Amnesty International's report on Israel is full of distortions and lies - editorial

It is now clearer than ever that the goal of Amnesty International’s report is the exact opposite of recognizing the right of Israel to exist as the world’s only Jewish state.

 SECRETARY-GENERAL of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard speaks during a press conference in east Jerusalem on February 1.  (photo credit: FLASH90)
SECRETARY-GENERAL of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard speaks during a press conference in east Jerusalem on February 1.
(photo credit: FLASH90)

Amnesty International has dropped the pretense. Last month, the organization released a report of more than 270 pages titled: “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity.”

“We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid,” Amnesty Secretary-General Agnes Callamard declared at a press conference in Jerusalem.

The report was disingenuous, full of distortions and lies, lacking context and manipulated to create a meaning for apartheid that could be applied to the State of Israel, suggesting it was somehow similar to apartheid-era South Africa, where blacks were fully segregated and had no rights at all. By relating to all Israel, “the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (i.e. the West Bank or Judea and Samaria), and Gaza, the report clearly referred to pre-1948 boundaries. 

“We recognize the existence of the Jewish State of Israel,” Callamard said at the Amnesty press conference in February, adding that “We oppose and denounce antisemitism and antisemitic acts the world over.”

However, it is now clearer than ever that the goal of Amnesty International’s report is the exact opposite of recognizing the right of Israel to exist as the world’s only Jewish state.

In a story first published by the Jewish Insider and picked up by Jewish Telegraphic Agency among others, Amnesty’s USA director Paul O’Brien was quoted as saying during a talk last Wednesday to a Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC) audience that the bulk of American Jews do not want Israel to be a Jewish state, but rather “a safe Jewish space” based on “core Jewish values.”

 Amnesty International holds a press conference to announce its 211-page report named ''Israel's Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity'' in East Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun) Amnesty International holds a press conference to announce its 211-page report named ''Israel's Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity'' in East Jerusalem (credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

“I believe my gut tells me that what Jewish people in this country [US] want is to know that there’s a sanctuary that is a safe and sustainable place that the Jews, the Jewish people can call home,” O’Brien reportedly said. “We are opposed to the idea – and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate – that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people.” 

It should be noted that last month’s Amnesty International report was roundly denounced. In Israel, Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej, an Arab member of the left-wing Meretz Party, declared that “Israel has many problems that must be solved, inside the Green Line and certainly in the occupied territories, but Israel is not an apartheid state.”

In the US, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) called the report “a gross mischaracterization of Israel, its history and its values.” State Department spokesperson Ned Price warned against applying double standards to Israel.

Most Jewish organizations also rejected the report. But O’Brien, who is not Jewish, obviously trusts his gut instinct more. He also seems to be hoping that by “changing the conversation” and repeating the apartheid lie enough times, he can create new facts.

The event is the first in a series hosted by the WNDC that will explore “Palestine past, present and future.” Israel’s own ancient past, its successful present and its future as the Jewish state is of less importance to the group.

In a separate story published over the weekend, JTA revealed that the environmental Sierra Club NGO has canceled its scheduled trips to Israel in response to pressure from progressive and anti-Zionist groups after activists alleged the organization was “greenwashing the conflict” and “providing legitimacy to the Israeli state, which is engaged in apartheid against the Palestinian people,” according to an email seen by the news agency.

This is another example of what happens when the apartheid libel is deliberately spread.

Such efforts don’t only harm Israel’s image, they cause once respected organizations to lose their credibility and standing. Above all, they do absolutely nothing to promote peace or help the Palestinians.

By criminalizing Israel and ignoring Palestinian anti-normalization and terrorism, these organizations and the progressive activists are encouraging more rejectionism and more terror. 

The Palestinian Authority will see no reason to make even basic moves to peace as long as it believes it can erase Israel with progressive, Western support. The lies themselves fuel further attacks, both on Israelis and on Jews and Jewish targets around the world. The apartheid libel is not only a lie, it is a dangerous one.