Amnesty International Rejects Motion to Fight Anti-Semitism

April 21, 2015  

Amnesty International is facing criticism for refusing to tackle anti-Semitism in the UK, after a motion calling on the group to do so was voted down at its annual international conference.

The motion was narrowly defeated by 468 votes to 461 at Sunday’s International AGM.

It had been tabled by Amnesty member Andrew Thorpe-Apps, who told Britain’s The Jewish Chronicle that while he was not Jewish himself, he had put forward the motion after being appalled at the rising discrimination and attacks against British Jews.

Just last week, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, a report revealed a shocking rise in the number of violent anti-Semitic attacks in Europe last year, with France and UK experiencing the greatest increase. 

Thorpe-Apps said the motion was the only one rejected during the entire conference.

“I recently joined and I believe passionately about human rights,” he explained to the Chronicle after the vote.

“I was aware that the organization has been outwardly pro-Palestine (sic) in the past but it hasn’t stood up for the Jewish population and I think it would be good if they did that,” he said, noting Amnesty’s record of singling out Israel in its reports.

“I’m not Jewish myself but I’ve been appalled by what I’ve seen in the press facing the Jewish community and an organisation like Amnesty should really add their voice to that as they do with other human rights issues.”

In response, Amnesty International UK press officer Neil Durkin sought to explain away the vote by implying the group didn’t want to focus on one specific kind of discrimination.

“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 said. “Amnesty International fights against discrimination in all its forms, and will continue to do so.”

However, contrary to Durkin’s claim, Amnesty has published numerous reports singling out other specific forms of discrimination, including a 123-page report on 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.”

That will hardly come as a comfort to British Jews, after Amnesty UK last year came under fire when one of its senior officials compared Israel to ISIS.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Campaign Against Antisemitism spokesman Jonathan Sacerdoti question why Amnesty would be less concerned against discrimination against Jews than 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,” he 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.”

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