‘Famous Actress cancels play to highlight suffering of Palestinians.’
It’s a compelling story, one sure to be picked up by journalists, but beyond the usual anti-Israel agitprop, it’s a tale of deception and dishonesty that should leave Amnesty International shamefaced.
A show called “Obliterated,” sponsored by the prominent human rights organization, was said to have been due to be performed exactly one year after the destruction of a Gaza theater.
In fact, the play was never due to have been performed at all — the whole thing was a PR stunt.
In an email sent to people who had signed up for what was advertised as a free, one-night only performance, playwright Ahmed Masoud and actress Maxine Peake openly admitted to the devious trick: “There was never a play or a show. I didn’t write it and Maxine never rehearsed it.” This was confirmed when an Amnesty International UK press officer told HonestReporting, “they have cancelled it, and intended to cancel it.”
Despite openly admitting to registrants that the play was never written, a press release circulated by Amnesty International to announce the show was being pulled totally neglected to acknowledge that the cancellation was premeditated. The press release, seen by countless journalists, failed to mention that the play was never written, and that from the very outset, no performance was actually planned. Consequently, multiple news outlets picked up on the press release and failed to report the full story.
The episode should act as a cautionary tale to journalists not to rely on press releases for more than one reason.
The stunt was designed to draw attention to the first anniversary of the destruction of the al-Mishal Cultural Center in Gaza. In its press release, Amnesty wrote:
The scheduled performance – which is fully booked – would have marked exactly one year since the destruction by an Israeli airstrike of the Mishal Cultural Centre last year, the only working theatre in Gaza which housed numerous arts projects in the beleaguered Palestinian territory.
That’s one way to describe the theater. A more objective statement would have recognized that the theater was believed to have served as a command and control center for the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza in its ongoing hostilities against Israel.
For a self-described human rights organization, it’s hard to understand how a commitment to human rights is being served when Amnesty allows itself to be used as cover for Hamas’ human shields policy, in which the terror group embeds itself in civilian infrastructure in order to conceal its presence and avert being struck, even after being discovered. (Significantly, under international law, the responsibility for any civilian casualties and collateral damage incurred in the event of a military strike on such a military installment would fall firmly on Hamas’ shoulders.)
None of this seems to interest Amnesty International UK, whose media department failed to mention the controversy entirely.
When human rights organizations wage media campaigns to gain public sympathy while possibly providing cover for terror organizations committing war crimes, the cause of human rights is being shamelessly, deceitfully used for political ends.
To be clear, HonestReporting has no problem with PR stunts. They are a reality in the media world, are often ingenious, entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking. We do, however, have a problem with NGOs and activists conning journalists by pretending that their actions are not a PR stunt at all.
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Source material can be found at this site.