Amnesty takes action against official’s tweets

Human rights group begins disciplinary procedures against senior staff tweet targeting Jewish members of British parliament.

Amnesty International activists 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Julien Muguet)
Amnesty International activists 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Julien Muguet)
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 Jewish MPs.
Amnesty distanced itself from the tweet and said the matter has been referred to its internal, and confidential, processes.
“This was 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 Wednesday.
This statement was disputed by Jewish community leaders on Wednesday.
Jeremy Newmark, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), said that the Twitter account used by Benedict incorporated the Amnesty logo.
“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 British Jews.
“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 community.
“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.
“The conflict makes loads of money for the weapons trade,” he maintained.
“Israel 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 Palestine.
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.”