The latest grotesque exhibition of anti-Israel vitriol among NGOs is this week's publication of a report by Amnesty International that recycles tired, repeatedly disproven yet deliberately provocative antisemitic tropes and accusations of racism. This from an organization that was itself last year branded as "systemically racist". Pictured: Agnes Callamard (left), Secretary General of Amnesty International, at a press conference in Jerusalem, Israel, on February 1, 2022. (Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images)
The latest grotesque exhibition of anti-Israel vitriol among NGOs is this week's publication of a report by Amnesty International that recycles tired, repeatedly disproven yet deliberately provocative antisemitic tropes and accusations of racism. This from an organization that was itself last year branded as "systemically racist".
The title of the report, "Israel's apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and crime against humanity", is not only a blatant and unsubstantiated lie but also an insult to black South Africans who suffered so horrifically under a genuinely apartheid regime. Few will read this 200+ page diatribe of falsehoods, distortions and half-truths, but many will see and absorb its title, which has already been plastered greedily across left-leaning newspapers and disseminated to millions in social media. The BBC, for example, trumpeted "Israel's policies against Palestinians amount to apartheid" in an online article, giving full weight to Amnesty's claims, quoting several people who support them, but allowing only the briefest opposing view from the Israeli government at the end.
What is provoking NGOs such as Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, who published a similar discredited report last year, to ever-greater excesses of anti-Israel propaganda? Why has the United Nations General Assembly just approved an unprecedented permanent commission of inquiry into Israel by the UN Human Rights Council? The problem for these anti-Israel lobbies is that things are not going their way. Tactically, their over-arching intent to drag Israelis into the dock at The Hague seems to be faltering, with a seemingly less enthusiastic Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. Strategically, far from the desired retrenchment and eventual termination of the Jewish state, it is getting stronger and stronger with increasing global diplomatic and economic outreach; and there has been an abject failure by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to make any impact on the Israeli economy despite years of poisonous efforts.
Above all, the historic Abraham Accords have been a red rag to a bull to all these bodies — waved in their faces again last week by Hatikva playing as Israel's president was received at the Royal Palace in Abu Dhabi by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. This was not in the script, which demanded continued unrequited concessions to the Palestinians by Israel, leading to the imposition of an Islamic state on Israeli territory, before any wider peace could be achieved with the Arab world. Unfortunately for the inveterate peace-processors and their followers, the Arab world has moved on from their own opposition to Israel. They see the country for what it is: a source of stability and prosperity in the region. They understand the dangers of continuing Palestinian intransigence and animosity and have denied them a veto on progress — a veto that Amnesty and its fellow Israel-rejectionists want to see reinstated.
The previous draft of the report, obtained by NGO Monitor and hastily amended, inadvertently revealed the true motive behind Amnesty's anti-Israel campaign. It included the words: "The system of apartheid originated with the creation of Israel in 1948". As the Anti Defamation League puts it, the report's allegations that "Israel's crimes go back to the sin of its creation in 1948, serve to present the Jewish and democratic state as singularly illegitimate at its foundational roots."
According to NGO Monitor:, the purpose of the report is "to characterize the right of Jews to sovereign equality in their historic homeland as a violation of the [international] legal order."
Let us be in no doubt, this report is not a criticism of the State of Israel. It is a chillingly clear manifesto pronouncing Israel an illegal entity with no right to exist. Page after page, it shows a deeply-troubling obsession with righting the supposed wrong of 1948. It calls for Israel to be flooded with generation after generation of descendants of Arabs who left in 1948, and who expected to return after five invading armies had wiped Israel off the map. Such an influx of so-called refugees would be unprecedented anywhere in the world. It would mean the termination of the State of Israel, a condition of perpetual conflict between Arabs and Jews under a single Palestinian state, and the end of the Jewish people's right to self-determination.
Presenting Israel as a racist endeavour, as other left-wing NGOs and international institutions also seek to do, brings us full-circle. The strident and vicious opposition to Jews in the land, opposition that in modern times dates back to the 1920s, was based on pure racism. It was the Islamic doctrine that no other peoples could be sovereign in land that had ever been dominated by Muslims. Therefore Jews, indigenous to the territory, could never be allowed their own state and had to be fought to subjugation or death. As I explained in the article, "Exposing the Lie of Israel Apartheid", the religious-racist nature of the conflict was transformed by the Soviet Union into an imperialist-nationalist struggle, to gain greater acceptance and support in the democratic world. And now we are back to a trumped-up inversion of the original racist conflict.
As the Soviets understood, accusations of racism rightly incur abhorrence among civilised people. Hence the attraction of Amnesty and their fellow travellers to portraying Israel as an apartheid state. As international lawyer Eugene Kontorovich explained this week, Israel = Apartheid is no more than a slightly updated spin on the Zionism = Racism mantra driven by the Soviet Union and immorally adopted by the UN in 1975 before being repealed.
Again like the Soviets, Amnesty's prime target is not the Arab world, it is the West. Like the propaganda of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the intention is to provoke outrage across the West, to isolate and vilify Israel among world governments, international bodies, universities and businesses.
This report will also provoke increased violence, abuse and boycotts against Jews in Israel and Jews who support Israel in the diaspora, in an era where antisemitic attacks are already at a high point and on the rise. That may not be Amnesty's aim in producing this twisted document, but they cannot be so blind as to fail to see its bloody consequences, which have played out over decades following similar distorted reports, debates, resolutions and media fabrications.
The definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) includes: "Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor". The British government has signed up to the IHRA definition. Amnesty is based in the UK and the UK police should now investigate it for spreading these grievous antisemitic lies.
Colonel Richard Kemp is a former British Army Commander. He was also head of the international terrorism team in the U.K. Cabinet Office and is now a writer and speaker on international and military affairs. He is a Jack Roth Charitable Foundation Fellow at Gatestone Institute.