Amnesty International on Tuesday became the latest human rights organization to describe Israel’s activities in relation to Palestinians as “apartheid” when it released a special report. Even before the release, it prompted a strong rebuke from major U.S. Jewish groups that argue the report could “inflame existing tensions and incite violence.”
The report was leaked to NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog, which published an extensive critical analysis online on Monday.
According to a page posted online before the release by NGO Monitor, the Amnesty report appears to extend the apartheid designation to Israel’s treatment of its Arab citizens, particularly during clashes inside Israel last May sparked by Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, when the report was released, NGO Monitor found and posted evidence of revisions in which Amnesty walked back accusations that Israel was committing apartheid within its 1967 borders.
Other leading human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch and B’tselem, have in the past compared Israeli policy to Apartheid South Africa. But in its report released last April assessing whether Israel’s treatment of Palestinians meets “apartheid” criteria, Human Rights Watch was at pains to say its designation did not extend to Israeli practices within Israel’s pre-1967 state lines.
Like that Human Rights Watch report, Amnesty’s will reportedly offer an assessment on whether they think Israeli officials could be charged with crimes against humanity.
The report presents “an unbalanced, inaccurate, and incomplete review and instead inexplicably focuses on one aim: to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish and democratic State of Israel,” read a joint statement released on Sunday by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America and B’nai B’rith International.
The report’s “misguided and backward-looking effort to vilify Israel seems to be trying to turn back the peace clock, inflame existing tensions and incite violence, while obstructing the path to peace and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the groups added.
Israel’s government also condemned the Amnesty report, calling it antisemitic, and urged Amnesty to withdraw it.
“In publishing this false report, Amnesty UK uses double standards and demonization in order to delegitimize Israel. These are the exact components from which modern antisemitism is made,” Israel’s foreign ministry said Monday in a statement.
Amnesty International has been one of Israel’s most consistent critics in recent decades, and the Jewish community in Britain, where Amnesty is based, has accused its officials of at times crossing into antisemitism.