Absurdity undermines Amnesty International’s evil apartheid accusation

Only by inventing a bizarre new definition of apartheid could anyone conclude that Israel in any way deserves Amnesty’s accusation

Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard at a press conference in eastern Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2022. Photo by Flash90.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnès Callamard at a press conference in eastern Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2022. Photo by Flash90.
Ken Cohen
Ken Cohen
Ken Cohen is editor of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

Amnesty International’s now-infamous February report accused Israel of being an apartheid state. The document exceeds even that organization’s standard of perfidy in its false accusations against the Jewish state.

Surely, the leaders of Amnesty International know that the apartheid regime in South Africa, until its overthrow in the 1990s, bears no resemblance to Israel, past or present. Indeed, Amnesty’s 211-page report has to present a new definition for “apartheid,” fulfilling the joke about how to become a champion archer: Shoot the arrow, then paint the target around wherever it hits.

In this case, Amnesty first presents a ream of lies and distortions about the state of Israel, and then defines apartheid to be whatever it falsely accuses Israel of doing.

“Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians is a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity,” says the report.

In reality, it’s a compilation of unsubstantiated allegations by NGOs whose agendas are not to reform Israel, but to destroy it.

The facts, of course, manifestly repudiate the libels. One thing is clear: Amnesty’s definition of apartheid for Israel bears no relation to South Africa’s discriminatory practices under its apartheid regime.

Justice for Israel’s minorities is ensured by its open and independent judiciary—including many Arab judges throughout the land, including in the Supreme Court. Active Arab participation in the democratic politics, popular culture and free-market commercial life in Israel can hardly be described as “apartheid.”

The Amnesty report, noting the inherent right of Jewish people to move to Israel, says that under Israeli apartheid, “Palestinian citizens of Israel are [only] granted citizenship rights based on residence in Israel … This unequal and separate [between Jewish and Palestinian] citizenship structure has resulted in stark discrimination against Palestinian citizens in several ways.” No mention is made of the fact that comparable citizenship laws apply in Mexico, Finland, Greece and a host of other nations.

“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,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

Consider the differences between South Africa’s old regime and Israel:

Black residents of South Africa were disenfranchised, having no vote or role in their national governance or justice system. In stark contrast, Israeli Arabs are fully enfranchised, electing representatives to local governments and the Knesset.

Blacks had no control over the governance of the country in which they were a considerable majority. In Israel’s vibrant democracy, Arabs sit in the government and in the Cabinet. In fact, the Ra’am Party is arguably the linchpin of Israel’s ruling coalition.

Blacks were forbidden, under apartheid, to attend white schools, use white “public” facilities or mingle with white citizens in commercial, social or educational settings. Israeli Arabs participate fully and freely in the richness of Israeli society.

In fact, Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy more prosperity and civil rights than do all Arabs living in the Middle East’s Arab nations. Yet Amnesty does not issue reports condemning these repressive Arab nations.

Given the horrors suffered by South Africa’s black majority for decades under its white racist government, for Amnesty to call free, democratic Israel “apartheid” is to insult the true victims of apartheid.

Amnesty International was originally an organization founded in England in 1961 to defend political prisoners-of-conscience in the world’s most vile nations. In recent decades, it has changed direction to promote anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, as it does in this specious report.

Almost every page of the Amnesty report’s 27-page Executive Summary makes mention of Israel’s founding in 1948, emphasizing the original sin of Israel’s very creation. The report is not just a phony indictment of current events in Israel—it essentially attacks the existence of the Zionist state.

“Amnesty’s argument is that the State of Israel is from its founding illegitimate, not that settlements are a bad thing,” according to Elliott Abrams.

Amnesty’s report calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS)—along with an arms embargo, the “right of return” for descendants of 1948 refugees, and a plea for an apartheid indictment by the International Criminal Court.

Beyond that, Amnesty’s call for an end to the Palestinian Authority’s security cooperation with Israel would certainly seriously damage the safety of both Arabs and Jews in Israel.

In its 61-year history, Amnesty International has pronounced the “apartheid” verdict on just one other nation: Myanmar—citing its violent suppression of that country’s Rohingya minority.

No other country in the world has been accused by Amnesty of being an apartheid state. Not China with its oppressed Uyghurs; not Iran with its beleaguered Christians and Sunnis (and Jews!); not Saudi Arabia (with its marginalized Shi’ites) and certainly not the Palestinian regimes in Ramallah and Gaza, which are pledged to eradicate all Jews and have decimated their Christian populations.

Only by inventing a bizarre new definition of apartheid could anyone conclude that Israel in any way deserves Amnesty International’s accusation

Strolling the streets of Tel Aviv, visiting Israeli college campuses, seeking care at Hadassah Hospital, dining out at Israel’s superb restaurants, or watching the spirited assertiveness of Arab Knesset members—all of these routine aspects of daily Israeli life underline the absurdity of Amnesty’s report about Israel’s reality for Arab and Jew alike.

The State of Israel—like all democratic societies—can improve in myriad ways. Israel, through its participatory structures and guaranteed freedoms, continues to make progress in eliminating injustice and inequality in all areas and for all groups in its society.

The extent to which the Palestinian Authority’s and Hamas’s Arab residents outside Israel have constraints placed on them, it is because so many Arab terrorists have murdered Israelis and have wrought havoc for decades—under incitement by their own leadership. Any nation—even Israel—has as its first duty the protection of its citizens.

Finally, it is worth noting that the vast majority of Israel’s Arab citizens declare in polls that there is nowhere in the Middle East that they would rather live than Israel.

Ken Cohen is co-editor of the Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which offers educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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