No… this isn’t about Israel at all


by Sunny
25th February, 2010 at 5:47 pm    

You won’t be surprised to hear that someone has started a blog called ‘Has Amnesty Lost Its Way?‘. You also won’t be surprised to hear that the reason why its author Eric Lee thinks Amnesty has lost its way is because it’s been too damn critical of the USA and especially Israel.

Eric Lee, a trade unionist and long-standing Israel cheerleader, seems to be planning an absurd Trotskyist attempt to hijack Amnesty International UK Section Board. I hope they laugh him out of the hall.
He says:

I believe that Amnesty has lost its way when it comes to Israel and Palestine. Instead of being seen as an unbiased source, Amnesty is increasingly viewed by many as being anti-Israel. Amnesty’s uncritical support for the controversial Goldstone report, the excessive coverage of Israel in its magazine (far more than coverage of, for example, Iran), the partnerships with anti-Israel NGOs like War on Want which label Israel as an “apartheid” society, all contribute to this perception. And just as Amnesty demands that governments tolerate dissent, it too must be open to criticism and not smug or defensive.

And there you have it – the real reason why certain people have piled in to undermine Amnesty Intl. The Goldstone report merely highlighted what everyone knew already – that Israel had committed gross human rights violations in Gaza that were illegal under Geneva Conventions. It showered innocent civilians with White Phosphorous!, But apparently it’s more important that we criticise Amnesty for its “uncritical support” of the report.

As I’ve always said Gita Sahgal became merely the vehicle for Nick Cohen / Hitchens / Harry’s Place et al to undermine Amnesty because of they would rather prefer the organisation did not criticise the US / Israel and their friends at all. Instead of wanting it to be unbiased – they would in fact prefer it if it was more biased. Just, in favour of their geo-political aims.

Just to clarify the links:
Eric Lee frequently writes for Harry’s Place. He is being supported by Jonathan Hoffman, a man who compiled an absurd 57 page ‘report’ of website comments as example of ‘Anti-Semitism at the Guardian CIF’, even though he admits a majority of the comments were removed by moderators. The blog above was also promoted on CIF Watch – which now spends most of it’s time attacking Jewish writers on Guardian CIF for being critical of Israel.
Who said we don’t have wingnuts in this country?


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: No… this isn't about Israel at all http://bit.ly/cCdUw2


  2. Milena Buyum

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: No… this isn't about Israel at all http://bit.ly/cCdUw2


  3. Naomi McAuliffe

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: No… this isn't about Israel at all http://bit.ly/cCdUw2


  4. smileandsubvert

    RT @naomimc: RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: No… this isn't about Israel at all http://bit.ly/cCdUw2


  5. Allan Siegel

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » No… this isn’t about Israel at all http://bit.ly/amfqCl


  6. TenPercent

    Don't nominate Eric Lee for Amnesty, he rejects Goldstone and supports racism http://bit.ly/cD6ud0


  7. earwicga

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » No… this isn’t about Israel at all http://bit.ly/amfqCl


  8. NewLeftProject

    RT @TenPercent: Don't nominate Eric Lee for Amnesty, he rejects Goldstone and supports racism http://bit.ly/cD6ud0


  9. Tony Thomas

    RT @maafa: Pickled Politics » No… this isn't about Israel at all: And there you have it – the real reason… http://bit.ly/cAkG6Q #Israel




  1. RedSeaPedestrian — on 25th February, 2010 at 6:29 pm  

    What other nations and non state actors have used WHITE PHOSPHOROUS? Name and shame.

  2. Chris Williams — on 25th February, 2010 at 6:33 pm  

    Possessive its has no apostrophe, Sunny. There used to be a newsgroup devoted to that fact, you know. It was called, with a stunning lack of originality, ‘alt-possessive-its-has-no-apostrophe’.

  3. Sunny — on 25th February, 2010 at 6:54 pm  

    whoops – that annoys me too. Have taken it out now

  4. boyo — on 25th February, 2010 at 7:28 pm  

    fair points, but you are all a bit obsessed in your own ways….

  5. Refresh — on 25th February, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

    Clearly there is a hit list they’re going through.

  6. Lucy — on 25th February, 2010 at 10:53 pm  

    And England is a world hub, it seems, of ‘delegitimizing’ Israel.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1149274.html

    …’Israel is facing a global campaign of delegitimization, according to a report by the Reut Institute, made available to the cabinet on Thursday. The Tel Aviv-based security and socioeconomic think tank called on ministers to treat the matter as a strategic threat. …’

    …’The “delegitimizers” [the report claims] cooperate with organizations engaging in legitimate criticism of Israel’s policy in the territories such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, blurring the line between legitimate censure and delegitimization. They also promote pro-Palestinian activities in Europe as “trendy,”…’

    Help is on the way: http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2010/02/25/reframing/

    You’ve got to hand it to Israel. They did a pretty good job of ‘delegitimizing’ in Dubai, themselves, if that is what you want to call it.

  7. Jim Denham — on 25th February, 2010 at 11:11 pm  

    This post is unworthy of you, Sunny: the concern that a lot of us (not just “Harry’s Place”‘ers) feel about the treatment of Gita Shagal and over Amnesty’s links to ultra-reactionary Teleban-supporting Islamist forces is a quite seperate matter to Amnesty’s “line” on Israel.

    Your McCarthyite closing list of “wingnuts” suggests that you’d rather appeal to dog-whistle prejudice than debate the issues on their merits.

    I for one am proud to support Gita and have written to Amnesty telling them that my standing order will be cancelled if she’s not reinstated.

  8. Jim Denham — on 25th February, 2010 at 11:30 pm  

    P.S: Eric Lee is a principled pro-trade union socialist. You may disgree with him on Israel/Palestine, but he’s certainly an honest and principled comrade who has a record of support (at Labourstart) for Palestinian trade unionists. The UK left’s hysterical anti-Israeli dual standards and anti – Israel bias (inherited from the UK ruling class’s traditional anti-semitism, but nowadays dressed up as “anti-Zionism”)) accounts for much of the ignorant, knee-jerk hostility to Eric. Eric supports the traditional left/Communist position of a Two State solution, by the way. Most of the pseudo-”Marxist” UK left supports the Islamist line of “Israel has no right to exist – even within pre-1967 borders.”

  9. FlyingRodent — on 25th February, 2010 at 11:56 pm  

    This is straightforward, isn’t it? Sahgal may be right or wrong, but her situation has been blatantly hi-jacked by a bunch of politically-motivated cranks for use as a stick beat Amnesty. Lee’s just saying it flat out while others are cloaking it in pious bullshit.

  10. Don — on 26th February, 2010 at 12:23 am  

    Jim,

    Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a gibbering troll which will be attended to.

  11. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:21 am  

    to ultra-reactionary Teleban-supporting Islamist forces

    And this is why I’m not paying attention to most of the people claiming to be on Gita Sahgal’s side… especially since there’s no proof of Begg saying he supports the Taliban post-Gitmo.

    Regardless Jim – this is a deflection tactic. I’m pointing out the motivations of most people involved in this fracas and it’s becoming obvious day by day.

    It’ll be a cold day in hell when I start taking pointers from Hitchens on human rights. That doesn’t mean I don’t have sympathy for Gita’s cause – I’m just not joining the baying mob for obvious reasons.

  12. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:21 am  

    PS – and seconding what Flying Rodent said above.

  13. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 4:56 am  

    Also, your mate Eric Lee doesn’t even mention Gita Sahgal – he’s got bigger issues to complain about presumably. Like Hitchens, they’ve been running this vendetta for a while.

  14. Lucy — on 26th February, 2010 at 7:36 am  

    Worth noting, I think, that a self-described protege of Hitchens, journalist Michael Weiss, has interviewed Gita Sahgal in the Wall Street Journal online. Just sent it to Earwicga. But here it is:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704454304575081331766664948.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    I copied the entire text in on the Earwicga site.

    There is something new here – not mentioned before. It is curious that this has only come out now.
    ===================
    Wall Street Journal:

    “Especially galling for Ms. Sahgal is the fact that she only accepted her job after insisting to Widney Brown, senior director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty, that she be allowed to address the Begg alliance.

    “I told her, ‘If you don’t give me the power to clean up this Begg situation, I won’t take on the gender affairs assignment. Widney encouraged me to write a memo on it and even came past my office late one night while I was writing to discuss it. There was no internal resistance against this. So I was promoted with full support. Then, when the Sunday Times story broke, everything I uncovered was deemed ‘innuendo.’”

    ************

    Needless to say, she has not warmed at all to Moazzam Begg.

  15. Brownie — on 26th February, 2010 at 10:17 am  

    Sunny,

    Have you got that taste out of your mouth yet? You know, the one you said that “leading human rights orgnisation” Cage Prisoners leaves?

    And there you have it – the real reason why certain people have piled in to undermine Amnesty Intl.

    I’m sure you’re right about this. I’m quite certain that some people have piled in because they are implacable opponents of AI and always have been. Just as I’m sure that there are people who support the AI-CP-Begg nexus because they support the Islamist credo. In other words, I’m prepared to acknowledge there are cranks on both sides. Are you?

    Name a live political or soical issue, and I’ll show you cranks on both sides of the argument. It was ever thus, Sunny. The point is: so fucking what? You’re either prepared to debate the issues that do exist – notwithstanding the cranks – or you are not. Your posts on Sahgal over last couple of weeks demonstrate that you are not. Will not, cannot, I don’t know and don’t care. But it isn’t happening.

    especially since there’s no proof of Begg saying he supports the Taliban post-Gitmo.

    Where do you think the burden of proof lies, Sunny? If I were a well-known Arsenal fan in 2003, is someone entitled to suppose I might still support Arsenal in 2010 if I’ve said nothing to disabuse people of that view? If people ask me: “Do you still support Arsenal?” and I avoid the question and treat you to generalisations about how much I enjoy football, acknowledging the merits of other teams as well as Arsenal, but stadfastly refusing to repudiate my Arsenal-supporting past, what are you etitled to take from that? And even if you’re prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt, are you going to offer me a position writing for Tottenham’s fanzine?

    Nothing short of “I love the Taliban” and “bin Laden rocks” is going to satisfy you, is it?

  16. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 10:48 am  

    Brownie @ 15,

    And there’s the rub.

    What level of proof do you actually want him to provide?

    Must he completely reject his religion in order to satisfy you? What would make you change your mind?

  17. chairwoman — on 26th February, 2010 at 11:05 am  

    You’re right for once Sunny, it isn’t about Israel, it’s about you.

    You just keep on keeping on, why don’t you.

    Your constant manure stirring, along with your CiF masters and their ‘anti-zionist’ fellow travellers, just encourages both sides to become more entrenched in their determination not to sit down and thrash out a workable two states agreement. As I said some years back, does one want to be the problem or the solution, and you appear to have opted for being the problem.

    I would ask if you have no shame or conscience, but I already know the answer to that. The only thing left to ponder is what you’ve done with Sunny Hundal.

  18. Brownie — on 26th February, 2010 at 11:05 am  

    especially since there’s no proof of Begg saying he supports the Taliban post-Gitmo

    You know, this distinction you keep trying to make between Begg’s pre- and post-Gimo purview is inadvertantly making a case for the rehabilitative qualitities of the place. Did you mean to do that?

    Must he completely reject his religion in order to satisfy you?

    Yep, until he starts hearing my confessions, AI shouldn’t touch him.

    Spot on again, Doug.

  19. resistor — on 26th February, 2010 at 11:15 am  

    I would like to point out that Eric Lee proudly served as an occupying soldier with the IDF in the West Bank.

    http://www.ericlee.info/2006/08/why_i_served.html#more

    As for his record of ‘support’ for Palestinian Trade Unionists at Labourstart (from where he was forced to remove a link to the IDF!) others took a different view,

    http://www.btinternet.com/~davidbeaumont/msf/labourstartwarning.htm

    ‘OPEN LETTER: Against Labour Start’s veto of Palestinian Worker News

    A group of concerned labour and social movement activists from different countries have initiated this petition, against the shutdown of Palestinian worker news on the major labour news website, Labour Start. (www.labourstart.org)’

    Now Eric Lee wants get similar influence over Amnesty International – but who could vote for someone who wrote, ‘Regardless of what I think of Jewish settlements in the territories, so long as there are children there, someone has to protect them. I’m willing to do that job.’ He was not talking about Palestinian children.

  20. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 11:32 am  

    Brownie,

    I believe you are wriggling yet again. You cannot or will not clarify what Moazzam Begg would have to do or say to satisfy your ‘concerns’.

    Which you can easily refute by, y’know, writing something sensible for a change…

  21. Shatterface — on 26th February, 2010 at 12:45 pm  

    So lets get this straight: it’s the *Zionists* behind all this support for Gita Sahgal?

    I feel so used.

  22. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 1:06 pm  

    Man you guys are predictable and boring now

  23. cjcjc — on 26th February, 2010 at 1:18 pm  

    Hahaha – pot calling kettle…

  24. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 1:36 pm  

    I’m prepared to acknowledge there are cranks on both sides. Are you?

    Cranks on which side? I accept some of the people behind CP are cranks. But if you think some of the people defending Amnesty are cranks – then you’ll have to show me evidence.

    Pictures of them carrying Stop the War banners saying ‘we love HuT’ will do – as is the usual style.

    Where do you think the burden of proof lies, Sunny?

    On people making the accusations perhaps?? Or are people guilty until proven innocent?

  25. Arif — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:01 pm  

    What does this describe Sunny?

    Some people, with motives which others impute are unsavoury, make it their business to support an otherwise reasonable campaign, but using arguments which are actually based on special pleading rather genuine care for human rights.

    It can describe both how you see Gita Sahgal’s “cheerleaders” and how others see Moazzam Begg’s “cheerleaders”.

    Their “cheerleaders” might only support Amnesty International when it is convenient and oppose Amnesty whenever it raises human rights issues which are inconvenient, and project all sorts of fears that it is Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic or whatever. So what’s new?

    I am guessing it is your sense that one set of cheerleaders is gaining an upper hand in smearing Amnesty International that makes this an issue for you Sunny. Just as you would be concerned if Muslim supremacists were saying that AI is obviously full of closet Islamophobes and needs a change of its board, particularly in the Gender Unit, to remove all the bias against Muslim countries. If UK media and blogs went along with that framing of the issue, I guess you would be trying to expose their agendas too.

    Good luck to you, but I don’t think your manner is raising the level of debate!

  26. Arif — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:05 pm  

    Cranks on both sides, Sunny (#24 responding to Brownie #15), would include Anwar al Awlaki – who also sees Amnesty International as anti-Muslim. I think this may be what Brownie is getting at.

  27. Soso — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:13 pm  

    As I’ve always said Gita Sahgal became merely the vehicle for Nick Cohen / Hitchens / Harry’s Place et al to undermine Amnesty because of they would rather prefer the organisation did not criticise the US / Israel and their friends at all. Instead of wanting it to be unbiased – they would in fact prefer it if it was more biased. Just, in favour of their geo-political aims

    Israel is constantly singled out for HR abuses, and yet it is probably the most democratic state in the region. This uneven and unbalanced obsession with the Jewish state is now fuelled, not by concern about rights… that is just a figleaf…but by hatred of Jews.

    The son of one of the founders of Hamas, and a convert to Christianity, has spelled it out in black and white as pertains to the nature of these organisations, as have people like Magdhi Allam. I’d rather glean my info fomr those familiar with the milieu, than from dishonest sycophants with a domestic constituency to stroke and caresse

  28. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:40 pm  

    Oh but I’ve never supported Awlaki. I think he’s a terrorist praising and supporting extremist.

  29. cjcjc — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:43 pm  

    But Begg and CP promoted him, didn’t they?

  30. Wendy — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:49 pm  

    Unfortunately I do not think you can separate these issues; British-based apologists for Israeli state violations of international and humanitarian law bizarrely expend an awful lot of energy ‘exposing’ Muslims, not least anyone they suspect of having links to other perpetraters of violations, the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh, India or Pakistan – hence the frequent media attacks on MCB members and East London Mosque, etc. A key link is Martin Bright who writes articles such as this: http://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/22065/we-must-lead-%EF%AC%81ght-against-extremists
    having established this sort of piss-poor attempt at ‘balance’ on Palestine/Israel: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/martin-bright/2009/01/israel-britain-hamas-gaza and who was extraordinarily quick off the mark following Sahgal’s own ‘expose’ of the already self-exposed Begg: http://www.spectator.co.uk/martinbright/5759197/gita-sahgal-a-statement.thtml

    I am getting tired of this though, and I am increasingly unwilling to accept that Sahgal did not know who she was getting into bed with when she went to the hack Kerbaj at the Sunday Times, whose tone and language set the terms and framework for this ‘debate’. If I ever got seriously pissed off with an aspect of my company’s work, whilst still respecting its principles and objectives, would I go straight to the very people whose agenda has clearly nothing to do with (in this case) universal human rights, thus inviting an inevitable Amnesty-bashing?

  31. Arif — on 26th February, 2010 at 2:58 pm  

    Sunny, I think Brownie’s point is not that you support Awlaki, but you ignore him, perhaps because you can see his views as ill-informed and assume he is not really interested in human rights. Therefore, why not treat the people knocking Amnesty International for criticising Israeli human rights abuses in the same way?

    I am suggesting the reason you treat them differently is that you think the latter group has more impact in undermining Amnesty International than the former. And in a particular web-focused, English language world, you are probably right. And so I can’t complain about you doing this – you have your bubble and I have mine!

    Just think if you took a broader view of this, you might keep a sense of proportion and raise the level of discussion.

  32. Arif — on 26th February, 2010 at 3:18 pm  

    Wendy, I agree. Some people are spending a lot of energy searching for evidence of Islamic takeovers. And other people spend a bizarre amount of time and energy looking for Jewish conspiracies.

    I also agree that at the moment one set of anti-Muslim fears is being promoted on the back of Gita Sahgal’s actions. And they are using it as a stick to beat Amnesty International.

    But we need to keep an awareness that there is another side with its own paranoid anti-semitic fantasies as well, and that both sides feed off each others propaganda. Otherwise, if we aren’t careful who will we find as our own cheerleaders?

    Wendy, just as Gita Sahgal has not been too concerned about who she gets into bed with, this is somethig that people can also accuse Sunny and Moazzam Begg of. But let’s not build up hostilities on the basis that they have different priorities and fears.

    As I see it the issue should be framed as:

    People want to lobby Amnesty to pander to their own unsubstantiated fears to blacklist person X and Group Y. How should we respond?

  33. resistor — on 26th February, 2010 at 3:29 pm  

    I notice the Eric Lee fans have nothing to say about his service in the IDF and the criticism of his treatment of Palestinian Trade Unionists.

  34. Lucy — on 26th February, 2010 at 3:54 pm  

    Here’s Christopher Hitchens once again – in Australian time for Gita Sahgal, one day ahead, 27 Feb 2010, and writing in Murdoch’s “The Australian”. He rises to Gita Sahgal’s defence, soars to her defence, indeed, despairs over Amnesty – and does not write – at all – about the Richard Kerbaj article in the 7 Feb 2010 Sunday Times. No mention of it.
    More and more frequently, as this saga gets reported, that little tidbit about Gita Sahgal FIRST going to the Sunday Times THEN getting suspended seems – oddly – to find itself omitted:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/justice-not-betrayal-of-principles/story-e6frg6zo-1225834955196

    Hitchens writes that ‘its fairly easy to summarise her concern in her own words’…
    …’One may think that to be an uncontentious statement, but it led to her immediate suspension.’

    Gita Sahgal spoke to the press. But you would never know it or know that a few hours AFTERWARDS she was suspended.

    Chris Williams’ very satisfying point from an earlier [Irene Khan Gita Amnesty]PP thread about what would have been reasonable for Gita Sahgal to expect – given the ACTUAL sequence of events, should, I think, be committed to memory or saved on a desktop to be recycled when needed. Herewith: -

    “If I was on the losing end of a complicated and important argument about policy at work, and responded by going off to the Sunday Times with a story which would be used to bash the organisation, I’d be in breach of my contract, and expect some kind of comeback. This is not to be confused with whistleblowing about actual skullduggery, of course. One of the consequences would be to make complicated and important arguments about policy (especially those involving me, if I retained that job) a lot more difficult, since some of the people round the table could always threaten to say “I will denounce you to the press . . . and then come back to this table.”. That’s not likely to be especially helpful, especially given what we know about the propensity of some of the press to have a partial view of human rights. And it’s not the same as saying “If this goes ahead, I will resign, and might then go to the press.”

  35. steve — on 26th February, 2010 at 5:04 pm  

    there are serious – and confidential – questions to be asked on both sides about Saghal’s role at Amnesty, are there not? after all, her line manager has flat out called Saghal a liar for her claims about non-response to memos; now we are told that she only accepted a promotion if she was afforded ‘the power to clean up this Begg situation’.

    The whole thing looks suspiciously like something that will require an employment tribunal, and that tribunal will almost certainly find against Saghal because she ran off to air internal matter to a journalist who is clearly opposed to amnesty, and following THAT she was suspended. Presunably the tribunal will then be called fascist-enabling or some such.

    I’m prepared to acknowledge there are cranks on both sides.

    the problem is that the pro-Saghal movement seems to have no spokespeople other than cranks who have hated amnesty long before this issue came along, and the same cranks seem also far from committed to universal human rights.

  36. Brownie — on 26th February, 2010 at 5:29 pm  

    the problem is that the pro-Saghal movement seems to have no spokespeople other than cranks who have hated amnesty long before this issue came along

    Steve, the ‘problem’ is not that this is remotely true, but that you insist it is anyway. I don’t know anything about you – maybe you really are that stupid to believe this utter tripe – but I’m at least familiar with Sunny’s output. I know he’s not stupid. So regardless of what you think, he at least must know there is a legitimate other side to this argument. Instead of addressing it, he’s spent 2 weeks denigrating the sort of person inclined to support Sahgal. He won’t entertain any criticism of AI lest that mean he’s conceding ground to the “baying mob” (???), apparently.

    It’s a failure of reasoning unseen in the blogosphere for, ooh, at least hours.

  37. MiriamBinder — on 26th February, 2010 at 6:02 pm  

    When this whole issue first broke I was firmly of the opinion that I was not going to get caught up in this wrangle between pro-Gita Sahgal vis-a-vis pro-Amnesty … it has since then degenerated beyond even my rather low expectations.

    Amnesty International has been a thorn in the side of many a human right abuser; whether they be gender, sexual orientation, age or so called ‘national security’ based. Her suspension on FULL PAY was a direct consequence of her going to the press. If she even for a moment thought that the consequences of her doing so was not going to be a) a wholesale smear campaign against Amnesty International and b)a suspension then she certainly is far too politically naive to be employed as head of the gender unit in the first instance

    Forced to chose I would have to come down on the side that holds that Gita Sahgal lost any moral high ground when she went to the press; once she realised she was losing the argument within the organisation.

    Victims of human rights abuses can live without a Gita Sahgal fighting their cause. Both victims of human right abuses and supporters of universal human rights need Amnesty International!

  38. Mark T — on 26th February, 2010 at 7:20 pm  

    As I’ve always said Gita Sahgal became merely the vehicle for Nick Cohen / Hitchens / Harry’s Place et al to undermine Amnesty because of they would rather prefer the organisation did not criticise the US / Israel and their friends at all.

    Even if that was true, the motivations of those criticizing Amnesty are neither here nor there when we are considering whether Amnesty was correct to partner with Begg and Cage Prisoners. Amnesty’s position is not, in and of itself, defensible purely by pointing to the reasons some people might have for attacking it.

    I would have thought that was fairly obvious.

    Evidently not.

  39. Sunny — on 26th February, 2010 at 7:37 pm  

    Victims of human rights abuses can live without a Gita Sahgal fighting their cause. Both victims of human right abuses and supporters of universal human rights need Amnesty International!

    bingo!

  40. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 8:29 pm  

    Och, Brownie @ 35,

    You do realise how empty your rhetoric is, don’t you?

    You have no case, you have no argument worth the stating, so why do you bother?

    You’ve lost any credibility you ever had. Well, come to think of it that might be overstating it a bit.

    If my argument is so piss poor, perhaps you could try addressing it here? I expect you won’t, simply because you do have an agenda, and you can’t address it here.

    (Yes, I have now read what you had to say about me on the Hammer and the Anvil. Piss poor form old chap.)

    You have been asked several times by me to explain exactly what Mozzam Begg has to say for you to change your tune. You can’t. Why? Lets speculate, shall we? Because of your prejudice perhaps, or won’t, because you are just incredibly dense?

    Is there another option?

    Perhaps.

    You just assume that you have the right to smear people without presenting any evidence. Most of us would see that as an epic fail. And arrogant to boot. Though you have learned in a good, err, Place, haven’t you?

    It is quite clear that the attack is aimed at Amnesty Internationals’ core values which include a moral independence. Something you and your cohort are, probably, unfamiliar with as a concept.

  41. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 8:46 pm  

    Shorter Mark T @ 37,

    We have no argument and cry like babies when people point that out to us.

  42. Mark T — on 26th February, 2010 at 9:08 pm  

    Sorry, what relevance does that have to my point?

  43. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 9:17 pm  

    This is an interesting game that Mark T has started. He should see a board game developer.

    If I understand the rules correctly, you start with a worthy Human Rights Organisation that generally seems to say human righty sorts of things about lots of folk, Chinese dissidents, Argentinian disappeared, Brazilian death squads, y’know stuff in countries far far away that no-one really seems to care too much about.

    And, just because lots of folk think it is a worthwhile cause – remote but worthwhile – they become a bit stronger. The Saudis get it in the neck. Perhaps the UK over NI. The targets are getting larger and people are brave enough to say, ‘they shall not pass’. It is all good. The money flows in.

    But some folk can’t stand criticism. They are, perhaps the dark side, the folk that fail to feel the force. They would prefer to remain stuck in a defence of country rather that any of this post modern universal human rights shit.

    And there is a degree of comfort in that.

    “My country right or wrong!” And similar stuff. “My religion right or wrong”, or “My politics, right or wrong”.

    These are the other players in this game.

    So, we have a chessboard. We have two sides that are, fundamentally at war. Thank fuck neither actually has a weapon to throw, else it would be carnage.

    Who will win?

    The forces for the future or the forces for the past?

    You decide.

    Remember, shares in optimism can go down as well as up.

  44. douglas clark — on 26th February, 2010 at 9:33 pm  

    Mark T,

    I am pointing out that there is a total absence of argument, other than smoke and mirrors, on the so-called decent side.

    Your post was near impossible to decipher, but on balance you appear to be a Eustonite.

    So, you get simplified.

    Correct me if I missed out an important theme or something. As I haven’t seen anything from a ‘decent’ that was actually an argument, rather than an ad hominem, you’ll forgive me if I take it less than seriously.

    If you have evidence to provide, please do so.

  45. mostly harmless — on 26th February, 2010 at 10:30 pm  

    You are 100% spot on with this Sunny. Ever since Amnesty focussed on Israel & Palestine over the last year or so, this lot having been waiting to get their revenge.

  46. soru — on 27th February, 2010 at 1:46 am  

    Sunny:
    And this is why I’m not paying attention to most of the people claiming to be on Gita Sahgal’s side

    Well, if this is ‘not paying attention’, I’d hate to see what an unhealthy obsession looked like…

    Douglas:
    Your post was near impossible to decipher, but on balance you appear to be a Eustonite.

    translation: ‘I don’t understand any of the issues involved, but I know which tribe I am part of’.

    It’s ironic you used the phrase ‘my country right or wrong’, because it is clear you are supporting Amnesty the way some people support Ranger or Celtic. The question of whether a striker was offside then becomes not one a replay could resolve, but a matter of identity, a pledge of allegiance.

    Sunny needs to learn that many people will detect and react badly to that kind of blatant partisanship. Which only tends it make it counter-productive, as any reading of the responses to the recent flood of articles on this topic will reveal.

    The immediate issue in all this seems to be that Amnesty went, in the judgement of many people, slightly too far in partnering with Caged Prisoners. Nothing that is, in principle, very serious or hard to correct.

    Thing is, if you, as Sunny seems to do, declare the very concept of criticism of Amnesty as off-limits, then its not just correcting it that becomes impossible, but future, and worse, mistakes in the same direction become highly likely.

    You don’t want to be like the banker who can’t respond to any talk of changes in financial regulation without ranting about Lenin…

  47. Jim Denham — on 27th February, 2010 at 1:52 am  

    ” this lot having been waiting to get their revenge.”

    It’s a conspiracy isn’t it?

    No doubt by “this lot” you mean the Masons, eh? Or the Illuminati, perhaps?

  48. Sunny — on 27th February, 2010 at 2:37 am  

    Thanks for the advice soru but we’ll have to disagree on this one.

  49. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2010 at 4:43 am  

    soru,

    translation: ‘I don’t understand any of the issues involved, but I know which tribe I am part of’.

    Nope. I understand the issues involved. Here you go again with the intellectual arrogance that makes you such an aggravating correspondent. You have the cheek to pretend that a dozen or so mouthy idiots on the internet constitute ‘many people’. I have said that, if there was decent evidence, I’d change my mind about the case. Neither Brownie, nor Mark T nor you have done that.

    The reason is pretty simple. There is no clear cut case against Moazzam Begg. There is however a clear cut case against the zombie hordes of Harrys’ Place acolytes and fellow travellers.

    Try re-reading ‘The Crucible’.

    Here’s a question for you. If you could or can vote for Eric Lee, would you? I will vote for anyone but him….

    Else the lunatics will have truly taken over the asylum. It would be a cold day in hell before I thought that was OK.

  50. Mehdi — on 27th February, 2010 at 4:51 am  

    #37 “Forced to chose I would have to come down on the side that holds that Gita Sahgal lost any moral high ground when she went to the press; once she realised she was losing the argument within the organisation.

    So lets say as a soldier you are a conscientious objector to your military. You go to the press to voice your concern about your country dropping bombs on the (women beater and apostate killer) Talibans in Afghanistan 2001.

    You lose your moral high ground because you went to the press!

    How silly of these comatose leftists to think by going public, you lose your moral argument. To the totalitarians, open democratic discourse is the most evil of things.

  51. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2010 at 5:13 am  

    Mehdi,

    The problem with going public isn’t the one you state. It is that your case is then hijacked by a braying mob of lunatics. In fact, people that are devoid of any decent values whatsoever.

    So, sadly no.

  52. MiriamBinder — on 27th February, 2010 at 5:21 am  

    Precisely and thank you Douglas Clark.

  53. Josh Scholar — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:00 am  

    “translation: ‘I don’t understand any of the issues involved, but I know which tribe I am part of’.”

    That’s similar to what I think of Sunny from reading this article and this thread. He seems to have gone completely emotional over who he hates and who he supports and then he made up a rationalization afterward.

    He has internalized the attitude of tribalism.

  54. Mehdi — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:32 am  

    #51 – what a weasely argument. Never go to the press, never initiate a debate, never tell the facts in the open, because “somebody lunatic or devoid of decent values will hijack it”. If the enlightenment had thought in these weasily terms, we would still be living in the dark ages. This is a recipe for despotism and fascism. Either you believe in democratic values, or you go into bunker mode and set up a police state when somebody criticizes.

    This is the most intellectually cowardiced argument I have heard for a long time.

    Douglas Clark and Miriam Binder, if you cannot argue your case in the public, which apparantly you have failed due to your desire to close the debate and hide the facts, then you have lost the case. If Amnesty cannot argue its case, which it has miserably failed to do so, as to why it supports women beaters and human rights violators and apostate killers, then hiding it from the public will not give it the moral high ground.

    I guess your concept of moral values must be inverted or from another world. You want to gain the high moral ground by keeping things hidden and in camera – away from public checks and balance, away from the light of the day?

    Why is it that the decents deride the comatose left and AI as totalitarians? Do you people have any idea how anti-democratic and illiberal you sound?

  55. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:39 am  

    Josh Scholar,

    Yup.

    It is always a delight to have even more people piling in with no arguement whatsoever. Is Harrys’ Place down or something?

  56. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:51 am  

    Mehdi,

    You argue your case. Go on! Show us what it is.

    Your problem is that you don’t have one.

    You are now attempting to claim that people that don’t agree with you are closing out debate. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that idiotic decents have hijacked a debate and are doing something close to a magical trick.

    You guys have developed a completely new form of discussion. It misses out the whole step of presenting a case and arguing it rationally. Instead you jump directly to accusation, calumny and anger and expect your audience to cheer you on.

    Whilst I’m not buying it, it certainly speeds up the news cycle.

  57. Sarah AB — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:58 am  

    I agree with Soru. I have some concerns about AI’s relationship with CP and its suspension of Gita Sahgal but generally support them. I think its official responses to criticisms have been particularly evasive. I *am* receptive to some of the points made by the ‘other side’ because I don’t think this is a black and white issue. As people keep coming out with the argument that people like me are simply enemies of AI, I will point out (yet again) that I’ve been a member for 15 years and have done door to door collections for them. It’s inevitable, as others have noted, that people who don’t like AI might want to use this as stick to beat them with – but that in itself doesn’t make the concerns about AI mistaken.

  58. douglas clark — on 27th February, 2010 at 8:13 am  

    Sarah AB,

    It is a storm in a teacup. It is perhaps a hissy fit. It is almost certainly not Рany longer Рabout the merits or demerits of the case. It is, as Sunny points out in the op-ed, simply a cause celebr̩ for rather objectionable people to undermine what Amnesty International stands for.

  59. Sarah AB — on 27th February, 2010 at 8:30 am  

    @Douglas Clark – I agree with Soru’s analysis: “The immediate issue in all this seems to be that Amnesty went, in the judgement of many people, slightly too far in partnering with Caged Prisoners. Nothing that is, in principle, very serious or hard to correct.” In other words – this isn’t a deal breaker and I haven’t cancelled my subscription but neither is it completely trivial. In some ways it’s the *responses* by AI which I find the most unsettling part of this – as I can understand the arguments used by people who say GS shouldn’t have gone to the media in the way she did. Just asserting that this is “simply a cause celebré for rather objectionable people to undermine what Amnesty International stands for” doesn’t make it true. And I found your post (43) odd – my concerns *reflect* my concern with universal human rights (which for some reason you describe as post modern even though postmodernity is often associated with relativism) – they don’t mean that I want to undermine human rights or AI.

  60. mostly harmless — on 27th February, 2010 at 8:44 am  

    Jim Denham — on 27th February, 2010 at 1:52 AM
    No doubt by “this lot” you mean the Masons, eh? Or the Illuminati, perhaps?

    ‘This lot’ = Nick Cohen / Hitchens / Harry’s Place et al, clear enough for you Jim? It’s in the OP.

  61. MiriamBinder — on 27th February, 2010 at 9:37 am  

    @ Sarah AB # 59 – “… that Amnesty went, in the judgement of many people, slightly too far in partnering with Caged Prisoners.”

    Well, there is a jump. From having Begg speak of his personal experiences as a recipient of the delights of Guatanamo to partnering with Caged Prisoners.

    Can you show when Amnesty International partnered with Caged Prisoners? Or is it that ‘the judgement of many people’ is actually based on a false premise that is being adhered to despite any lack of empirical evidence; because this false premise is being reiterated by the baying of the hounds. The very same hounds who have long been looking for an excuse to bring down an organisation that by its very refusal to qualify Universal Human Rights is running counter to their view that Human Rights should not be universal but only doled out as and when they see fit; like a sweetie to a well behaved child, a reward for being in the right camp.

    Those very same baying hounds who have been fed a molehill by Gita Sahpal and have been building it up into a glass mountain of epic proportions?

  62. Shachtman — on 27th February, 2010 at 9:55 am  

    Eric Lee has done more for the rights of workers throughout the world and for Trade Union rights than you could ever dream of doing Sunny.His work is respected by many on the left. Unlike Sunny who basically uses his blogging in order to try and develop some kind of media career. More bitterness from Sunny.

  63. Sarah AB — on 27th February, 2010 at 10:26 am  

    @Miriam – I was actually quoting Soru who used the word ‘partnering’ – judging by the (measured and moderate) whole context of the post, he(?) seems to be using it in quite a ‘soft’ way which is how I meant it too – no there was no formal ‘partnership’ but having read quite a bit on both sides I incline to the view that AI should have distanced themselves further from Begg/CP. But as I said – it’s not black and white. As many others have said, there’s a big distinction between standing up, unequivocally, for someone’s human rights and giving that same person’s views and activities credibility by [insert verb a bit softer than 'partnering'!] with them.

  64. Mark T — on 27th February, 2010 at 11:10 am  

    There is no clear cut case against Moazzam Begg.

    That could be the case.

    However, it isn’t demonstrated by pointing out that some of the critics are motivated by support of Israel.

    That is why I’m at a loss as to the purpose of this post.

    (Is that decipherable Douglas?)

  65. FlyingRodent — on 27th February, 2010 at 1:05 pm  

    It’s not hard, Mark – a lot of the most vocal critics of Amnesty have previously attacked various HR orgs for being overly concerned about the insane and counterproductive western military whizzbang campaigns and torture/extrajudicial detention policies. It’s basically Amnesty should focus on the human rights of people who aren’t presently being bombed or disappeared by ourselves, the Americans or the Israelis.

    Now they’re using Begg and Sahgal as a stick to beat Amnesty into laying off our own crimes and focusing on those of dictatorships instead. Which is all well and good, until you recall that AI is supposed to concern itself with human rights, and not just those of people who the world’s Eric Lees and Chris Hitchens find acceptable.

  66. Dr Paul — on 27th February, 2010 at 1:58 pm  

    Funny old world isn’t it? There’s Eric Lee doing some useful work defending trade unionists around the world, whilst (according to an Israeli human-rights group) the main union in his homeland, Histadrut, systematically ripped off its Palestinian members to the sum of many millions. And then we have Amnesty International getting a bit too close to campaigners for Islamicist terrorists (just see who the Caged Prisoners folk are defending), who would have AI and the rest of us closed down.

    What is a poor lad (or lass) to do?

    Is it actually possible for human rights to be defended in the abstract, or will political agendas always intrude? Is AI’s actual purpose impossible in practice?

  67. Mark T — on 27th February, 2010 at 2:25 pm  

    Now they’re using Begg and Sahgal as a stick to beat Amnesty into laying off our own crimes and focusing on those of dictatorships instead.

    Fine. This could all be true. But you’re still ignoring my point.

    Their motivations are irrelevant. I would not – for instance – dismiss an argument you make because of any personal motivation you might have for making it. I would assess it on its merits. Why should the critics of AI be treated any differently? If they’re wrong, say so – don’t drone on (like Sunny is doing here) about how it’s all secretly about Israel. It’s the definition of playing the man, not the ball.

    Furthermore, I suspect a large number of the critics of AI aren’t mental about Israel. Was Salman Rushdie – for instance – motivated by AI’s attitude towards Israel when he penned his critique? I doubt it. And if he is making an identical argument to Eric Lee, where does that leave us?

  68. FlyingRodent — on 27th February, 2010 at 3:08 pm  

    Sure – there are lots of people with honest complaints about this and I have no problem with them raising concerns.

    OTOH, it’s also perfectly fair to recognise the fact that, for a lot of these critics – including the most vocal in the press and online – it’s more Angry ideological idiots annoyed with organisation they hate and wish to take over or destroy. That’s demonstrably true and readers should be aware that most of the opinion pieces they’re reading are intentionally misleading and filled with wild exaggerations and hilarious assertions. Samples – Sahgal was suspended for “making an uncontroversial statement”; Amnesty “may have been taken over by the far left”.

    If there’s a concerted effort to mislead the public for political reasons over this affair, then it’s important to make people aware of this.

    P.S. I also think it’s noteworthy that the story has almost entirely fallen off the media radar because the usual suspects can’t file the same opinion column two weeks running. I think that’s a telling indicator of opinion amongst AI contributors and the general public.

  69. MiriamBinder — on 27th February, 2010 at 3:34 pm  

    @ Sarah B # 63 – Ignoring that you agreed with Soru’s analysis as per your post # 59. How or why a given organisation with a proven track record of addressing Universal Human Rights and being thoroughly apolitical in all their dealings elect to run a given campaign to highlight a Universal Human Rights abuse is an internal concern of said organisation.

    As individuals not privy to the process that has led to the determination, we can chose either to ignore that given campaign or subscribe to it.

    As a paid employee in a position of some standing, Head of the Gender unit, you can either accept the decision even when it is made without your individual agreement or resign; if the decision is such that you feel you cannot in all conscience go along with it.

    If you have the moral courage to stand by your individual conscience and resign then feel free to do all you can to highlight the mistake you think your erstwhile employers are making.

    However in this instance, Gita Sahgal determined to go public by, either approaching or acceding to the approach (I am not clear on which is the case in this instance)by (a) journalist/s with a proven track record of being rather vocally against the very organisation she is employed by; and she is still employed by Amnesty International though suspended on FULL PAY (or least-ways that was the situation when I last looked yesterday).

    To me the whole situation is fairly straightforward and has been stated in full in my post (# 37 on this thread) made on 26th February, 2010 at 6:02 PM:

    When this whole issue first broke I was firmly of the opinion that I was not going to get caught up in this wrangle between pro-Gita Sahgal vis-a-vis pro-Amnesty … it has since then degenerated beyond even my rather low expectations.

    Amnesty International has been a thorn in the side of many a human right abuser; whether they be gender, sexual orientation, age or so called ‘national security’ based. Her suspension on FULL PAY was a direct consequence of her going to the press. If she even for a moment thought that the consequences of her doing so was not going to be a) a wholesale smear campaign against Amnesty International and b)a suspension then she certainly is far too politically naive to be employed as head of the gender unit in the first instance

    Forced to chose I would have to come down on the side that holds that Gita Sahgal lost any moral high ground when she went to the press; once she realised she was losing the argument within the organisation.

    Victims of human rights abuses can live without a Gita Sahgal fighting their cause. Both victims of human right abuses and supporters of universal human rights need Amnesty International!

  70. Blanco — on 27th February, 2010 at 5:31 pm  

    Your constant manure stirring, along with your CiF masters and their ‘anti-zionist’ fellow travellers

    @Chairwoman

    Be careful, THERE COULD BE SOME ANTI-ZIONISTS CIF’ERS UNDER YOUR BED! BETTER DROP SOME BOMBS ON GAZA, JUST TO BE SURE!

  71. Ben White — on 27th February, 2010 at 5:35 pm  
  72. chairwoman — on 27th February, 2010 at 6:21 pm  

    “Be careful, THERE COULD BE SOME ANTI-ZIONISTS CIF’ERS UNDER YOUR BED! BETTER DROP SOME BOMBS ON GAZA, JUST TO BE SURE!”

    How long did it take you to come up with this moronic nonsense?

    I recommend a nice lie-down in a darkened room with 2 asprin.

  73. George — on 27th February, 2010 at 7:16 pm  

    Could Chairowman be a Zionist in the making? Instead of rationally addressing the issue, she deflects into ‘moronic nonsense’ by advising “a darkened room” and “aspirin”. Howe daft can you get!
    Blanco #70 is right. You can’t argue with the Israelis. They might as well increase suffering by bombing Gaza – that’s all these heartless brutes can do.

  74. RedSeaPedestrian — on 27th February, 2010 at 8:58 pm  

    George. With your reference to “heartless brutes” I am not sure if you are a parody or not, but I’m pretty sure that Chairwoman has always been a Zionist and has not really made any attempt to hide her connection to Israel. What is your issue with this?

  75. Sarah AB — on 27th February, 2010 at 9:26 pm  

    Miriam – I think you raise some perfectly fair points. I did say I don’t think this is a black and white issue and, to be honest, I have never given much thought to the rather complex issue of ‘whistleblowing’. But, leaving GS’s precise tactics aside, there is still the problem of the link-short-of-a-partnership with CP.

    George – I would be interested to know what your definition of ‘Zionist’ is.

  76. MiriamBinder — on 27th February, 2010 at 9:37 pm  

    Sarah B … you have raised this point regarding a link, as have others. Yet I have yet to see anything even remotely coming close to a reasonable explanation of such a link. Asserting that there is a link repeatedly does not lend any veracity to the assertion.

    So I will ask again, other then some vague ‘gut-feeling’ oh well Begg is involved with Caged Prisoners and so Amnesty must be guilty by association … where is the proven “link-short-of-a-partnership” with Caged Prisoners?

  77. jim — on 27th February, 2010 at 10:14 pm  

    Shactman

    “Eric Lee has done more for the rights of workers throughout the world and for Trade Union rights than you could ever dream of doing Sunny.His work is respected by many on the left.”

    You dont know much about Eric Lee?

    Eric Lee a British citizen served in the IDF in 1980s out of his own volition, in the Occupied Territories.

    Was he championing the human rights of the Occupied Palestinians or helping the IDF to oppress to keep them oppressed?

    From Eric Lee’s own mouth:

    http://www.ericlee.info/2006/08/why_i_served.html#more

  78. KB Player — on 27th February, 2010 at 11:02 pm  

    On this “partnership” or “link” I agree that I would like to have some further information how it manifested itself at meetings or in literature.

    The relationship of Begg & AI is described thus here:-

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2010/02/26/gita-sahgal-on-innuendo/

    Amnesty continues to defend its affiliation with Mr. Begg and Cageprisoners. Last week, on a Canadian radio program, Amnesty’s interim Secretary General Claudio Cordone described Mr. Begg’s politics as benign, saying there was so far no evidence to suggest that the organization should sever ties with him.

    This is nonsense, says Ms. Sahgal via telephone in her home in London. “Amnesty has messaged him as a human-rights advocate . . . He was in Taliban Afghanistan. He was not a charity worker.”

    Especially galling for Ms. Sahgal is the fact that she only accepted her job after insisting to Widney Brown, senior director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty, that she be allowed to address the Begg alliance.

    “I told her, ‘If you don’t give me the power to clean up this Begg situation, I won’t take on the gender affairs assignment. Widney encouraged me to write a memo on it and even came past my office late one night while I was writing to discuss it. There was no internal resistance against this. So I was promoted with full support. Then, when the Sunday Times story broke, everything I uncovered was deemed ‘innuendo.’”

    As an “affiliation” then, as having “ties”, as Amnesty “messaging” him as a human rights advocate. I would say as a secular feminist (like Gita Sahgal) that Amnesty “messaging” any sympathiser with Taliban style politics would make me pretty sick as well. Secular feminists would be, in fact are, the first victims of any Islamism that has come to power.

    This is straightforward, isn’t it? Sahgal may be right or wrong, but her situation has been blatantly hi-jacked by a bunch of politically-motivated cranks for use as a stick beat Amnesty.

    Well, to quote the imperialist poet, the truths you’ve spoken will be twisted by knaves to be a trap for fools. I might moan that the BBC gives Anjem Choudary far too much coverage, and then all the BBC bashers will turn up demanding that everyone withdraw their licence fee and the Beeb be privatised and run by Rupert Murdoch. Once you were told not to criticise the Soviet Union as it gave ammunition to reactionaries. It always happens. The issue is whether Sahgal is right or wrong, not what capital Amnesty’s enemies are making of it.

    Forced to chose I would have to come down on the side that holds that Gita Sahgal lost any moral high ground when she went to the press; once she realised she was losing the argument within the organisation.

    Victims of human rights abuses can live without a Gita Sahgal fighting their cause. Both victims of human right abuses and supporters of universal human rights need Amnesty International!

    They need an Amnesty International which holds to clear principles and has credibility. Every statement I’ve read by Amnesty International on this matter has been shifty, evasive and has missed the main point. They constantly raise the non-issue that they should be defending the rights of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay [yes of course they should], while ignoring the issue about how their affiliation, or linkage, or partnership gives credibility to Begg and Cageprisoners. They seem to be incapable of following a clear argument and refuting it properly, or else admitting they were wrong. See here:-

    http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2010/02/once-more-on-amnesty-and-gita-sahgal-by-eve-garrard.html

  79. Kulvinder — on 27th February, 2010 at 11:42 pm  

    The issue is whether Sahgal is right or wrong

    There is no ‘right and wrong’ only a matter of differing opinion.

    The issue is whether her actions and possible dismissal as a result of those actions would breach employment law. She is free to leave AI if she thinks it has been fundamentally ‘breached’; as it is she seems to want to force AI – by going to the press – to comply with a direction she thinks it should take whilst still remaining employed by them.

    Interesting strategy, i can’t recommend it but we’ll see what happens. Obviously if she’d just resigned and stated her opinions everything would be clearer.

    nb out of curiosity do you fundamentally disagree with the good friday agreement and power sharing amongst former terrorists? and if the taleban were brought into the afghan government, perhaps even with the help of people like begg, would you oppose AI having anything to do with the Afghan government (or NI executive)?

    If not, and out of curiosity, where would you draw the line?

  80. MiriamBinder — on 28th February, 2010 at 12:05 am  

    Again with the assumption that Amnesty has links with Caged Prisoners … Merely stating something does not make it a fact. I could declare from now till the day after never that the sun rises in West and sets in the East. My reiteration of that ‘fact’ does not make it so. Anymore then reiterating that Amnesty doesn’t hold to clear principles or has links with Caged Prisoners makes that a fact.

    What is fact is that Amnesty International has done sterling work in the arena of Universal Human Rights. What is fact is that Amnesty International is apolitical. What is fact is that without Amnesty International many abuses of Universal Human Right would go on unmarked and unnoticed.

    What is a fact is that Gita Sahgal had failed to dissuade her colleagues in Amnesty International. What is fact is that Gita Sahgal has had contact with the media while still in the employ of Amnesty International. What is a further fact is that Gita Sahgal continued to draw her full pay following her suspension which did not occur till after she had unburdened herself to the press.

    Further it is fact that Gita Sahgals’ act of public ‘unburdening’ has led to an increase in denouncements of the only international apolitical organisation that addresses abuses of Universal Human Rights globally and without consideration of anything other then the abuse.

    As for Amnesty International seemingly being incapable of following a clear argument; I have yet to see a clear argument being made specifically with relation to their seeming affiliation, linkage or partnership with Caged Prisoners other then the (over)heated imagination of their detractors.

  81. FlyingRodent — on 28th February, 2010 at 2:02 am  

    @KB: The issue is whether Sahgal is right or wrong, not what capital Amnesty’s enemies are making of it.

    Well sure, but if it’s truth we’re after then surely there’s no problem with raising all this intentional bullshit as a major problem. There’s very little bullshit coming from Amnesty in their own defence, I notice – they’re really being quite dignified about it.

    I’ve never questioned Gita Saghal’s motives or the Decent critique of Begg – they may be right, or not. OTOH, it’s right to be suspicious of the vast quantity of see-through bullshit being pushed around this issue, and Sunny’s right to bring it up. There’s a clear Get Amnesty agenda here and anyone with an interest in human rights would do well to be at least aware of it.

  82. Sarah AB — on 28th February, 2010 at 9:20 am  

    Miriam – I’ve tried to put together a few links.

    For me it’s not just the precise nature/warmth or whatever of the links – it’s the fact that AI has responded in such an evasive way to the criticisms. if AI had distanced itself from Begg’s *views* (as opposed to his treatment) – and also distanced itself from CP – in its responses to this whole business, I would see this rather differently

    Given that Begg is strongly identified with CP I take any link with Begg to, in effect, constitute a link with CP. (Here CP is described as a ‘leading human rights group’ on an AI site – http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/feature-stories/off-the-record-secret-cia-detention-20070607)

    Here’s a link to a tour involving Begg.

    http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18567
    The AI page mentions Begg and CP and also confirms that Amnesty is hosting the tour.

    AI makes no attempt to deny its links with Begg – just emphasises that he doesn’t say anything out of line.
    “In this complex and polarised world we at Amnesty International face the challenge of communicating clearly the scope of our work with individuals and groups. Amnesty International champions and continues to champion Moazzam Begg’s rights as a former detainee at Guantánamo. He speaks about his own views and experiences, not Amnesty International’s. And Moazzam Begg has never used a platform he shared with Amnesty to speak against the rights of others.”

    Here’s another relevant reference.

    http://www.hurryupharry.org/2010/02/13/amnesty%E2%80%99s-flight-from-universalism/
    This is the relevant quote.
    “Two nights later, Amnesty’s Irish branch extended its hospitality to Moazzam Begg who spoke from its platform about the work of his organization Cageprisoners whose soldarity extends towards Abu Hamza and Omar Khayam.”

    Here’s a link to a N orwich AI meeting at which Begg spoke. Inevitably, CP is mentioned. Begg is (naturally) always associated with CP and I think these invitations have the effect of legitimising CP.
    http://www.norwichamnesty.org.uk/go/recent_newsletter.php

  83. cjcjc — on 28th February, 2010 at 9:36 am  
  84. MiriamBinder — on 28th February, 2010 at 10:59 am  

    Sarah B – When a rumour reaches me that I am in fact a one-legged, one-eyed, single parent lesbian who indulges in drink, drugs and debauchery, I ignore it. I do not go around refuting the rumour, I certainly would evade answering any questions formed to elicit clarification on the subject. To do otherwise would be to give the rumour a substance it does not have.

    Amnesty International being evasive is not necessarily that Amnesty is being evasive but rather that those who would question, and in turn are not answered, consider this evasion.

    It is commonly accepted that innocence is assumed until guilt is proven. Yet in all this sad sorry affair, it seems that it is otherwise. Amnesty International must be guilty, in the eyes of its detractors, because it is neither protesting its innocence nor addressing our opprobrious demands. All the ‘links’ are based on nothing more then supposition and innuendo – and quite likely a lot of wishful thinking.

    When this sad episode originally broke I was content to merely uphold my personal allegiance to Amnesty International. I am fast coming to the conclusion that IF there are any villains in this whole sorry episode it must be Gita Sahgal; for all the reasons I have already addressed on this thread in previous posts.

  85. chairwoman — on 28th February, 2010 at 11:57 am  

    George and Bianco

    Yes I am a Zionist.

    But then I know what the word means.

    It means supporting the existence of the State of Israel.

    Sorry that you imagined it had another meaning.

  86. spartanmarvin — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:23 pm  

    I am Zionist!

    (and support a Palestinian state, and world peace)

  87. MiriamBinder — on 28th February, 2010 at 1:26 pm  

    In that sense I too am Zionist chairwoman and spartanmarvin.

  88. KB Player — on 28th February, 2010 at 7:41 pm  

    MiriamBinder

    When a rumour reaches me that I am in fact a one-legged, one-eyed, single parent lesbian who indulges in drink, drugs and debauchery, I ignore it. I do not go around refuting the rumour, I certainly would evade answering any questions formed to elicit clarification on the subject. To do otherwise would be to give the rumour a substance it does not have.

    You would sigh and say “I won’t dignify this piece of nonsense with an answer.” You might even say, “Fuck off.” That’s how you deal with ridiculous accusations. You wouldn’t write 600 rather placating words pretending to deal with the issue, but in fact avoiding it.

    Kulvinder

    The issue is whether her actions and possible dismissal as a result of those actions would breach employment law. She is free to leave AI if she thinks it has been fundamentally ‘breached’; as it is she seems to want to force AI – by going to the press – to comply with a direction she thinks it should take whilst still remaining employed by them.

    I don’t know whether it would breach employment law, which I don’t know much about. Common sense tells me that it would – I couldn’t publicly bad-mouth my employers without them suspending me. However, my employers aren’t an important human rights organisation that I think are going in the wrong direction. It looks like she was trying to raise a stink.

    nb out of curiosity do you fundamentally disagree with the good friday agreement and power sharing amongst former terrorists? and if the taleban were brought into the afghan government, perhaps even with the help of people like begg, would you oppose AI having anything to do with the Afghan government (or NI executive)?

    I don’t know enough about the Good Friday agreement to say, though it sticks in my throat a bit. Would Begg be in the position to help with the negotiations between the Afghan Taliban and what in fact would be the Americans?

    The meaning I get from your post is that AI should be keeping Begg sweet so he can help them put some pressure on the lousy government that the Taliban would be a part of, and the kind of treatment they would mete out to their political prisoners, or women who showed their ankles. That sounds a little Machivellian and far-fetched to me. It’s AI’s business to deal with lousy governments when they’re in existence. Whether they should make nice to people, however lousy, because they may, just may, have some minor influence on the lousy government, I don’t think they should.

    BTW it occurs to me that if the Taliban were going to be ideologically consistent they wouldn’t deal with the secretary of state for the USA who is a woman who goes out unescorted by her male relatives. But I imagine they might just compromise their ideological principles for the sake of realpolitik.

  89. Jim Denham — on 28th February, 2010 at 11:51 pm  

    Since 1948 *anyone* who supports the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is a Zionist.

    So I am a Zionist.

  90. Jim Denham — on 28th February, 2010 at 11:59 pm  

    “Kulvinder

    The issue is whether her actions and possible dismissal as a result of those actions would breach employment law. She is free to leave AI if she thinks it has been fundamentally ‘breached’; as it is she seems to want to force AI – by going to the press – to comply with a direction she thinks it should take whilst still remaining employed by them.”

    Eh.. no it isn’t…not for socialists, anyway.

    I *do* know a bit about employment law: there is a widely-held misunderstanding about UK emplyment law, to the effect that the bosses are not allowed to treat you unfairly. OH YES THEY ARE!

    It is also widely held that suspension is a “neutral” act: OH NO IT ISN’T. There’s even been a recent EAT decision saying it isn’t.

    Buit the point is that socialists should not base their politicaql stance upon what UK emplyment law says, but upon the political rights and wrongs of the issue.

    Support Gita! Vote for Eric!

    And shame on Sunny.

  91. Kulvinder — on 1st March, 2010 at 1:08 am  

    It looks like she was trying to raise a stink.

    I agree – and i have no moral objection to her doing so; if she’d simply resigned and stated her opinions the debate would have been much simpler. As it is the issues about AI policy regarding Begg et al have become conflated with the issues about her reinstatement.

    The meaning I get from your post is that AI should be keeping Begg sweet so he can help them put some pressure on the lousy government that the Taliban would be a part of

    I was trying to understand whether you accepted or acknowledged that AI has worked with people whom it once considered morally grey, and that absolute notions of the perfect victim with which to work are unhelpful.

    It is stupidly fashionable now to look at Nelson Mandela as a kindly old man who advocates nothing more than turning the other cheek, when in reality his real triumph wasn’t in promoting non-violence but in displaying an astonishing humanity towards those he and his cause ultimately triumphed over. In the words of AA Gill

    In the process of worshipping him, he is allocated patronising characteristics – an innate, natural wisdom, an avuncular sympathy for children. Someone here said that Mandela was “Gandhi for our generation”. This is a wishful, fairy-tale nonsense that denies him his history, his anger, his blackness, his Africanness. Mandela was a revolutionary. Far from a pacifist, he organised and led Spear of the Nation, the terrorist wing of the ANC. In adopting Mandela as a smiley face, T-shirt slogan, album-cover vision of happy otherworldliness, we take him from his real family: southern Africa. We make him the West’s boy.

    He is a real hero, he’s an African hero. His struggle and his triumph are their struggle and triumph. We can’t buy them with an Aids donation and a song. He’s called Madiba because of his black Africanness, not despite it.

    He has been considered a terrorist for most of his life, the US only took him off their offical terrorist watch list in 2008.

    In 1964 AI didn’t consider Mandela a prisoner of conscience and as such didn’t call for his unconditional release.

    He hasn’t changed his views on what the ANC did in those days, he isn’t repentant about the path he took, he has not turned his back on his calls to stand up to opression, he hasn’t changed in that respect.

    So should AI ‘platform share’ with him?

  92. douglas clark — on 1st March, 2010 at 1:15 am  

    Jim Denham,

    Support Gita! Vote for Eric!

    And shame on Sunny.

    Taking your points in order:

    Not without some evidence, certainly not and no.

  93. Kulvinder — on 1st March, 2010 at 1:18 am  

    Buit the point is that socialists should not base their politicaql stance upon what UK emplyment law says, but upon the political rights and wrongs of the issue.

    I’m unsure what this has to do with anything ive written, but i have no objection with Labour, Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats suspending and ultimately sacking anyone they employ who publicly rebukes them, or their interests, in an attempt to force them to change their politics or policies.

  94. Jim Denham — on 1st March, 2010 at 3:42 am  

    Kulvinder:

    “I’m unsure what this has to do with anything ive written, but i have no objection with Labour, Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats suspending and ultimately sacking anyone they employ who publicly rebukes them, or their interests, in an attempt to force them to change their politics or policies.”

    Well, I think that about summarises the difference between you and those of us who consider ourselves some kind of socialists.

  95. Sunny — on 1st March, 2010 at 5:31 am  

    You’d think socialists would also be appalled at the blatant attempt to trash Amnesty’s names by a few bloggers who think there are Islamists under every bed, or hate Amnesty’s stance against Israel’s human rights absuses.

    But hey, what do I know?

  96. Sunny — on 1st March, 2010 at 5:35 am  

    “Maybe it explains Amnesty’s rush to embrace the Goldstone inquiry, which was launched with the backing of regimes like those in Burma and North Korea but opposed by every democratic country in the world.”

    These are the kind of absurd arguments your boy Eric Lee is making. For that alone he should be given the British Wingnut Award… for this month at least. I believe Richard Littlejohn took it last month.

    Anyway – I have no intention of stopping my support for Amnesty – or criticising those who seek to trash its reputation so easily and without facts.

    If you don’t like – there are plenty of other blogs you can read.

  97. Brownie — on 1st March, 2010 at 10:38 am  

    But hey, what do I know?

    You said it, pal.

  98. Kulvinder — on 1st March, 2010 at 2:08 pm  

    Well, I think that about summarises the difference between you and those of us who consider ourselves some kind of socialists.

    Since im not any kind of socialist i consider the point moot.

  99. Jim Denham — on 1st March, 2010 at 6:28 pm  

    Kulvinder: we can at last agree on something!

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