Amnesty International is facing criticism after its members voted against a motion that would have compelled the organization to combat anti-Semitism in the UK.
A motion to join the fight against rising anti-Semitism in Great Britain was narrowly defeated by 468 votes to 461 at the annual Amnesty International conference on Sunday.
Amnesty member Andrew Thorpe-Apps, who introduced the motion to “campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK and lobby the government to tackle the rise in attacks,” told the Jewish Chronicle: “I’m not Jewish myself, but I’ve been appalled by what I’ve seen in the press facing the Jewish community, and an organization like Amnesty should really add their voice to that as they do with other human rights issues.”
Thorpe-Apps noted that his motion was the only one rejected during the entire conference. “I recently joined and I believe passionately about human rights,” he said after the vote in an interview with the Chronicle. “I was aware that the organization 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.”
Amnesty has shown extreme bias in the past towards Israel, accusing it of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Neglecting the Human Rights of Jews in the UK
Amnesty International’s UK press officer, Neil Durkin, tried defending the controversial decision. “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,” he told the Chronicle. “Amnesty International fights against discrimination in all its forms, and will continue to do so.”
However, contrary to Durkin’s claim, Amnesty has published several reports focusing on specific forms of discrimination, including a 123-page report titled “Choice and Prejudice Discrimination against Muslims in Europe.”
Durkin added that “Amnesty’s UK Board, which supported the resolution, will be considering the outcome of the vote at their next meeting.”
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Jonathan Sacerdoti, spokesperson for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, questioned why Amnesty would be less concerned about discrimination against Jews than with other groups.
“Anti-Semitism is a challenge for the whole of society, not just for Jewish people. If these reports are correct, it seems surprising that fighting a rise in racist Jew-hatred should be such a divisive issue for Amnesty,” Sacerdoti said. “The human rights of Jews, a tiny minority in the UK, need to be protected and defended against attacks of any sort, just as those of other groups do.”
Responding to Amnesty’s decision, NGO Monitor, an independent research institution that monitors other NGOs claiming to fight for human rights but which in fact assault Israel, notes that its research has repeatedly shown that Amnesty International disproportionately singles 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,” NGO Monitor said in a statement. “Amnesty’s decision to turn its back on antisemitism is consistent with this immoral record.”
Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have reached a record level in 2014. According to the Community Security Trust, the number doubled to 1,168.
The Antisemitism Worldwide 2014 Annual Report, published by Tel Aviv University last week, showed that there was a sharp rise in violent anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2014, with 141 incidents as compared with 95 in 2013.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would be “heartbroken” if the Jewish community in Britain no longer felt safe, and he expressed concern over the growing anti-Semitism in his country.