Amnesty International USA director’s only regret is speaking for American Jews, not the views expressed.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
In a letter to Jewish congressmen, Amnesty International’s USA director apologized for claiming to speak on behalf of American Jews regarding their support for Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Friday.
“I regret representing the views of the Jewish people,” Paul O’Brien wrote in a March 25 letter to 25 Jewish Democratic lawmakers who had denounced his comments about Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
“What I should have said,” he added, “is that my understanding from having visited Israel often and listened to many Jewish American and Israeli human rights activists is that I share a commitment to human rights and social justice for all with Jewish Americans and Israelis.”
O’Brien sparked controversy during an address to the Women’s National Democratic Club in Washington D.C. in March.
“We are opposed to the idea — and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate — that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people,” he said.
O’Brien later claimed he was referring to an Israeli law stating that Israel is the “national home of the Jewish people.”
In his address, O’Brien also claimed that a binational Jewish-Palestinian state would be a safe haven for diaspora Jewry.
“I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home,” he said.
Regarding American Jewish support for Israel, O’Brien claimed in his address that polls on that point weren’t accurate.
The comments renewed longstanding criticism that Amnesty, a London-based organization, denies the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.
In February, it released a report spreading the anti-Israel “apartheid” libel, and a close reading reveals Amnesty’s aversion to Jewish statehood.
Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard raised further questions about the organization’s biases by insisting that there’s no double standard in accusing Israel of apartheid, but not China.
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