Yet another ‘apartheid’ report builds pressure on liberal Zionists to recognize ‘lived reality’ of Palestinians

Gaza City - Palestinians take part in a press conference on the occasion of the international day of racial discrimination (Ashraf Amra - APA Images)

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  March 25, 2022  

Yesterday news broke that yet another organization determined that Israel’s rule over Palestinians constitutes “apartheid,” this time a report from the Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council. The Israeli government now “fears an ‘unprecedented’ effort to push the apartheid label,” Haaretz says— a wave Israel’s foreign minister predicted a few months ago.

Much to Israel supporters’ chagrin, The New York Times actually published a fair account of this new report. So no, This is not just a bad dream, it’s happening in the real world. The fact that the New York Times covered the report caused the American Jewish Committee to respond with rage to the report, coming on the heels of Amnesty International’s apartheid finding in February:

AJC strongly rejects the biased findings of the UN Special Rapporteur’s libelous report on Israel. Israel is a pluralistic democracy that ensures equal rights to all of its citizens. Bolstering @Amnesty‘s baseless allegations does nothing to advance the cause of peace.

Amnesty International welcomes the new report today: “Palestinian human rights organizations have been calling the situation apartheid for years, and this report is a landmark moment of recognition of the lived reality of millions of Palestinians.” Human Rights Watch also welcomed the report— which follows its “apartheid” report of last year.

While the Council on American-Islamic Relations drew the natural conclusion– stop the Israel aid. “More and more human rights organizations and experts are documenting the fact that the Israeli government’s racist system of oppression against Palestinians meets the definition of apartheid,” CAIR official Edward Ahmed Mitchell said. “It is now time for our nation to recognize the obvious and stop funding human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.”   

The young Jewish group IfNotNow has also been publicizing the report and the word “apartheid.”

The @UNHumanRights report by @MichaelLynk5 notes the decades-long Israeli occupation is “indistinguishable from annexation … This is apartheid.”

As for the Israel lobby, the rightwing lobby is angry, but the liberal lobby seems to be hoping that this goes away.

AIPAC won’t even mention the word apartheid in an email about the Human Rights Council:

The U.N.’s relentless diplomatic assault against the Jewish state exposes their deep, anti-Israel bias and plays right into the hands of Israel’s enemies. Only the U.S.-Israel alliance stands in the way of the U.N.’s attacks…

The rightwing Israel lobby group Camera put up a commentary bashing the report as antisemitic for describing Israel’s seizing of Palestinian lands as “covetous.”

But the center/left branches of the Israel lobby haven’t had much to say about the new apartheid report. It feels as if they’re embarrassed by the fresh charge and are pulling the pillow over their heads; they’d rather talk about the death of former secretary of state Madeleine Albright at 84. Democratic Majority for Israel is “heartbroken” at Albright’s passing. The ADL is “heartbroken,” too. J Street also issued a statement on Albright’s death.

But J Street has not mentioned the apartheid report on its twitter feed or even in its daily news roundups. Like it never happened.

The report is bothersome to liberal Zionists because it fosters dissatisfaction in their progressive base — about why they’re not taking a stronger stance against human rights violations– beyond acknowledging their existence (as J Street often does). Just last week a California congressman whom J Street took out to Israel said there are “parallels” to apartheid. But J Street is very clear that it does not use the word apartheid.

Americans for Peace Now is more direct about the new report, maybe because it is not in the business of talking to Congress but more aimed at the grass roots. The report shows “very serious problems” that can’t be addressed with “cries of antisemitism,” APN says. (Much as J Street said when the Amnesty International report apartheid dropped.)Americans for Peace Now’s CEO Hadar Susskind elaborates:

Sure. Feel free to complain about the use of “apartheid” if you don’t like it. But what are you going to do about it? And by “it”, I mean the reality on the ground.

Bear in mind that Americans for Peace Now chair James Klutznick actually called that reality apartheid in 2020: “Whether or not anyone wants to say apartheid, I just said it. It’s been de facto apartheid for a long time and this could end up being official.”

So this report will create more pressure on liberal Zionists to acknowledge the reality in Israel and Palestine, instead of adhering to their vision, the “just and necessary” “democratic national homeland for the Jewish people.” A dream indeed.

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