Jewish groups and politicians have condemned a report published by Amnesty International UK which describes Israel as an “apartheid” state.
The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council launched a scathing attack on the charity accusing Amnesty of a “preposterous slur,” in its description of Israel as an "apartheid" state.
A joint statement from the Board President and JLC said: “We are shocked but not surprised by the content given the history of AI UK’s one-sided positioning on Israel.
“The report is completely biased and applies standards to Israel that are not applied to any other country. The emotive term “apartheid” against Israel is a preposterous slur. Israel is a vibrant democracy and a state for all its citizens, as exemplified by its diverse government and robust civil society."
The Board and JLC added: “Despite AI UK’s claim to recognise the Jewish claim to self-determination, the report makes clear both through its lamenting of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and through its policy recommendations, that it does not support that right. The State of Israel was established with broad international support and survived early attempts at destruction. There are still many who insist on punishing Israel for its very survival. Jewish communities across the world see too clearly through these attempts and reject them."
Arsen Ostrovsky, chair of The International Legal Forum said the report was "just the latest intensified attack in these organizations longstanding & relentless campaign of lawfare & vilification against the State of Israel. "Written under the guise of 'international law and human rights', this one-sided, libellous and baseless report, which blatantly calls for the dismantlement of the Jewish state, is replete with malicious lies, gross distortions of truth and fabrications of law, while peddling unhinged hate, incitement and racism. In short, this report is tantamount to a 'blood libel' against the Jewish state and deserves to be placed in the dustbin of antisemitic history."
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S Lauder joined others in strongly criticising Amnesty International UK. Mr Lauder said: “This report highlights, once again, the repeated bias Israel is targeted with as the only Jewish state.” He accused the report of ignoring "both Palestinian acts of terrorism and Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens against such terrorism.”
He added: “The report does absolutely nothing to offer a constructive way forward and has no real interest in promoting the human rights of Palestinians or advancing peace and a lasting two-state solution. It will only serve, like previous similar prejudiced reports, to fuel the fires of antisemites under the guise of political correctness.
"The working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance also clearly states that the application of such double standards is antisemitism. I will never stop condemning and fighting against this and all other abusive attempts to de-legitamise the State of Israel.”
The report was also criticised by Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who accused Amnesty of echoing the “same lies shared by terrorist organisations."
"It isn’t a human rights organization, but just another radical organization which echoes propaganda without seriously checking the facts. Instead of seeking the truth, Amnesty echoes the same lies shared by terrorist organizations."— Samuel Sabbah (@Samuel_Sabbah) January 31, 2022
- Yair Lapid pic.twitter.com/yyDlLL7kS1
Despite strong criticism of its report Amnesty defended it saying it was a critique of “the Israeli government, not the Israeli or Jewish people.”
An Amnesty International UK spokesman said: “Amnesty’s report is part of our commitment to exposing and ending human rights violations wherever they occur. No government is above criticism, and that includes the Israeli government.
“Our research shows that Israeli authorities are enforcing a system of apartheid against the Palestinian people in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Palestinian refugees. The report documents how Israel treats Palestinians as an inferior racial group, segregating and oppressing them wherever it has control over their rights.”