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January 29, 2019 5:12 pm

‘Antisemitic’ Amnesty International Campaign Targets Historic Jewish Sites in Israel, Watchdog Says

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Jews praying at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo: Noam Revkin-Fenton / Flash90.

Human rights group Amnesty International has been criticized for pursuing a “discriminatory, antisemitic” campaign against digital tourism companies that publicize Jewish historical and cultural sites in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“Precisely because tourism to Israel is at an all time high, Amnesty International is targeting this sector,” Professor Gerald Steinberg — founder and president of the Israeli watchdog NGO Monitor — said in a statement on Tuesday. NGO Monitor noted that Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Booking.com were among the leading online tourism sites being targeted by Amnesty.

“Amnesty is specifically contesting Jewish historic connections to biblical sites, including in Jerusalem,” Steinberg said. “In essence, Amnesty faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians.”

Earlier on Monday, Amnesty published a report titled, “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” that accuses Israel of deliberately locating Jewish communities near major archaeological sites in the West Bank.

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The report held that Israel had established a “settlement tourism industry” to help “sustain and expand” the Jewish presence in the territory, taken control of by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel’s interest in Jewish archaeology was based on making “the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region,” Amnesty claimed.

Steinberg argued that in “the foreground of Amnesty’s campaign is a long history of antisemitism.”

He continued: “Amnesty has tolerated blatant antisemitism within its own ranks and has treated antisemitism as the one form of discrimination not worth fighting against. Unsurprisingly, Amnesty is now fully embracing discriminatory BDS and singling out Israel.”

Steinberg added that the timing of the campaign was clearly “aimed to coincide” with the publication by the UN Human Rights Council of a “blacklist” of companies engaging in business with Israeli communities in the West Bank.

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