Amnesty International report accusing Israel of apartheid will cause attacks on Jews around the world – ADL claims

The EU refuses to recognize the reality of Israel’s regime of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians (Ammar Awad - Reuters)

James North & Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  January 31, 2022

News that Amnesty International will issue a report declaring Israel an apartheid state has caused outrage among Israel lobbyists, who see it as part of the tsunami of de-legitimization that Israel’s own leaders said it would face by refusing to grant Palestinians rights.

The news is that Amnesty International is poised to issue a report tomorrow describing Israel as an apartheid state, thereby joining a list of other human rights organizations that reached the same conclusion in the last year, notably Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem — following Palestinian groups that documented the crime years ago.

Pro-Israel groups such as NGO Monitor have been circulating the news to try to preempt Amnesty International and control the damage. “[P]ro-apartheid propagandists are again in hysterics that another internationally renowned human rights org — @amnesty — agrees with @hrw@btselem@alhaq_org@AlMezanCenter & more that the reality on the ground in Israel-Palestine amounts to apartheid,” Simone Zimmerman of IfNotNow writes this morning.

The Israel lobby is enraged because it understands the report, as we do, to be part of the tsunami of de-legitimization that Israel’s own leaders have long warned it would face by refusing to grant Palestinians rights.

Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL writes that Amnesty International will be responsible for attacks on Jews around the world.

As we saw last May, unhinged rhetoric leads to unhinged actions; @amnesty must accept responsibility for the damage this will do to Jews around the world.

What Greenblatt actually means by “last May” is the global demonstrations against the Israeli assault on Gaza. He has nothing critical to say about that onslaught.

His organization has issued an angry statement with the same theme: accusing Israel of apartheid will foster antisemitism, and endanger Jews.

We have reviewed Amnesty International UK’s upcoming report on Israel and strongly condemn it as an effort to demonize Israel and undermine its legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic state. In an environment of rising anti-Jewish hate, this type of report is not only inaccurate but also irresponsible and likely will lead to intensified antisemitism around the world . . .

These are not simply abstract words but the kind of spurious charges that, time and again, have placed Jews in danger around the world.

How does the report endanger Jews? Because by accusing Israel of hateful crimes, the ADL says, Amnesty International “casts aspersions” on the “vast majority” of Jews who support Israel. So Judaism does in fact equal Zionism (as other advocates have also argued).

By using extreme language to attack Israel – including calling it an apartheid state, accusing it of ethnic cleansing and of committing war crimes – it feeds into an environment that emboldens those who seek to dismantle Israel, and casts aspersions on those who support a Jewish and democratic state, including the vast majority of Jews around the world, and creates fertile ground for a hostile and at times antisemitic discourse.  In an age of expanding antisemitism, this cost simply cannot be ignored.

The ADL is particularly angered that the report calls for the right of return of refugees — its anger based not on the actual rights of Palestinian people who were forced off their land, but because the organization believes in the necessity of a “Jewish state.”

Finally, we reject altogether the report’s call for a right of return of all Palestinian refugees, which would mean, in effect, the end of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

Greenblatt also implicitly attacks refugee rights in his pro-Zionist tweet.

This report goes beyond criticizing Israeli policies to painting its creation as a Jewish state as illegitimate & immoral.

David Harris of the American Jewish Committee has reacted to the report with a five-minute speech that includes a bald-faced lie — that desperate Jews “found” in Israel/Palestine a Jewish majority country.

Jews who were unable to live as free people whether in North Africa, whether under Communist systems, or of course during the Nazi era found one place where Jews were a majority and had the right to govern themselves.

That Jewish majority was created by the expulsion/flight of more than 700,000 Palestinians. So Harris’s statement is a form of Nakba denial — before the Nakba, Palestinians were a majority in the lands that became Israel, and an overwhelming majority in the entire land.

Like the ADL, Harris cannot bring himself to mention either Israel’s occupation of the West Bank/Jerusalem or Gaza, or the Nation State law of 2018 — which is what impelled Human Rights Watch to begin its apartheid investigation leading to its own declaration last year.

Harris emphasizes the rights that what he calls “Israeli Arabs” enjoy within pre-1967 Israel. He even has the temerity to point out that the present Israeli government depends on the political support of an “Arab” party, without explaining that this never happened before in Israeli history, and that the majority of Arab legislators would not be part of this government.

In the video, Harris looks as uncomfortable as a hostage, as if he is making statements under duress that he doesn’t fully believe. He says that South African apartheid was a “stain” on human history that is now fortunately in the past, but insists that

Israel has nothing to do with apartheid and apartheid has nothing to do with Israel. What happened in South Africa during the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, into the early 90s was a unique system that I hope we will never see again on the face of the earth. We will certainly never see it in Israel.

Harris fails to explain that the 2002 Rome Statute redefined “apartheid.” Apartheid does not have to match the specific South African example in every particular. No international jurist, beyond maybe a handful of pro-Israel apologists, will accept Harris’s interpretation.

Most of Harris’s commentary is about how offended he is by Amnesty’s apartheid finding without rebutting the facts. For instance, who really believes that Israel has sought peace since its “rebirth,” and that Palestinians have rejected one peace offer after another? This is pure mythology. (Jerome Slater’s magnificent Mythologies Without End demolishes these falsehoods.)

To equate [Israel’s] shortcomings with the system of apartheid in South Africa is nothing short of a canard, of a libel. Israel seeks peace. Israel has sought peace since its rebirth. It has been unable to achieve peace with its Palestinian neighbors sadly. They have rejected one peace offer after another. Hopefully one day they will embrace peace. ..

h/t Scott Roth, who addressed David Harris: “You people need new people. This is pathetic. I can do much better defending Israel and I wouldn’t believe a word of what I was saying.”

James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-2006