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Despite Amnesty’s Report, Countries Around the World Are in Support of Israel

This time, it seems that Amnesty International has crossed every line. The organization’s declaration that the State of Israel is an apartheid state has proven that Amnesty has long lost touch with reality and it is deeply biased. In practice, Amnesty’s recent report includes profound legal inaccuracies and prominent one-sidedness. For example, the use of the term “apartheid,” which describes the system of institutionalized racial segregation that existed in South Africa between whites and blacks, is devoid of any understanding of the prevailing reality in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. While in South Africa, under the apartheid regime, blacks couldn’t vote in elections and were denied many civil rights, in Israel, all citizens enjoy full equality of rights. The non-Jewish citizens of Israel are elected to parliament, serve on the Supreme Court, hold key positions in government ministries, the army, the police, and the media, and are in fact an integral part of Israeli society. Even the captain of the Israeli national football team is not Jewish. In other words, Israel is one of the most liberal democracies in the world, and not an apartheid state as Amnesty International claims. Despite Amnesty International’s venomous conduct against the Jewish state and the expectation that many countries on the European continent would adopt the organization’s conclusions, important countries in Europe chose to unequivocally support the State of Israel. Many of Israel’s friends in Europe understand that defining Israel as an “apartheid state” is nonsense. In fact, in parallel with the desire of many European countries to promote the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, it is well understood that no country in the world will grant civil rights to noncitizens. Europe knows that Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not citizens of the State of Israel, and therefore are not entitled to civil rights. The response of most European governments clearly illustrates the fact that they are on Israel’s side. In Germany, the Foreign Ministry and politicians from across the political spectrum rejected the use of the term “apartheid,” criticized Amnesty’s report, and claimed that it did not promote peace in the Middle East. In the United Kingdom, the Foreign Office clarified that this term should not be used in the context of Israel. In Austria, too, the Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations made by Amnesty against the Jewish state. Czech President Miloš Zeman went as far as sending a letter to President Herzog, in which he condemned Amnesty’s statement. The backing that the State of Israel receives is not coincidental. It stems from tireless efforts of both the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and nongovernmental Israeli organizations that work to strengthen the connection between the State of Israel and European countries. This is an ongoing effort to show European countries, which sometimes hold a critical stance towards Israel on the issue of the conflict with the Palestinians, that the Jewish state strives for peace with its neighbors. –Shai Bazak (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)