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January 31, 2022 11:16 am
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Amnesty Report Charging Israel With Apartheid Is ‘Divorced From Reality,’ Says Lapid

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Demonstrators hold Palestinian flags and placards that read “Free Palestine” during a Jan. 19, 2022 demonstration outside the Embassy of Israel in London. Photo: Hesther Ng / SOPA Images/Sipa USA

Israel said Monday it rejects the “false allegations” made in an upcoming publication by Amnesty International UK that labels the country an “apartheid” state.

“Instead of seeking facts, Amnesty quotes lies spread by terrorist organizations,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said. “Amnesty was once an esteemed organization that we all respected. Today, it is the exact opposite. It is not a human rights organization, but just another radical organization that echoes propaganda with no serious examination.”

The publication, titled “Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity,” which is expected to be released on Tuesday, alleges that Israel since its establishment in 1948 has pursued an “explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony” to maximize its “control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis.”

Amnesty claims that in the 211-page report it has documented “Israel’s institutionalized and systematic discrimination against Palestinians within the framework of the definition of apartheid under international law,” according to leaked copies of the embargoed study published by the Israel-based watchdog group NGO Monitor.

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It asserts that “Israel maintains Jewish domination over the Palestinian economy through the exclusion and intentional neglect of Palestinian communities inside Israel.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry slammed the content of the report for repeating the same lies, inconsistencies, and assertions made by “well-known anti-Israeli hate organizations.”

“Five minutes of serious fact-checking were enough to know that the facts that appeared in the report were a delusion, divorced from reality,” Lapid argued. “Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny, with a free press and strong Supreme Court.”

“Amnesty does not call Syria an ‘apartheid state’ — a country whose government murdered half a million of its own citizens — nor Iran or any other corrupt and murderous regime in Africa or Latin America,” the foreign minister said. “I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility.”

NGO Monitor remarked that Amnesty’s intention is to “use sanctions, boycotts, arrests of Israeli officials to attack Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.”

It also argued that the report is antisemitic according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition, which includes “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

NGO Monitor’s legal advisor Anne Herzberg noted that the publication echoes similar allegations made by NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Israel’s B’Tselem group. 

“Amnesty’s report offers nothing new to the discussion. It is simply part of the discriminatory and offensive campaign launched in 2021, by NGOs like HRW and B’Tselem, which is based on invented law and discriminatory tropes from a century’s worth of antisemitic propaganda,” Herzberg said. “It is clearly timed to exploit lawfare initiatives at the dictator-run UN Human Rights Council such as the Commission of Inquiry on the 2021 conflict.”

During a media briefing Monday, she later argued that the report could result in backlash visited on Jewish communities outside Israel.

“It will likely lead to harassment of Jews on campuses, more attacks on Jews in the streets, and more vandalism of synagogues,” Herzberg said of the document.

That sentiment was echoed by Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat, who said it “crosses the line because it undermines the existence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.”

“Without a doubt, this kind of a report will pour more oil on the fire that is burning in the streets of Europe and unfortunately also in North America and South America,” Haiat said. “These accusations will flame antisemitism all over the world.”

In a tweet on Monday, Amnesty International said it would hold a live press conference Tuesday at 9 a.m. GMT (11 a.m. Israel time) on Facebook to release the report.

World Jewish groups also condemned the upcoming report, including in a Sunday statement by all major US Jewish organizations which described it as a “libelous document” that “fuels those antisemites around the world who seek to undermine the only Jewish country on earth.”

“The report makes no secret of its true intention — which is to cast aspersions on the State of Israel, which it portrays as illegitimate, starting ‘at its creation in May 1948,” read the statement, issued jointly by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), B’nai B’rith International, and the Jewish Federations of North America.

“It disregards the fact that Israel’s robust democracy grants its Arab citizens full rights and equality, includes an Arab Muslim nationalist party in Israel’s governing coalition, as well as a history of senior Israeli Arab governmental officials, including Supreme Court justices, government ministers, high-level diplomats, military officers, and members of Knesset,” the statement continued.

“We call on all parties of good faith to condemn this ideologically-driven polemic, and instead focus on efforts that will bring the parties together — rather than instigate more distrust and divisiveness,” it said.

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