Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Amnesty International & Israel's destruction

Tuesday -- No pardon for Amnesty


Yesterday, Amnesty International, the world's premier "human rights" brand, called for the destruction of Israel. We're overdramatizing? Were AI to get its way, the UN Security Council would impose a comprehensive arms embargo on the world's only Jewish state - but not on any of the 22 member states of the Arab League, or on Iran. Over time, Israel would find it impossible to defend itself against conventional or WMD threats stemming from hostile states or Palestinian and Islamist terror organizations.

The pretext for the embargo call was the IDF's campaign in Gaza to compel Hamas to end its bombardment of southern Israel and cross-border aggression. Over the years, Hamas has killed hundreds of Israelis in terror attacks. Apparently spearheading AI's anti-Israel crusade is the group's "principal researcher on Israel/Occupied Palestine," the London-based Donatella Rovera.

Though Israel purchases arms from dozens of sources, AI's boycott call is really aimed at the Obama administration: "Israel's military offensive in Gaza was carried out [largely] with weapons, munitions and military equipment supplied by the USA and paid for with US taxpayers' money," claimed Malcolm Smart, AI's director for the Middle East.

Either to simulate evenhandedness, or perhaps because it really is blinded by moral relativism, AI perfunctorily called for a weapons embargo against Hamas. It thus appears incapable of distinguishing between Israel and Hamas, between victim and aggressor - between an albeit imperfect Western nation which values tolerance, representative government, rule of law and respect for minority rights, and a medieval-oriented Islamist movement which mobilizes Palestinian masses to hate, teaches its young to glorify suicide bombers, and inculcates a political culture wallowing in self-inflicted victimization.

AMNESTY DOES much good work. Many of its rank-and-file members and contributors are sincerely motivated by a desire to make the world a better place. Yet beyond this good-hearted circle stands a professional cadre backed by agenda-driven money, which, we suspect, is exploiting Amnesty's good name. This cadre relies on world-class public relations and advertising firms to leverage AI's human rights brand for blatantly partisan purposes.

AI has long been under internal pressure to champion an arms embargo against Israel. Some have intimated that Jews in the organization were standing in the way. Francis Boyle, a law professor and pro-PLO activist: "You have… the very powerful role played by the Israel lobby on Amnesty International USA… Amnesty pretty much kowtows to them…" Plainly, Boyle's "very powerful" Jews have been sidelined.

AI is not some amorphous, beatific entity; it's comprised of personalities with all the usual human foibles. Everyone connected to AI needs to say whether they really oppose Israel's right to self-defense. Are we to assume that AI's International Secretariat - Irene Zubaida Khan, Paul Hoffman, Tony Klug, Susan Waltz, Jan Egeland, Menno Kamminga, Jaap Jacobson, Margaret Bedggood, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Neil Sammonds, Melvin Coleman - all support an anti-Israel arms embargo?

AI gets money from foundations such as the Sigrid Rausing Trust (which also funds B'Tselem). Does Sigrid Rausing personally want Israel to stand defenseless against Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas? Do board members Josh Mailman, Susan Hitch, Andrew Puddephat and Geoffrey Budlender?

The MacArthur Foundation, better known for its "genius awards," also funds AI. We have no idea whether its board - Robert E. Denham, Lloyd Axworthy, John Seely Brown, Jonathan F. Fanton, Jack Fuller, Jamie Gorelick, Mary Graham, Donald R. Hopkins, Will Miller, Mario J. Molina, Marjorie M. Scardino and Claude M. Steele - appreciate what could happen to six million Israeli Jews were AI to get its embargo. Does the actor Nicolas Cage, another major AI benefactor, stand behind the embargo call?

A good chunk of AI money comes from its American board - Steve Abrams, Jeff Bachman, Simon Billenness, Jessica Morris Carvalho, Mayra Gomez, Rick Halperin, Theresa Harris, Shahram Hashemi, Bill Jones, Frank Kendall, Carole Nagengast, Christianna Nichols Leahy, Dennis Nurkse, Phyllis Pautrat, Aniket Shah, Barbara Sproul, Bret Thiele and Diego Zavala. Which of them will be first to speak out against this immoral embargo call?

In calling on the US and UN to rob Israel of its ability to defend itself, Amnesty International is speaking in the name of its leaders and benefactors. Silence is acquiescence. Or they can dissociate themselves from one of Amnesty's biggest errors in judgment.

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