March 21, 2014

Amnesty International guest shamelessly links to racist website!

Ben White has a book launch, or relaunch tonight at Amnesty's place in London tonight.  It starts at 6:30 pm and the address is, Amnesty International UK, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA.  That's a little too much information because there are no more tickets available.

What I want to focus on is Ben's article in Middle East Monitor about how Israel's embassy has tried to stop the book launch taking place.

Here's Ben:
Israel's diplomatic staff in London directly contacted the human rights organisation to demand the cancellation of the event. Amnesty UK naturally refused, pointing out that their building is a space where a diverse range of activists can meet, engage and debate issues relating to social justice and the promotion of human rights.

But it wasn't just Amnesty who the Israeli Embassy pressured - they also contacted David Hearst, who has kindly agreed to chair the event. Hearst, now Editor of Middle East Eye, told me about the "dramatic" change in tone in the embassy's communications with him:

One minute [embassy official] Yiftah Curiel was professing that he would love to get some coffee or lunch with me to talk about the new website, and plying me with exclusive invitations to the Ambassador's House for a discussion with the author Ari Shavit. The next he was shocked and horrified to learn that I had agreed to chair the launch of the second edition of your book.

Now here's where it gets a little murky and I worry that Ben may have inadvertently provided ammunition to his detractors:
In correspondence to Hearst, Curiel produced a number of claims about me clearly culled from laughable propaganda sites. Hearst replied, he told me, by pointing out that "the allegation of anti-Semitism should not be used casually to smear people whose views you disagreed with." Pathetically, Curiel withdrew the invitation to the Ambassador's house.

See that "laughable propaganda sites"?  Well Ben actually linked to the real life Harry's Place site.  Don't worry, I've replaced it with a cache link.  This linking to racist sites, no matter how laughable, is an easy mistake to make when you're making a point but a man with Ben White's anti-racist credentials really should be more careful.

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