Amnesty International condemned antisemitism and pledged its allegiance to the existence of a Jewish state as it pushed backed at charges of antisemitism in response to the publication of its report accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid.
"We recognize the right of the Jewish people to self-determination," stated Amnesty Secretary-General Agnès Callamard at a Jerusalem press conference on Tuesday. "We recognize the existence of the Jewish states of Israel. We are not criticizing the fact that there is a Jewish state."
"What we are calling for is on the Jewish state to recognize the rights of all people living under their control and on their territories," she said.
Israel and critics of the report have accused Amnesty of criminalizing the Jewish right to self-determination as an act of apartheid, while upholding the rights of Palestinians to an ethnic nationalist state.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance considers denial of Jewish statehood as act of antisemitism.
It further charged that the report was filled with falsehoods and that it had not been presented with the document prior to its publication.
The report had been embargoed until Tuesday, but Israel and opponents of the report issued information about it already on Monday.
Callamard said she was surprised by how far Israel went to discredit Amnesty, including breaking its embargo and pretending that it had not attempted to seek a response.
"The allegations by the Israeli authorities are bare-faced lies that are meant to push aside and dispel the scrutiny that we are placing on their human rights violations," Callamard stated.
Israel is not the only country which Amnesty has accused of the crime of apartheid. It also issued that charge against Myanmar for its treatment of the Rohingya, so it has not singled out Israel, Callamard said.
"Baseless attacks" and "fabrications" against "the messenger will not silence" the organization, Callamard said.
"We oppose and denounce antisemitism antisemitism and antisemitic acts the world over, but we defend our right and the right of anyway one else, to critique impartially and against international rights law, Israel's treatment of the Palestinians, that is not antisemitism,
"Let me be clear, such accusations whether issued by the Israeli authorities or their supporters are nothing more than a desperate attempt to evade scrutiny and divert attentions from our findings, that the human rights abuses to which the Palestinians people are subjected amount to apartheid," she said.
Opponents of the report were not swayed by her speech.
George Mason University Law professor Eugene Kontorovich said that the apartheid accusation was an attempt to resurrect the United Nations General Assembly 1974 Zionism is Racism resolution that was rescinded in 1991.
"Apartheid is just a rehash of the UN's old "Zionism is Racism" line. America, and most democracies, are said to struggle with systemic racism - but Amnesty does not call them Apartheid states.
Because "Apartheid", like "Zionism is Racism" before it, is a call for the dismantling of the State of Israel," said Kantorovich of the right-wing Jerusalem based Kohelet Policy Forum.
Minister of Diaspora Affairs Nachman Shai said the report was "a clear expression of the new antisemitism under the guise of 'humanitarianism'.
“It is 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.”
He also noted the release of the report just a few days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“It would have been better for Amnesty International UK to look closer to home and learn about the recent rise in hatred and violence against Jews in the UK. Just two weeks ago, the Diaspora Ministry's annual antisemitism report was published indicating a new record for antisemitic incidents across the UK in 2021," Shai said.