Amnesty International rejected a resolution to condemn the recent rise in anti-Semitism in the UK at its annual general meeting, held April 19, reported the British Jewish paper, The Jewish Chronicle. In a 468 to 461 vote, it was the only resolution proposed at the meeting which did not pass.
The resolution, which had been supported by the group’s UK chapter, called on Amnesty International to “campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK and lobby the government to tackle the rise in attacks”.
However, Amnesty International UK press officer Neil Durkin said, “After a really interesting debate where everyone condemned discrimination against all ethnic and religious groups, our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus. Amnesty International fights against discrimination in all its forms, and will continue to do so.”
Durkin added that the UK branch would consider the decision at its upcoming meeting, given its position on the topic.
Andrew Thorpe-Apps, who submitted the resolution for consideration in March, explained his motivations. “I recently joined [Amnesty International] and I believe passionately about human rights. I was aware that the organisation has been outwardly pro-Palestine in the past but it hasn’t stood up for the Jewish population and I think it would be good if they did that.”
“I’m not Jewish myself but I’ve been appalled by what I’ve seen in the press facing the Jewish community and an organisation like Amnesty should really add their voice to that as they do with other human rights issues.”
Jerusalem-based think tank NGO Monitor condemned the decision, saying in a statement that it “highlights the hypocrisy and moral bankruptcy of what was once a leader in human rights advocacy.”
The statement went on to list recent examples of blatant anti-Semitism within Amnesty International itself, including the activities of crisis response manager Kristyan Benedict. On one occasion, Benedict threatened violence against a pro-Israel attendee of an event he chaired. In 2011, “Benedict tweeted an attack on three British MPs whom he characterized as war-mongers, all of whom are Jewish”, prompting an investigation by the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism. Despite being investigated by Amnesty International itself, no serious steps were taken against Benedict.
NGO Monitor also called out Amnesty on its excuse for rejecting the resolution, pointing out that “AIUK has initiated ‘single focus’ campaigns frequently in the past”.
By way of example, the group cited a 2010 resolution, overwhelmingly approved, which stated, “Within the last year widespread discrimination and violence against Sinti and Roma communities has intensified in a number of European countries, which Amnesty International has published within respective country reports.”
The watchdog group concluded, “In this context, we note that NGO Monitor research has repeatedly shown that Amnesty International and AIUK disproportionately single out Israel for condemnations, and focus attacks on Israel while ignoring severe and systematic human rights violations in the region. Many Amnesty officials and ‘researchers’ have a history of intense anti-Israel activisms, promoting the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and Israeli guilt, to the exclusion of universal human rights. AIUK’s decision to turn its back on anti-Semitism is consistent with this immoral record.”