Whenever Jason Kenney picks a fight with an organization, it is helpful to ask, among several other questions, this one: “Hey, has the organization in question recently found itself on the wrong side of Israel’s most vocal defenders?” And indeed, in the case of Amnesty International, the answer is yes.
Meet Gerald Steinberg. Longtime readers of this blog will be familiar with him. Steinberg is a professor of political studies at Bar Ilan University and president of NGO monitor, an organization devoted to rebutting international human-rights NGOs when they criticize the Israeli government. When the Harper government decided to stack the Rights and Democracy board with people who would brook no critique of Israel’s security operations in Gaza and the West Bank, Steinberg was an early supporter and, former insiders say, he closely co-operated with the new Rights and Democracy board chairman, Aurel Braun.
Steinberg, it turns out, has been an active and forceful critic of Amnesty International for the positions it’s take in the Middle East. Here’s a blog post and video from a debate he had with an Amnesty official in the U.S. And here’s an op-ed he co-wrote only six weeks before Jason Kenney wrote his letter to Amnesty.
Now, as I spent the entire year of 2010 writing in dozens of instalments, I thought the government’s handling of Rights and Democracy was despicable. But I don’t think its handling of the Section 35 fugitives, and Jason Kenney’s response to Amnesty’s critique of the Section 35 file, is invalidated just because Kenney’s letter often seems to echo Steinberg’s op-ed. But since I’ve spent the day giving context and background, here’s some more.