(RNS) — Amnesty International’s report on Israel, released Tuesday, February 1, is a litany of irresponsible accusations, the most toxic of which is the claim that Israel is an “apartheid” state.
The report’s repeated use of the word – a reference to the decades-long, institutionalized racism of white minority rule in South Africa – is intended to stigmatize Israel, isolate it in the community of nations and, ultimately to delegitimize the very moral foundation of its existence.
Any state that operates under a system of racial hierarchy, reserves political power to a minority of the population, denies equal protection under the law, imposes residential patterns based on skin color, restricts sexual relations between communities and would control all sources of wealth must be declared an outcast. The only way forward for such a state would be to cease to exist.
The fundamental problem with the Amnesty International report is that it is disconnected from reality. Israel has nothing to do with apartheid, and apartheid has nothing to do with Israel.
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Let’s start with the situation of the Arab citizens of Israel, who represent about 20% of the population.
The country’s current governing coalition is entirely dependent on the participation of one of the Arab political parties. Without it, the coalition would crumble in an instant. Aside? Barely.
More broadly, Arab citizens have full voting rights and their electoral choices represent the political, ethnic and religious spectrum of a remarkably diverse country. Aside? Barely.
Arab citizens are represented throughout the country, including the powerful Supreme Court. Indeed, it was an Arab judge who sent a former Israeli president to prison. Aside? Barely.
Arab citizens also serve in the diplomatic corps, starting with ambassadors representing Israel around the world, not forgetting the Israel Defense Forces, tasked with defending the country in a turbulent region. Aside? Barely.
And a visit to any hospital – from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, from Haifa to Ashkelon – reveals a fully interdependent medical ecosystem, with Arab and Jewish doctors, nurses and technicians working side by side to treat Arab patients. and Jews. Aside? Barely.
Are there social deficiencies in Israel? Yes, as there are in any democratic country, including, of course, the United States. But to suggest that Israel’s open, liberal and pluralistic society is in any way akin to South Africa’s policy of apartheid is nothing short of slanderous fiction.
Amnesty International’s report shows no understanding of the reality of Israeli society, nor does it understand Israel’s challenges in finding a lasting answer to the long-standing Palestinian question.
The Palestinians could have had their own state alongside Israel as early as 1947-48. They rejected it. From 1948 to 1967, the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands, but no effort was made to establish a Palestinian state. And that rejection record, tragically, has continued ever since.
Meanwhile, Gaza has been under Hamas control since 2007, but Amnesty International inexplicably fails to note that Hamas is a genocidal terrorist organization that, with the help of Iran, openly seeks the annihilation of Israel.
And finally, Amnesty International would essentially deny the Jewish people the right to sovereignty over even a tiny strip of land – land with which the Jewish people have been linked uninterruptedly for nearly 4,000 years and which, in the 20th century, was endorsed by the Balfour Declaration, San Remo Conference, League of Nations and UN General Assembly.
It should be noted that this land is only 1% the size of Saudi Arabia, 2% of Egypt, and is roughly similar to the pocket size of New Jersey or Wales.
It is this land which, in the modern age, when the world repeatedly turned its back on the Jews, whether they were Holocaust survivors in Europe, or in Arab countries, or under the communist regime behind the iron curtain, offered a haven of peace, total protection and a new beginning.
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Sadly, Amnesty International, once a venerable human rights defender, has chosen to lend its voice to those who wish, whatever presentation they choose, to end Israel as the only Jewish-majority country in the world. . The ploy won’t work, however.
The truth about Israel is there for any unbiased visitor to see. And, given Israel’s expanding population, increasing foreign investment, and expanding circle of peace, Israel’s future as a vibrant democratic, majority-Jewish country is bright. .
(David Harris is CEO of the American Jewish Committee. Follow him on Twitter @DavidHarrisAJC. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)