Amnesty International is an organization that purports to be politically unaffiliated and interested only in human rights. Both of those claims are refuted by its latest report.
On February 1, Amnesty International announced a new report which labels Israel an apartheid nation.
The press release accompanying the report says:
The Israeli government is committing the crime against humanity of apartheid against Palestinians and must be held accountable.… The research details how the Israeli government enforces a system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people wherever it has control over their rights. Crucially, this report finds that an apartheid system extends not only to Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), but also throughout Israel and to displaced refugees in other countries.
The report is entirely false, relying on Palestinian propaganda and ignoring both the realities of what apartheid was in South Africa and what Palestinian and Arab rights are in Israel today.
Under South African law, from 1948 until 1989, blacks had no right to vote. Apartheid mandated that black people would be forcibly segregated from whites, interracial marriage was prohibited, the education of blacks was limited, seventy percent of land was reserved for white use, and whites were economically privileged in eligibility for hiring and jobs.
The Amnesty International calumny that Israel is an apartheid state is counter-factual and anti-historical.
South African Judge Richard Goldstone had served under his nation’s apartheid regime. He — no friend of Israel — was chosen by the U.N. Human Rights Commission to lead an investigation of alleged Israeli and Palestinian war crimes in the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict with the Hamas terrorist group.
Goldstone determined that Israel investigated allegations against its troops (which crimes he did not find had occurred). Hamas — which he found had committed a number of war crimes — did nothing to investigate or punish the perpetrators.
In October 2011, Goldstone wrote an op-ed published by the New York Times. In it, he said:
In Israel, there is no apartheid. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid in the 1998 Rome Statute: “Inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” Israeli Arabs — 20 percent of Israel’s population — vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset [Israel’s parliament] and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.
Regarding the situation in the West Bank, Goldstone concluded, “But here too there is no intent to maintain an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group. This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there.”
Goldstone defended Israel’s counter-terrorism measures, saying, “As long as Israel’s citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed.”
That was more than ten years ago. What has changed since then?
The Arrow and David’s Sling anti-missile systems are new. Israel is often under rocket attack from the Gaza Strip or Syria. Arrow and David’s Sling protect all of Israel. That means a rocket aimed at an Arab neighborhood will be shot down just as quickly as if it were aimed at a Jewish neighborhood.
Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens are not allowed to vote in Israeli elections because they have a separate government, the Palestinian Authority. Its president, Mahmoud Abbas, was elected to a four-year term in 2005, extended his own term until 2009 when he was declared by the Palestinian Liberation Organization to hold the office indefinitely.
The Palestinian Authority is intimately linked with Hamas, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom. Abbas’s government pays a stipend to the families of terrorists killed in attacks on Jewish Israelis. It is comprehensively corrupt.
Meanwhile Arab citizens of Israel have gained considerable political power. The leader of the political party of the Islamic Movement (the Ra’am Party), Mansour Abbas (no reported relation to Mahmoud), has become a kingmaker in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He has achieved power by joining the Ra’am Party in the coalition government of Naftali Bennett that now governs Israel.
Mansour Abbas — reacting to the Amnesty International libel — said he would not call the Israeli system “apartheid” and that such accusations do not help resolve the issues that exist between Israelis and Palestinians.
There are many other proofs that there is no apartheid system in Israel. While most of Israel is state-owned land, Arab citizens have access to it. The land that is not state-owned can be purchased freely by anyone — Jew, Muslim, or foreigner. On the other side of the coin, Palestinian/Arab citizens and non-citizens of Israel are prohibited under an obscure 1960 Arab law from selling any land to Jews, punishable by death or prison sentence. In 2018, Issam Akel, a Palestinian-American citizen, was sentenced to life in prison at hard labor for this “crime.”
There is no prohibition of inter-religious marriages. Arab citizens of Israel are able to attend grammar schools, high schools, and universities. Arab students, as of 2018, were about 16 percent of Israeli undergraduate students and about 13 percent of graduate students. That number has probably increased since then.
Perhaps the biggest event since Goldstone’s 2011 op-ed is the Abraham Accords engineered by former President Trump. They were signed by several Arab governments — Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Morocco — as well as Israel and the United States. Under the Accords, the Arab governments promised peace with Israel despite vehement objections by the Palestinian Authority.
The primary effect was the isolation of the PA and the proof of its irrelevance to any peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The PA is the perpetually aggrieved. It cannot make peace with Israel because such a peace would be an agreement that Israel’s existence is legitimate. The only reasons the PA exists is to deny that fact and to perpetuate conflict.
The Amnesty International calumny that Israel is an apartheid state is counter-factual and anti-historical. It deserves to be ignored. So does the organization that published it.
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