Amnesty International falsely declares Israel an apartheid state: Opinion piece – Feb. 2022

It is amazing just how disconnected from reality the latest Amnesty International report is.

Amnesty to release 'apartheid' report despite Israeli call to withdraw it | The Times of Israel
credit: Times of Israel

Just as it was falsely declaring Israel an apartheid state and strongly implying that the only solution to this situation was the Jewish state’s disappearance, Arab states were deepening their connection to and interaction with Israel and Israeli Arabs themselves were refusing to support Amnesty’s position.

The Biden administration rejected Amnesty’s apartheid label as “absurd” with US State Department spokesperson Ned Price saying “we support a Jewish state and we reject the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid”

Price continued “We think that it is important as the world’s only Jewish state that the Jewish people must not be denied their right to self-determination, and we must ensure there isn’t a double standard being applied.” 

The biggest change and the real escalation in the battle being waged against Israel, is that Amnesty treats Israel, the Territories and Gaza, all together, as one entity now.

That’s both false and dangerous.

As are the conclusions it draws from that erroneous paradigm.

All Israeli citizens, Arab and Jew, are treated under the one set of laws.

Non-citizens are obviously treated differently to citizens, as is the norm elsewhere.

The situation of the status of the Territories is an added complication.

Gaza, which Israel left in 2005 and which has borders not just with Israel but also Egypt, has different issues yet again.

Not to mention that many of the conditions that Palestinians live within the Territories and Gaza are necessitated by efforts to thwart Palestinian terrorism that threatens Israeli Arab and Jew alike.

Amnesty is encouraged and helped along by some fringe organisation like Breaking The Silence, Yesh Din and Gisha to name just a few. They all either take the one entity approach openly or attempt to blur the lines between Israel proper and the other areas.

14 of these organisations have also come out publicly in a joint statement, to defend Amnesty against what they allege are unwarranted attacks on the organisation and its report.

Amongst the most overt is New Israel Fund grantee Amnesty International, which long ago lost much of its relevance and credibility – except where Amnesty is concerned.

B’Tselem describes itself as “The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories strives to end Israel’s occupation.”

This used to mean over the Green Line – what does it mean today?

On B’Tselem’s website the lead statement is: “Israel’s regime of apartheid and occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end this regime, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”

Amnesty repeatedly references Partition or the Two State Solution in United Nations resolution 181 in 1947, as being the original basis for this supposed apartheid situation.

Not, it must be emphasised, the 6 Day War in 1967 when the Territories fell into Israel’s hands.

Rather, Israel’s actual establishment.

Although most people will not read the full report, the headline will be enough to damage Israel and increase antisemitism around the world.

It is so discredited that it may hopefully also cause Amnesty itself some reputational damage. If not, it certainly should.

Mansour Abbas’ political existence demonstrates exactly the situation in Israel. He is an Islamist, leader of the Israeli Arab Ra’am Knesset party and a member of the government coalition.

Last week he spoke to a US audience when he addressed the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the 10th of February.

Abbas has not become a Zionist, but he refused to describe Israel as an apartheid state and defended his recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

“I prefer to describe the reality in objective ways.

If there is discrimination in a certain field, then we will say that there is discrimination in that specific field.”

“Today, there is a majority of Jews in Israel, and they established that identity without consulting us. Now, what am I going to do about it? I am saying I accept the other. I am looking forward to the future and I am not stuck in the past. We cannot change the narratives.”

To better understand how the Israeli government coalition of such divergent parties is able to operate, it is worth looking at the first read passing of the Citizenship Law, on the 7th of February.

Originally, this bill was passed in 2003, to be renewed annually, and was designed to stop the entry of Palestinian terrorists into Israel via ‘family reunification’.

The current piece of legislation is Minister Shaked’s. Her attempt is to try and slow down the de facto immigration of Palestinians into Israel by marriage to Israeli citizens.

Amnesty might take note and ask themselves why it is that there are thousands and thousands of Arab people who want to move to the state of Israel and gain citizenship of her, in order to enjoy her freedoms, civil liberties and a better life?

Mansour Abbas and his party (as well as Meretz), left the Knesset plenum before the vote on the Citizenship Law, expressing their opposition to the Bill, without actually voting against it. But they did not walk out of government.

Abbas said that he had “broken the glass ceiling” by joining the government and “could achieve more gains by being part of it than by leaving it”.

What Abbas did do, was to negotiate a set number of permits for illegal Arab migrants to become legal residents or citizens.

As he said on the zoom with the Washington Institute, continuing his very pragmatic stance of de-emphasising ideology but getting practical gains: “Almost every party got what they wanted. We made sure that 10,000 families will get rights, that their issues will be addressed. And on the other side, the parties that support this got it through.”

That’s how this coalition survives.

The Amnesty report and the Citizenship Bill are ultimately around the same issue – that of the Jewish nature and character of the state.

A fascinating discussion between various parties in the coalition government is taking place behind the scenes. One which also centres on Israel’s Jewish identity.

Currently, it is just a trial balloon being leaked to the media.

The government is considering allowing some form of civil marriage in Israel, for the very first time.

In exchange, Minister for Religious Affairs, Matan Kahana, wants a change in Israel’s Law of Return. Originally passed in 1950, the Law was amended in 1970 when the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with one Jewish grandparent, whether or not they are considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Jewish law.

Kahana wants to update the ‘grandchildren’ section so that having one Jewish grandparent will no longer automatically entitle one to live in Israel. People around him say that this will “strengthen the preservation of the Jewish character of the State of Israel”.

Having a State brings many privileges and also obligations – and requires us to proceed with sensitivity and compassion.

This is the central difference that having a Jewish state makes and offers – the opportunity for the Jewish people to discuss and debate and determine the Jewish future.

Australia, the United States and many others recognise that this is what self-determination is really all about. And they support both the concept and the reality of the Jewish state.

In essence, groups like Amnesty are attempting to take that ability away from us – whether they admit it or not.

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Ron Weiser is the Honorary Life Member ZFA Executive and Honorary Life President, ZC of NSW

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