A 211-page report issued by Amnesty International in the United Kingdom is pouring a deeper foundation on top of an already dangerous and insidious path to delegitimize Israel. The report charges Israel “with oppression and domination of Palestinians, through cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion,” in what it further describes as crimes against humanity.
Disturbingly, this report joins a malicious piling on against the world’s only Jewish state.
Last April, the organization Human Rights Watch issued a 213-page report charging Israel with inflicting on the Palestinians “deprivations so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
The apartheid charge has been a staple of the BDS movement for years. Human Rights Watch has long been at the forefront of those seeking to undermine Israel’s legitimacy, aided by its cachet among those who are like-minded or who look past its selective use of the term “human rights.”
Then, in May of last year, the U.N. Human Rights Council—long a hotbed of bias against Israel—established a Commission of Inquiry (COI) “to investigate violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in East Jerusalem and in Israel.” For decades, the annually funded, so-called “Palestinian committees” in the United Nations, and the dozens of anti-Israel resolutions adopted each year in the General Assembly and in its various agencies, focused largely on the West Bank and Gaza.
What separates this COI from all that preceded it inside the world body is its investigation into practices in Israel proper—and its open-ended mandate. In other words, a permanent star chamber has been set in place to flog Israel at will now and on into the future. Indeed, the three members of the commission—led by its chair, Navi Pillay, a former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights—are known for their incessant, blind bias against the Jewish state. Based on the pronouncements and writing of its members, the fix is in: Don’t expect the COI, which is expected to issue its first report in June, to deliver anything other than a lengthy, one-sided rant, which will only further demonize and incite against Israel.
Amnesty UK also includes Israel proper in its report and says that an Israeli system of “legal segregation” treats Palestinians as an “inferior racial group.” The report also freely uses the “apartheid” charge against Israel.
The group’s secretary general, Agnès Callamard, calls Israeli policies “prolonged oppression of millions of people.” For decades now, Amnesty International, running on the same fuel as Human Rights Watch, has had a Jewish problem. The two organizations are two sides of the same coin with frequent, obsessive criticism of Israel becoming a staple of press releases and annual reports.
The Amnesty UK report, though, telegraphs its objectives in several places. It calls for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, a transparent, demographic prescription for the demise of Israel as a Jewish state. It charges Israel with pursuing, since 1948, “a policy of establishing and then maintaining control over land and resources to benefit Jewish Israelis.” It further charges Israel with “Judaizing” not only areas of the West Bank but in Israel itself. And it calls on the U.N. Security Council “to impose a comprehensive arms embargo on Israel,” covering “all weapons and munitions as well as law-enforcement equipment.” Additionally, it recommends that the Security Council impose “targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israel officials … .”
The report also calls on the International Criminal Court, which already has charges of crimes against humanity against Israel on its docket, to consider “the crime of apartheid in its current investigation into the occupied Palestinian territories” and even calls for the application of the concept of universal jurisdiction to bring those “perpetrators (Israelis) of apartheid crimes to justice.”
The upshot of the report? A call for a “major reassessment” of the UK’s policy position on Israel. The government of Boris Johnson has generally enjoyed good bilateral relations with Israel. Amnesty calls for a change in that relationship in order “to confront and begin to tackle the scale and systematic nature of Israel’s apartheid crimes.”
Tucked somewhere deep in the report is a bogus throw-away line about Amnesty recognizing Israel’s “desire to be a home for Jews,” suggesting that Israel has no right to an independent existence. Someone in the organization’s office in London must have cynically suggested, after placing Israel on the rack, tossing in a few words to cover charges of not being “even-handed.”
One will never see in these lengthy screeds anything at all about Israel being the only democracy in the Middle East. About its widely respected independent judiciary, about the fact that Israeli Arabs now sit in the current government coalition—that an Israeli Arab sits on Israel’s Supreme Court, that thousands of Israeli Arab students attend Israeli universities or that Arabic is an official language of Israel. The sponsors and writers of these reports—or should we say indictments—have no interest whatsoever in seeing beyond their interest in soiling Israel in the court of public opinion.
The similarity of language in the Human Rights Watch and Amnesty UK reports, and the stated goals of the COI are not coincidental. It’s the vernacular of the BDS campaign, of the strident accusers of Israel within the United Nations and its agencies, of the Palestinian leadership itself, of some leading media outlets, and now, disturbingly, by some members of the U.S. Congress and other global parliamentary bodies.
The length of this report is matched only by the vehemence of its hatred towards Israel, and by extension, those who support it. It will resonate among those who share its warped view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, who disregard the series of wars since 1948 to destroy Israel, the Palestinian terrorists whose families are rewarded with lifelong stipends, the showers of Hamas rockets from Gaza on Israeli cities and the nihilistic zero-sum policies of the Palestinian Authority.
Amnesty UK’s report is nothing more than another bald-faced attempt to exile, demean, marginalize, and, yes, ultimately eliminate the world’s only sovereign Jewish state. It is addressed to the government of the United Kingdom, but it is clearly meant for international consumption. It deserves to be thoroughly discredited as the work of utterly prejudiced operatives. No person who seriously cares about seeing the Middle East at peace ought to read beyond page one.
Daniel S. Mariaschin is the CEO of B’nai B’rith International. As the organization’s top executive officer, Mariaschin directs and supervises B’nai B’rith programs, activities and staff around the world.