‘Disgusted’: Congressional Human Rights chair announces boycott of prominent anti-Israel NGOs

“It just occurred to me, I’m gonna boycott them. Any hearing I have on human rights, Amnesty is not invited, nor is Human Rights Watch, because of their smear, their horrible smear,” Rep. Chris Smith stated.

By Andrew Bernard, The Algemeiner

The chairman of the Congressional subcommittee responsible for human rights announced on Thursday that he would boycott representatives from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch from testifying before his committee because of their position that Israel is an “apartheid” state.

Speaking at a hearing on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in the UN, the Palestinian Authority and NGOs, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, said he was “disgusted” by the two human rights organizations.

“It used to be that Amnesty International was all about political prisoners, and they had a very sterling reputation,” Smith said. “They have reneged on all of that…Apartheid is an abomination… To sit there and take that type of language and smear Israel with it is appalling and Human Rights Watch is doing the exact same thing…I’ve had representatives of those groups come and testify on other issues.

“But you know, it just occurred to me, I’m gonna boycott them. Any hearing I have on human rights, Amnesty is not invited, nor is Human Rights Watch, because of their smear, their horrible smear.”

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Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

In a 2021 report titled “A Threshold Crossed,” Human Rights Watch declared that Israel was now an apartheid state. Amnesty International released a similar report in 2022. Those findings have been widely condemned by Israel, US elected officials and Jewish groups, but have been increasingly normalized among international human rights organizations.

Thursday’s hearing also heard extensive testimony from expert witnesses that track antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in international fora.

“Antisemitism is the elephant in the room that the international community has ignored, looking for all sorts of other reasons to blame the conflict on.” said Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch. “It’s now embedded in Palestinian Authority worldview and is being echoed at CUNY University and around the world.”

Noted refusenik and former head of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, in his testimony, urged the Biden administration to focus on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism following the administration’s release of a strategy to combat antisemitism that also recognized alternative definitions.

“I call on the American administration, which has done such a wonderful job in building a comprehensive plan, to stick to this definition of antisemitism,” Sharansky said.

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“We will not be able to win if people of the left will be attacking antisemitism on the right, and people on the right will be attacking antisemitism on the left. There should be no left and right. Demonization of Jewish people, demonization of the State of Israel, the double standard on Jews, the double standard towards Israel, the delegitimization of Jews and Israel is one and the same phenomenon.”

Rep. Smith said he intends to hold further hearings on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, including within the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).