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Amnesty International
The Case of a Rape Foretold

November 26, 2003

Amnesty International is primarily motivated not by human rights but by publicity. Second comes money. Third comes getting more members. Fourth, internal turf battles. And then finally, human rights, genuine human rights concerns.

-- Francis Boyle, Prof. of International Law and former board member of Amnesty International [1].
HumanRights organizations used to play an important role raising awareness ofhuman rights abuses, scoring an occasional point with one state or another, and were instrumental in releasing a handful of hapless prisoners. However, they have increasingly abdicated their role as modern-day paladins ofjustice, to become politically manipulated organizations that are moreconcerned with fundraising or appearing on TV. Several authors havedescribed how human rights organizations have played a role in priming thepropaganda pump prior to war; these accounts make sobering reading, and theydispel preconceptions about some of these organizations. [2]

A recent UN reportconfirmed that the situation for the Palestinians is desperate and hasreached crisis proportions. [3] The report goes so faras to state: "a UN committee monitoring human rights abuses of Palestinians[for the last 35 years] has concluded that the situation in theIsraeli-occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank was the worst everlast year." This situation is chronic, and indeed, mass abuses of humanrights have been going on for decades. Anyone concerned with justice for thePalestinian people must wonder what position human rights organizations havetaken on the issue and what they have reported. In the case of AmnestyInternational, it is a sorry and dubious record. This article presents anin-depth look at AI's poor record in monitoring the plight of thePalestinians during the second intifada.

This article is a follow-upto: "AI: Say It Isn'tSo" (Oct. 31, 2002).

1. Insult to injury

The first sentence in AI'sOct. 13th press release appeared promising: "[AI] condemns in the strongestterms the large-scale destruction by the Israeli army of Palestinian homesin a refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, which madehomeless hundreds of people...." [4] It then mentions warcrimes but, more specifically, says that Israeli actions "constitute warcrimes." This is better than its previous ambivalent accusations. [5] Some of AI's previous reports yielded only genericreferences to war crimes, leaving it unclear whether the perpetrators wereIsraelis or Palestinians; by any measure such references to war crimes wereless than useful. [6]  Furthermore, in its latestpress release AI used the phrase "strongly condemned" when referring toIsraeli actions -- this reproach had been thus far usually reserved forPalestinian violence. So far, so good.

However, the remainder ofthe press release raises many questions. Here is the final sentence: "[AI]condemns the deliberate killings of Israeli civilians by Palestinian armedgroups as a crime against humanity." The reaction of Francis Boyle, aprofessor of Law, puts this into perspective: "What a joke and a fraud. Sothose living under the boot of Israel's genocidal regime are the biggercriminals under international law. Every expert knows that crimes againsthumanity are far more serious than war crimes, and the precursor togenocide." Furthermore, it is very odd that AI deemed fit to add this lastsentence to a press release dealing with crimes against Palestinians. Andfinally, while during the second intifada the Palestinians have beensmeared with "crimes against humanity" several times now, AI has not leveleda clear accusation of this crime against Israel -- although it would berather apropos. [7]  AI has stated that someIsraeli actions "may also constitute crimes against humanity, " butthis is somewhat ambivalent compared to the accusation leveled againstPalestinians.

Perhaps an analogy willclarify the objection. If a man rapes a woman at knifepoint, it would be oddto suggest that the woman should be imprisoned for resisting the rapist.However, at present, Amnesty's stance favors "punishing the rape victim."

2. Circumscribing the crimes

A careful reading of any AIstatement referring to possible Israeli war crimes reveals another curiousbias: the severity of the crimes referred to is restricted and only afraction of Israeli actions are mentioned. For example, the reference to warcrimes in its October 13th press release only pertains to the demolition ofhouses and property. [8] Thus, the broad array ofsystematic violations of Palestinian human rights is not part of the warcrimes allegation.

A September 3, 2002 pressrelease stated: "unlawful forcible transfer of protected persons constitutesa war crime." [9] The fact that the homes of thefamilies of the people involved already had been demolished in an act ofcollective punishment without appeal was not part of AI's condemnation.Although AI highlights one breach of humanitarian law and names it a warcrime, it is curious that it doesn't encompass a broad array of seriousIsraeli actions. The circumscription of these crimes lessens the gravity ofthe accusation.

To continue with our rapeanalogy: if a man were to rape a woman at knifepoint, it would certainly beodd to condemn the rapist only for not wearing a condom. AI's accusations ofwar crimes are the equivalent of "the rapist was not wearing a condom."

3. Willful neglect

A recurrent problem withAI's stance on Palestinian human rights is the simple lack of adequatereporting -- the long list of massive abuses of Palestinian human rights ismostly neglected. On September 8, 2003, AI released a report on the effectsof closures on the Occupied Territories. [10] Thisreport was issued 308 days after its previous report, and in the meantime, 594 Palestinians had been killed. [11] The Israelipolicy of closures was already apparent years ago and, to be generous, onecan only say that this report was late. Furthermore, this report dealt withan issue that isn't the most serious threat to Palestinian human rightstoday. That is, while the closure policy is indeed a deliberate ploy to makethe lives of Palestinians miserable, it has been superseded by far moreinjurious Israeli policies. Most important at present is the construction ofthe land-grab wall that penetrates deep into the West Bank. This is causingfar more misery and hardship than the closures -- indeed, the tens ofthousands of Palestinians isolated in the enclaves west of the wall aresubjected to a form of closure, which is intensified by the knowledge thatit is intended to force them to abandon their homes, land and livelihoods.Further, the occupation policies are causing severe malnutrition in asignificant portion of the population. Then there are the tens of thousandsof maimed Palestinians. AI neglects many topics. [12]

Once again, if a man wereraping a woman, it would be unconscionable to delay and, when finallyintervening, simply to admonish the rapist that he is making the victim"uncomfortable." And yet, in the current context, AI waits a long timebetween reports, and then mentions only a fraction of the abuses takingplace -- and not necessarily the most egregious ones; it is just mentioningthe "discomfort of the rape victim".

4. The trees for the forest

Any long-term observer ofthe situation in Occupied Palestine will know that there is a pattern ofethnic cleansing, and that these policies are systematic. Once the scale, intent, and systematic nature are acknowledged, then the next step is toconsider naming these "crimes against humanity" -- one of the most serious crimes.

Here, again, one can seeAI's bias at work, in its apparent refusal to recognize that there is apattern and a history of abuse. It is evident from AI's public record thatit discusses individual events, or individual practices, but it is unwillingto declare that they are intentional or systematic in nature. It has apropensity to produce tedious lists of events, but then neglect importantcontext. There is a history of ethnic cleansing, the current Israeligovernment is led by a war criminal, and current Israeli actions areconsistent with some of the more truculent statements made by its leadershipor their minions. Viewed in this context, Israeli actions must be deemedintentional and systematic, and this can only mean that serious crimes havebeen perpetrated -- but this is something that AI is not willing toacknowledge.

Again, the rape analogyelucidates the objection. In the case of a serial rapist assaulting a woman, it would be rather odd if the history of the rapist were ignored. In thecurrent context, AI's statement equates to: "hey you, knock it off."

5. Calling for a war crimes tribunal

Anyone who has traveled tothe Occupied Territories will have been confronted with some difficultquestions posed by Palestinians. In particular, questions aboutinternational protection are difficult to answer. One recurrent question iswhy hasn't the Israeli leadership been indicted for serious crimes. Sharon, Mofaz, Eliezer, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak, and Ya'alon, are some strongcontenders to appear in front of a war crimes tribunal. Why this hasn'thappened yet is a good question.

Thus far, AI has refused toissue a call for the institution of a war crimes tribunal forIsrael-Palestine. When questioned about this an AI researcher stated: "... butthen we would have to do that for everyone." This answer is curious from anorganization that provided counsel at a lawsuit brought against Sharon inBrussels. [13] If Sharon deserves to be indicted forthe crimes committed at Sabra and Shatila (in Lebanon), then why not namethe people who should be indicted for the crimes committed in Palestine?

AI's current stance alsoassumes that the Israel-Palestine conflict is much like other conflicts.However, one should note that Palestinians have been at the receiving end ofoccupation, dispossession, ethnic cleansing and mass abuses of human rightsfor decades now. To put it into perspective, consider that Ronnie Kasrils, Minister of Water in South Africa, and a longtime anti-apartheid activist, stated that the conflict in Apartheid South Africa pales by comparison tothe Palestinian conflict. [14]  During the worstyears of the repression in apartheid-South Africa, airplanes or helicoptergunships did not bomb the townships. However, in the Occupied Territoriesthis is all too common. The repression of the Palestinians is worse thanthat suffered by the black population under apartheid. Thus, Palestine is acase deserving special attention and action. One of the few threats that canhave an effect against Israelis is the call for the institution of a warcrimes tribunal to prosecute Sharon and his gang.

Until now this is as far asAI is willing to go:

Amnesty International callson the international community:

--To bring to justice anyone suspected of warcrimes or crimes against humanity who may be within their jurisdiction [15]

Notice the "courage"exhibited here. AI doesn't name who or which of the parties to the conflictshould be brought to justice. It is a generic request -- although, as we sawat the start of this article, AI has accused the Palestinians, but notIsrael, of "crimes against humanity."

Again, consider the rapeanalogy. AI's stance equates to posting intentionally blurred "wanted"posters of both the rapist and the rape victim. Of course, there will be noname on the rapist's poster.

6. Geneva Convention -- abrogated de facto.

The basic humanitarian lawpertaining to Israeli obligations vis-à-vis the Palestinians is the FourthGeneva Convention. However, the Israelis have long disingenuously arguedthat this doesn't apply to them. [16] Furthermore, theactions of both the US and Israel indicate that the Geneva Convention hasbeen abrogated de facto. If so, all AI's trite recitations of thenumerous breaches of this particular Convention are pointless. AI mustdecide if it wants to go down the legalistic path or to remain a humanrights advocate. It is obvious from its actions that it has chosen theformer role, and it is using a legal framework that will not be implemented.

7. There is a pattern and a history

AI's dubious role inrelation to Israel-Palestine is not new. During the 1980s AI didn't list anyPalestinian prisoners of conscience [17]; andsimilarly, it never referred to incidents of torture. [18] Things changed slightly during the first intifada; AI had no choicebut to improve its coverage of Palestinian human rights -- the violationswere too obvious. By the early 1990s some references were made to tortureand a few prisoners of conscience were listed. So it is of interest todetermine AI's current stance on the following key contentious issues:torture, prisoners of conscience, massacre and ethnic cleansing. If thesearen't given sufficient mention, or even not mentioned at all, then a fewquestions arise.

7a. Prisoners of conscience (POC)

At present, AI onlyrecognizes two Palestinian prisoners of conscience and two "possible" POC. [19] It seems that it is more difficult for AI tobestow POC status on a Palestinian prisoner than for the Pope to canonize asaint. Furthermore, no lists are available of the current Palestinian POCsor what has happened to the ones who were previously imprisoned. AI admitsthat it "doesn't make such lists public." In other words, it is barely doinganything for the thousands of Palestinian prisoners, and therefore it isdeemed best not to publicize this tiny list.

It is also seems that theonly way for a given Palestinian prisoner to be included in AI's action listis to lobby the organization. This stands in stark contrast with theadoption of Cuban POCs. There are thousands of Palestinians in prisons, atthe notorious secret prison Unit 1391 near Hadera, and even in aconcentration camp in the Negev. [20] AI has barelymoved pertaining the human rights of these people.


AI's online archive ontorture pertaining to Israel-Palestine contains 43 items, but only 17actually use the word "torture." Out of these, six deal with the issue oftorture at any length, and the remainder mixes up torture with denial ofmedical treatment or police brutality outside of prison. All told there areabout ten specific cases of torture listed -- again, no accurate number canbe put on this due to the mixing up of cases dealing with torture, poorprison conditions, denial of medical treatment and the like. AI has notproduced a specific report dealing with torture during the second intifada.

One must give AI credit onone count, i.e., it actually named one Israeli torturer, Carmi Gillon, before he became the Israeli ambassador to Denmark. The press release offerssome details of the torture techniques and the numbers of prisonerstortured. [21] Despite this exposure, Gillon becameIsrael's ambassador, and now attends cocktail parties in the diplomaticcircuit -- an unrepentant torturer who advocates the use of more torture.

7c. Ethnic cleansing

The phrase "ethniccleansing" did not appear in AI's public record during 2002 and 2003. Thevery best way to describe Israeli policy against the Palestinians is tolabel it ethnic cleansing. The construction of the grotesque wall deep inthe West Bank is a blatant land grab and ethnic cleansing operation. It isthrowing thousands of Palestinians off the land, and it clearly amounts toethnic cleansing, or the precursor to ethnocide. These are true crimesagainst humanity, yet AI doesn't mention anything about ethnic cleansing.

It is true that "ethniccleansing" is a recently-coined term, but today its meaning is wellunderstood, i.e., the expulsion of large numbers of inhabitants from theirhomes due to violence, intimidation or starvation. The term doesn't appearin the core humanitarian law, but it conveys the understood reality on theground. Even Israeli scholars use this term to describe Israeli militarypractices. [22]  AI has a choice of beinglegalistic or conveying information that is readily available and understoodby a broad audience. Its current choice is somewhere in between, and itchooses a legalistic approach when an issue is contentious, e.g., ethniccleansing of Palestinians.

Caption: Nov. 5, 2003. An Israeli bulldozer is uprooting the olive trees of Saleh Romi who lost 3.5 dunums of his land to the so-called fence between Bethlehem/Aida refugee camp and the Gilo settlement. In the photo, Mr. Romi tries to impede the destruction of his trees. Jeff Halper, from the Israeli commission against house demolitions, calls this "quiet ethnic cleansing."
Photo: Musa Alshaer; © 2003

7d. Ethnic cleansing within pre-1967 Israeli borders

It may be difficult for AIto send its researchers into the Occupied Territories -- it is dangerous.However, one can investigate ethnic cleansing within Israel proper; one caneven read about it in Ha'aretz. The Bedouins in the Negev have beensystematically rounded up, their homes demolished, and their crops sprayedwith herbicide by aircraft. [23] The land-grab wall isisolating some Palestinian communities in Israel proper, and the inhabitantshave been threatened with expulsion. Ethnic cleansing is all too evident, but this isn't something AI wants to investigate, let alone name it for whatit is.

The village of Mazmuriahinside Israel had until recently a "non-status" where the residents weregiven West Bank identity cards. [24] When the wall wasbuilt it shut the village off from contact with the neighboring villages, and consequently the village lost access to basic services and contact withtheir main neighbors. The next step in the Israeli campaign was to orderthese people to leave. If this isn't ethnic cleansing, then what is? Thisoperation is easy to verify because it is within Israel. The situation ismuch worse within the occupied territories, and although less accessible, AIdoesn't mention "ethnic cleansing" (with or without quotation marks).

7e. Massacre

There are no references tothe term "massacre" in AI literature -- the word is considered political.Maybe a dictionary definition is more useful, i.e., "to killindiscriminately or in large numbers." More than 2, 600 Palestinians havebeen killed, yet, according to AI, none were killed in a massacre. Or as anAI press release put it: "[Irene Khan, AI's Secretary General, ] alsoclarified that there is no legal definition in international law of the word‘massacre' and that its use in the current circumstances is not helpful." [25]  Of course, there is no legal definition of"ethnic cleansing" either. It is curious that AI is willing to spew thislegalese when it suits them; obviously, it is using the term "crimes againsthumanity" without much reference to any legal codex. Here the usage of theterm suits their ends, and there is no need to be punctilious about legaldefinitions.

Here is another AItendency: the usage of euphemisms. Faced with questions about Jenin in April2002, AI had this to say: "...Secretary General Irene Khan has confirmed thatthere is strong evidence indicating that grave breaches of internationalhumanitarian law and violations of human rights in Jenin camp werecommitted by the Israel Defense Force. (emphasis added)." Legal expertsconfirm that such breaches amount to war crimes or worse. Thus, when itcomes to Israeli crimes AI has a tendency of using euphemisms.

The rape analogy may beuseful again. In the case of a man raping a woman at knifepoint AI'sposition amounts to avoiding the issue by stating: "there is no definitionof ‘knifepoint' in law and its use in the current circumstances is nothelpful; this situation is not really a rape." AI doesn't deem itnecessary to deal with issues that don't fall within the strict confines ofits semi-legal discourse.

8. They have theircomical moments too

AI is neither a pacifistnor an anti-war organization. Thus when an Israeli F16 dropped aone-ton-bomb in a densely populated refugee camp in Gaza on July 23, 2002, killing 17 people, the extent of its admonishment was: "This attack wasdisproportionate and is utterly unacceptable." [26] Perhaps next time the IOF will oblige and use a 500kg bomb to fulfill AI'ssuggestion for a proportionate response. Perhaps this is why AI wants tohire military experts -- to determine if actions are "proportionate."

The IOF also uses weaponsthat result in indiscriminate killings when used in densely populated areas.A flechette shell was used against a family sleeping in a tent next to theirorchard in Gaza and several people were killed. The flechettes spread over awide area and thus kill indiscriminately. It would seem that the use of sucha weapon is possibly criminal in the Occupied Territories, but the responseof an AI's researcher to this was: "AI is not an anti-war organization."This is their rationale for not issuing a condemnation about the use of suchweaponry. They understand the uses of weaponry, and then they seek to hiremilitary experts to determine if the use of a given weapon was appropriate. [27]

In October 2003, ahelicopter attack in Gaza fired flechette missile into a large crowd killing14 civilians. [28] The mere fact Israel tried to coverup this incident with false video footage is proof they know what they aredoing is morally at par with the suicide bombings. The difference is thatIsraelis know that the destructiveness of their bombs is much higher. AI'sreaction: not a peep, although they may be consulting with their militaryexperts.

Any time there is aquestion about AI's stance the rape analogy is useful. In the case of a manraping a woman at knifepoint, AI's stance amounts to suggesting that therapist should "use a knife with a smaller blade." AI will duly provide amilitary expert to determine if the length of the knife blade isproportionate.

9. A double standard

AI's reaction to suicidebombings is different from its reactions to a one-ton bomb dropped by an F16in the middle of a refugee camp. Most press releases dealing with suicidebombs use emotive language; here one will find words like "horrific" or"shocking." When it comes to F16-one-ton-bombs there is no such emotivelanguage. (Incidentally, it is interesting to note that there is no legaldefinition of ‘horrific' or ‘shocking, ' but when it comes to criticizingPalestinians, that is no bar to AI.)

Furthermore, one wonderswhy AI condemns the use of suicide bombings at all. Or as Prof. NabeelAbraham put it: "If AI is not an anti-war organization then it has NObusiness criticizing suicide bombings which are merely human-delivered bombsand keeping quiet about aerial and artillery delivered bombs targeted oncivilian areas. They are the same thing on one level; the technology isvastly different; but a flechette shell or an F16-delivered bomb is onlydifferent from a suicide bomb in the tonnage and accuracy, that's all. So, if AI deems suicide bombings to be crimes against humanity, what about theF16-one-ton-bomb?"

10. Touch With a Bargepole

Sections of AI's reportsare used by both Palestinians and Israelis for their own purposes. One canfind references to Amnesty reports in many pro-Palestinian publications, e.g., electronicIntifada, Palestine Chronicle, etc. Whenever there is areference to "Israeli war crimes, " it is deemed useful for their cause, anda given report or press release may be quoted. Most people concerned withPalestinian human rights don't realize or ignore that the same reportusually contains statements that are injurious to Palestinians.

During the Israelionslaught on Jenin in April 2002, the "IDF" website carried a justificationof their actions and stated that anyone reading AI's reports would know whatIsraelis were up against -- Palestinians had after all committed war crimes. [29] Amnesty's documents are so useful, even theIsraelis like them!

Peace or human rightsactivists should treat AI documents carefully. There is a serious problemwith using a given document if there are dubious sections. For example, oneshould not use a document condemning Israeli war crimes if it also includesreferences to Palestinian "crimes against humanity." Similarly, one cannotrefer to any "good" AI reports if it also produces others that are unfair toPalestinians. What is needed is for Amnesty to clarify its stance in thisconflict and to produce consistent reports covering a wider array of issues.If this is not forthcoming, then activists are advised to ignore AI'sreports -- they should avoid a "pick and choose" approach to human rights.Simply put: AI cannot be all things to all people -- something it attemptsto do at present.

11. Action!

A recent mailing requestingdonations for Amnesty showed a prominent "Action!" slogan. Upon opening theleaflet one found an array of options to donate money to AI. Action equatesto donating money to AI.

Browsing AI's website takesone to a section where one can read about a given case of a haplessprisoner, and then one can press a petition button. Presto! A liberal soulwill now feel much better. One can now go to the next case and press anotherbutton for further liberal gratification. Amnesty should perhaps provide onebutton that will sign the petitions for all cases in one shot. Then, instead of wasting time reading all the individual cases AI could directvolunteers to read something more meaningful about human rights abuses.However, this piecemeal, one-case-at-a-time approach misses the big pictureentirely, and goes to the heart of its failure in covering theIsraeli-Palestinian situation. Instead of focusing on the individualprisoner, perhaps it would be far better to motivate activists with anexplanation of why violence, torture or other human rights abuses occur inthe first place. Activists armed with such information will tend to be moreactive and committed to fight human rights abuses, and may find moreeffective ways to act. Sending a regular contribution to AI or pressing thesilly buttons on its website are hardly something that equates to "action."In reality, AI's approach translates to a neutralizing of protest; itchannels idealistic people with a desire to change things into activitiesthat are of limited use.

Next time an AI lettercomes through the letterbox, cross out all parts having to do withfundraising. Now, read the remainder and determine if you've obtained anyinsight into why human rights have been violated in the cases in question.It is unlikely that you will have done so. It is also unlikely that theletter will state anything about the mass abuse of Palestinian human rights.

12. Oh, we are so apolitical...

AI justifies its stance onthe basis that it is an apolitical organization. However, this apoliticalposturing is a smokescreen behind which hides a political organizationwilling to play along with the propaganda needs of major powers. This meansthat it will lend itself to issuing reports tarnishing the accepted enemies, and it will neuter criticism of accepted allies. [30]In the case of Israel-Palestine, this results in minimizing andcircumscribing criticism of Israel, and removing any critical sting. At thesame time, AI is willing to criticize Palestinians and tarnish them withaccusations of very serious crimes. Above all its function is tode-legitimize Palestinian violence.

When AI is willing to issuehuman rights reports that lend themselves to propaganda campaigns on the eveof war, and when it is unwilling to be more critical of official allies, then it is up to the US and UK governments to foot AI's bills; it is nolonger the responsibility of the public at large to do so.

13. Where was AI when the ethnic cleansing was going on?

It took years for AI tofinally recognize a handful of Palestinian prisoners of conscience, it tookdecades to recognize the Israeli torture practices, and it took decadesbefore AI ever uttered the term "war crimes" as a label for Israeli actions.Even when it used such terms it did so in an ambivalent fashion and with afrequency resembling the sexual habits of Pandas -- it seldom occurs, andthen when it happens it is difficult to determine if it really happened.AI's current stance indicates that it is possible to go through the motions, use the "human rights" jargon and produce statements that are supposedlyuseful to Israelis and Palestinians. In reality, its stance vis-à-vis thePalestinians is biased, ineffective, confused and sometimes injurious. Inthe face of on going ethnic cleansing AI waits hundreds of days to issuereports, and it barely raises its voice pertaining the systematic and massabuses of human rights. It is a shameful stance.

To clarify Amnesty'sposition on Israel-Palestine, the rape analogy is again useful. The Israelionslaught against the Palestinians and the decades of dispossession areequivalent to the gang rape of a woman held at knifepoint. While this isgoing on Amnesty's role is akin to standing on the sidelines wringing itshands and bleating occasionally: "both sides must make human rights centralto their relationship, " "this activity is making the woman uncomfortable, ""the rapists must freeze all f***ing activity, " and "resisting the rapistsconstitutes a crime against humanity."

Paulde Rooij is a writer living in London, and is a former supporter ofAmnesty International. He can be reached at (NB: all emailswith attachments will be automatically deleted.)


[1] "Amnestyon Jenin": an interview with Prof. Francis Boyle by Dennis Bernstein, CAQ, Summer 2002, pp. 9 -- 12, 27.

[2] Diana Johnstone, Fools' Crusade (Pluto Press, London, 2002). Her account is specific tothe role played by Human Rights Watch and AI prior to the war againstSerbia. However, exactly the same situation arose when, prior the Gulf Warin 1991, AI issued a report propagating the"throwing-the-babies-out-of-the-incubators" hoax. AI never issued an apologyfor misleading the public or playing along in that propaganda fabrication.See the Boyle interview by Dennis Bernstein -- listed above. Finally, SaraFlounders paints an equally bleak picture of the motivations behind HRWattempts to bury any report on the Israeli attack on Jenin (see "Furtherreading" list).

[3] Thalif Deen, Israeli Abuses the Worst in 35 Years - U.N. Report, Common Dreams, November 6, 2003.

[4] Wanton destruction constitutes a war crime, MDE 15-091-2003, October 13, 2003.

[5] In previous reports or press releases AI avoided using "war crimes."Thus it referred to violations of international law/Fourth GenevaConventions, violations of policing standards, and it stated that a givenaction "would constitute a war crime." When AI finally adopted thisnomenclature, it opted to lessen the impact of its criticism of Israelis byaccusing Palestinians of more serious crimes.

[6] For example see: Surviving under siege, MDE 15-001-2003, September 8, 2003. There is one reference to "war crimes", but it is generic.

[7] Some AI personnel make a curious distinction about leveling anaccusation at a group of people and their actions. For some reason theyargue that there is a useful distinction between accusing of raping a womanand accusing the person of being a rapist. It is difficult to see if thisdistinction has any use. The information for this was derived from a privatecommunication.

[8] Ibid, Oct. 13, 2003.

[9] "Forcible transfers of Palestinians to Gaza constitutes a War Crime, "MDE 15-134-2002, September 3, 2002.

[10] Surviving under siege, MDE 15-001-2003, September 9, 2003.

[11] This is the list of AI reports. NB: reports dealing with the abuse ofIsraeli human rights were excluded – for an explanation see my previousarticle. Also note that AI never issued a report on the situation in Jeninin 2002.

 Date   Name of Report    Reference Number
 14-Oct-00   Excessive use of lethal force    MDE 15-41-00
 10-Nov-00   Mass arrests and police brutality    MDE 15-58-2000
 01-Feb-01   State Assassinations and Other Unlawful Killings    MDE 15-005-2001
 15-Aug-01   Broken Lives:  a year of intifada    MDE 15-083-2001
 12-Apr-02   The heavy price of Israeli incursions    MDE 15-042-2002
 23-May-02   Mass detention in cruel, inhuman [...] conditions    MDE 15-074-2002
 30-Sep-02   Killing the Future: Children in the line of fire    MDE 02-005-2002
 04-Nov-02   Shielded from scrutiny    MDE 15-143-2002
 08-Sep-03   Surviving under siege    MDE 15-001-2003

[12] By this is meant that AI hasn't issued a report — a detailedinvestigation of the topics mentioned. When this article was nearly finishedAI issued a press release about the land-grab wall, but it didn't go intodetails or implications.

[13] One doesn't have to restrict one's view to Sabra and Shatila todetermine that Ariel Sharon is a mass criminal. To dispel the notion thatSharon may be a "man of peace, " one should read Azmi Bishara's "A lifetimecredo, " (AlAhram, September 4, 2003, issue 654).

[14] Ronnie Kasrils' statement at a conference in London, Fall 2002. Pleasenote that Ronnie Kasrils is Jewish himself.

[15] Surviving under siege, MDE 15-001-2003, September 8, 2003.

[16] Lisa Hajjar, "LegalDiscourses and Conflict in Israel-Palestine, " Chapter 2 in CourtingConflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza, forthcoming University of California Press.

[17] Nabeel Abraham, et al., International Human Rights Organizations and the Palestine Question, Middle East Report (MERIP), Vol. 18, No. 1, January-February 1988, pp. 12 —20.

[18] Nabeel Abraham, "TortureAnyone?", Lies of Our Times, May 1992, pp. 2 -- 4.

[19] "Possible" prisoner of conscience is an odd concept. It seems that thecanonizing committee couldn't make up its mind on these cases. In similarcircumstances, the Vatican should create one category of saints, and anotherfor "possible" saints.

[20] Jonathan Cook, "Facility 1391: Israel's Guantanamo, " Le MondeDiplomatique, November 2003.

[21] "AI calls on Denmark to fulfil its obligations under the UN Conventionagainst Torture, " MDE 15/074/2001, Aug. 14, 2001.

[22] Jeff Halper, Nov. 9, 2003 at a London forum stated: "what we witness isquiet ethnic cleansing." There are other Israeli scholars who have madesimilar statements.

[23] "Israeldestroys Negev Bedouin harvest with crop-dusters." For a long list ofother ethnic cleansing incidents in the Negev, see here. Some Bedouin's villages don't even appear on the map!

[24] Neve Gordon, "LandTheft & Confinement: The Bad Fence, " CounterPunch, May 30, 2003.

[25] Press release: "Jenin: Israel must answer questions", MDE 15-071-2002April 29, 2002.

[26] "Killing Palestinian civilians will not bring security or peace, " MDE15-122-2002, July 23, 2002. Even the title of this press release is odd.

[27] Here Human Rights Watch has actually ventured a statement: "(Jerusalem, April 29 2003) The Israeli army should immediately stop using US-suppliedflechette shells in the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch said today. The useof such antipersonnel weapons in densely populated areas makes the risk ofcivilian casualties intolerably high under international law." However, theHRW language is also troubling; does imply there is a "tolerance" forcivilian casualties?

[28] Chris McGreal, "IsraelAdmits It Lied Over Missile Raid on Camp, " The Guardian, Nov. 21, 2003.

[29] Unfortunately the webpage in question has scrolled, and the website hasbeen redesigned, and therefore no record of this document remains.

[30] Anyone doubting this statement should read the Summer 2002 CAQinterview with Prof. Francis Boyle. It lists two egregious examples: thefact that AI issued a press release condemning Iraqis about thethrowing-the-babies-out-of-the-incubators — something proven to be afabrication, and later prevaricating, obstructing, and NOT issuing a reportof its own on the attack on Jenin in April 2002.

Further Reading

1) Nabeel Abraham, et al.; International Human Rights Organizations and the Palestine Question, Middle East Report (MERIP), Vol. 18, No. 1, January-February 1988, pp. 12 —20.

2) Dennis Bernstein andFrancis Boyle, "Amnestyon Jenin": an interview, CAQ, Summer 2002, pp. 9 — 12, 27.

3) Paul de Rooij, "AI:Say It Isn't So, " CounterPunch, Oct. 31, 2002

4) Paul de Rooij, "AmbientDeath in Palestine, " Dissident Voice, June 21, 2003.

5) Sara Flounders, "Massacre in Jenin, Human Rights Watch and the Stage-Management of Imperialism, " CAQ, Fall 2002.

6) Diana Johnstone, Fools' Crusade, Pluto Press, London, 2002.

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