Athe latest news from mnesty international report defining Israel as an “apartheid” state since its founding has been controversial.
On the merits, the group is wrong, because the Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid and US Representative. Ted Deutsch eloquently demonstrated. The group’s methodology is also flawed. After the report was released, Lazar Berman, the Times of Israel diplomatic correspondent, interviewed Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, and Philip Luther, Director of Research and Advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa. Suffice it to say that Callamard and Luther embarrassed themselves with inconsistency and general ignorance. Berman exposed the group’s hypocrisy toward China and the Uyghurs, as well as its uncertainty about its own statistics, and sought an apparent admission that Amnesty considers the Jewish presence in the Old City’s Jewish quarter of Jerusalem as an illegal settlement.
The State Department rejected Amnesty’s report. “We reject the notion that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid,” spokesman Ned Price said. Thomas Nides, the US ambassador to Israel and a political candidate for Biden, tweeted“Come on, that’s nonsense. It’s not language we’ve used and won’t use.”
Such statements are welcome, but if the State Department is serious and truly believes that the Amnesty report is a slander, then it should completely re-evaluate its relationship with Amnesty International.
The State Department quote regularly Amnesty International reports and researches its own annual human rights reports. The latest report tagging Israel with the apartheid label is not the first time that Amnesty International has allowed a subjective political agenda to trump an objective analysis.
Amnesty International, for example, recommended for Mohammed Al Roken, who sought to violently overthrow the government of the United Arab Emirates. Roken also endorsed a statement by the Global Campaign Against Aggression, an organization founded by designated al-Qaeda financier Abd al-Rahman al-Nuaimi, that said declared“The Muslim ummah – at this time – faces vicious aggression from the powers of tyranny and injustice, from Zionist power and from the far-right led US administration, which is striving to ‘to gain control of nations and peoples, and is to steal their wealth, annihilate their will, and change their curricula and social orders.’
When I later criticized Amnesty International for its association and selection, its researcher Mansoureh Mills, whom I have never met, suggested to a Qatar-funded media that the United Arab Emirates had paid me. (For the record, I have never received money from a foreign state or its agents, although I have received money from the US government for various contract research on unrelated matters).
When I challenged Mills for evidence, she deleted her tweet. However, this whole episode underscored just how shoddy Amnesty’s standards and research are, and how individual animosity outweighs rigor. Such negligence now casts doubt on Mills’ Iran research: It’s unclear whether she’s shooting from the hip or working hard to confirm her accusations.
Similarly, after the murder of a prominent dissident, Amnesty International apparently self-censored his work on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya in order to preserve access to this country. The group too ignored international case law in order to condemn the arrest of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotelier made famous in Hotel Rwanda, who later started funding terrorism. In this case, it is hard not to conclude that Amnesty believes in different norms of international law depending on whether the subject is black or white.
There is also the internal hypocrisy: after Gaetan Mootoo, a 30-year-old employee, lambasted Amnesty in his suicide note, the group paid compensation to his family but required they keep the settlement private. Neither was his the first suicide attributed to the group’s toxic culture.
Amnesty International has done good work and an important watchdog role in the past. Unfortunately, it has long proven to be shoddy and subjective, driven more by the partisan lens of its leaders and researchers and less by the objective standards of international and humanitarian law.
It is high time the State Department stopped treating him as a credible source of human rights research in its reports.
Michael Rubin (@mrubin1971) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner Confidential Beltway. He is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.