Amnesty International Releases Report Accusing Israel of Apartheid
The human rights organization Amnesty International released a report Tuesday accusing Israel of apartheid, both in relation to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in its treatment of Arab citizens of Israel. The report – 280 pages in English, with executive summaries in Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish – described what it called a “cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.” It joins recent reports by other human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and the Israeli group B’Tselem, that have covered much the same ground.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, ahead of the report’s release, said that Amnesty’s report “effectively denies [Israel’s] right to exist at all” and that the only explanation for its searing criticism was an antisemitic double standard: “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.” Israel, Lapid said, “is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the report’s findings as “lies, inconsistencies, and unfounded assertions that originate from well-known anti-Israeli hate organizations,” describing the contents as “damaged goods in new packaging” that, rather than comprising a fair assessment of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, delegitimize Amnesty, itself.
Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard denied bias, saying, “A critique of the practice of the State of Israel is absolutely not a form of antisemitism.”
World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder said the report “totally ignores both Palestinian acts of terrorism and Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens against such terrorism.”
To be fair, Amnesty’s report does, very briefly, describe Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians and concedes that “in the context of an international armed conflict and a military occupation there may be circumstances where treating different groups differently is based on lawful grounds. … International humanitarian law allows, and in certain circumstances requires, nationals of the occupying power and the occupied population to be treated differently.”
But the acknowledgment of Israel’s security needs comes only in the context of a broader dismissal: “Security,” Amnesty opines, “is not a viable explanation” for what the organization repeatedly describes as a “pattern of inhuman and inhumane acts” against the Palestinians under its control.