Rick Scott: Time to Defund Amnesty International for Embracing Anti-Semitism, Bashing Israel

Last week, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., unveiled a bill to prevent Amnesty International from receiving taxpayer-funded federal assistance and benefits from the United States government.”

Scott pointed to reports that found “Amnesty International, which has received more than $2.5 million in federal funds over the past two decades, is utilizing its platform as an International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to foster and disseminate false, anti-Semitic reports attacking Israel, America’s strongest ally in the Middle East.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., is co-sponsoring the bill.

“Amnesty International has proven itself to be a sham of a ‘human rights’ organization that perpetuates anti-Semitic propaganda and refuses to hold the world’s dangerous and genocidal regimes accountable, like Communist China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela. Just last month, the Amnesty International USA Director said, ‘We are opposed to the idea that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people.’ Under no circumstances should American taxpayer dollars subsidize this or any organization that continually acts against U.S. interests and demonizes our great ally, Israel. My bill will cut off Amnesty International from federal funding and relief programs and make it abundantly clear that the United States will not support the radical left’s dangerous anti-Israel agenda. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important bill,” Scott said.

“Israel is such an important ally to the United States, and an organization that uses its platform to undermine their sovereignty should not be receiving U.S. taxpayer funds,” Braun said.

The bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. House.

Last month, members of the Florida congressional delegation called on Paul O’Brien, the U.S. director of Amnesty International, for his recent comments on Israel.

Jewish Insider reported that O’Brien took exception with polls that found a solid majority of Jewish Americans saying they are attached to Israel.

“I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said according to Jewish Insider. “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.”

“Rather than a Jewish state, American Jews want ‘a safe Jewish space,’ O’Brien continued. ‘I think they can be convinced over time that the key to sustainability is to adhere to what I see as core Jewish values, which are to be principled and fair and just in creating that space.’ (The pro-Israel community rejects this ‘one-state solution’ argument as a cover for the dissolution of a Jewish state,)” Jewish Insider reported. “On the question of Israel’s right to exist, O’Brien seemed to be splitting hairs. Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’ O’Brien told some 20 in-person and 30 virtual attendees at the Wednesday lunch event, before adding ‘Amnesty takes no political views on any question, including the right of the State of Israel to survive.’”

O’Brien took to social media to dispute the report.

“I’ve had a look at the transcript of the WNDC meeting that has been misreported. What I said to the Jewish Insider journalist was to reference Amnesty’s concerns with the 2018 Nation State law,” he posted on Twitter. “My exact words were as follows: ‘No I don’t believe that Israel should be preserved as a state in which one race is legally entitled to oppress another’ but yes I understand that the Jewish people have a legitimate concern about their existence being threatened and that needs to be part of the conversation.’ I made clear repeatedly in the meeting that Amnesty supports the right of the Jewish people, and Palestinian people to self-determination. Several times, I clarified that Amnesty has no political view on the legitimacy or existence of any state. We focus on human rights law and the evidence to support it. Period.
I remain hopeful that we are moving towards a more serious conversation about the crime of apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, antisemitism, and how to advance human rights.”

The 25 Jewish members of the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House, including U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, weighed in with a joint statement last month.

“On the heels of a recent Amnesty International report that a number of members condemned as delegitimizing of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and undermining of the prospects for a two-state solution, Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director Paul O’Brien has now taken a new, very disturbing step: purporting to speak for the entire Jewish community on Israel. He claimed his ‘gut” tells him ‘what Jewish people in this country want’ is that Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’” they said in the joint statement.

“As Jewish members of the House of Representatives, we represent diverse views on a number of issues relating to Israel. However, we are in full agreement that Mr. O’Brien’s patronizing attempt to speak on behalf of the American Jewish community is alarming and deeply offensive. He has added his name to the list of those who, across centuries, have tried to deny and usurp the Jewish people’s independent agency. We stand united in condemning this and any antisemitic attempt to deny the Jewish people control of their own destiny,” they added.

Kevin Derby
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