Amnesty International UK have been criticised after voting against a motion to tackle prejudice, hatred and discrimination against Jews – the only motion to have been defeated at its annual conference and AGM.
The human rights group, which recently published reports criticising Israeli military action in Gaza, on Sunday narrowly voted not to campaign against anti-Semitism or lobby the UK Government to do more to tackle its rise.
Danny Stone, director of the PCAA Foundation (Parliamentary committee against anti-Semitism) which works with parliamentarians to counter anti-Semitism, said the vote was “very disappointing,” after the group said it condemned all forms of discrimination, not just “single issue campaigns”.
Stone said: “This is no reason not to engage in strong and meaningful action against anti-Semitism. I am reaching out to the organisation and hope that we can ensure Amnesty takes a leading role going forward.”
The motion was proposed by new Amnesty member Andrew Thorpe-Apps, who is not Jewish, and was defeated by 468 votes to 461, making it the only resolution out of 17 to be voted down at Sunday’s national conference.
Board of Deputies’ vice-president Alex Brummer said: “At a time of increasing global anti-Semitism, the intervention of an international campaigning organisation like Amnesty could have made a positive impact.”
A report by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism report found a 221 percent increase in anti-Semitism during the Gaza war in 2014, with 314 incidents in July alone.
“This was an opportunity for Amnesty to show Jews around the world that it would stand up for them too,” said Brummer. “Unfortunately it was an opportunity Amnesty refused to take up.”
Amnesty press officer Neil Durkin said: “We condemn discrimination against all ethnic and religious groups… Our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus.”
In a briefing document, Amnesty said: “The rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and across Europe is deeply concerning.”
However the group said financial priorities had yet to be determined and indicated that extensive work to combat anti-Semitism may be cost-prohibitive, saying “scoping and research” could be up to £20,000.
Last year Amnesty was heavily criticised after a campaign manager tweeted the #JSIL hashtag, comparing Israel to the ISIS terror group. The Israeli embassy described it as an “ugly, hateful term with anti-Jewish connotations”.