Image source: The Times of Israel

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has blasted an Amnesty International UK report accusing the State of Israel of being an “apartheid state”.

Amnesty’s report, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, denied Israel’s right to exist as the “nation state of the Jewish people”. Jewish organisations backed Israel’s strong response.

“It’s extremist language and distortion of historical context were designed to demonize Israel and pour fuel onto the fire of antisemitism,” the Ministry noted.

Officials accused Amnesty UK of using “double standards” to delegitimise Israel in the report, titled ‘Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel system of domination and crime against humanity’.

Lapid did not mince his words in condemning Amnesty.

“I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” he said. “In the past, Amnesty was a respected organisation. Not anymore. Today it is precisely the opposite. It isn’t a human rights organisation, but just another radical organisation which echoes propaganda, without serious checking the facts. Instead of seeking the truth, Amnesty echoes the same lies shared by terrorist organisations.”

“Israel isn’t perfect, but we are a democracy committed to international law, open to criticism, with a free press and a strong and independent judicial system,” he added.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Chair Keith Black issued a statement on Monday expressing shock at 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,” they said. “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.”

Ms van de Zyl and Ms Black noted that West Bank and Gaza conflicts were not referenced in the report. Citing the Abraham Accords and calling for a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, they concluded, “If Amnesty UK were serious about improving standards, it would find ways to strengthen existing efforts on the ground. Instead, it chooses to focus on demonising the one Jewish state, holding it to clear double standards. This is a bad faith report hostile to the very concept of Israel, and we reject its very premise.”

The European Jewish Congress attacked the report.

“There is nothing new in Amnesty’s sudden discovery of the word ‘apartheid’, in relation to Israel,” EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor said. “They are in lock step with anti-Israel and antisemitic activists in a coordinated diplomatic lynch against the Jewish State, and the mere concept of Jewish self-determination and collectivity.” 

He added, “It is clear from the tone and language used that they are seeking the end of Israel, and are using all of their supposed good name and diplomatic capital to launch a full-frontal attack against the Jewish State. That they use the terminology of ‘apartheid’ while Israel’s Arab citizens sit in the Knesset, are ministers in Israel’s current government and sit as judges on the country’s Supreme Court, shows just how disingenuous and twisted this imagery is. These are extremist political activists disguised as human-rights advocates, and their obsessive focus on Israel should dispel any notion of objectivity, neutrality or accuracy.”

Dr. Kantor noted that the report was a weapon against Jews around the world. 

He explained, “Every time there are high-profile attacks against Israel with these types of scurrilous lies, people think Jews everywhere should be made responsible for it.”

Kantor added that attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions will increase. 

“None of the authors of the report will be able to ignore the direct line from their work with a rise in antisemitism,” he concluded.

The EJC called on Amnesty International chapters to distance themselves from a “libellous report”.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder described the report as “one-sided and blatantly politicised” as it ignores Palestinian acts of terrorism and Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens against terrorism.

Lauder added that Amnesty UK had an ongoing insidious campaign to demonise the State of Israel.

He explained, “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.”

Bicom noted that the Amnesty report appears to be a twisted, one-sided account of a complex conflict that damages hope of building peace between Israel and the Palestinians.