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February 27, 2014 4:23 pm

Watchdog Group Highlights Anti-Israel Credentials of Amnesty International’s Researchers

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Cover of Amnesty International's report about the IDF. Photo: Screenshot / Haim Schwarczenberg.

Cover of Amnesty International's report about the IDF. Photo: Screenshot / Haim Schwarczenberg.

As Amnesty International published an anonymous 85-page report condemning Israel on Thursday, NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem-based charity watchdog, highlighted the backgrounds of Amnesty’s researchers, several of whom were full-time anti-Israel activists before joining the human rights group.

Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor’s international legal counsel, told The Algemeiner on Thursday, “We are not sure who wrote the report because Amnesty doesn’t say — in violation of NGO fact-finding guidelines established by the International Bar Association.”

The only name associated with the report, on its press release, was Philip Luther, Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International, who has managed to leave few footprints anywhere online; even Luther’s public LinkedIn profile provides little clue to his experience or credentials.

The cover photography from the report was courtesy of Haim Schwarczenberg, who describes himself as a “photographer and activist in Israel” on the anti-Israel blog Mondoweiss, to which he contributed a report last year. Schwarczenberg’s Facebook account features a stream of hundreds of photos showing Arabs igniting tires to hurl at soldiers, aiming slingshots, and, of course, throwing rocks at the Israel Defense Forces.

Herzberg said that what NGO Monitor has been able to confirm is that “the Israel researcher based in London, Deborah Hyams, was a human shield in Beit Jala; the Amnesty US Israel researcher, Edith Garwood, used to be a member of the International Solidarity Movement. Also, another one of the researchers, Rasha Abdul-Rahim, describes herself as ‘a ranty Palestinian activist‘ on Twitter.”

“Again, I don’t know if any of these people worked on the report, but their hiring certainly shows that Amnesty doesn’t care about objectivity or the credibility of its reporting,” Herzberg said.

In a 2012 research note, NGO Monitor said, “Amnesty claims that it maintains a policy of ‘impartiality’ and is unbiased in its research of allegations of human rights violations.”

“Despite this claim, Amnesty employs an anti-Israel activist as a researcher in its ‘Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian Authority’ section,” NGO Monitor said.

“This individual, Deborah Hyams, has a well-documented history of radical activism in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and, correspondingly, weakens Amnesty’s credibility and claims of neutrality.”

On its website, NGO Monitor elaborated on Hyams’s extensive background in anti-Israel activism. In 2001, when Hyams volunteered as a “human shield“ in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, it was to deter Israeli military responses to recurrent gunfire and mortars targeting Jewish civilians in Jerusalem. In 2002, Hyams stated that some “of Israel’s actions, all the way back to 1948, could be called ‘ethnic cleansing.'” In 2008, she was signatory to a letter claiming Israel is “a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land.”

Prior to joining Amnesty, Hyams worked for “some of the most radical political advocacy NGOs in the Arab-Israeli conflict,” according to NGO Monitor, including the Alternative Information Center (AIC), Jews for Justice in Palestine and Israel (JPPI), Rachel Corrie Foundation, and Ma’an Network. “Any of these affiliations should have been a red flag for Amnesty,” the watchdog said.

Another Middle East researcher, Kristyan Benedict, was described by NGO Monitor as having “a strong anti-Israel obsession, fueled by global conspiracy theories,” of which it cited several from a 2011 interview with Labour Friends of Palestine.

“Israel is now included in the list of stupid dictatorial regimes who abuse peoples’ basic universal rights – along with Burma, North Korea, Iran and Sudan, its government has the same wanton attitude to human beings,” Benedict said in the interview.

When asked if Amnesty would hold an event to aid kidnapped Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit, Benedict, according to the UK’s Jewish Chronicle, answered, “Could do, why not? We will also talk about the thousands of Palestinian prisoners as well. We will have to do that if we want to be consistent.”

Described in 2012 as Amnesty’s UK campaign manager, Benedict had to be suspended after a joke on Twitter at the expense of Jewish Members of Parliament, in Britain, backfired, compelling his superiors to even apologize for their employee’s tastelessness.

Outside of the direct Arab-Israeli conflict, NGO Monitor’s Herzberg said that one of Amnesty’s partners, Moazzem Begg, was arrested in the UK on Tuesday “on suspicion of attending a terrorist training camp and facilitating terrorism overseas.”

The former Guantanamo detainee and alleged supporter of the Taliban was one of four people arrested on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences, the UK’s Telegraph reported, citing the police.

Begg sparked controversy in 2010 after the UK’s Sunday Times reported that Amnesty had suspended Gita Sahgal, head of its Gender Unit, for criticizing the organization’s alliance with the Pakistani-born activist.

In an official response to the “Global Petition to Amnesty International: Restoring the Integrity of Human Rights,” which garnered 750,012 signatures, Amnesty’s interim Secretary General, Claudio Cordone, defended Begg, stating that “jihad in self-defense” is not “antithetical to human rights.”

The organization had previously claimed it collaborated with Begg because he is a “compelling speaker“ and because of its commitment to “upholding the universality of human rights.”

At the time, popular columnist Christopher Hitchens, who has since passed away, described the “degeneration and politicization” of Amnesty as “a moral crisis that has global implications,” urging Amnesty members to withhold their funding from the once stalwart defenders of human rights.

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  • Jan

    AI had a devastating report on Saudi Arabia, one that the most ardent islamaphobe would love.

    AI reports on many countries, not just Israel. I know many do not want even one word of reproach uttered against Israel let alone put those words into a report by a well respected human rights organization.

    I have read much, but not all of the AI report and it seems that the human rights violations by the IDF come at a time when Palestinians are legitimately protesting against the theft of their lands by nearby settlements or for the wall. Seems to me that since the Palestinians are already fenced off from Israel there is no reason for the iDF to even be there unless it is, as stated one former Israeli soldier, “to make a provocation.”

    Since the AI report did not include human rights violations for 2014 here is another one for you who want to wear blinders.

    On Jan 31st, without warning, Israeli forces attacked two young Palestinian athletes on their return home from football training in al-Ram in the central West Bank. They shot them repeatedly in the feet, unleashed attack dogs that mauled their arms and legs and dragged them hundreds of feet on the ground, beat them and broke their knees The youths, cousins Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17, will never play competitive sports again and it is likely that neither will be able to walk again.

    This is not surprising as Israeli youth who learn the superiority of the Jewish people, who take that belief into the IDF where they learn to think of Palestinians as subhuman, believe that they can do anything and get away with it which they usually do.

    • HH

      I just don’t believe this is “without warning.” Every IDF soldier is trained to observe a 5-step engagement process before even cocking his rifle – this idea of “without warning” is a lie. Read the AI report, these kids with stones are warned, and continue; they are asked to stop, and they don’t; they are warned, they ignore it; they are given another chance, they continue. Lemme ask you this, when was the last time you threw a rock at a city policeman? If I dared do that here, then continued when asked to stop and warned, I wouldn’t make it out alive, either.

    • ian cohen

      if only arab terrorists, who manipulate amnesty international as useful idiots, were as concerned about their use of child human shields.
      Amnesty is a propaganda organisation for hamas.

  • Irving

    The Palestinian children are taught to hate Jews from their beginnings at school. BHO learned that way as well. I am not convinced that he has changed over the early years of his life. A leopard doesn’t change his spots. We lost our chance in the last election to help change the direction we are going at. Don’t forget we won almost 50% of the population that voted. Shame on those who stayed away and didn’t vote. We need to take charge of the next elections in 2014 and 2016 to elect those that will make the difference. It is not too late.

  • Carol

    Time to change the narrative — Human Rights Council? No more. HUMAN BLIGHTS COUNCIL. Practice it. Say it. Spread it.

    As for Amnesty International, how about Shamesty International? Change the labels! SPread the word!

    • Judy Silver-Shapiro

      Self-loathing Hungarian HOLOCAUST the self-outing atheist, george soros, is one of their biggest supporters.

      He is also one of SON-OF-ISLAM obama’s biggest donors and supporters.

  • Steve Butman

    Organizations like Amnesty International and the United Nations ONLY exist to condemn Israel. No matter what happens, anywhere around the world, blame Israel, blame the Jews.

  • Beatrix

    The Palestinians lost their land in 1948 in a war they started. In 1964, Arafat, an Egyptian of Palestinian descent, re-established the Palestinian cause with a combination of non-stop violence and propaganda using the rhetoric of the time: Racism, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing. None of this applied to the Palestinians, but it did apply to issues in the 1960s—racism in America, apartheid in South Africa, and ethnic cleansing in many nations resulting from local wars.

    Because Arafat applied these terms to Israel, the left keeps their time of glory alive by using terms against Israel that are 50 years out of date. It’s the same as if people in the 1960s had continued to fight WW1. The left’s inability to face today’s issues accurately could destroy the Democratic party.

  • All these groups are filled with anti Israel activists.They will lose all credibility.It would be niceif some rich person put Ads in major publications of the history of the people judging Israel and their past associations

  • Marianne Galmor

    Thank´s for the warning. No more signing of petitions from my side for Amnesty etc.

  • zhingisender

    Amnesty International has history when it comes to backing Islamic terrorists – for example Moazzam Begg and Anwar al-Awlaki.

  • David Hoffman

    The reason that the international Left demonises Israel is very simple. They’re convinced that her survival in a hostile region up to now is a fluke, and that sometime soon, be it in 2 years or 25, she will be attacked and conquered by Muslims, either Sunni or Shiite.

    Assuming their premise – which I absolutely do not – what happens next is clear: a mass slaughter of the Jews of Israel, accompanied by the most appalling atrocities, while the world looks on and does nothing. Which would cause anyone with a social conscience terrible pangs of remorse, for knowing this was about to happen and doing nothing to prevent it. UNLESS that person had prepared him- or herself in advance, by demonising and dehumanising the victims. In which case, he or she will be able to sleep soundly at night, saying that “they got no more than they deserved.”

    It won’t work. Just as Europe will need another few centuries of contrition to expunge the guilt of the Crusades and the Holocaust, so too “Progressives” everywhere would have to live with the guilt of knowing that they saw this coming and did nothing to stop it…if their nightmare fantasy were to become reality, which I believe will never happen.


      And I can assure you 99.9% of them will sleep like babies and rest assured any contrition signs will be just plain and unadulterated lip service…

      As my fater jsed to say, the world is harlot and thief

    • Jenny

      Over 60% of Europe is anti-Semitic. Publications all over Europe demonizing Israel and the Jewish people is common-place. The right wing fringe there, hates us as well. I’m not sure there will be any guilt. The guilt only lasted lonh enough to complete the Balfour Agreement. After that, the world turned on Israel.
      It’s amazing that people who claim to be for human rights support the groups that kill women, children, gay people, people of different faiths. Jewish people don’t even collectively believe in the death penalty, according to the Talmud.

      • Steve Butman

        Right on!

    • judorebbe

      Most Europeans feel no guilt. The dominant emotion is regret that we survived.
      The “progressives”, following in the footsteps of Lenin, are not about to quietly allow a few million of “God’s Chosen People” stand in their way forward (to totalitarianism).

    • Ron Blower

      Never seen that hypocrisy expressed so elegantly, Mr.Hoffman. Not only am I impressed, I’m grateful, as your conceptualizations opens new avenues— unstated, of course— in my discussions with the ill-informed supporters of such as AI.

      Again, many thanks.

  • Wolff Bachner

    I wonder if this collection of human refuse will ever find the courage to drop their pretense of caring about Human Rights and finally just admit their true feelings; that they hate us because we are Jews and they want us all dead. I would have a great deal more respect for their honesty than I do for their constant lying and fabrications.

    Having said that, Israel and the Jewish nations has survived for 3500 years, Hebrew is the oldest language still in regular use in the history of the human race and the entire civilized world bases their laws and their religious faith on Jewish philosophy and ethics.

    The Jewish people and the Jewish nation of Israel with our undivided eternal capital in Jerusalem will be here long after the Jew haters are dust and ash. We have our spirit and Ha’shem to guide us.

    AM YISRAEL CHAI! The People Of Israel Live!


      But I don’t blame them…

      I blame what allows them to act with impunity instead of grabbing them by the collar and seat of the pants and a good kick in the bottom, send them all the way to the North Pole…

      On the contrary, even outright treason is taken nonchalantly and then…!!!

    • Steve Butman


  • Bernard Ross

    anmesty, oxfam,…..looks like they are infiltrating all the major NGO’s

  • HaroldT

    The real villains are USA and EU that fund this evil organization.

  • m_

    As a former supporter of Amnesty International, I have given money to them but not in recent years. At one time I gave a monthly amount. I will certainly not contribute to the Amnesty International in the future. The late Christopher Hitchens was certainly right on mark in his description of the “degeneration” of Amnesty International. Amnesty International has morphed into a partisan ally of Palestinian terrorism and an enemy of Israel.

  • Martin Bookspan

    Further proof, if further proof were needed, that Amnesty International’s personnel is comprised of warped observers whose words and presence must be condemned and ignored by civilized humanity.

  • zvi gross

    Has to be shamed and it’s bigoted actions renders it irrelevant in the Israel Arab context.

  • Julian Clovelly

    Last week it was Oxfam
    This week it is Amnesty International.
    Who are they going to pick on next – The Red Cross? – Medicins Sans Frontieres? – Guide Dogs for the Blind? – The American Cheese Society?

    This targetting of charitable and human rights organisations does nobody any good, and only reduces the credibility of the the State of Israel. It is a thoroughly silly tactic.

    We all know this is really about the settlements – so how about stopping this game and addressing the real problem – that the settlements do not have international acceptance and support? Nothing is going to change the dominant world opinion that they are simply in the wrong place. Live with it.

    Attacking well respected organisations will get the settlers nowhere. A compromise solution on the ground is needed. This is something that needs to be sorted out within Israel itself, not extended into being an international propaganda war. All propaganda creates hate. Surely we have learnt that by now. Think of the children. Without parental training to hate and fear each other little children play together, happily ignoring barriers of language, religion, nationality, and culture

    And then we take away their future by giving them a culturally slanted vision of the past into which we insist they fit.

    • Debra Michels

      But are you aware of how zealously the Palestinians educate their children to think of Jews as “offspring of pigs and monkeys” and to carry on the campaign of hatred and violence towards Israel?

      I think it’s important to note how “well-respected organizations” can decline over the years.

      I agree with you about negotiation and compromise, but I’m not sure that’s possible with people who feel justified in destroying Israel altogether.

      • Julian Clovelly

        A very reasonable comment Debra. Yes I am aware – and distressed – at this destruction of childhood that is taking place as terrorist organisations seek to train beautiful little children to grow up as conditioned bomb carriers.

        I question the wisdom of the settlements, but when it comes to the use of children as weapons in the political disagreements of their parents I find no room to do anything but outrightly condemn such outrage. In that you are correct.

        That Israel has remained as democratic a country as it has in such a region is almost miraculous. We cannot correct past errors – we must work with what we have towards a better future. Israel has an enormous progressive role in the region if it is allowed to contribute, rather than be classed as an enemy.

        The most difficult part of any negotiation is persuading participants to sit calmly and with goodwill towards each other at the same table. Genetics tells us, even if religion sometimes fails to, that we are all of one family. Any problem of living together can be sorted out when the will is there and the desire to dominate replaced by mutual compassion.

        We have all sinned that is easy. What is hard is to forgive and be reconciled – and to remove any barriers that make that essential process harder still

    • Wallace Edward Brand

      After many of the decolonizations that the UN fostered following WW2, the Arab and African bloc came to dominate the UN. It found that the “Palestinian people” had, under international law, the right of self-determination and that Jewish occupation of Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem was unlawful.
      Whose legal opinion was that? It was a law professor named Mallison. He and his friend Henry Cattan had worked on a preceeding report for the UN entitled Origin and Evolution of the Palestine Problem. Cattan had been a member of the Arab Higher Committee led by a friend of a Adolph Hitler named Haj Amin al Husseini. He also represented the Arabs in the 1947 UNSCOP hearings. Mallison had written the foreword for Cattan’s book on the Palestine Question. To learn an opposite view of the international law on that subject read Julius Stone, Israel Palestine: Assault on the Law of Nations and check out


    • Wolff Bachner

      They are ARABS from ARABIA. They first came to Israel with a massive Muslim Army in 638 CE and stole our nation and built a Mosque on top of the ruins of our holiest Temple. They are the invaders. This is Jewish land and we have maintained a continuous presence here for 3500 years. Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since the first recorded census in 1851.

      Stop trying to put over this disgusting myth that the Jews arrived in 1948 and colonized the poor Palestinians. It is absolute nonsense.

      The same Arabs that you are asking us to negotiate with were allied with the Nazis. By that act alone they forfeit all claims to any claims in Israel. Jew killing is no longer on the list of acceptable sports for the human race.

    • Kris Kristian

      Julian Clovelly

      Why dont you write about the teachings in the Islamic schools and mosques as well as PALESTINIAN TV?

      These children are taught to hate Jews. That murdering Jews will make them martyrs and that they can then go to heaven.
      Which heaven are they teaching their children about.
      The one and only true GOD gave Moses the 10 commandments. One of which is ‘THOU SHALL NOT KILL”

      But I suppose that according to the Islamic way of looking at the 10 Coomandemnts, is “we dont acept these”

      Watch Arab and PA TV and you will see children as young as 3 talking about murdering Jews.
      Nobody has told them that GOD does not accept killers, esp. of HIS CHOSEN, the Jews.

      Then we see them saying that Jews are “sons of pigs and apes” but they forget that they claim to be sons of Abraham. So, they must also be sons of pigs and apes.

      Children are born with love, but taught to hate.

      If the Arab/Islamic schools and mosques would teach children to love, and that hate and murder is a sin, there would have or could have been peace in the Middle East many years ago.

      The Arab propaganda is the best in the world.
      They have convinced the world that Israelis are guilty of ethnic cleansing, stealing PA water, etc.

      How many of those who condemn Israel , have ever been there, to experience the truth, not Arab/PA lies?

      I guaranteee. NOT ONE!

      OF course, this is all far from any truth.

      Problem is that the spread of Islam is so powerful, that they convince the world that Israel has no right to exist.
      So, they are calling GOD a liar. HE gave the land to the Jews. Nobody has the right to counter what GOD has said. That is the biggest sin.

      Imagine had it not been Jews. Had it been Catholics, or Hindu and not Israel. Would there have been any difference?
      Islam wants the whole world to be converted to Islam with a Caliphate and sharia law.

      Time for the ignorant, Jew hating world to wake up, before you will find a knife at your throat. Convert to islam or else!!

      • Steve Butman

        Very astute. I agree with you 100%.

    • Pam Kaye

      These excellent charitable organisations have been taken over by antisemites . I worked for 13 years for Oxfam (unpaid) and regret it now. I’ve contributed to Amnesty for years. But no longer!

    • Morry

      Julian, you are far too naive I’m afraid and living in denial. If this was a strictly real estate issue, the Gaza strip would not be used as a launching pad to fire rockets (try living with that) and peace would have been established long ago when the Arabs were offered many opportunities including Oslo. So get off your horse, wake up, and realize that when you don’t have a free, democratic society, and the corrupt, viscous, and manipulating enemies of Israel are in charge of “education” for their people, the results show in the hatred directed by them towards Israel.

      • Julian Clovelly

        There is another alternative Morry, and that is that perhaps I consider the situation to be even more dangerous than you do.

        I entirely agree that with a poster who wrote “If the Arab/Islamic schools and mosques would teach children to love, and that hate and murder is a sin, there would have or could have been peace in the Middle East many years ago.”

        Of course that is true – we all have to overcome a century of violence that cost the lives, through violence, of over 100million people; we are all traumatised by horror and dispossesed from what might have been. The nightmares were different – the resulting trauma much the same. We are all victims of evil that in some victims remains present and active.

        I believe our task is to start from where we are at this moment – and make that better – and yes it is damnably hard to communicate and share that desire, and forge out of that communication a common will to turn the entire Middle East into a paradise of diversity, contrast, compassion, prosperity, sharing and peace

        But try we must – the alternative is catastrophe. Buckminster Fuller said that in the immediate future we face “Utopia or Oblivion”. I choose Utopia. Not just the Middle East but the world entire.

        Thank you to other posters for your discussion of these matters

    • Steve Butman

      Well written…100% WRONG, but well written nonetheless.

      The “settlements” are not the issue; if they were, why were the so-called “Palestinians” attacking prior to ANY “settlements” being constructed?

      The Arab world wants Israel eradicated. Period. The “settlements” are an excuse that they use to garner public sentiment.

      • Wallace Brand

        In any event the Jewish settlements are not illegal under international law.

  • Linda Rivera

    Vile Amnesty International rabid Jew-haters use their money, power and influence to attack Israel. Supposedly a human rights organization that is vehemently OPPOSED to human rights for Jews!

  • R

    Why doesn’t Israel hold Palestinians hostage? They would have real bargaining chips!!

    • Wolff Bachner

      No one wants the Palestinians, especially other Arab nations. They have been trouble makers and a blight in every nation they have ever set foot in. Ask the Jordanians or the Saudis how they feel about giving citizenship to Palestinians. Ask the people of Lebanon what is left of their once wonderful nation after the PLO arrived.

      • Steve Butman

        VERY true!!!

  • Claude Rains

    Let us now all be shocked. Shocked!

  • Fritz Kohlhaas

    Amnesty International morons!

  • The Left licks Islamic butt.

    • Morry

      Right on George!