Saturday, May 26, 2007


I have already had my say (here and here) about Amnesty International and how that once respected organization has lost its moral compass.

This report from the Jerusalem Post on Amnesty's moral blindness examines how the politicisation of Amnesty International has destroyed a once worthy organization.

The dumbed down version of Amnesty now routinely ignores many of the real victims of human rights abuses around the world because of specific agendas that include the demonisation of the Great and the Little Satans.

"... there can be no greater abuse of humanitarian law than firing from a civilian area against a civilian area. Both Hizbullah and Hamas do this - not as an exception to the rule, but as their principal modus operandi. Both groups deliberately attempt to maximize civilian casualties on both sides.

According to basic humanitarian law standards, therefore, Amnesty should be jumping out of its skin in condemnation of Hizbullah and Hamas. Yet, in its Mideast section summary for 2006, the report states, "Frequent Israeli air and artillery attacks resulted in the deaths of more than 650 Palestinians, mostly in the Gaza Strip and mostly in the second half of the year" - without mentioning why Israel might be taking military action in Gaza in the first place.The report provides no sources for its Palestinian casualty figure, and only in a separate section is the reader advised that half of the victims were "unarmed" - implying that the other half were terrorists. Since Amnesty has no independent ability to collect such data, we do not know if it came from Hamas itself, or if Amnesty went to any effort to determine the veracity of its figures.

But the even more egregious problem is that the summary, incredibly, makes no mention of the hundreds of Kassam attacks directed at Israeli civilians that precipitated the need for Israeli action. Similarly, the summary of the Lebanon war treats Israel and Hizbullah as complete moral twins: 'Both Israeli forces and Hizbullah combatants showed a wanton disregard for civilians and committed gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including war crimes.'

Hizbullah built its entire terrorist infrastructure around the use of the Lebanese people as human shields, and with the purpose of targeting Israeli civilians. Israel, unfortunately, was unable to avoid killing civilians while fighting Hizbullah. To equate the two sides in this case is not just 'unfair,' but a display of staggering moral blindness."


Anonymous said...


As you pointed out recently it's always the butler that did it and Israel is the world's butler.

As a JP reader ponts out, "judging actions as to their morality while ignoring context is not just moral blindness, but moral indecency.

Suppose a man violently attacks a woman to rape her, and she responds by defending herself by strongly kicking him, saving herself from any physical harm. To then judge the event by denouncing her for the physical harm she caused him, while ignoring his actions which justified hers, is not blindness, but indecency.

Amnesty's 'neutrality' re aggressors vs defenders is moral indecency."

Anonymous said...

Gerald Steinberg has an excellent piece about Amnesty in the New York Sun at

where he suggests that Amnesty International itself needs to be scrutinized.

"For many journalists, diplomats, and political activists, Amnesty International is considered to be a highly reliable and objective source of information and analysis on human rights around the world. But the halo that surrounds its reports and campaigns is beginning to fray, as the evidence of political bias and inaccuracy mounts.

Recently, the Economist, published in Britain, noted that "an organisation which devotes more pages in its annual report to human-rights abuses in Britain and America than those in Belarus and Saudi Arabia cannot expect to escape doubters' scrutiny." Other critics, including law professor at Harvard, Alan Dershowitz, and the U.S.-based Capital Research Center, have been more pointed, providing evidence of Amnesty's systematic bias and reports based largely on claims by carefully selected "eyewitnesses" in Colombia, Gaza, and Lebanon.

As Amnesty releases its annual report on human rights for 2006, amid highly choreographed public relations events, and repeating the familiar condemnations of Israel and America, NGO Monitor has also published a report on Amnesty's activities in the Middle East. The result is not a pretty picture for those clinging to the "halo effect."

Using a detailed and sophisticated qualitative model for comparing relative resources devoted to the different countries, this report clearly shows that in 2006, Amnesty singled out Israel for condemnation of human rights to a far greater extent than Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, Egypt, and other chronic abusers of human rights.

During the year, Amnesty issued 48 publications critical of Israel, compared to 35 for Iran, 2 for Saudi Arabia, and only 7 for Syria. Many of the attacks directed at Israel took place during the war with Hezbollah, but this terror group and state-within-a-state also got relatively little attention from Amnesty.

Furthermore, as Amnesty has almost no professional researchers, many of the "factual" claims in these reports were provided by "eyewitnesses," whose political affiliations and credibility can be only guessed. And the language used in these reports also reflects an obsessive and unjustified singling out of Israel, with frequent use of terms such "disproportionate attacks," "war crimes," and "violations of international humanitarian law."

And while Amnesty International was founded to fight for the freedom of political prisoners, the officials in charge of this organization failed to issue a single statement calling for the release of the Israeli soldiers that were kidnapped by Hezbollah and Hamas, and who have not been heard from since their illegal capture.

These and many other details published in NGO Monitor’s report on Amnesty provide further evidence that this powerful NGO has lost its way, and is no longer a “respectable” or credible human rights organization.