Amnesty report labelling Israel ‘apartheid’ is condemned by Jewish groups

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Amnesty report labelling Israel ‘apartheid’ is condemned by Jewish groups

Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council issue joint statement describing the charity's expected report's 'preposterous slur'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Two models stand on a "barbed-wire beach" outside the offices of TripAdvisor in Soho Square, as part of an Amnesty International campaign calling on the firm and other travel companies to stop listing rooms and activities in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories.  Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Two models stand on a "barbed-wire beach" outside the offices of TripAdvisor in Soho Square, as part of an Amnesty International campaign calling on the firm and other travel companies to stop listing rooms and activities in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories. Photo credit: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council have launched an angry attack on Amnesty International UK ahead of the publication of a report expected to label Israel an “apartheid” state.

A joint statement issued by Board President Marie van der Zyl and new Jewish Leadership Council chair Keith Black on Monday  described the charity’s expected claim as a “preposterous slur.”

Reports in the UK and in Israel have widely predicted that the latest Amnesty report would compare Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza with those of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime

The Israeli government has gone on the offensive ahead of the reports publication.

Keith Black and Marie van der Zyl

One senior Israeli source told Jewish News they believed the “smear” represented an attempt to “delegitimise” the Jewish state

The source said the apartheid label was confirmation that Amnesty viewed Israel as “a racist state and therefore not a legitimate state.”

A joint statement from the Board President and JLC chair added: “We have seen a copy of a report due to be released by Amnesty International UK (AI UK) tomorrow. We are shocked but not surprised by the content given the history of AI UK’s one-sided positioning on Israel.

“The report is completely biased and applies standards to Israel that are not applied to any other country. The emotive term “apartheid” against Israel is a preposterous slur. Israel is a vibrant democracy and a state for all its citizens, as exemplified by its diverse government and robust civil society.

“Despite AI UK’s claim to recognise the Jewish claim to self-determination, the report makes clear both through its lamenting of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and through its policy recommendations, that it does not support that right. The State of Israel was established with broad international support and survived early attempts at destruction. There are still many who insist on punishing Israel for its very survival. Jewish communities across the world see too clearly through these attempts and reject them.

“Regrettably, inequality and discrimination exist in all democracies, and that includes in Israel. We support all sincere efforts to address such disparities. Amnesty’s heavily biased report fails to offer anything worthwhile to that cause. The lack of democracy in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as the conflict between the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the terrorist Hamas control in Gaza is a fundamental and not a peripheral cause of tension. This issue is not once referenced in the report. The situation for the Palestinian people is indeed distressing; this will not be alleviated by destroying Israel. The signing of the Abraham Accords shows that this is now being recognised and accepted in the wider region. The quicker serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are resumed, the sooner a lasting peace can be achieved.

“If Amnesty UK were serious about improving standards, it would find ways to strengthen existing efforts on the ground. Instead, it chooses to focus on demonising the one Jewish state, holding it to clear double standards. This is a bad faith report hostile to the very concept of Israel, and we reject its very premise.”

In a statement Amnesty stood by its report and said it was a critique of “the Israeli government, not the Israeli or Jewish people.”

Lior Haiat, a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry, branded the report a “collection of lies” which sought to “deny the right of existence of the state of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

“This is a double standard, demonising Israel in order to delegitimise the existence of the state of Israel. Those are the components of modern anti-semitism,” he said. “We have no other choice but to say that this whole report is antisemitic.”

An Amnesty International UK spokesman said: “Amnesty’s report is part of our commitment to exposing and ending human rights violations wherever they occur. No government is above criticism, and that includes the Israeli government.

“Our research shows that Israeli authorities are enforcing a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian refugees. The report documents how Israel treats Palestinians as an inferior racial group, segregating and oppressing them wherever it has control over their rights.”

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