Think Tank Blog
16 October 09
In a deeply disturbing move that marks the end of any pretence at impartiality as well as another new low in British attitudes to Israel, Amnesty International’s UK branch has now indicated that it endorses the notion that Israel is an apartheid state.
For an event scheduled for October 28 entitled “Discriminatory and unsustainable: Water and politics in Israel & the Occupied Palestinian Territories” Amnesty has revealed that its keynote speaker will be Ben White, author of “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide” which was published in June by Pluto Press.
On its website, Amnesty is promoting White’s book and describes him as “a writer and freelance journalist specialising in Palestine/Israel.”
In fact, White is an anti-Israeli ideologue whose book is riddled with distortions aimed at smearing the Jewish state by association with apartheid South Africa. In promoting his book and honouring him as keynote speaker, Amnesty has endorsed the legitimacy of the apartheid analogy in relation to Israel and thus placed itself inside the extremist wing of the anti-Israel camp.
Amnesty has simultaneously put itself in the company of far-Left and militantly anti-Zionist groups such as the charity War on Want which has been the subject of investigations by the UK’s main charity watchdog, the Charity Commission, after it too promoted White’s book at an event over the summer.
Until recently, the use of the apartheid analogy to demonise and deligitimise Israel was the preserve of mavericks on the fringes whom mainstream organisations would have shunned as untouchable.
But in the last few months and years it has gradually gained currency in the mainstream through the efforts of NGOs, Muslim groups, the Guardian newspaper and high profile international figures such as former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
The Nazi analogy has also begun to move from the fringes towards the centreground and was widely used to attack Israel during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009.
A once respected human rights organisation (of which I was once a member), Amnesty International’s credibility has been severely damaged by its anti-Israel stance as many observers, including Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, have remarked.
However, the latest move marks a point of departure since it takes Amnesty out of the ranks of NGOs which are merely characterised by anti-Israeli leanings and places it inside the realm of anti-Israel activism.
Human Rights Watch has moved in a similar direction. It admitted earlier this year that it had used its disputes with pro-Israel groups as a marketing tool for its fund raising efforts in Saudi Arabia.
As I have remarked before, the anti-Israeli agenda is not simply a problem for Israel. Its adoption also has the effect of corrupting those who participate in it. Few examples are more illustrative of such dangers than the corruption of the global human rights agenda by Human Rights Watch, the UN Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International.
It is a depressing and shameful state of affairs. But since so few people (in Britain and Europe at least) seem motivated to do anything substantial to address it, it is likely to get worse rather than better as time goes by. I really wonder where this is all going.
Anyone who wants a fuller discussion of such matters should get a copy of my new book, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel. Click here to read about it and purchase it: