OpinionAntisemitism

Amnesty crossed the line between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism

As a democracy that respects freedom of expression, Israel accepts social and political dissent. But how tolerant can it be?

A sign displaying the logo of Amnesty International. Credit: Paintings/Shutterstock.
A sign displaying the logo of Amnesty International. Credit: Paintings/Shutterstock.
Raheli Baratz-Rix. Credit: Courtesy.
Raheli Baratz-Rix

Following the publication of the recent Amnesty International report, we see once again how legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and its government can easily cross the line into anti-Semitism.

As a democracy that respects freedom of expression, Israel has a lot of internal social and political dissent. But how tolerant can it be, especially, when this “criticism” is weaponized against Jews around the world who suffer daily from anti-Semitic attacks.

A thin line separates legitimate critique from an onslaught of anti-Semitic rhetoric, which is often, but not always, masked as anti-Zionism. Amnesty International UK erased this, as well as several other lines, when it issued a one-sided 280-page rant against the entirety of the Jewish state.

Objecting to Israeli policy in Gaza and the disputed West Bank does not necessarily constitute anti-Semitism, but denying Israel’s right to exist and defend its citizens is. Nor is proclaiming support for an independent Palestinian state anti-Semitism, but supporting those who call for the destruction of Israel and the death of Jews, which the Hamas covenant does, is.

By singling out the only Jewish state as an “apartheid state,” Amnesty not only misses an opportunity to create a constructive discussion and positive change on the ground but is also fueling the flames of anti-Semitism.

Amnesty calls Israel an “apartheid state,” despite its having an Islamic Arab party as part of its governing coalition and in spite of Arabs not only making up more than 20 percent of the country’s population; however, unlike the actual apartheid regime that used to rule in South Africa, they enjoy full rights as citizens.

By delegitimizing, demonizing and applying a double standard to Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East, Amnesty violates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Amnesty insists that it is not anti-Semitic on the grounds that it is against all forms of racism. This is precisely its inherent contradiction. If it is against racism, then it needs to apply the same standards to Israel as to all other countries.

The persistence of “human rights” NGOs to demonize the State of Israel, spin lies about its conduct and undermine its sovereignty is not a new form of anti-Semitism; it’s a renewable one. Israel is perpetually seen as the “Jew among the nations,” and this is what it looks like. It is time to put an end to this so that history does not repeat itself.

Raheli Baratz-Rix is head of the department for combating anti-Semitism and enhancing resilience at the World Zionist Organization.

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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