Amnesty International: Israel Criticism or Blatant Antisemitism?

The NGO Amnesty International just made the news again with a 276-page report entitled "Israel's apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and crime against humanity." To most people, the title will say it all and they will not bother reading the over-200 -page report. Amnesty International still relies on a name and reputation that was originally established with ethical intentions to fight crimes against humanity, but where does Amnesty International stand today?

Amnesty International was started in the United Kingdom in 1961 by Lawyer Peter Beneson. His intentions were very honorable as he was quoted saying, "Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done."

Fast forward to 2022, and Amnesty International publishes a vitriolic report against Israel's right to exist. They boldly declare, "Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control; dispossession of land and property; and denial of economic and social rights. It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid. Israel must dismantle this cruel system and the international community must pressure it to do so. All those with jurisdiction over the crimes committed to maintain the system should investigate them."

This statement of just a few lines is laced with lies and false assumptions that can easily be debunked if one takes the time to do proper research such as the work of the Jewish Virtual Library. In fact, the entire document prepared by Amnesty International is built upon years of propaganda and the false narrative about the Palestinian people living in the Land of Israel centuries before the Jews. It is critical to understand that since the Bar Kochba Jewish revolt against the Romans under Emperor Hadrian, the land of Canaan, also known as Israel, Judea and Samaria was renamed. The whole land was renamed Palaestina and Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina. The name change was done by the Romans to further humiliate the Jews in their defeat against Hadrian. The name was simply meant to be a geographical name change, never based on history or archeology. Back then, none of that even crossed the minds of the Romans. They just wanted to ridicule the Jews in calling our land and capital by a non-Jewish name.

Not long after the birth of the modern State of Israel on May 14, 1948, the name started to take on more of a geopolitical meaning. Up to that time, there were Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs. Now, the Arabs had become Palestinians and the Jews were Israeli Jews. The chasm was created and continued to widen for several decades. Today, it is accepted as a fact that Jews are occupying Palestinian land and the accusation of apartheid keeps coming from various foes like the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), some people in Hollywood, academia, government and even some church denominations.

If one is seeking the truth in that matter, it doesn't take long to realize that pre-1948, Palestine only had a geographical meaning. A great way to prove that is by looking at a "Palestinian coin" prior to 1948. The coin will have the word "Palestine" in Arabic, English and Hebrew and next to the Hebrew version of the word, there are two letters in parentheses (Aleph-Yod). These two letters stand for the initials of Eretz Yisrael, meaning "the Land of Israel." Every pre-1948 Palestinian coin had words added to remind people that Palestine was really the land of Israel, and nobody complained or even cared.

Amnesty International compiled this 276-page report to prove that Israel is oppressing the rightful owners of the land. They boldly claim that "Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession. In 1967, Israel extended this policy beyond the Green Line to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it has occupied ever since. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded."

It looks like Amnesty International chooses to ignore some very important events in history that have helped validate Israel's right to the Land. Going back to 1917, we cannot ignore the Balfour Declaration that was the modern catalyst for the 1948 rebirth of Israel. The Balfour Declaration, penned in November 1917 by Lord Arthur Balfour, was a simple policy statement drafted to facilitate the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in what was then known as Palestine. It was official and carried some political weight, but it was not until three years later that things really gelled for the Jewish people, at the San Remo Conference in Italy. At that time, it became a "binding act of international law" and was incorporated in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. The minutes of the "San Remo Palestine Meeting of the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers" shed much light on the legal aspect of Palestine becoming the homeland for Jews. Additionally, more can be learned about that part of history in Randall Price's (Editor) recent book "What Should We Think About Israel?" This is all part of history and I cannot help but wonder if Amnesty International is ignoring it?

Accusing Israel of Apartheid shows that Amnesty International doesn't really understand the meaning of the word and it is also a slap in the face of the myriad of South African people who suffered from apartheid for decades. The dictionary definition of apartheid is, "a former policy of segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against the nonwhite majority in the Republic of South Africa."  While Israel is far from being perfect, this is not what Israel is all about. While almost no Jews live in the Arab world today, 21% of people in Israel's 9.5MM people are Arabs, which is much more than in 1948. This is not apartheid and it is the opposite of ethnic cleansing.

Amnesty International's report was quickly rejected by serious scholars, honest students of history and many Jewish organizations; but the intention was to make noise on the international scene, and that, they did! Calling for the dismantling of Israel is an all-out war against the Jewish state and the Jewish people. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog clearly stated the truth, "This report, which frames Israel as an apartheid state, doesn't belong in the category of criticism designed to promote human rights, but rather in the category of ideological delegitimization of the very right of Israel to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people."

Under the self-righteous cloak of criticism of Israel and the protection of human rights for Palestinians, Amnesty International continues to spew its antisemitic venom on the international scene, painting Israel as the unlawful occupier of Palestinian land and emboldening antisemites the world over. This report hit the scene just as antisemitism is at its highest in the past decade.  The timing almost seems to be planned.  I beg all truth-seekers to study the annals of history to not only learn about the events of the past but to also learn how to debunk the Amnesty International report and come to appreciate Israel even more!  And again, while not perfect, Israel incorporates Arabs in every aspect of Israeli life from police, fire, doctors to the judicial system and Parliament. This is hardly "apartheid"!  This, in the Middle East, has sadly always been and apparently will remain, a one-way street.

Does Amnesty International Think that Anti-Semitism isn't Worth Fighting?

In a world crippled by xenophobia and injustices of all kinds, we should welcome the work of organizations like Amnesty International (AI). Since 1961, this grassroots movement has been a global voice of outrage against racism, violence and injustice. Today, with over three million members and established branches in 68 countries, AI continues to fight for human rights and justice. Their mission statement is: "Amnesty International is a global movement of people fighting injustice and promoting human rights". A quick review of the half-century of work done by AI will suffice to prove the great need for such an organization. They have fought many fights and won many victories small and large.

Yet before I can rejoice for the work that they do, I must once again ponder and ask myself why would Amnesty International seem to ignore anti-Semitism?

During its annual conference in the UK, in March 2015, Amnesty International decided to table a motion to deal with the rise of anti-Semitism in  Britain. Of all the motions presented, it was the only one that was defeated. The reason given by Amnesty International was: “After a really interesting debate where everyone condemned discrimination against all ethnic and religious groups, our membership decided not to pass this resolution calling for a campaign with a single focus.”

Of course, if you dig a little, you quickly realize that Amnesty International operates with a set of double standards when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people. It was only three years ago when AI fought against Islamophobia in Europe in what clearly appeared to be a single focus campaign. As a matter of fact, they even published a 123-pages report to substantiate their claims. To be sure, I am not opposed to AI's work to fight Islamophobia; on the contrary, I support it. What really irks me is the fact that they would be so biased as to ignore one side and promote another.

Furthermore, their report of what took place during the Gaza War in the summer of 2014 is tainted with lies and inaccuracies. Of course, because of the impeccable reputation that AI has in the public arena, fact-finding is put aside and outrage against the Israeli "oppressors" and "bloodthirsty murderers" erupts.

Consider these statements recently made by AI when they were asked if they believed that Hamas was using human shields–something that has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt: "Amnesty International is monitoring and investigating such reports, but does not have evidence at this point that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to “shield” specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks". The rest of the report is so one-sided that it will make you sick reading it.

Apparently, there are also some key staffers at AI like Kristyan Benedict who harbor clear anti-Semitic sentiments.  Benedict was recently heard comparing Israel to ISIS.
There is pro-Palestinianism and then there is anti-Semitism. Amnesty International can be found guilty of both. Their last conference in the UK proved it further when they chose to defeat the motion to fight anti-Semitism.

The new world standard for measuring justice and human rights seems to be irrationally connected to anti-Zionism and anti-Israelism. It is clear to me that these two words are simply code names for anti-Semitism. If AI doesn't revise their position soon, they could become "Scapegoating International", but then again, are there even enough people who care to show their outrage at their bias?

For Amnesty International, anti-Semitism might not be worth fighting for, but they certainly are not my role model. The Bible is my standard, and it isn't a double standard. It looks at the Jewish people as "the apple of God's eye" in Zechariah 2:8. It also shows many of Israel's shortcomings, just as it does show the iniquities for the rest of mankind, proving the need for a redeemer. The prophet Isaiah spoke of that Mashiach in Isaiah 52:13-53-12 in a very descriptive way. If Amnesty International is looking for true justice, I believe that they will only find it with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Any other man made agenda is flawed.