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April 25, 2021 2:27 pm
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Watchdog Group Slams New Human Rights Watch Publication Attacking Israel as an ‘Apartheid’ State

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A past anti-Israel protest in London. Photo: Claudia Gabriela Marques Vieira via Wikimedia Commons.

A top watchdog group on Sunday slammed an upcoming publication by the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) that accuses Israel of apartheid and demands an international legal campaign against it.

The publication — called “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” and scheduled for release on April 27 — is written by Omar Shakir, who has been denied entry to Israel due to his collaboration with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

It attacks Israel on several counts, in particular Israel’s “Law of Return,” which allows Jews from around the world to immediately claim Israeli citizenship and establish residence in the country. Enacted following the Holocaust, it is specifically designed to provide all Jews with a haven from persecution.

The HRW publication claims the Law is part of a conspiracy to meet Israel’s “demographic goals,” which they claim are “racist” in nature.

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The publication also denies that Israel has legitimate security concerns related to West Bank and Gaza Palestinians who establish residency in Israel proper.

Israel, says HRW, exploits “security as a justification to advance demographic objectives” and that “many of these abuses … have no legitimate security justifications.”

Israeli policy in this regard was, in fact, enacted due to Palestinians with Israeli identification documents using them to commit acts of terrorism.

The publication then states that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should “investigate and prosecute individuals credibly implicated in the crimes against humanity of apartheid or persecution.”

It also recommends sanctions on Israel and Israeli citizens and conditions on arms sales, pushes for “due diligence” in regard to trading with Israel, advocates another in a long list of United Nations investigations into Israel as well as “the role of other actors, including companies and officials of other states,” and says that “businesses active in Israel … directly contribute to the crimes of apartheid and persecution.”

Watchdog group NGO Monitor argued that the publication is merely part of a much wider assault on Israel and its identity as a Jewish state, saying, “HRW’s text is part of a renewed NGO push over the past 18 months, attaching the term ‘apartheid’ to discourse on Israel. … The NGO network seeks to reinforce political narratives, in contrast to credible factual presentation and legal analysis.”

“In the political and soft power arenas, the smear of apartheid is particularly potent, repeating propaganda from the 1970s (and earlier), labeling the Jewish State as inherently racist and drawing a direct equivalence to South Africa,” the group added. “Such comparisons delegitimize the concept of Jewish sovereign equality, regardless of borders or policies.”

Professor Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor, commented, “The demonization of Israel through comparisons to the heinous legacy of the South African apartheid regime has deep roots, going back to the Soviet and Arab campaigns and the infamous Durban NGO Forum.”

“HRW’s latest contribution consists of the standard mix of shrill propaganda, false allegations, and legal fictions,” he asserted. “Exploiting the ‘apartheid’ image for propaganda is a cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime.”

HRW and its leaders have long been criticized for attacks against Israel and its supporters. They were instrumental in pushing the infamously antisemitic Durban Conference in 2001; have slurred Israel in antisemitic terms using Bible verses such as “an eye for an eye;” hired obsessive collectors of Nazi memorabilia; equated Israel with the Nazi regime and Zionism with white supremacy; blamed Israel for attacks on Jews in Europe; and have regularly pressed for the ICC to target the Jewish state.

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