Amnesty International’s latest excuse to accuse Israel of ‘apartheid’ - opinion

RIGHT FROM WRONG: Israeli demonstrations in which participants compare the new government to the rise of the Third Reich do Amnesty and ilk proud.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, national security minister and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the swearing in ceremony of the new israeli government at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2022. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Itamar Ben-Gvir, national security minister and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the swearing in ceremony of the new israeli government at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Amnesty International doesn’t need an excuse to bash Israel, regardless of the makeup of the ruling coalition in Jerusalem. Indeed, it makes no bones about its view that since the state’s establishment in 1948, “successive governments have created and maintained a system of laws, policies and practices designed to oppress and dominate Palestinians.”

But the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is back in power, this time solely with right-wing and religious partners, makes the country that the UK-based “human rights” NGO loves to hate particularly tempting as a target. The hysteria at home and abroad surrounding the appointment of firebrand Itamar Ben-Gvir as national security minister provided the bullseye.

Interestingly, it wasn’t Ben-Gvir’s January 3 visit to the Temple Mount that spurred Amnesty into action. Perhaps the radical-leftist organization decided to sit back and let the outrage that its liberal counterparts around the world were expressing over the event take center stage.

In any case, none of the predictions about the turmoil that the Otzma Yehudit Party leader’s short excursion to the holy site was likely to provoke came true. Amnesty, therefore, maybe did well by waiting a few days before joining the fray with customary vengeance.

The opportunity arose on Sunday, when Ben-Gvir announced that he’d ordered Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai to authorize officers, in the course of their work, to remove Palestinian flags from public places. The minister’s measure came in response to the way in which the banner was used last week to celebrate the release from prison of Arab terrorist Karim Younis.

Palestinian flag on sign reading ''justice for all from the Jordan to the sea'' at anti-Netanyahu protest in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2023 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)Palestinian flag on sign reading ''justice for all from the Jordan to the sea'' at anti-Netanyahu protest in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2023 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Younis spent 40 years in jail for kidnapping and killing IDF Cpl. Avraham Bromberg on the Golan Heights in 1983. Upon his arrival on January 5 in his hometown of Ara in the Haifa district, he was hailed as a hero.

Family members, friends and strangers – all Israeli citizens championing the cold-blooded murder of a Jew – crowded around to celebrate his return. Perched on the shoulders of one of the many admirers parading him through the village, he waved a large Palestinian flag to signify triumph over the Zionists.

Pleased with the propaganda on his behalf, PA President Mahmoud Abbas phoned to congratulate the freed terrorist. “The prisoners are all our brothers, and their cause is sacred for all of us,” he said.

Honored by the gesture, Younis replied, “I salute our people in the diaspora and in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip who embrace this cause and have struggled for 100 years without raising the white flag, and will continue under your leadership in the struggle until their aspirations for freedom and independence are soon achieved.”

Elected, among other reasons, to put a stop to such activities, Ben-Gvir explained the impetus for his command to Shabtai. “It can’t be that lawbreakers wave terror flags [and] incite and support terrorism,” he stated, adding that “identifying with terrorists and with harming IDF soldiers is not protected under freedom of speech [statutes].”

Amnesty – author, among other antisemitic screeds, of the February 1, 2022 report “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity” – begged gleefully to differ.

“This appalling attempt to erase the identity of the Palestinian people is the latest in a series of measures that Israeli authorities have introduced to legitimize racism and discrimination against Palestinians,” Amnesty declared, in part, on Wednesday. “The farcical pretexts for this [flag] directive cannot mask the fact that Israeli authorities are growing increasingly ruthless in their attempts to crush all opposition to the apartheid system.”

In another passage of the diatribe, the NGO said that the directive “flies in the face” of Israel’s obligation, as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, “to prohibit incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence through advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred.”

Never mind that the above commitment is precisely what Ben-Gvir is aiming to uphold. In Amnesty’s view, the Jewish state has been guilty of sin for the nearly 75 years of its existence.

“For decades, the Palestinian flag has been a symbol of unity and resistance to Israel’s unlawful occupation, and is used around the world as an emblem of solidarity with the Palestinian people,” it asserted, concluding that “the directive itself pours fuel on racial hatred and sows division. It is one of many Israeli policies, enacted within the system of apartheid, which are designed to minimize the presence and visibility of Palestinians, and to silence their voices.”

Protests against new government bolster Amnesty and its friends

Israeli demonstrations in which participants compare the new government to the rise of the Third Reich do Amnesty and ilk proud, particularly when Palestinian flags dot the scenery. Those in attendance may profess to be protesting Team Netanyahu’s judicial-reform plan and other policies, but what they’re actually doing is discrediting the essence of the country.

This was evident a few weeks ago at a conference in Damascus, organized by the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds International Institute. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the event brought together Syria-based Palestinian activists and Iranian dignitaries to discuss Israel’s demise.

One noteworthy speech reported on by MEMRI was that of Syrian researcher Shadi Diab. He presented “data” on the “demographic problem facing the [Israeli] entity, and its failure to achieve harmony among its [Jewish] residents, who immigrated [to it] from different parts of the world and have different identities, cultures and languages, different circumstances and widely differing goals.”

This “entity,” he argued, “never managed to achieve a consensus among these sectors, who came from all over the world, and this disparity is evident in the struggle and fierce competition that currently prevail in the political arena and in the government of this entity, between the various political, ethnic and religious sectors, such as the Ashkenazi, Sephardi and haredi [Jews], between Right and Left, between religious and secular people, between the civilian and military sectors, etc.”

It sounds as though his “research” consisted of reading the Israeli press. He couldn’t admit to this, though, since he proceeded to claim that the “Zionist media conceals these struggles and disagreements and prevents [the publication of] any information about them inside and outside the [Zionist] entity.”

This contention is even more hilarious than Amnesty’s definition of free speech. But neither is a laughing matter when seen in a broader context: the holistic effort to annihilate Israel through external means, such as weapons and delegitimization, and contribute to its self-implosion. Due to ongoing Palestinian terrorism against innocent Israelis, the “peace process” was barely mentioned, even by the Left, during the election campaign. The Right emerged victorious by emphasizing Zionism and Jewish sovereignty as values whose positive connotations need to be restored and nurtured.

It’s a shame that the disgruntled losers aren’t open to the possibility that this will be to their benefit, as well. It’s far worse that they’re offering both fodder and hope to those who don’t distinguish between Ben-Gvir and Ben-Gurion.