Human Rights

Amnesty UK Promotes Ben White Again

This is a guest post by Joseph Weissman

Amnesty UK are once again hosting Ben White. Amnesty’s expressed purpose is ‘to protect people wherever justice, fairness, freedom and truth are denied.’ Amnesty are rightly famous for protecting the freedom of the individual.

One instance where freedom was nearly denied to individuals was a case in New York in which anti-Semites threatened to blow up a synagogue. Happily, they were arrested, thanks the police infiltrating the group.

Not everyone was happy though.

Here was Ben White’s post at the time:

A fully controlled threat to our freedoms

May 21st, 2009

A federal law enforcement official described the plot as “aspirational” — meaning that the suspects wanted to do something but had no weapons or explosives — and described the operation as a sting with a cooperator within the group.“

It was fully controlled at all times,” a law enforcement official said.

Ben White thus seemingly admitted that those arrested were planning an attack on a synagogue, yet bizarelly titled his post ‘A fully controlled threat to our freedoms.’ So what were ‘our freedoms’ here then? Was this about our freedom to worship in synagogues without fear of terrorist attack, or about our freedom to plot attacks on synagogues so long as we aren’t successful in carrying them out, or don’t actually have explosives?

You would think that Ben White’s definition of freedom chimes strangely with Amnesty UK’s definition of freedom. Amnesty UK have a right to voice their opinion on East Jerusalem, but hiring Ben White to speak for them makes no sense.

And there’s more: Ben White has previously written in praise of Christian “anti-Zionists” Colin Chapman and Stephen Sizer, who have developed a theology which suggests that the modern state of Israel is an offence to God, as Jews are no longer God’s Chosen People. For example, Sizer thinks that Israel is a rejected vineyard tossed into the flames by God.

Is this irrelevant for Amnesty UK?

If Amnesty UK decide to protest against Robert Mugabe tomorrow, will they pick a fundamentalist Christian to argue that the Curse of Ham extends to all black people, and so black Africans running their own countries are disobeying God?

If Amnesty UK want to protest against the authoritarianism of the Saudi government, will we hear a radical Christian cleric arguing that Ishmael’s descendants are all under a curse, so Muslims don’t have a right to run their own countries?

Following Amnesty UK’s shameful treatment of the committed human rights activist Gita Sahgal in favour of the reactionary pro-Islamist Moazzam Begg, Amnesty UK is now promoting a “thinker” who recommends Holocaust deniersobfuscates Holocaust denial, and thinks the Palestinian leadership is full of “natives” more interested in making money than national liberation. Where is the justice, the fairness, the freedom and the truth?

Ben White also campaigns against Israel alongside Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi. In fact, he spoke with Tamimi, urging students to boycott Israeli goods, last month at the SOAS event where Tamimi engaged in hate speech that is now under investigation by the police:

At SOAS, he praised Hamas and said: “Today Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation because that’s what the Americans and Israelis and cowardly politicians of Europe want, but what is so terrorist about it?

“You shouldn’t be afraid of being labelled extreme, radical or terrorist. If fighting for your home land is terrorism, I take pride in being a terrorist. The Koran tells me if I die for my homeland, I’m a martyr and I long to be a martyr.”

He criticised calls for a two-state solution and said: “Why are the Jews superhuman and better than anyone else that God would give them a homeland? Is God a racist? A god who would prefer people because of their race is not a god I want to associate with. Claiming they are being given the land of God is a racist idea.

“If the world felt so guilty about the Holocaust, the Jews should have been compensated, not brought to my country at the expense of my people.

“Israel does not belong to my homeland and must come to an end. This can happen peacefully if they acknowledge what they did — or we will continue to struggle until Israel is no more.”

At least Amnesty UK can take comfort from the fact that Ben White does not consider himself a racist – although he’ll understand if you are.