Human Rights Watch ‘Israel apartheid’ report condemned as ‘fiction’

The Board joined Israel and a Jerusalem-based research institute in dismissing the document


A protestor carries a sign during a demonstration by Palestinian, Israeli and foreign protesters against the newly-opened Route 4370, on January 23, 2019, in the occupied West Bank. - The highway into Jerusalem divides Israeli and Palestinian drivers into separate lanes with a wall, leading Palestinians to label it an "apartheid road". Its western side serves Palestinians, who cannot enter Jerusalem, whereas the roads eastern side serves settlers, who can now reach northern Jerusalem. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI / AFP) (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Board of Deputies joined Israel and others in condemning a leading human rights group after it accused the country of apartheid and persecution in a new report published today. 

The 213-page document written by Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir treats Israel as the “sole governing power” across most of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

“Across these areas and in most aspects of life, Israeli authorities methodically privilege Jewish Israelis and discriminate against Palestinians. 

“Laws, policies, and statements by leading Israeli officials make plain that the objective of maintaining Jewish Israeli control over demographics, political power, and land has long guided government policy.

“In pursuit of this goal, authorities have dispossessed, confined, forcibly separated, and subjugated Palestinians by virtue of their identity to varying degrees of intensity. In certain areas, as described in this report, these deprivations are so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” the report claims.

But Israel’s foreign ministry hit back against what it said were “fictional claims […] concocted” by HRW and accused the group of having a “long-standing anti-Israel agenda."

Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl said the report was a "sham which puts rhetoric above fact."

"They consistently ignore or downplay the fact that Israel’s security measures in the West Bank and around Gaza are the response to well-documented terror activities. The ridiculous ‘apartheid‘ slur in this report is belied by the fact that, as it stands, Israel’s next Government may well rely on the support of Arab parties, voted for by the country’s fully-enfranchised Arab citizens.

"Israel’s Arab citizens have been appointed as ambassadors, professors, Supreme Court judges, hospital directors, and other key roles throughout Israel’s socio-economic landscape. Civil society organisations should be directing their efforts towards reinvigorating the peace process, not trading in false hyperbole that extends the cycle of conflict," she said. 

NGO Monitor president Professor Gerald Steinberg, also criticised the report writing in the Jerusalem Post that it comprised “the standard mix of shrill propaganda, false allegations and legal fictions.”

“Exploiting the ‘apartheid’ image for propaganda is a cynical appropriation of the suffering of the victims of the actual apartheid regime,” he also wrote. 

Israeli rights group B’Tselem caused a stir a few months ago when they also said they considered Israel an “apartheid regime.”

The UK group Na’amod called on the community to “sit up and listen.”

“Many in our community feel conflicted about the use of the term ‘apartheid’ with reference to Israel-Palestine.

“However, when human rights orgs @AlMezanCenter, @alhaq_org, @YeshDin, @btselem (to name only a few) and now @HRW report so thoroughly on it, we must sit up and listen,” it tweeted.

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