Amnesty International’s Attack on Ukraine Reveals What Israel and Its Friends Have Long Known

Aug. 15 2022

Earlier this month, Amnesty International issued a report condemning Ukraine for putting civilians in harms way during its war with Russia, effectively blaming Kyiv for the deaths brought about by the Russian military’s indiscriminate bombing of Ukrainian cities. Many in the West were shocked that this storied human-rights group would use flimsy evidence to condemn a democratic nation fighting for its life while making only passing reference to the transgressions of the authoritarian regime waging an unprovoked and especially brutal war. But those who have paid attention to Amnesty’s numerous reports and statements on Israel simply recognize this as business as usual. Gerald Steinberg, who has paid as much attention as anyone to this issue, writes:

Although Amnesty officials repeat the mantra that they are politically neutral and simply report what they observe, the focus and timing of their activities are inherently political. With a massive public-relations machine at its disposal (Amnesty’s total annual budget exceeds 350 million euros), the publication and accompanying media blasts of war-crime allegations and accusations that states are “putting civilians in harm’s way” have an immediate impact on public opinion and governmental policies. In this case, Russia—and Western opponents of assistance to Ukraine—seized on Amnesty’s report to bolster their positions. Examining the credibility of NGO reports is therefore of pressing importance.

Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson to campaign on behalf of prisoners of conscience worldwide. In its original iteration, the organization encouraged volunteers to bombard non-democratic governments with postcards and to hold protest vigils. Benenson and his group were very successful, at least in raising funds and building the organization, but when the cold war ended, a new mission was needed to maintain relevance and keep donors interested. At this point, Amnesty and its U.S.-based twin, Human Rights Watch, reinvented themselves as experts in the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.

As members of the [self-styled] international human-rights community, the new leaders of these NGOs embraced a post-colonial political ideology that was anti-Western and implicitly anti-democracy. Although they maintained that they were above politics, the top officials in Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, and similar groups were in fact deeply involved in partisan political movements and used tendentious interpretations of international and human-rights law to promote their agendas. The contradictions were managed through complex and closed decision-making structures—NGOs that call on others to practice transparency do not practice it themselves.

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More about: Amnesty International, Anti-Zionism, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, War in Ukraine

How the Death of Mahsa Amini Changed Iran—and Its Western Apologists

Sept. 28 2022

On September 16, a twenty-two-year-old named Mahsa Amini was arrested by the Iranian morality police for improperly wearing a hijab. Her death in custody three days later, evidently after being severely beaten, sparked waves of intense protests throughout the country. Since then, the Iranian authorities have killed dozens more in trying to quell the unrest. Nervana Mahmoud comments on how Amini’s death has been felt inside and outside of the Islamic Republic:

[I]n Western countries, the glamorizing of the hijab has been going on for decades. Even Playboy magazine published an article about the first “hijabi” news anchor in American TV history. Meanwhile, questioning the hijab’s authenticity and enforcement has been framed as “Islamophobia.” . . . But the death of Mahsa Amini has changed everything.

Commentators who downplayed the impact of enforced hijab have changed their tune. [Last week], CNN’s Christiane Amanpour declined an interview with the Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi, and the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Iran’s notorious morality police and senior officials for the violence carried out against protesters and for the death of Mahsa Amini.

The visual impact of the scenes in Iran has extended to the Arab world too. Arabic media outlets have felt the winds of change. The death of Mahsa Amini and the resulting protests in Iran are now top headlines, with Arab audiences watching daily as Iranian women from all age groups remove their hijabs and challenge the regime policy.

Iranian women are making history. They are teaching the world—including the Muslim world—about the glaring difference between opting to wear the hijab and being forced to wear it, whether by law or due to social pressure and mental bullying. Finally, non-hijabi women are not afraid to defy, proudly, their Islamist oppressors.

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Read more at Nervana

More about: Arab World, Iran, Women in Islam