Amnesty International report slammed for extreme bias
An Amnesty International (AI) report calling Israel an apartheid state has been criticised by leading Jewish organisations and Israeli leaders. Though the report acknowledges Jews’ right to self-determination and doesn’t challenge Israel’s desire to be a home for Jews, it recommends actions that would undermine the reality of a Jewish state.
“Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued a policy of establishing and then maintaining a Jewish demographic majority and maximising control over land and resources to benefit Jewish Israelis. In 1967, Israel extended this policy to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded,” says the report.
Essentially ignoring Israel’s security needs, the report says, “Amnesty International examined each of the security justifications which Israel cites as the basis for its treatment of Palestinians. The report shows that, while some of Israel’s policies may have been designed to fulfil legitimate security objectives, they have been implemented in a grossly disproportionate and discriminatory way which fails to comply with international law.”
The report calls for Palestinian refugees and their descendants “to return to homes where they or their families once lived”, which would mean Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. It also calls for Israel to be isolated from the international community.
“Categorising Israel as ‘committing the crime of apartheid’ creates the presumption that AI is trying to assist the United Nations [UN] to haul Israel to the International Criminal Court,” said Sara Gon of the Institute for Race Relations.
“The blatant one-sidedness [of the report] is best illustrated by its regard of history since 1948. Much has been written about this period and the responsibility of all sides in the conflict, but it’s astonishing that the history as revealed is literally only good Palestinian victims and aggressive, cruel Jews. There’s no context about the period preceding 1948 and no mention at all of Britain and mandate Palestine.”
She said the report implied that Israel had never been a legal entity, and should never have come into being. “AI supports the ‘right of return’, so one can only conclude that Israel should cease to exist as a Jewish state and become a Muslim majority state.
“The report reflects the extraordinary bias and malice of AI,” Gon said. “There’s no mention of the genocidal antisemitism of the Palestinian leadership. There’s nothing that indicates that this report was intended to be professional and even-handed. It’s so far from that, it’s cringe-worthy. But let Israel be in no doubt: AI believes that Israel has no right to exist, and Jews don’t even come into the equation.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the report “effectively denies [Israel’s] right to exist. Israel isn’t perfect, but it’s a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny.”
He accused AI of having an antisemitic agenda, saying, “I hate to use the argument that if Israel wasn’t a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there’s no other possibility.”
Diaspora Affairs Minister Dr Nachman Shai also weighed in. “To say that the state of Israel is an apartheid state is detached from reality and antisemitic in every respect. The report is a clear expression of the new antisemitism under the guise of humanitarianism. It’s false, one-sided, completely detached from the daily reality in Israel, and denies the right to exist of the nation-state of the Jewish people. This report is antisemitic propaganda, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Shai also pointed out that AI’s report failed the test of the “three Ds” towards Israel: double standards, delegitimisation, and demonisation.
Though the World Jewish Congress (WJC) doesn’t often comment on Israeli politics, the organisation felt it was necessary to do so this time. WJC President Ronald Lauder called the report a “one-sided and blatantly politicised report which totally ignores both Palestinian acts of terrorism and Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens against such terrorism”.
Raheli Baratz-Rix, the head of the department for combating antisemitism at the World Zionist Organisation, noted that “on the one hand, the UN adopts the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of antisemitism, and on the other, it supports and allows nongovernmental organisations to demonise Israel, spin lies about its conduct, and undermine its sovereignty. There’s no new antisemitism, there’s renewable antisemitism, and this is what it looks like. It’s time to put an end to this so that history doesn’t repeat itself.”
The International Legal Forum, a pro-Israel group, said the report was “tantamount to a blood libel against the Jewish state, and deserves to be placed in the dustbin of antisemitic history”.
South Africans also stood up to the report. South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) General Manager Pamela Ngubane said the report resorted to “hijacking South Africa’s apartheid suffering to defame Israel. Millions of South Africans who suffered and fought under actual apartheid should be angered and insulted by Amnesty’s attempt to dilute their own history and experience of apartheid, and to hijack the term and falsely use it against Israel.
“SAFI rejects in the strongest terms the report that calls into question Israel’s very existence and gives a free pass to terror campaigns against the Jewish state by cloaking the perpetrators in a stolen mantle of victimhood,” she said. “Amnesty itself has an appalling history of hate towards Israel and Jews, with members participating in BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions organisation] campaigns, antisemitic incidents, and the demonisation of Jews and Israel, and thus any report it publishes against Israel has little credibility.
“It’s well-known to Jews and Arabs in Israel and anyone who visits the country, that Israel’s democracy is the absolute antithesis to apartheid,” Ngubane said. “The rule of law in Israel is sacred and universal, it’s justly and fairly applied, and doesn’t rest upon racial lines. The legislature of Israel is representative of all its citizens. All citizens in Israel have equal voting rights. The Knesset comprises Arab and Muslim parties, including an Islamic party within the ruling coalition government. There’s no exclusionary parliamentary system, which is one of the hallmarks of an apartheid state. Based upon this system of proportional representation, Israel clearly demonstrates that it cannot be labelled an ‘apartheid’ state, and exceeds many democracies by ensuring the reflection of national demographics in public institutions. In Israel’s latest round of judicial appointments, six of the new justices were from the Israeli-Arab community, and four of these were women.”
The South African Zionist Federation and NGO Monitor released a joint statement on the report, calling it “a fabrication seeking to vilify Jews and undermine the legitimacy of self-determination for the Jewish people”.
NGO Monitor is a globally recognised research institute promoting democratic values and good governance.
“Millions of South Africans who suffered, fought, and died under real apartheid should be angered and insulted by Amnesty’s attempt to exploit their own history and experience of apartheid, and to hijack the term to use it against Israel falsely. We reject, in the strongest terms, this report and all efforts that call into question Israel’s existence and gives a free pass to terror campaigns against the Jewish state,” the statement read.
The organisations point out that the report uses antisemitic terminology like “Jewish domination”; calls Israel’s existence into question accusing it of “state-owned segregation … since 1948”; whitewashes deadly terrorism; and justifies boycotts, sanctions, and other hostile actions against Israel.
“Like every other country, Israel’s existence isn’t open to question,” they emphasised.