The NGO Amnesty International just made the news again with a 276-page report entitled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and crime against humanity.” To most people, the title will say it all and they will not bother reading the over-200 -page report. Amnesty International still relies on a name and reputation that was originally established with ethical intentions to fight crimes against humanity, but where does Amnesty International stand today?
Amnesty International was started in the United Kingdom in 1961 by Lawyer Peter Beneson. His intentions were very honorable as he was quoted saying, “Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done.”
Fast forward to 2022, and Amnesty International publishes a vitriolic report against Israel’s right to exist. They boldly declare, “Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control; dispossession of land and property; and denial of economic and social rights. It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid. Israel must dismantle this cruel system and the international community must pressure it to do so. All those with jurisdiction over the crimes committed to maintain the system should investigate them.”
This statement of just a few lines is laced with lies and false assumptions that can easily be debunked if one takes the time to do proper research such as the work of the Jewish Virtual Library. In fact, the entire document prepared by Amnesty International is built upon years of propaganda and the false narrative about the Palestinian people living in the Land of Israel centuries before the Jews. It is critical to understand that since the Bar Kochba Jewish revolt against the Romans under Emperor Hadrian, the land of Canaan, also known as Israel, Judea and Samaria was renamed. The whole land was renamed Palaestina and Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina. The name change was done by the Romans to further humiliate the Jews in their defeat against Hadrian. The name was simply meant to be a geographical name change, never based on history or archeology. Back then, none of that even crossed the minds of the Romans. They just wanted to ridicule the Jews in calling our land and capital by a non-Jewish name.
Not long after the birth of the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the name started to take on more of a geopolitical meaning. Up to that time, there were Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Now, the Arabs had become Palestinians and the Jews were Israeli Jews. The chasm was created and continued to widen for several decades. Today, it is accepted as a fact that Jews are occupying Palestinian land and the accusation of apartheid keeps coming from various foes like the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), some people in Hollywood, academia, government and even some church denominations.
If one is seeking the truth in that matter, it doesn’t take long to realize that pre-1948, Palestine only had a geographical meaning. A great way to prove that is by looking at a “Palestinian coin” prior to 1948. The coin will have the word “Palestine” in Arabic, English and Hebrew and next to the Hebrew version of the word, there are two letters in parentheses (Aleph-Yod). These two letters stand for the initials of Eretz Yisrael, meaning “the Land of Israel.” Every pre-1948 Palestinian coin had words added to remind people that Palestine was really the land of Israel, and nobody complained or even cared.
Amnesty International compiled this 276-page report to prove that Israel is oppressing the rightful owners of the land. They boldly claim that “Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession. In 1967, Israel extended this policy beyond the Green Line to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it has occupied ever since. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded.”
It looks like Amnesty International chooses to ignore some very important events in history that have helped validate Israel’s right to the Land. Going back to 1917, we cannot ignore the Balfour Declaration that was the modern catalyst for the 1948 rebirth of Israel. The Balfour Declaration, penned in November 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, was a simple policy statement drafted to facilitate the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in what was then known as Palestine. It was official and carried some political weight, but it was not until three years later that things really gelled for the Jewish people, at the San Remo Conference in Italy. At that time, it became a “binding act of international law” and was incorporated in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. The minutes of the “San Remo Palestine Meeting of the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers” shed much light on the legal aspect of Palestine becoming the homeland for Jews. Additionally, more can be learned about that part of history in Randall Price’s (Editor) recent book “What Should We Think About Israel?” This is all part of history and I cannot help but wonder if Amnesty International is ignoring it?
Accusing Israel of Apartheid shows that Amnesty International doesn’t really understand the meaning of the word and it is also a slap in the face of the myriad of South African people who suffered from apartheid for decades. The dictionary definition of apartheid is, “a former policy of segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against the nonwhite majority in the Republic of South Africa.” While Israel is far from being perfect, this is not what Israel is all about. While almost no Jews live in the Arab world today, 21% of people in Israel’s 9.5MM people are Arabs, which is much more than in 1948. This is not apartheid and it is the opposite of ethnic cleansing.
Amnesty International’s report was quickly rejected by serious scholars, honest students of history and many Jewish organizations; but the intention was to make noise on the international scene, and that, they did! Calling for the dismantling of Israel is an all-out war against the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog clearly stated the truth, “This report, which frames Israel as an apartheid state, doesn’t belong in the category of criticism designed to promote human rights, but rather in the category of ideological delegitimization of the very right of Israel to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people.”
Under the self-righteous cloak of criticism of Israel and the protection of human rights for Palestinians, Amnesty International continues to spew its antisemitic venom on the international scene, painting Israel as the unlawful occupier of Palestinian land and emboldening antisemites the world over. This report hit the scene just as antisemitism is at its highest in the past decade. The timing almost seems to be planned. I beg all truth-seekers to study the annals of history to not only learn about the events of the past but to also learn how to debunk the Amnesty International report and come to appreciate Israel even more! And again, while not perfect, Israel incorporates Arabs in every aspect of Israeli life from police, fire, doctors to the judicial system and Parliament. This is hardly “apartheid”! This, in the Middle East, has sadly always been and apparently will remain, a one-way street.