OpinionU.S.-Israel Relations

Why the AIPAC-haters are hypocrites

About 100 American Jews have signed a letter that says the United States should not support Israel because it violates human rights. Really?

A Palestinian boy holds up a poster of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Tubas. Sept. 27, 2020. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
A Palestinian boy holds up a poster of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank town of Tubas. Sept. 27, 2020. Photo by Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90.
Moshe Phillips
Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs whose writings appear regularly in the American and Israeli press.  

A hundred or so American Jews have signed what amounts to a declaration of war against AIPAC. The extremist organization behind the petition is the Progressive Democrats of America, and the media outlet linked to it is the far-left magazine The Nation, which published the first story about the petition on March 20 and has one of its editors as an initial signatory.

The signatories on the anti-AIPAC proclamation include an assortment of political activists, lawyers, actors and academics. Some openly identify as anti-Zionists. Some don’t. But they have one thing in common: All of them are hypocrites.

I am not using the term “hypocrites” in a pejorative sense. I don’t know these people personally, and I abhor name-calling. I am judging them according to how Merriam-Webster defines a hypocrite: “A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.”

The signatories’ stated belief, in their anti-AIPAC letter, is that the United States should not support Israel because, they claim, Israel violates human rights.

“In contrast to AIPAC,” the signatories write, “we are American Jews who believe that U.S. support for foreign governments should only be extended to those that respect the full human and civil rights, and right to self-determination, of all people.”

But we know that they do not really subscribe to that principle because their open letter does not contain a single word about the most egregious violator of human and civil rights in that part of the world: the Palestinian Authority.

If the signatories were genuinely opposed to human-rights violations, then their open letter would have to protest the P.A.’s actions.

Or they would issue a separate open letter about the P.A. Or their names would appear on other petitions or articles or declarations calling for an end to American support for the P.A. But they haven’t. And that’s hypocrisy.

The human-rights violations by the P.A. are no secret. In fact, they have been thoroughly documented by agencies that are far from sympathetic to Israel.

Human Rights Watch, for example. It just issued its “World Report 2024,” surveying last year’s human-rights violations around the world.

Here’s what it says about the P.A., based in Ramallah:

• “The P.A. continued its systematic practice of arbitrarily detaining opponents and critics, including students. Lawyers for Justice, a group that represents Palestinians detained by the P.A., documented 726 Palestinians they determined were detained arbitrarily … ”

• Between January and August 2023, there were “162 complaints of arbitrary arrests [by the P.A.], 86 complaints of torture and ill-treatment, and 13 complaints of detention without trial”—and that’s just from the few brave Palestinian Arabs willing to risk retaliation by the regime.

• The P.A.’s laws “discriminate against women, including in relation to marriage, divorce, custody of children, and inheritance. Palestine has no comprehensive domestic violence law. The P.A. has long been considering a draft family protection law, but women’s rights groups have raised concerns that it does not go far enough to prevent abuse and protect survivors.”

If that’s not enough, consider what the U.S. State Department has to say on the subject. Here are a few excerpts from the State Department’s own most recent findings about the P.A. and human rights:

• “There have been no elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Palestinian Authority offices since 2006. … President Mahmoud Abbas has remained in office despite the expiration of his four-year term in 2009.”

• “The Palestinian Legislative Council has not functioned since 2007, and in 2018 the Palestinian Authority dissolved the Constitutional Court.”

• There were “credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings by Palestinian Authority officials; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishments by Palestinian Authority officials; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners and detainees … ”

• There were “significant problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, unjustified detentions and prosecutions of journalists, and censorship; serious restrictions on internet freedom … ”

• The P.A. also engaged in “substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including harassment of nongovernmental organizations; serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation (…); lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence; crimes, violence, and threats of violence motivated by antisemitism; crimes involving violence and threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex persons; and reports of the worst forms of child labor.”

Think about the last one for a moment: “the worst forms of child labor.” It’s outrageous that the State Department devoted just half a sentence to such a crime. But the silence of those who claim to care about children’s rights is just as outrageous.

Remember all those boycotts of Nike because its sneakers were being made by child laborers in Asian sweatshops? Why is there no similar outcry about the P.A.’s use of child labor? And why are these 100 self-righteous AIPAC-bashers, who claim to care so much about “human and civil rights,” utterly silent when it comes to the human and civil rights of Palestinian Arab children the P.A. exploits for forced labor?

So count me skeptical when the AIPAC-haters claim to be motivated by concern for human and civil rights. It’s painfully clear that they only express concerns about human rights in the Middle East when they can use it to bash Israel’s supporters.

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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