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Eleven Jewish House Dems: Amnesty director’s full remarks ‘even more troubling’

O’Brien’s remarks, coupled with a recent report from the organization, display a ‘continued dangerous degree of bias and denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,’ the legislators warned

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

A day after all 25 Jewish House Democrats issued a statement condemning Amnesty International USA Director Paul O’Brien’s comments on American Jews and Israel, eleven of those members wrote to the organization’s international chief on Tuesday expressing concern that O’Brien’s full comments were “even more troubling” than the remarks initially reported by Jewish Insider.

In an event last week, O’Brien claimed that American Jews do not support Israel’s existence as a Jewish state — a statement that the original group of legislators described as “alarming” and “antisemitic.” 

JI published the full audio and a partial transcript of O’Brien’s remarks to the Woman’s National Democratic Club.

“Mr. O’Brien’s comments, coupled with Amnesty International’s report released last month, appear to be part of Amnesty International’s continued dangerous degree of bias and denial of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” the letter to Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard reads, referring to a recent report from the NGO that accused Israel of apartheid. “Amnesty International cannot credibly advance human rights around the globe while simultaneously denying the only Jewish state their right to self-determination.”

The letter was organized by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who was joined by Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Kim Schrier (D-WA), Jake Auchincloss (D-MA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Dean Phillips (D-MN).

“Mr. O’Brien’s comments, if not denounced, lay bare the real purpose of Amnesty International’s report on Israel,” the letter continues. “It is not an attempt to give a fair analysis of Israel and its policies, nor an effort to support the aspirations of both the Arab and Jewish people. Rather, it is a tacit attempt to delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel as the only Jewish state in the world.”

The signatories call on Amnesty International to clarify whether it “seeks to advance peace for both Israelis and Palestinians,” “whether or not it accepts Israel as a democratic, Jewish state” and whether it supports a two-state solution.

Amnesty’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on whether O’Brien’s remarks reflect the organization’s views.

The letter further accuses Amnesty’s report and O’Brien’s comments of being counterproductive to the cause of advancing a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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