Confusing advocacy for Palestinian rights and a truly democratic Israel with antisemitism perverts the accusation and undermines the legitimate fight against it.
By Joshua Shanes | Religion Dispatches | Feb 3, 2022
Perhaps it feels easier to cry “antisemitism” than to spell out the actual argument because there really isn’t one—or a good one, at any rate.
Amnesty International has just released a new, comprehensive report on the situation in Israel/Palestine. Like earlier reports from Human Rights Watch, Yesh Din, and B’Tselem—leading human rights groups documenting Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians along with Palestinian organizations like Al-Haq and Al Mezan—Amnesty has concluded that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid, a category of international law named after the old South African system but distinct from that specific case.
The basis of the accusation is widely and deeply documented. Charges include extensive and ongoing dispossession of land and property, unlawful killing and arrest, denial of basic rights and freedoms, restrictions on movement, and much more. Some of these—particularly ongoing crimes in the West Bank—are well known. Amnesty goes beyond some earlier reports, however, in documenting how Israel has been engaging in some of these crimes since its foundation. They call for Israel to reform itself to be in compliance with international law and to offer justice to its past victims.
As expected, the Israeli government and American Jewish organizations parroting its talking points attacked the organization as “antisemitic” and its report as “libelous,” cheapening these grave terms to describe facts they don’t like. None of them addressed the actual evidence of Amnesty’s report. The response seems to be a knee-jerk reaction, nearly identical to their responses to other similar reports.