Jewish Leadership Council criticises Amnesty for pulling out of hosting event

Amnesty said it would not host a debate on the UN Human Rights Council and Israel, but the JLC calls the decision 'disgraceful'

Amnesty International UK has been criticised by a Jewish charity after Amnesty pulled out of hosting an event for the charity just days before it was due to take place.

The Jewish Leadership Council, an umbrella body for Jewish organisations, said it had been told on Friday evening that Amnesty would no longer host a debate on the United Nations Human Rights Council and Israel, which had been due to take place on Wednesday this week.

The JLC said it had been told the decision to cancel the event was because JLC’s aims ran counter to Amnesty’s own because it "actively supports" Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, meaning Amnesty did not believe it was appropriate to allow the charity to use its building.

But a spokesman for the JLC said it did not have a position on Israeli settlements.

In a statement today, Amnesty apologised for any inconvenience caused by the move and said the space to host the event had been offered without its usual review procedures being followed.

The JLC said the event had originally been arranged last summer, with representatives of Amnesty due to take part in the debate. In November Amnesty decided not to participate, but said JLC could still use the space.

Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the JLC, said the decision to bar the charity was disgraceful.

He said the JLC’s community had for a long time been "deeply disappointed" by Amnesty’s approach to Israel and the Jewish community, but had sought positive engagement.

"By withdrawing its offer to host an event on the role of the UN Human Rights Council, it is clear that Amnesty International UK’s claim ‘to protect freedom of expression’, is only on its terms," he said.

"We have long argued that the aggressive criticism of Israeli government policy creates an environment where anti-semitism thrives, and it is highly regrettable that on this occasion Amnesty International UK's decision has targeted the Jewish community."

Kerry Moscogiuri, director of supporter campaigning and communications at Amnesty International UK, said: "We reserve the right to withhold permission for our building to be used by organisations whose work runs directly counter to our own.

"We are currently campaigning for all governments around the world to ban the import of goods produced in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. We do not think it’s appropriate for Amnesty to host an event by an organisation that actively supports Israel’s settlements.

"We apologise for any inconvenience that this cancellation may have caused.

"The decision was made without our normal internal review procedures being followed. Again, we apologise for any inconvenience that this may have caused."

She said Amnesty had improved the way it reviewed events hosting.

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