- The Trump administration is reportedly considering a move to classify several major humanitarian groups as “anti-Semitic.”
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is leading a push to proscribe Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch as anti-Semitic groups, potentially as soon as this week, according to a Politico report.
- The declaration would cite the groups’ perceived support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which urges governments to pressure Israel in regards to its behaviour towards Palestine.
- However, state lawyers have reportedly warned that the plan has weak legal grounds and could result in lawsuits against the Trump administration.
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The Trump administration is reportedly considering plans to proscribe major humanitarian organisations including Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch as anti-Semitic and to urge other governments to withdraw their support for them.
The State Department could make an announcement as soon as this week, according to Politico.
Politico reports that the move is being spearheaded by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is hoping to court pro-Israel and evangelical voters ahead of a potential run at the presidency in the future, citing a well-placed congressional aide.
If published, the report is set to state that it is no longer US government policy to support the listed non-governmental organisations and that other governments should follow suit.
It is expected to cite the organisations’ perceived support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), which urges governments worldwide to pressure Israel into following international law in regards to Palestine through boycotts, sanctions, and reducing investment in the country.
Some pro-Israel groups say the movement seeks to delegitimize Israel and recreate historic discrimination against Jews. Last year, the German parliament voted for a motion that condemned the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.
None of the named organisations explicitly support the BDS movement but have been publicly critical of the Israeli government’s actions towards Palestinians, particularly the illegal construction of settlements in the occupied territories, Politico reported.
The publication suggests that State Department lawyers opposed to the plan have warned that it has a weak legal basis and could trigger lawsuits against the administration.
Representatives from Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch said they were not not aware of the Trump administration’s reported plan to label them anti-Semitic and strongly denied allegations of anti-Semitism.
Amnesty International US interim executive director, Bob Goodfellow, said allegations of anti-Semitism were “baseless” and that the organization was “deeply committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hate worldwide, and will continue to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied.”
He told Politico: “We vigorously contest any allegation of anti-Semitism, and look forward to addressing the State Department’s attacks in full.”
Oxfam’s Noah Gottschalk said allegations of anti-Semitism were “false” and offensive” while Eric Goldstein of Human Rights Watch said: “Criticizing government policy is not the same as attacking a specific group of people. For example, our critiques of US government policy do not make us anti-American.”
Gottschalk told Politico that Oxfam “does not support BDS or call for the boycott of Israel or any other country.”
He added: “Oxfam and our Israeli and Palestinian partners have worked on the ground for decades to promote human rights and provide lifesaving support for Israeli and Palestinian communities. We stand by our long history of work protecting the lives, human rights, and futures of all Israelis and Palestinians.”