Amnesty chief stands by its work on Is­rael

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

THE DI­REC­TOR of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional UK has staunchly de­fended the char­ity’s ap­proach to Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans amid claims that it re­peat­edly dis­plays anti-is­rael bias.

Kate Allen said she was “very proud” of Amnesty’s work, which has drawn wide­spread crit­i­cism from groups sup­port­ing Is­rael.

She de­nied that re­ports pro­duced by Amnesty, and events it had hosted about the con­flict, had been “one-sided”, and sug­gested com­plaints had been taken too far by crit­ics.

“If you look at Amnesty’s work we ab­so­lutely con­front hu­man rights abu­se­vi­o­la­tion­swherewe­think they are oc­cur­ring, whether that’s by Pales­tini­ans or by the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment. We do that with­out fear or favour,” she said.

“I’m so clear that the work we do, the re­ports we write, the cam­paigns we run, do con­front hu­man rights abuses wher­ever they oc­cur in Is­rael and the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries. I think our work is ab­so­lutely even­handed and straight­for­ward. If other peo­ple don’t see it that way theni’m very happy to go and talk to any­body about the range of our work.”

Ms Allen – who ad­mit­ted she was “not on top of the de­tail” re­gard­ing crit­i­cism of Amnesty – claimed not to have re­ceived a sin­gle let­ter of com­plaint from any­one in the Jewish com­mu­nity.

She said: “I’ve had no rep­re­sen­ta­tions from the com­mu­nity. No­body has writ­ten to me. Let’s be clear, I haven’t had a let­ter. Where there have been com­plaints about events, I know they have been looked into and peo­ple have been re­sponded to. I’ve not had rep­re­sen­ta­tions from the com­mu­nity about bias in our work. I stand by its im­par­tial­ity. “For the whole body of our work on Is­rael and the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries to now be in ques­tion seems to me to take com­plaints about an event too far. Our record is our record and it’s one that I’m very proud of.” Sup­port­ers of Is­rael have com­plained about events hosted at Amnesty’s London head

q u a r t e r s in the past three years. Ear­lier this year the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion ap­pealed to the char­ity to can­cel the launch of a book by anti-is­rael ac­tivist Ben White, who the ZF ac­cused of “jus­ti­fy­ing an­tisemitism”.

Labour Friends of Is­rael claimed last May that Amnesty had a “dis­pro­por­tion­ate fo­cus” on al­leged Is­raeli hu­man rights abuses and sug­gested it had been “swayed” by groups such as the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign and the pro-ha­mas Mid­dle East Mon­i­tor On­line lobby group.

Ms Allen said: “I don’t know about the Ben White book launch. We or­gan­ise our own events and we also host other peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions and we let out the build­ing. When we do that it doesn’t mean we agree with ev­ery speaker or ev­ery­thing that is said on the plat­form. When there are com­plaints we will take them up.

“I’d hap­pily sit down with them [crit­ics and LFI] and go over the whole range of our work. If you look at the range it’s not easy to come to that con­clu­sion.”

She con­ceded: “Per­haps we need to do more in show­ing peo­ple our work. I cer­tainly don’t feel I have to be sen­si­tive about it. If we are get­ting that crit­i­cism then per­haps we need to spend longer talk­ing to peo­ple show­ing them the range.”

Glas­gow’s Queen’s Park Char­i­ta­ble Trust, funded from the sale of Queen’s Park Syn­a­gogue, com­mis­sioned this Holo­caust Me­mo­rial from lo­cal sculp­tor Lyn Wolf­son. The work, a tomb­stone bro­ken into six pieces, was un­veiled on Yom Hashoah (April 19) in Cath­cart He­brew Ceme­tery

Proud: Kate Allen

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