOAS and had helped pass the BDS motion there. At the time she proudly tweeted that ‘Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea’.
When the existence of the ongoing research became public knowledge, some Amnesty people even deleted social media accounts in what appears to have been an attempt to hide evidence.
Amnesty seem to have been on a slide to self-destruction. They used to have a rule that prevented people from working on issues where a conflict of interest may have occurred.
They dropped this in the early 2000s and it appears to be a major factor in their slide to obsession.
Amnesty began to rely on ‘one-cause’ activists who saw the entire world through the lens of a single conflict and believed in ‘human rights’ only within the context of their sectarian cause.
The term ‘human rights activist’ in this scenario becomes perverse. The hate is visible and human rights activism has been bolted on top. Amnesty employed people and used volunteers that didn’t believe in Amnesty’s core value system. For an NGO that is no more than the sum of its parts, it means Amnesty didn’t change them — they changed Amnesty.
Amnesty also became vulnerable to forces who see western concern with human rights as a weakness to be exploited.
The London based staff are little better. On dozens of their social media accounts there was a consistent bias against Israel. It mattered little whether their official focus was meant to be elsewhere. As hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered throughout the world, some Amnesty staff were spending more of their time criticising Israel, than talking about anything else.
In Amnesty’s eyes, Israel is worse than North Korea, Syria and the DRC. One after another, Amnesty staff would compare Israel to the world’s most repressive regimes. Sometimes the comparison would even be against radical terror groups such as Boko Haram.
The hostility towards Israel seems to be about its very existence, not its policies or actions. The qualitative difference, in the way Amnesty staff referenced Israel, when compared to other nation states was simply shocking.
This qualitative bias was visible everywhere. Pakistan is a sectarian nation that was forged in a bloody partition that dwarfed events in 1948 Israel. Pakistan is a serial abuser of human rights and yet is treated by Amnesty with respect. Pakistani flag-wavers are accepted at Amnesty in a way an Israeli flag-waver never would be.
Israel is not the only victim of Amnesty bias, although it is by far the most frequently attacked. There is a clear political world vision that comes to light. Amnesty rarely criticise nations such as Pakistan but often attack India. They are quick to jump on persecution of Muslims throughout the world but leave persecuted Christians to suffer in silence.
Then there is BDS, the boycott Israel movement. Dozens of Amnesty’s people push out pro BDS messages, even if Amnesty refuses officially to endorse it. In fact, three of Amnesty’s most recent campaigns against Israel, align perfectly with the three central BDS aims, in a manner that suggests co-ordination rather than coincidence.
If Amnesty has a recruitment policy that employs hardcore BDS activists, it is no surprise that Amnesty has been gradually sliding towards campaigns that seek to bolster the boycott movement.
But this isn’t just about bias. In areas of sectarian violence, Amnesty is enabling activists to dress up as ‘human rights defenders’. This can actually place the lives of genuine human rights activists at risk. And if they are obsessing all the time about Israel, how many persecuted people in the world are being ignored?
Amnesty International must take urgent action. It must assess the impact of the bias highlighted in this report and should conduct an external independent audit of its activity, processes, allocation of resources and recruitment policy.
It is clear that some of Amnesty’s information on Israel is tainted. It has come from sources that publicly support terrorist groups and openly suggest that information damaging to the cause should be withheld. It is reasonable to conclude that Amnesty should roll back their campaigns until they can separate truth from fiction.
Amnesty once won the Nobel Peace Prize. It was a bastion of hope and ethical conduct. How the mighty have fallen.
The full report can be found here