Europe

Senior HRW Official Slammed for Accusing Israel of “Interference” in British Politics

A senior Human Rights Watch (HRW) official has come under fire after she accused Israel of “interference” in British politics to undermine the Labour Party.

Sarah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director of HRW, asked on Twitter why “Israel interference” was “acceptable in UK politics.” She added: “Is it only a problem when Russia does this?”

Whitson made the comments in response to a tweet by disgraced Electronic Intifada writer Asa Winstanley who charged that, “We’re on the cusp of a major new wave of manufactured ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ stories, much like spring/summer 2018.”

Winstanley has recently been suspended from the Labour Party, pending an investigation, in part for describing the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) as an “Israel Embassy proxy.”

Winstanley and other anti-Israel activists at Electronic Intifada have repeatedly dismissed concerns over sickening levels of anti-Semitism in Labour as an Israeli plot and attempt to unseat the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The tweet to which Whitson replied linked to a post on the Electronic Intifada website in which the group claims that the Israeli government operates an app which urges people to condemn Jeremy Corbyn over false accusations of anti-Semitism.

“This is the latest evidence of an Israeli campaign of psychological warfare against the UK’s main opposition party,” the August 2018 article said. “It is part of a long-running influence operation by Israel and its lobby groups to smear Corbyn, a veteran Palestine solidarity activist, and to label the party he leads ‘institutionally anti-Semitic.’”

Act.IL is a joint venture between the Israeli-American Council and the Israel-based Interdisciplinary Center (IDC). The social media app was developed to combat the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign and the delegitimization of Israel.

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, accused Whitson of “sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories.” Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said: “Human Rights Watch has been studiously silent about what one might think was an important human rights issue – antisemitism in the UK. Breaks its silence by promoting this story.”

[Photo: Human Rights in Qatar / Wikimedia Commons]