This article appears in Lay of the Land:

Debate rages on social media platform discussing if Anne Frank had “White privilege”

I cannot believe that I have to write this article in 2022 when we assume that with the body of knowledge and evidence that exists about the Holocaust. But here we are. Along with many outraged activists on JTwitter (Jewish Twitter), I added my voice to a chorus that had to take to the internet platform to say “No, Anne Frank is NOT an example of white privilege”.

Yup. You read that right.

What started off this tsunami of ire was the tweet below:

Nothing says “white privilege” like a whole group of people, i.e. Jews, singled out for extermination because not only were we seen as an inferior race by the Nazis; but we were not even seen as human.

This is not the first time that the teen who put a name and a face to the one and a half million Jewish children who were murdered during the Holocaust has seen her image, memory and experience appropriated by those seeking to politicise a point.

The millions of people all around the world, in many different languages, who have read her story have shared in her daily frustrations, the precocious personality of a typical teenager experiencing the changes and her heartbreaks as well as the very real fear and hurt of being targeted for death for the crime of being a Jew. Anne Frank put a name and a face to the

1, 500, 000 children murdered in the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. For many people, Anne Frank put a human face to a catastrophe many viewed in the abstract.

Anne and her sister Margot were sent to Bergen Belsen after the secret annex where her family and several other Jews were carefully hidden from the Nazi death machine, was discovered. They died of typhus and their bodies thrown into a mass grave. Their father Otto Frank, survived them.

Over the last few days, Anne Frank became a victim again. She was “othered” by someone who like many, see everything through a prism of race. The person who tweeted the offensive tweet was not the only one accusing her of amongst many things, “white Privilege”, “Jewish privilege” and “colonization”.   In “woke’ 2022, it is not unusual to see offence frackers accuse those who they don’t agree with or in this case, whose history they know nothing about; use terminology like “colonisation” or “privilege” – something very easy to do when you are living in suburbia with unfettered access to the internet….

Esteemed author and intellectual, David Baddiel who wrote the best-selling book, “Jews don’t Count” opined that there is a type of Schrodinger’s law on whites, particularly in reference to Jews. Schrodinger’s law originally referred to the physicist Erwin Schrodinger who explained how a cat in a box could be in an ambiguous predicament in the world’s most successful thought experiment. Until the box was opened and the cat’s condition weighed, the strange laws of quantum theory indicated that it could be both dead and alive.

Baddiel’s theory when applied to antisemitism is a kind of “Schrodinger’s whites”. Simply put, Jews are both white and not white, and too many are not seen as underprivileged or marginalised. Jews are often thought of as rich capitalists and don’t fit the fashionable parameters that get social justice warriors all heated up. Jews are also “too white” for campaigners and of no interest of social justice activists who see racism as a class construct, one in which you need to be economically or socially disadvantaged. “For progressives, he writes, “no victory is claimed by championing their experience, and this leads to a subtle — and unconscious — exclusion.” The mission of fighting racism has been repurposed to suit the other political causes of campaigners rather than the needs of its victims.” Anyone else have a headache?

To this point, Baddiel brings up the concept of “Schrodinger’s Whites”. Jews are both white and not white. To those trotting out the accusations of privilege, most Jews pass for Caucasian and are “rich”, so therefore they enjoy “white privilege”.  Shades of Whoopi Goldberg arguing that the “Holocaust was not about race, just some white people fighting each other” springs to mind.  In that sentence, Goldberg erased the unique and painful Jewish experience which is why her comments were so obscenely offensive.

Baddiel was asked for his comments about Goldberg and he said:

“One of the principal things going on here is the resistance that antisemitism is racism. What a lot of people think it is religious intolerance.”

He pointed out that, despite him being an atheist, he would have been persecuted due to his Jewish heritage:

“My great-uncle who died in the Warsaw Ghetto was not an observant Jew. The whiteness of Jews is a very complex thing.

Baddiel explains that“Far-right groups… have seen Jews as not part of the white race. But meanwhile, the far-left, the association of Jews… with power and privilege makes them super white.”

Author and comedian David Baddiel and his bestseller, ‘Jews Don’t Count.’ (Courtesy)

Jews are not a homogenous people – we are different races and ethnicities that come from all corners of the globe, are both affluent and not – but the one thing we all have in common irrespective of race, ethnicity and success is that the only “privilege” we all seem to have is enduring millennia of discrimination, persecution, hatred, exclusion and genocide.

This brings me back to Anne Frank.

Anne Frank once said, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”. If only the hope expressed through this remarkable young woman – whose story resonates through the generations in the hope that it would educate people and remind them that we were not just numbers but had names, lives and experiences – would be realized. We have to do better by Anne.

Perhaps we can start by ensuring that she continues to be a voice and a human face for the millions of Jews throughout our history who have suffered the unfathomable. We have a duty to protect Anne and everything she represents.


This article appears in Lay of the Land:

Human Rights organisations are no longer just focuses on social justice issues but very heavily funded, many times to push particular agendas.

The human rights industry is worth billions of dollars. This is serious wonga! According to recent statistics reported by the Business Research Company, the global human rights organizations market size was expected to grow from $16.60 billion in 2021 to $17.47 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate. That is a lot of lucre.

One could see why people are drawn to working for human rights organisations – after all who wouldn’t want to work for what they perceive is a noble and just cause? The two most notable organisations are Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. There are notable parallels between these organisations. Both of these once venerated NGO’s were founded by Jews. Both enjoy extremely high profiles and trust. Both are seen as the litmus test for evaluating human rights transgressions. Both have a clear obsession with the State of Israel. Both have seen their original founders publicly distance themselves from the organisations for fear they were headed down a dangerous, agenda driven road.

When an organization, no matter how noble their mandate is, starts to veer off course and head down a very dubious path it often raises question “who is funding them?”

For the purposes of this article, we will take a look at Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch (HRW) describe itself as “an independent, nongovernmental organization, supported by contributions from private individuals and foundations worldwide. Human Rights Watch does not solicit or accept donations by governments, directly or indirectly.  This includes governments, government foundations, and government officials.  Indirect donations include those that are, or appear to be, made on behalf of a government or government official through an immediate family member, another intermediary, or a foundation.” In other words, this is who funds us; but don’t expect us to tell you exactly who they are. This is a procedure followed by Amnesty International as well and is no indication of untoward practice but when these organisations take a stroll down dangerous lanes, it does beg the question – who is doling out the dough?

Robert L. Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch eventually turned against the organization that he started with noble intentions.

In an op-ed in The New York Times in October 2009, he wrote:

As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and supportdissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”

This has become more and more apparent as HRW turn its focus away from the many human rights atrocities and points a damning finger at Israel. HRW’s former Director Ken Roth who retires next month, has devoted the majority of his online social media presence to singling out Israel – but what else can you expect from someone who once tweeted about “being invited for  coffee with Hezbollah” or that Hamas’ use of tunnels to potentially kidnap Israeli soldiers, did not necessarily contravene international law.

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

But Roth has not stopped there. It has become a daily activity amongst Israel advocates and our allies to call Roth out on his obsessive tweeting about Israel while staying silent on gross human rights violations across the world. He could tweet about the Palestinian Authority crackdown on journalists and critics or the million + Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps in China, or the Biafran people in Nigeria, or the genocide of Christians in that country. There are sadly, countless other conflicts or oppressed people that could do with a smidgeon of Ken’s attention.

Instead he turns his attention to Israel, accusations of Apartheid, excoriating Israel’s leadership – all with a generous serving of Ben & Jerry’s boycott endorsements.

It is no coincidence that Roth is focusing so much attention on the overpriced ice-cream manufacturers boycott, after all it was his colleague, Omar Shakir, who advised the Ben & Jerry’s board.

Remember when ice-cream didn’t have an opinion?

Omar Shakir, the Director of HRW Israel-Palestine, was booted out of the country in 2019 for BDS activities that contravened Israel’s laws. He has now dedicated his energy and time to publishing reports accusing the Jewish State of war crimes during the May 2021 conflagration and a separate one accusing the country of practices of Apartheid – while scarcely a mention about any transgressions from Hamas or the Palestinian Authority. Shakir even went so far as to totally redefine the term Apartheid to push his agenda – a strategy Amnesty International also followed in their recent report.

Can HRW, an organization that practices such flagrant bias and whose Directors are routinely accused of antisemitism not just by Jews but by notable politicians and other high profile people, still be taken seriously or even considered a human rights organisation?

What is extraordinary are the huge salaries received by Roth and his ilk as evidenced in the most recent report featured below.

The cost of hate creation (Courtesy of UN Watch)

While the organization is careful to disclose its financials, it will not disclose which countries, governments, associates etc. write the big cheques.

When a respected human rights organization falls foul of its mandate to the point where its founders raise the alarm bells, one has to ask who is forking out the finance?

Amnesty International

The other “big hitter” in the human rights world is Amnesty International. Founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a British lawyer. It was originally his intention to launch an appeal in Britain with the aim of obtaining an amnesty for prisoners of conscience all over the world. Before his passing in 2005, Benenson denounced Amnesty International for its fixation of the State of Israel.

Amnesty International (AI) has a well-documented history of anti-Israel and antisemitic activity and this has been exposed by organisations such as NGO Monitor. A huge portion of its budget seems to focus on nefarious ways to undermining and delegitimizing Israel – including its recent report accusing the Jewish state of “crimes against humanity and practicing apartheid”. They managed to magically redefine what Apartheid was in order to push its agenda. 

Antisemitism, hatred and incitement conveyed in a seemingly subtle way with intentional misuse of the term Apartheid (AI)

Examples include its 2015 rejection of a “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK” – the only proposed resolution at its Annual General Meeting that was not adopted; comments by its current Secretary General that Israel is a “government that is rogue” and the head of its Finland branch that Israel is a “scum state”; and the fact that no other country in a conflict zone is the focus of similar Amnesty-led boycotts. Amnesty International have routinely hired staff who have posted antisemitic content on social media including Kristyan Benedict, Amnesty UK’s “crisis response manager” who tweeted on November 19, 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, “Louise Ellman, Robert Halfon & Luciana Berger walk into a bar….each orders a round of B52s (inspired by @KarlreMarks Bar quips) #Gaza.” The three people he characterized as war-mongers are British Members of Parliament, all of whom are Jewish.

The organisation refused requests to investigate rising antisemitism in the United Kingdom and have routinely embarked on campaigns to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions on the Jewish state.

Pay to create hate. Amnesty International salary scale

Their above mentioned report released in February this was the bitter cherry on the cake  and has been dismissed by countries including France, the USA, the UK, the Netherlands and many more as it is seen as a clear breach of the widely recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The code adopted by the UK government and other authorities’ worldwide states that it is antisemitic to deny Jews their right to self-determination “by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour”. There is genuine concern that this report could add fuel to the already flaming fires of antisemitism.

But Amnesty International have also come under fire. Legal figures and MPs in the UK have called for the UK Charity Commission to consider Amnesty’s status because publishing such a report from its UK office could be a contravention of the clearly stated criteria of the Charity Commission.

Just last month, an independent inquiry into AI’s secretariat found that the human rights organisation has a culture of white privilege with incidents of overt racism. Ouch! (Click and read the full report here).

Some of the accusations include:

Senior staff using the N-word and P-word, with colleagues labelled over-sensitive if they complained.

Systemic bias including the capability of black staff being questioned consistently and without justification, and minority ethnic staff feeling disempowered and sidelined on projects. Micro-aggressive behaviour such as the touching of black colleagues’ hair.

A lack of awareness or sensitivity to religious practices resulting in problematic comments and behaviour, including mocking Ramadan.

Aggressive and dismissive behaviour, particularly over email and often directed towards staff in offices in the global south.

Kieran Aldred, who worked for AIUK as an advocacy officer for three years until 2018 said:

 ““Working for AIUK destroyed my self-confidence, my belief in my capabilities. I didn’t think I was skilled enough to do my job, that any organisation would ever hire me, let alone promote me, and I suffered from ongoing depression and anxiety.”

Sacha Deshmukh, Amnesty International UK’s Chief Executive, said:

“It is critical in the change that we need to make at Amnesty UK that we acknowledge that his report makes abundantly clear the scale of the transformation we must make to change lots about Amnesty UK as a place to work.”

This is the same organization that spends a fair chunk of cash writing reports, trotting out “experts” like notorious anti-Israel activist, Miko Peled, running seminars and putting up posters and billboards accusing Israel of Apartheid.

These two organisations are not the only heavily funded, agenda rife NGO’s. There are many others. This is not to say all human rights organisations have flung out their mandates in favour of disproportionate focus on the Jewish state.

As Russia’s assault on Ukraine rages on and with it a trail of human rights abuse and China continues to imprison Uyghur Muslims in concentration camps, Christians murdered in Nigeria, Iran hangs dissidents and members of the LGBTQI+ community and many other crimes against humanity continue, perhaps the megabucks poured into the human rights industry is best spent focusing on their plight and not on rallying up hate against the Jewish state.


This article is featured in Lay of the Land:

Voting with the “big Boys” at the UN puts Eswatini firmly on the map

The very mention of the United Nations is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of most people – especially mention of the Human Rights Council. In this chamber of the absurd, some of the world’s worst human rights violators, including Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea have all held court and sat on the presiding council and some of the most ridiculous resolutions have been passed against Israel. The Jewish state has; and continues to be the focus of an obscene amount of attention – at great expense to other conflicts and human rights abuses around the world.

Last week, in this circus of the ridiculous, the UNHRC’s “Commission of Inquiry” – an investigation that was set up following last year’s 11 day flare up between Israel and Hamas, the internationally recognized terror entity that controls the Gaza strip, presented their findings. Naturally the verdict was that Israel was and is responsible for the ongoing conflict with her neighbours.

The Commission of Inquiry managed to gives as little reference to the incitement of hate and acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas and other Iranian sponsored terror entities in the Gaza strip as possible.

Problematic Pillay. Heading the transparently flawed “Commission of Inquiry” into last year’s 11-day flare up between Israel and Hamas is  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, a strong supporter of BDS that calls for the end of the State of Israel.

The Commission of Inquiry was headed by Navi Pillay, a known anti-Israel agitator who has in the past endorsed the BDS movement which calls for the end of the State of Israel, applauded Iran for signing the 2001 anti-Israel UN declaration and has been proven to have personal ties with members of the PFLP, which is on the international terror list. It is no wonder Israel refused to cooperate with such an inquiry.

Why bother going through the façade? The Commission of Inquiry was endorsed by North Korea though – and the Palestinian representative who called for the USA to be kicked off the UNHRC. It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious because some people still believe in the veracity of such an organization.

Obsessive Anti-Israel Bias. Israel envoy to the United Nations Gilad Erdan rips up a Human Rights Council report at the podium, October 29, 2021 criticizing it for its disproportionate condemnation of Israel saying it belongs in “the dustbin of antisemitism”. (Screen grab)

But something extraordinary happened. The United States led 22 countries, followed the next day by Australia, in a statement condemning the UNHRC for amongst other things, their “disproportionate focus on Israel” and this commission which is counterproductive to the cause of peace.

The diverse group of countries led by the USA and spanning the continents included Israel, Austria, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Hungary, Eswatini, Brazil, Cameroon, Micronesia, Canada, United Kingdom, Togo, Colombia, Guatemala, Croatia, Liberia, Marshall Island, Nauru, North Macedonia and Palau denounced the Commission of Inquiry.

They were joined the next day by Australia who slammed the UNHRC’s “disproportionate focus on Israel and the Commission of Inquiry that does not serve the cause of peace”. There was an encouraging presence of African countries who also grow weary of having to take sides when they could benefit from what Israel has to offer and play a concrete role as African Union members towards brokering a resolution to the conflict – a role which sadly South Africa who also harbours an unproductive obsession with the Jewish state, has forfeited.

What was particularly heartening to see was the amount of African states breaking with stalemates of the past to come out and take a stand for Israel.  Israel, recognizing the similarities between our history and challenges to those of African countries has focused attention on growing bilateral ties on the continent. This is evident in the recent granting of observer status at the African Union (AU) and the steady growth of bilateral ties.

There is huge significance to the African states voting in Israel’s favour at the UN. It means the decades long African bloc stalemate has now been broken.

One country in particular stands out. Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland) often garners very few headlines but last week the tiny, Southern African state, by voting in favour of Israel along with the leading democracies of the world made a bold statement – we are here, and we came to play. Make no mistake, each country’s vote, no matter the size or perceived level of importance, carries the same weight.

A New Dawn. The landlocked kingdom of Eswatini, formerly Swaziland in Southern Africa voted in favour of Israel along with the leading democracies of the world in condemning the UNHRC for amongst other things, their “disproportionate focus on Israel”.

The message Eswatini sent was clear. We stand with Israel. We recognize the benefits that having ties to a country like Israel, that leads in so many areas can have for our country. We won’t be bullied by neighbouring South Africa to vote against Israel. South Africa’s major foreign policy focus for 2022 is getting Israel’s observer status at the AU revoked – a disappointing choice for a country plagued by so many challenges that the Jewish state can help with.

Eswatini, by breaking with tradition sent a strong, resounding message. Size doesn’t matter – rather it is the imperative of taking moral and principled stands at an institution that is fast losing its cachet. Eswatini has shown the country can stand alongside the world’s leading democracies – and hold its own. Eswatini has shown that when it comes to what is best for its citizens – will not be coerced. Eswatini has shown leadership by example.

The Southern African state has not only firmly established itself on the world stage but it has proven it is the little country that could – and did.