With international sports and war games making headlines, eyes around world may be more prone to pay attention to the global stage in the next couple weeks. So upon which country did a progressive human rights group choose to unleash fire? Israel.
Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, the United Nations Human Rights Council never seems satisfied with the number of resolutions it aims at Israel, and activists on the far Left are so vehement that their leaders can find themselves at risk of expulsion just for dialoguing with Israeli leaders. So Amnesty International’s latest broadside could be dismissed by some as just one more offense.
But this one is striking all the same.
Amnesty International’s attack comes by way of a controversial new report titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity.” Notice the word “apartheid.” It conjures up memories of a dark time in South Africa’s history — a period of institutionalized racial discrimination.
Amnesty believes its 278-page report reveals “Israel enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people,” and suggests that system fits the definition of apartheid as a crime against humanity. The group wants the International Criminal Court and nation-states to pursue these charges.
Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said, “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights. We found that Israel’s cruel policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion across all territories under its control clearly amount to apartheid.”
“The international community has an obligation to act,” she added.
The apartheid accusation is alarming on its face. But even more concerning is the context offered by Amnesty. The group states it does not challenge Jews’ right to a homeland, but it couches its criticism all the way back to 1948 — the year of modern day Israel’s independence.
In a scathing editorial, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board decried this brazen attack, stating, “The report treats Israel’s founding as the original sin from which all other offenses flow…. Amnesty’s message is that Israel was created as an apartheid state and continues as such today.”
While certain progressive voices clearly sympathize with Amnesty’s outrageous statements, thankfully a number of notable leaders across the political spectrum are speaking up against them.
For example, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) noted that the report neglects the importance of Israel’s democratic government with a governing coalition that includes Jews and Arabs — not to mention Israel’s vibrant judiciary. He also pointed out that the report’s authors “consciously dismiss the struggles that Israel has faced against terrorism and attacks by neighboring countries seeking its destruction and genocide against its people.”
Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a tweet that Amnesty’s claim “only seeks to delegitimize our strongest democratic ally in the Middle East.” He suggested more attention go to the human rights abuses of terrorist groups in the region like Hamas.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides simply said, “Come on, this is absurd. That is not language that we have used and will not use.”
These denunciations of the Amnesty report are important. But they need to be re-affirmed continuously and at the highest levels of the Biden Administration and Congressional leadership. Global leaders need to hear this refrain from our leaders in public and private settings both here in the U.S. and abroad. The world needs to know that America’s support for Israel is strong and steadfast.
Aaron Mercer is a Contributing Writer with two decades of experience in Washington, D.C.’s public policy arena.