Calling Out Anti-Semitic ‘Human Rights’ NGOs

President Donald Trump has done much for American Jews and America’s ally Israel. Even so, his administration’s announcement that it would consider labeling certain international NGOs as anti-Semitic is momentous. These NGOs -- chief among them Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Oxfam -- are known to single out Israel for criticism while turning a blind eye to Arab-Palestinian terrorism. They also support the Hamas-inspired boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks political and economic isolation of Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already requested Elan Carr, U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, to identify all such NGOs and prepare to withdraw financial support to them. Though they benefit from U.S. aid, AI, HRW, and Oxfam -- the only ones named by the administration so far -- disparage American ally Israel and denigrate America as well.

Here’s a roster of their manifold hypocrisies: they call America evil, racist, imperial, and a threat to world peace; they defend terrorist attacks on Israelis as legitimate resistance and freedom struggles; they bolster the Arab-Palestinian leadership’s denial of Jews’ connection to their ancestral land; and they ignore the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab states, for whom compensation has never been considered. Most iniquitously, they demand within the Jewish state enclaves from which Jews will be excluded. They link this demand, aimed at obliterating Israel, to a specious “right of return” for millions who have never lived in the Jewish state. So, despite its impressive record on human rights and civil liberties, the only democracy in the Middle East where all ethnic and religious groups live freely is singled out by them for opprobrium.

Israeli politician Natan Sharansky, a Soviet refusenik and thus no stranger to opposing state cruelties, formulated the “3-D” test to differentiate legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. The first ‘D’ is demonization, or portrayal of Israel alone as evil; the second is double standards, or tarring Israel alone for certain actions while ignoring similar (or worse) conduct by others; and the third is delegitimization, or asserting that Israel has no right to exist. By that test, all three NGOs identified by the Trump administration are anti-Semitic.

Amnesty International

Founded in the UK in 1961, AI claims seven million supporters worldwide, from whom it raised (in 2018)  €299 million (more than $350 million). It is partial to left-wing causes such as alleged human rights abuse in the U.S. and Israel, but ignores atrocities committed in authoritarian countries or by terrorist groups. NGO Monitor, which researches NGOs, says that AI “disproportionately singles out Israel for condemnation” by “misrepresenting the complexity of the conflict with Arab-Palestinians” and “ignoring human rights violations in the region.”

A prime example is AI’s gross exaggeration of Israel’s 2002 action in Jenin as a “massacre.” Even the left-leaning Washintong Post published an opinion piece that called the allegation a “hoax” and chastised the UN Security Council, which called an emergency session on Jenin, for ignoring real massacres such as persistent Arab-Palestinian suicide bombings, shootings, and kidnappings that targeted Israeli civilians.

A little Jenin history. Israel ceded control of the Jenin refugee camp to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1996. At the 2000 Camp David Summit, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered PA chairman Yasser Arafat all of the Gaza Strip and 97% of the West Bank in exchange for peace. Arafat rejected this, and chose the terrorism path that led to the second Palestinian Intifada, during which Jenin was a "launching site for numerous terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens and Israeli towns and villages”. As the Post article stated, when the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) tried to clear Jenin, there was “hand-to-hand” and “door-to-door” combat; “dozens of houses” had been “booby-trapped by Palestinian fighters.” It commended the IDF’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties: there were 21 civilian deaths -- “nothing less than astonishing” in a tight-packed shanty town -- against 23 deaths of soldiers. It noted the “extraordinary scrupulousness of the Israeli army” in avoiding aerial attacks. But AI falsely accused Israelis of compelling Palestinians to act as human shields; in fact, this is typically how Palestinian terrorist groups exploit camp inhabitants.

In 2006, AI condemned Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hezb’allah in Lebanon and accused the IDF of “war crimes” against civilians though the conflict was initiated by the terrorist group, which sought refuge in residential areas. It neither reported Iran’s support to Hezb’allah, nor Iran’s supply of missiles used to attack Israeli cities. Nowhere did it refer to Hezb’allah as a terrorist group.

In 2009, AI contributed, along with Oxfam and other anti-Israel NGOs, to “Failing Gaza:  No Rebuilding, No Recovery, No More Excuses,” a false narrative on Israeli operations against rocket attacks on Israeli communities.

AI has been consistently biased against Israel, holding anti-Israel conferences, calling it a “racist” and “apartheid state,” propagating the meme of Israel as a human-rights violator, fomenting BDS campaigns; all the while, it has ignored the Palestinian government’s failure to check terrorist activity and never spoken against Iran for supplying rockets to Hamas.

Human Rights Watch

Founded in 1998, HRW purports to protect “vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime” and “refugees and children in need”. NGO Monitor lists HRW’s 2018-2019 income at over $84 million, and reports that HRW “disproportionately focuses on condemnations of Israel” and “promotes an agenda based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli aggression.” It repeatedly whitewashes Palestinian terrorism, equates Israel with Hamas, backs the BDS movement, and incites the UN and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to act against imputed Israeli crimes.

Like AI, HRW exaggerated Israel’s actions in Jenin (2002) and against Hezb’allah (2006), ignoring armed attacks on Israel’s borders and rocket attacks on Israeli communities. The UN has repudiated HRW’s allegations that the IDF “committed serious violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting prima facie to war crimes” in Jenin.


Founded in 1942, Oxfam -- with a 2018-19 income of $1.2 billion -- purports to “build a future free from the injustice of poverty.”  How this aim ties to its consistent anti-Israeli stance is a mystery.

NGO Monitor notes that Oxfam distorts the ground situation, blaming Israel for impeding Palestinian economic development. Among Oxfam’s factitious charges against Israel is that of “ethnically cleansing 75% of the Palestinian population.” Oxfam ignores Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist activities. Its report on the 2014 Gaza war forgets Hamas rockets raining on Israeli citizens and the infamous under-the-border terror tunnels but characterizes Israeli counterterrorism measures as “collective punishment” of Palestinians.

Oxfam supports the BDS movement, called on the European Union to act against Israel and persuaded the UK to suspend sale of products from Israeli settlements. It contributed to the mendacious "Failing Gaza" report and hailed the UN database to penalize Israeli businesses across the 1949 armistice line.

Discover the Networks, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which monitors left-wing activity, says that “while remaining silent about human rights abuses and terrorist acts perpetrated by Palestinians, Oxfam condemns Israel’s national security policies to protect its citizens.”

The new anti-Semitism

By the Sharansky test, AI, HRW, and Oxfam are anti-Semitic because they demonize Israel, use double standards in judging Israeli action to protect its citizens, and work towards delegitimizing the Jewish state by targeting it as part of the BDS movement.

The State Department’s declaration on anti-Semitic “human rights” organizations should be out this week. Responding to the development, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said,  “Contemporary anti-Semitism feeds off its more traditional precursors, often focusing on the state of Israel, which for the modern anti-Semite is the manifestation of the collective Jew.  Today, people with opposing political agendas can nevertheless find themselves united in hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Image: Beny Shlevich