LONDON – The human rights group Amnesty International has began disciplinary
procedures against a senior member of its staff after posting an offensive tweet
targeting Jewish members of the British parliament.
In a tweet he posted
on Tuesday, Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty International’s campaign manager, said
“Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon and Luciana Berger walk into a bar... each orders
a round of B52s #Gaza.” Benedict was alluding to B-52 long-range strategic
bombers, which is also the name of a popular cocktail, in his reference to three
Amnesty distanced itself from the tweet and said the matter
has been referred to its internal, and confidential, processes.
a private tweet, sent from a private account. We do not believe that
humor is appropriate in the current circumstances, particularly from our own
members of staff,” said Amnesty’s campaigns director Tim Hancock on
This statement was disputed by Jewish community leaders on
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership
Council (JLC), said that the Twitter account used by Benedict incorporated the
“I have called upon Mr. Benedict to issue a proper
apology and have asked Amnesty International director Kate Allen to take
disciplinary action,” Newmark said on behalf of the JLC and Board of Deputies of
“Mr. Benedict’s activities have been the source of
controversy in the past.
Whatever the intent, this tweet was published
from a Twitter account which incorporates the Amnesty logo and risks further
jeopardizing Amnesty’s already fraught relationship with our
“We have raised concerns about this kind of discourse with
them very recently.
This incident, at a time when our community is
feeling particularly vulnerable, shows a regrettable lack of sensitivity and
awareness,” Newmark added.
In July, Benedict stated that Israel was “now
included in the list of stupid dictatorial regimes who abuse peoples’ basic
universal rights, along with Burma, North Korea, Iran and Sudan, its government
has the same wanton attitude to human beings.”
Last year Benedict said in
an interview that the US “plays both Arab and Israel sides to generate money,
power and control. The main reasons are the arms trade.
makes loads of money for the weapons trade,” he maintained.
always pushes the buttons to make all the surrounding Arabic states such as
Syria, Lebanon feel insecure. So they then buy weapons off other states and this
is a great profit-making industry,” he told Labor Friends of
Speaking about the current hostilities, Hancock added:
“Amnesty International UK, like the rest of the Amnesty movement, is concerned
about the loss of life in Israel and Gaza and the potential for
escalation. We urge restraint and the utmost respect for human rights and
international humanitarian law by all concerned.”