Amnesty apology for Israeli ban post

The controversial comment posted by Amnesty International Australia on its Facebook site.

AMNESTY International Australia has been forced to apologise after it justified the fact that a number of countries ban Israeli passport-holders because “of the atrocities committed by the Israel Defence Force”.

When the human rights organisation condemned Donald Trump’s recent executive order temporarily banning entry for people from seven Muslim-majority nations to America, it was asked on Facebook if it would also speak out against the countries that refuse entry to Israelis.

“If the Israeli passport was obtained legally, then perhaps,” Amnesty responded on its page, adding, “The countries that have banned the passport have done so for a reason.

“They are aware of the atrocities committed by the Israel Defence Force and have seen Palestinians being displaced from their homes for the illegal settlements.”

After receiving a number of complaints, Amnesty said that the offensive comment was made by a volunteer and that it did not accurately reflect the organisation’s position on the issue.

“We would like to apologise for any misunderstanding this comment has caused,” the organisation stated.

“To clarify our position: Freedom of movement is a fundamental human right. No person should be denied their human rights on the basis of their nationality.

“Amnesty International is opposed to any ban on entry to a country purely on the basis of nationality or religious belief. Naturally this includes any restrictions on entry for Israeli citizens.”

The organisation added, “We note that these kinds of -restrictions have had a negative impact on the ability of our staff and our partners to research and report on human rights violations across the region.”

In other media news, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) has been held to account after implying that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel.

In a story last month, the Fairfax paper reported, “Damascus airport was also hit by air strikes in 2013. Tel Aviv neither confirms nor denies involvement in striking targets inside Syria.”

Israeli-based media monitor Honest Reporting launched a petition and contacted the Australian Press Council (APC).

The APC responded, “We contacted the publication and it proceeded to remove references to Tel Aviv in the article and, where appropriate, replace it with ‘Israel’.”

SMH’s Stephen Hutcheon explained that referencing Tel Aviv as the Israeli seat of power is not company policy.

“This was a case of relying on copy from an external provider, in this case the Reuters news agency,” Hutcheon explained to The AJN this week.

“When we subsequently discovered that Reuters had amended its story, we changed our story to reflect those changes.”

Thanking those who signed the petition, Honest Reporting managing editor Simon Plosker said, “Our 2012 confrontation with The Guardian and the now defunct UK Press Complaints Commission over this very same issue created an important precedent for the UK media.

“We expect this success to do the same for Australian media in the event that any future stories commit this Tel Aviv capital error.”

JOSHUA LEVI