Archive for July, 2009

An open letter to Amnesty International

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The following letter has been sent to the editor of Amnesty International’s magazine in the UK.
Kristyan Benedict’s article on “10 Days in the West Bank” (Amnesty Magazine, July/August 2009) takes up three full pages but still manages to tell only one side of the story.
Benedict begins by mentioning that Bethlehem University was closed for three years – but doesn’t say why. No doubt it was closed during the three most violent years of the first Intifada (1987-90) because of incidents of violence taking place there — but there’s no mention of this. Why was it closed? Did she ask?
She then quotes a Palestinian activist saying how hard it is to resolve conflict “when people are constantly being provoked to retaliate”. This presumably refers to only the Palestinian side (as if Israelis are never provoked by anything) but also reads like a justification for violence, an attempt to understand why some Palestinians choose to become suicide bombers, for example.
The delegation she was on then visited the separation barrier and told of the (presumably) negative impact it had on Palestinians. But not a word about why it was built. Not a mention of the vast number of lives saved by the huge reduction in the number of terrorist attacks carried out in Israel.


An East London horror story

Friday, July 10th, 2009

War on Want is a respected UK charity which works to combat poverty and promote human rights around the world. Pluto Press is a respected left-wing publishing house which to its everlasting credit is the publisher of my second book. So when the two come together to host an event on the subject of Israel, naturally one should only expect the best.
And yet the event I attended last night in East London’s Toynbee Hall was — as a friend predicted — a horror story.