An apartheid comparison may not necessarily be antisemitic per se as, for example, Nazi comparisons are… It is reasonable to expect Israel (or any democracy respectful of the rule of law) to provide objective and substantive justifications for the imposition of prolonged restrictions in areas under its overall control, and to expect criticism for a failure to do so.
Joshua Kern and Anne Herzberg, False Knowledge as Power.
Between legitimate concerns and demonizing accusations, however, lies many a dishonest exaggeration, many a perverse misrepresentation, and specious definition. At the core of Amnesty International’s latest report, stands a bold, formal accusation of racist Apartheid, a key element in the even more grave accusation against Israel for “crimes against humanity.” The report closes with an extensive call to mobilize human rights activists against Israel in international forums – especially the UN and the ICC.
But whereas south African racists, with a formal racist ideology, imposed their appalling apartheid laws on the races they had conquered as a permanent measure, Israelis have imposed a set of restrictions on a politico-cultural group that has shown relentless desire to exterminate her, a desire that dates back not to the imposition of the restraints, but to a triumphalist, imperial ethos that viewed any Jewish independence as an affront to its dominion.
All of this is systematically obscured in the report whose most glaring absence is the world of jihadi terror with which Israel must grapple on a permanent and daily basis. No mention of the genocidal teachings of Palestinian ideologues, secular and religious, the delirious hatred that holds so honored – certainly uncontested – a place in the public sphere of Arabs between the river and the sea under the rule of Palestinians (Gaza, Area A). And yet this political-cultural issue, far better than “race” identifies where and when Israel “denies human rights” to Arabs.
In areas where Israeli sovereignty is in full force, the results are anti-apartheid: Arabs have achieved remarkable integration including the highest ranks of the professions – academia, health care and law. Stating the obvious, Mansour Abbas, Arab Muslim member of the Israeli Knesset and part of the current Israeli government, rejected the apartheid charge. No black or even colored got near the South African legislature nor their supreme court. Recent polls indicate that, the vast majority of Israeli Arabs consider themselves either Israeli or Israeli Arabs. Only 7% consider themselves Palestinian; and yet the Amnesty Report exclusively refers to them as Palestinians. Thus do post-colonial privileged whites deny the subalterns their own voice.
Where a politico-cultural regime of leaders like the PLO and Hamas dominates the public sphere, on the other hand, Israel finds herself forced to curtail activity as a policy. Not for racial, or even religious reasons, but because those so constrained are self-declared, mortal enemies. Indeed, in the first years of the new century, before the building of the “Apartheid Wall,” these Palestinians waged a merciless war of suicide-terror on Israel that killed over a thousand mostly civilians (US equivalent, of 50,000 dead).
But rather than acknowledge this “background,” Amnesty’s report prefers to interpret every Israeli restriction and intervention as an intentional pattern of domination that Israel strives to impose on an innocent people deprived of their rights. It does not matter that Arabs in this region have, historically, never had these demanded rights, and that their predatory leaders have no intention of granting them once they succeed in depriving the Jews of theirs… that if the slogan “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” were ever realized, no one would be free except ruling elites. Nor does it matter that, when it comes to the treatment of religious and other minorities (and women), Muslim majority countries, including the “moderate” Palestinian Authority come much closer than anyone to real Apartheid, including legal apartheid, a fate they openly aspire to inflict on their neighbors, the Jews.
Whataboutism, claims AI. Hardly: this is the world in which Israel must navigate its survival.
The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.
Lazar Berman’s interview with Amnesty International’s regional research and advocacy director Philip Luther, is a lengthy exercise in blithe denial of a law whose workings he acknowledges but whose implications he ignores. Thus an organization with a well-documented and unhealthy obsession with Israel, dismisses any suggestion that they’ve got it in for Israel as “conspiracy theory.” The interview painfully illustrates the dictum, “when the conversation turns to race, the collective IQ drops at least ten points.” As Jean Amery wrote in 1973 already, “Anyone who questions Israel’s right to exist is either too stupid to understand that he is contributing to, or is intentionally promoting, an über-Auschwitz.”
Instead, the “human rights” activists at Amnesty and HRW weaponize a disgusting term like Apartheid, voiding it of its meaning even as they intensify its ability to provoke disgust, they incite hatred and encourage violence against Jews. And whose hatred do they incite? Their primary target is an audience of “social justice activists” whose indignation they wish to turn into a wave that will bring these charges to international bodies like the UN and the ICC. But they have a second, perhaps unintended but highly attentive audience among Triumphalist Muslims. Virtually every attack by Muslims on Jews (and many on other infidels) involves the imbibing Western accusations of Israel’s cruel treatment of Palestinians as a justification.
The Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was careful in its public statements on the subject of antisemitism. He did not explicitly accuse the report or AI of antisemitism, but rather of feeding the beast:
The report denies the State of Israel’s right to exist as the nation state of the Jewish people. Its extremist language and distortion of historical context were designed to demonize Israel and pour fuel onto the fire of antisemitism.
What the outside world heard: “Israel dismisses amnesty report as antisemitic.” For many this response offers proof of the “Livingstone formulation”: Jews use “antisemitism” to silence legitimate criticism of Israel.
What the accusers do not want, is that their audience see them spreading illegitimate anti-Jewish memes at a time when hostility to Jews is most decidedly on the rise even in Western countries formally wedded to Nie Weider. Like Freud, publishing Moses and Monotheism in German, in 1939, they throw fuel, refined fuel, on the flames of the often denied longest hatred. But don’t call them antisemitic. Freud wasn’t.
In order to frame the issue as Israeli apartheid and crimes against humanity, this report systematically projects malevolence – the racist desire to dominate – onto the Israelis, even as it conceals the patent malevolence of her enemies. As such, the report resembles the classic supersessionist projection of ill-will and dominion onto the Jews who allegedly take their “chosenness” as a warrant to dominate gentiles cruelly. This same hostile projection informed the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion; and like the denizens of the early 20th century, some in the early 21st century will take this report as a warrant for the destruction of the accused.
Indeed, an earlier draft of the report (sent to journalists to prepare for the official release) claimed that “This system of Apartheid originated with the creation of Israel in May 1948 and has been built and maintained for decades.” After much commotion (by the IHRA definition, this is antisemitism), the reference to 1948 was removed from the final English version. But the hasty and limited removal of this reference merely tried to conceal the driving force behind the report, the scaffolding upon which AI assembled it: Israel itself is a racist endeavor, an illegitimate nation. Israel delendus est. As such, like all supersessionists in pre-modern periods (Christians, Muslims), this allegedly civil-society discourse reveals itself incapable of tolerating the existence of an autonomous Jewish entity.
Is this antisemitism? You be the judge. Is it reasonable for Zionists to say that this report fans the flames of Jew-hatred? Yes. Does that mean that Jews are again suppressing legitimate criticism of Israel with the antisemitism charge? You be the judge. Does it mean that you owe it to yourself to read the devastating critiques of this malevolent report? Yes. Does it mean that if the charges against AI are accurate, this Report is a fire accelerant thrown into a combustive global community? You be the judge.
And if you so judge, then speak out. Words matter, especially when the words one opposes are weapons in a cruel war.
Joshua Kern and Anne Herzberg, “False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimise the Jewish State,” NGO Monitor, December, 2021.
Analyzing Amnesty’s Antisemitic Apartheid Attack, NGO Monitor, January, 2022
Eugene Kontorowich, “There’s Apartheid in the Holy Land, but Not in Israel,” Wall Street Journal, Feb. 8, 2022.
Lazar Berman, Amnesty to ToI: No double standard in accusing Israel, but not China, of apartheid, Times of Israel, 2 February 2022.
David Collier, Spotlight on Amnesty International: From Bias to Obsession, December 2019.
Dan Diker, “The Amnesty report on Israel affirms the PLO’s 60-year ‘apartheid’ strategy,” JNS, February 1, 2022.
Amnesty’s “Apartheid” Report: Recycled Tropes in the Guise of Research, NGO Monitor, February 06, 2022
HRW’s “Apartheid” Publication: Demonization, BDS, and Lawfare, NGO Monitor, April 25, 2021
From the “River to the Sea”: B’Tselem’s Demonization Crosses the Line, NGO Monitor, January 19, 2022
Richard Cravatts, “Amnesty International’s Pseudo-Scholarship,” Times of Israel, February 7, 2022.
Daled Amos, “From Fake News To Fake International Law: Claiming Israel Is Apartheid,” Elder of Ziyon, February 9, 2022.Moshe Goldfeder, “Travesty International,” Mishpacha, February 8, 2022.
Multiple entries as Elder of Ziyon including his special feature “Random page analysis.”