Gerald M. Steinberg

Gerald M. SteinbergCommunity Contributor

Dr. Gerald M. Steinberg is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Bar Ilan University and founder of NGO Monitor.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Why Is Amnesty International Providing Excuses For Hamas?

For many years, Amnesty International has been a leader in the intense political war to demonize Israel using the façade of international law and human rights. Using the organization’s vast resources, officials have issued a torrent of statements, “reports,” and social media posts in this assault, including calls for war crimes investigations by the International Criminal Court and embargoes on the sale of weapons and defensive technologies.

As in most Amnesty campaigns on Israel, this one surgically removes any reference to the repeated and very public threats from Hamas to overrun the border fence that protects nearby Israeli communities from terror attacks. Instead, Amnesty cuts and pastes from allegations made by the Hamas propaganda machine regarding the death and wounding of “innocent civilians” (almost all of whom happen to males between the ages of 18 and 35, and affiliated with Gaza’s terror organizations), adding a liberal dose of pseudo-legal language with no substance. Following the standard script, Amnesty’s propagandists accused Israel of “excessive, deadly force against protesters,” terms that are never defined.


In parallel, the bloodthirsty threats from Hamas to overwhelm and destroy “the Jews” are replaced by absurd images of polite and peaceful protestors “who merely demand an end to Israel’s brutal policies towards Gaza and a life of dignity…” In this media onslaught, Amnesty endorses the Hamas-led Great March of Return, with the declared goal (continuously recycled for 70 years) of destroying and replacing the Jewish state and its almost nine million citizens.

The Gaza events and accompanying slogans have given Amnesty’s anti-Israel NGO crusaders another opportunity to call for depriving Israelis of the means to defend themselves against Hamas terrorism. On Twitter and Facebook, they referred to a “murderous assault” and undefined “malicious tactics… employed by the Israeli military….using weapons of war…,” demanding that the UK and other governments stop military and anti-terror cooperation with Israel.

Amnesty’s attempt to weaponize human rights and international law in order to target Israel is also reflected in the flood of social media posts during this period. The organization, as well as the individuals who are employed by Amnesty, ostensibly as “researchers” and “campaign managers,” have tweeted a steady flow of poisonous allegations and accusations against Israel. It would appear that no other humanitarian crises are going on around the world. The war in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons to murder dozens of civilians and the regime’s assault on a Palestinian camp in Syria barely register on Amnesty’s radar. Israel is clearly the most significant target and their political warfare.

For example, posts on an Amnesty USA Twitter account accused Israel of “carrying out a murderous assault against protesting Palestinians” and of “killing and maiming demonstrators.” This account is run by Edith Garwood and Alicia Koutsoulieris — two veteran Israel-bashers (Garwood was previously an activist at the International Solidarity Movement, a group dedicated to provoking confrontations with Israeli forces). Allie McCracken and Raed Jarrar, also employed by Amnesty USA and both with long records as BDS activists, have produced similar propaganda. For example, on April 13, McCracken proclaimed, “Israeli forces must end the use of excessive force in response to ‘Great March of Return’ protests.”

In addition to the repeated slogans and myths referring to peaceful protests and the like, Amnesty UK tweets have repeated the Hamas-run health ministry claim of “thousands” of injured “protestors” — an allegation that cannot be verified independently. Kristyan Benedict, an Amnesty UK employee who has often posted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic material on previous occasions, obsessively filled his twitter posts with calls for “governments worldwide to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel following the country’s disproportionate response to mass demonstrations along the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.”

Another of Amnesty’s ongoing myths is that Israel occupies Gaza, almost 13 years after the last Israeli left the territory. If Gaza were indeed occupied, perhaps Amnesty’s effort to lay at least part of the blame for the economic disaster and lack of resources on Israel would resonate. But the reality is clear — the Hamas terror organization (the same one that Amnesty does not mention) is entirely responsible for the devastating conditions in Gaza, including the diversion of humanitarian aid into terror tunnels — and repeating the word “occupation” is transparent propaganda.

All of these factors have further highlighted the moral bankruptcy of Amnesty International, and its descent into crude Israel bashing. Beyond the damage to Israel, and the slow but steady erosion of the prestige and influence that this organization once enjoyed, this process has done immense damage to the principles and values of human rights that Amnesty once championed.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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