Amnesty International USA’s Executive Director Paul O’Brien Says the Quiet Part out Loud

Paul O’Brien, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, has confirmed that the recent Amnesty Report accusing Israel of apartheid is motivated by very real antisemitism.

No, he did not actually accuse his own organization of this. He just said how he really feels – that Jewish people should not have the right to self-determination in their historical homeland.

Following Amnesty International’s recent report that accused Israel of “apartheid” in its treatment of Palestinians, the group’s USA director appeared to go a step further on Wednesday, suggesting to a Women’s National Democratic Club audience that the bulk of American Jews do not want Israel to be a Jewish state, but rather “a safe Jewish space” based on “core Jewish values.”

Paul O’Brien said one of Amnesty’s goals in publishing the report, which was roundly criticized by Israeli and American officials, is to “collectively change the conversation” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “It needs to start first and foremost with the Jewish community,” O’Brien, who is not Jewish, said. 

The Amnesty official rejected a 2020 survey conducted by the Ruderman Family Foundation that found that eight in 10 Jewish Americans identify as “pro-Israel,” and two-thirds feel emotionally “attached” or “very attached” to the Jewish state. 

“I actually don’t believe that to be true,” O’Brien said regarding those figures. “I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home.” 

Rather than a Jewish state, American Jews want “a safe Jewish space,” O’Brien continued. “I think they can be convinced over time that the key to sustainability is to adhere to what I see as core Jewish values, which are to be principled and fair and just in creating that space.” (The pro-Israel community rejects this “one-state solution” argument as a cover for the dissolution of a Jewish state.)

On the question of Israel’s right to exist, O’Brien seemed to be splitting hairs. 

Israel “shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,” O’Brien told some 20 in-person and 30 virtual attendees at the Wednesday lunch event, before adding “Amnesty takes no political views on any question, including the right of the State of Israel to survive.”

In Amnesty’s report, the international human rights organization — while deeply critical of the Jewish state — acknowledges that Israel exists. “The organization engages with the reality of the existence of the State of Israel,” said the report. But O’Brien’s comments undercut that assertion and appear to indicate that Amnesty believes the Jewish state does not have a right to exist. 

“The right of the people to self-determination and to be protected is without a doubt something that we believe in, and I personally believe that,” said O’Brien. But “we are opposed to the idea — and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate — that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people.”

Note how O’Brien ignores the results of a poll commissioned to find out the views of Jewish Americans and instead goes with what “his gut” is telling him. It’s a shame his oh-so-wise gut did not warn him that goysplaining to Jews goes down about as well as…well, his organization’s lie-ridden “Apartheid” report.

Memo to Paul O’Brien: Israel as a Jewish state is here to stay. Your tenure at Amnesty after this faux pas? I am not so sure.

Come to think of it, this is such a damaging thing to Amnesty, I am beginning to suspect his gut is on the Mossad payroll.


David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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