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February 1, 2022 2:44 pm
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US Lawmakers, Jewish Groups Slam Amnesty Report as ‘Demonization’ of Israel

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnes Callamard, Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director Philip Luther and activist Orly Noy attend a press conference to announce the Amnesty International’s 211-page report named “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity” at the St George Hotel, in eastern Jerusalem, February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

A leading progressive Congressman and the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee joined other US lawmakers, Jewish groups and Israeli officials on Tuesday in rejecting Amnesty International’s just-released report accusing the Jewish state of practicing apartheid.

Democratic Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), sharply condemned the document, which alleged that an Israeli policy of “Jewish demographic hegemony” dates back to its founding in 1948.

“Calling Israel an apartheid state, as Amnesty has done, is a lie,” Torres tweeted. “The hysterical demonization of Israel will do nothing to alleviate Palestinian suffering. It will only incite hatred for the world’s largest Jewish community amid violent antisemitism.”

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also slammed the NGO, calling its research “a biased report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict whose apparent thesis is that Israel does not have a right to exist as a Jewish state.”

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“The report is intent on demonizing Israel while minimizing key facts such as the founding of the State of Israel after the Holocaust, the many rounds of attempted political negotiations, or the terrifying waves of violence against Israeli civilians,” he continued. “False accusations and selective histories will not bring peace or a two-state solution.”

The report, released Tuesday, said that since 1948, Israel has “pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while restricting the rights of Palestinians and preventing Palestinian refugees from returning to their homes.” That policy was extended to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after 1967, Amnesty asserted.

Israeli officials have cast that framing as a “de-legitimization” of Israel as a Jewish state, going well beyond criticism of the country’s policies.

“Claiming that Israel has built and operated an apartheid system since its inception in 1948 essentially means that it was established on an immoral foundation and therefore has no right to exist,” Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Herzog, said Tuesday. “The report itself is blatantly ideologically motivated, biased and full of lies and inaccuracies. It totally distorts the true meaning of the phrase apartheid to suit its political purposes, and it also totally distorts the true nature of Israel.”

“Crossing the line from criticizing its policies to discrediting its existence as the nation state of the Jewish people is unacceptable, contradicts the notion of promoting human rights and should be utterly rejected,” Herzog continued. “All Israeli citizens deserve human rights.”

The Jewish Federations of North America issued a similarly tough appraisal of Amnesty, two days after it had joined a rare joint statement along with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League and other leading American Jewish groups.

“Jewish Federations strongly condemn Amnesty International UK’s report that promulgates false claims against the Jewish state, irresponsibly distorts international law, and advances hateful and disparaging rhetoric associated with age-old antisemitic tropes, while ignoring or whitewashing violence, terror, and incitement committed by Palestinians,” the Federations’ President and CEO, Eric Fingerhut, said Tuesday.

“This report is the latest in a litany of anti-Israel propaganda that has contributed to a rise in hate crimes against Jewish communities around the world and continues to embolden extremist currents that threaten all minority groups,” he said.

On Monday, asked about the document that had been widely reported on ahead of its release, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price told reporters he would reserve official comments until seeing its contents.

Regarding the charge of “apartheid,” however, Price said, “that is not language that we have used nor would we ever use.”

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides reiterated that sentiment in a tweet Tuesday responding to coverage of the Amnesty report, writing, “Come on, this is absurd. That is not language that we have used and will not use.”

Editor’s note: this article has been updated

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