(February 1, 2022, Los Angeles, JNS Wire)
Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said, “with this report, Amnesty International has lowered its mask, no longer putting up any pretense of being unbiased. Rather, Amnesty has joined anti-Israel extremists in their campaign to eliminate Israel and violate the rights of Jewish people to self-determination in any part of their ancestral homeland. As Israel, led by a diverse governing coalition that includes an Arab Muslim party, invests billions in the security and prosperity of its Arab citizens, Amnesty has chosen to invest in promoting more misinformation, division, and hate.”
Despite enjoying international legitimacy as a human rights group, AI’s anti-Israel bias is longstanding and deep-rooted. For example, the organization hosted a talk about Israel by journalist Abdel Bari Atwan, who has said he will, “dance with delight if the Iranian missiles strike Israel.” A researcher employed by AI to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict smeared Israel as, “a state founded on terrorism”. AI frequently bases its reports on anecdotes from civilians in conflict zones like Gaza, even though one of its top field investigators who has worked there admitted that such testimonies are frequently inaccurate. Moreover, AI demands that millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants be allowed to move to Israel, rather than to a future Palestinian state. In the words of President Obama, such a, “right of return… would extinguish Israel as a Jewish state, and that’s not an option.”
AI’s latest report does not include a single word condemning the Iran-backed Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or any terrorist organization responsible for war crimes against Israelis and Palestinians alike. Nor does it mention the Palestinian Authority’s institutional promotion of hatred and violence or financial rewards for attacks against Israelis. It fails to acknowledge that since the beginning of the conflict in the 1920s, Palestinian leaders have opposed and tried to strip away Jewish rights to self-determination, rejecting every peace proposal that would allow for the existence of a Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people. Erasing this context is the only way AI is able to justify its slanderous claims about Israel.
In reality, Israel is a democratic country in which all citizens are equal under the law. Arab citizens of the state have full civil and political rights and serve as ministers in the government, Supreme Court justices, diplomats, military commanders, and much more. Israel’s national budget, approved in 2021, includes $11 billion specifically dedicated to the economic and social development of the country’s Arab communities. This is an investment in education, transportation, infrastructure, connectivity, health, social welfare, senior citizens, family farms and youth for Israel’s Arab citizens. While discrimination exists in Israel like in all democratic states, there are countless Israelis inside and outside the government who work every day to build a more just society for citizens of all backgrounds.
In regards to the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians in these territories are not citizens of Israel. They have their own national movement and most do not want to be part of the Jewish state. Nearly all live under Palestinian jurisdiction, whether in Hamas-ruled Gaza or Palestinian Authority-ruled parts of the West Bank (a very small minority of Palestinians live in West Bank territory under Israel’s control). This is based on treaties signed by both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, calling for the two parties to decide the final status of the territories through direct negotiations. Unfortunately, Palestinian leaders rejected peace proposals and frameworks in 2000, 2008, and 2014, and have responded to international pressure against Israel by reaffirming their refusal to recognize its existence as a Jewish state.
While none of this negates the hardships Palestinians face, it is crucial context that must be recognized by anyone hoping to be part of the solution. Unfortunately, Amnesty International has once again cemented its role as part of the problem, fueling more hatred, division, and conflict rather than promoting justice and peace between Israelis and Palestinians.