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Saturday, 20 March 2010

Amnesty International - DON'T SUPPORT ERIC LEE

Eric Lee’s Scab Campaign Against Amnesty International

Who you might ask is Eric Lee? Well there is a web site that supposedly supports workers of the world in their struggles. It is run by an Israeli reserve officer Eric Lee. Nothing wrong with that you might say and of course you are right. Plenty of Israelis are active in solidarity organisations of one form and another.

But Lee is made from an entirely different metal. He wastes no opportunity to support the Israeli state against the Palestinians. He has already been refused £2,000 by my union, UNISON, because of his and LabourStart’s support for Zionism and Israel. Laborstart consistently and consciously refuses to cover Histadrut’s treatment of the Palestinians. Histadrut is the Israeli settler union that steals 11% of Palestinian wages of those from the West Bank whilst refusing to give them any support or representation inside Israel. Histadrut is the ‘union’ that built the early settlements on the West Bank and although it has now agreed to recruit migrant workers, in practice it is their union subs. that it is after. Histadrut has lost 2/3 of its members in the past 20 years. That is why Histadrut has consistently supported the deportation of migrant labour from Israel (to reduce Israeli Jewish unemployment) and last year, when Israel Rail tried to sack 100 Arab Israeli workers to replace them with Jewish workers [the pretext for this was that only those who’d served in the army, i.e. Jews, could serve on the railways!].

Eric Lee distinguished himself last year by coming out in support of the War Against Gaza and the murder of 400 innocent children, the use of cluster bombs, fleychettes and white phosphorous. Not a word of criticism emanated from his mouth because attacking civilians with chemical weapons was ‘self defence’ in this twisted mind.

Lee is now waging another ugly campaign. This time inside Amnesty International. Amnesty was the first organisation, back in the 1970’s which exposed the Israeli practice of torturing Palestinian detainees. Today it helps expose the continuing violations of Palestinian rights. And what is Lee’s objection? That Amnesty spends too much time on Israel! Well, as Mandy Rice-Davies says, ‘he would say that, wouldn’t he.’

He has also waged an ugly racist campaign in support of a staff member who has falsely branded Binyamin Mohammed, who was severely tortured through British complicity and American ‘extraordinary rendition’, as an Al Quaeda supporter.

Lee seeks to cover himself by saying he is a supporter of 2 States and not a supporter of Netanyahu. But in Israel 'left' and 'right' don't have the same meaning. The Zionist consensus operates to the exclusion of all else. Netanyahy supports a Jewish State hence why the Israeli Labour Party, at the urging of of Histadrut,

As Lee writes on his blog:

‘I need Amnesty Members who support it to second the motion. Please print out the text of the emergency resolution above, write that you second this resolution, sign it, and send this with your full name and postal address to Eric Lee, 4 Alexandra Park Road, London N10 2AA.

And below is his campaign to get elected:

Amnesty has lost its way.

I write that in sadness — because I believe in Amnesty International.

This is an organisation that has for nearly half a century represented the very best values. It deservedly won the Nobel Peace Prize. It has captured the hearts of millions. In Britain alone, more than a quarter of a million people count itself among its members, donating money to the cause, participating in its campaigns.

I am proud to be one of them.

When Amnesty campaigns to release prisoners of conscience, I am with them. When they fight against the death penalty, I support them. When they campaign against torture, they have my backing.

But when they get it wrong, someone has to tell them.

And recently, Amnesty has gotten it very wrong on the question of Israel and Palestine.

Before saying another word, I should be clear about where I stand.

Not that it matters — I could have no view at all about the Israelis and Palestinians and still could have valid things to say about Amnesty on this question.

But I want to tell you who I am and what I believe.

I support a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine living side by side with secure and recognized borders. I support a withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories as part of a peace agreement with the Palestinians. I support a negotiated settlement regarding Jerusalem, one which gives both Israelis and Palestinians the right to call that city their capital. And I oppose those on each side who work to undermine any chance at peace and reconciliation — including the West Bank Israeli settlements, which I want to close down because they are an obstacle to peace.

I am not a supporter of the Netanyahu government; I do not believe that violence is the way to solve conflicts; I do not accept any side’s claim to a God-given right to the land.

Having said that, I do believe that all peoples have a right to self determination, and that includes a right to self-defense. I believe that it is right for Israel to use its military might to defend the country.

And now we come back to Amnesty.

I guess the best way would be to illustrate, perhaps just with one example, what has gone wrong.

  • government.
  • Page 30 gives a couple of examples. There are other examples in the articles below, but here’s just one.

    Take the most recent issue of the Amnesty magazine, which is sent to all members and supporters of the organisation. I’m talking about its January/February 2010 issue.

    The magazine is only 40 pages long.

  • Two-thirds of page 4 is taken up with an article about Gaza, about the Israeli blockade. It does not once mention the fact that Egypt too shares a border with Gaza, and that it — like the international community — enforces strict border controls because a terrorist organization, Hamas, has seized control of the territory. (There is no such blockade of the West Bank, which is under the control of the Palestinian Authority.)
  • Page 8 makes the top ‘what you can do’ item an appeal to the UK government to lift the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
  • Page 22 is a feature on the use of cluster bombs. It is illustrated with a photo of young girl injured by Israeli cluster bombs used in Lebanon.
  • Israel is named as a country that produced cluster munitions on page 23.
  • Page 28 has an ‘Action update’ focussing on the denial of clean water to Palestinians by the Israeli government, part of a policy, Amnesty says, “to drive Palestinians from their homs to make way for further illegal Israeli settlements”. No mention of the Israeli settlement freeze announced by the Netanyahu
  • les of feedback the organisation receives — and the first one condemns Amnesty for “calling for an arms embargo” on Gaza. The writer, presumably, supports the import of arms into Gaza where they can be used by Hamas to attack Israel.
  • Page 33 has ‘Appeals updates’ and the first one is about a Palestinian, jailed by Israel, who was released and “is now at home with his family and plans to resume his studies”. There is no mention of what he was jailed for — presumably, links to a terrorist organization.
  • Page 34 lists upcoming events. One lecture includes Gaza in the title. Another is a dramatised reading about a family in Gaza.
  • Page 37 runs a letter from a reader protesting Israel’s treatment of convicted spy Mordecai Vanunu.
  • Another letter defends Israel on the water policy stuff, but gets a repy from Amnesty — the only editorial reply to any letter in the magazine — saying simply that AI “wrote to Israel’s Water Authority before the report was published but received no response.”

That’s 10 or 11 references to Israel in a 40 page magazine.

And to put things in perspective, do you know how many times Amnesty mentions, for example, North Korea — probably the most repressive regime on earth, in the same magazine?

I won’t add any more you get the message. Now North Korea might not be the most pleasant place to live, I grant you, but it’s not the most repressive regime on earth unless you are a CIA stooge. Burma and Indonesia come to mind as does Uzbekistan.

Tony Greenstein

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