Monday, October 2, 2023 -
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Amnesty International: great Jewish unifier

Say this for Amnesty International, its outrageous report alleging that Israel is an “apartheid state” has brought nearly all of the Jewish world together to condemn the organization. Groups from the Jewish right, left and center all agree that its claims are bogus and that its goal is not to criticize specific policies or push for it to withdraw from the 1967 borders.

The purpose of the report is to brand Israel as an illegitimate one. It damns modern-day Israel’s establishment in 1948 and calls for the results of the War of Independence to be reversed by instituting a “right of return” for descendants of the Arab refugees.

Amnesty’s objective is to eliminate the one Jewish state on the planet. As such, there is no way to regard its efforts as anything but an act of anti-Semitism.

There is also no way to ignore the obsession with Israel by Amnesty and other international groups that masquerade as advocates for “human rights”; this obsession is a function of Jew-hatred, not a political argument about Zionism or an effort to promote the interests of the Palestinian Arabs, let alone peace.

But there is a problem with the denunciations of Amnesty from across the Jewish spectrum and even from the State of Israel and the Biden administration. While it’s a good thing that liberals, centrists and conservatives all reject the “apartheid” lie, it’s not clear that Jerusalem, Washington or most Jewish groups fully understand the context of this assault and how danger- ous it is.

The Amnesty report doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s timed to support the UN Human Rights Council’s open-ended inquiry into all alleged violations of international law in Israel, Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

This has created what is in effect a new UN agency inside the rights council that will be a permanent institution with the sole purpose of demonizing Israel and advancing efforts to isolate it, to label it as a pariah state.

This new UN agency builds on the anti-Semitism broadly on display at the UN Durban Conference in 2001. That’s when the effort to use the racism charge first gained steam.

By insinuating this permanent inquiry into the structure of the UN with the corollary pretense that its bogus findings are an expression of international law, the stage is being set for a revival of the “Zionism is racism” lie.

Still worse. Under the imprimatur of the world body to bolster the BDS movement’s efforts to isolate Israel, this permanent inquiry can breathe new life into an anti-Semitic campaign that hasn’t gotten much traction on a global scale.

It is vital to point out that none of this “Israel=apartheid” stems from any criticism of Israeli policies or the Jewish presence in the West Bank. Amnesty International openly asserts that a Jewish state is illegitimate, no matter what its policies are or where its borders are drawn.

Still, most of the Jewish world seems not overly alarmed by the UN permanent inquiry, much as the Jewish world failed to understand the full significance of what happened in Durban and three similarly named conferences that followed.

Observers of the Middle East have grown used to the drumbeat of anti-Israel incitement from groups like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, as well as from Israeli groups like B’Tselem, which routinely denounce its policies and even throw around the “apartheid” smear.

The frequency of these attacks and their disconnect from the reality of life in Israel or, for that matter, life in the West Bank makes it hard to take them seriously. As a result, most Israelis and supporters of Israel have grown numb to these assaults on Israel’s good name.

Enthusiasm for responding to their lies is often lacking.

The traditional Israeli attitude of self-reliance and dismissal of hostile world opinion can breed indifference to such threats.

Also muting the response to such organizations is an outdated belief that those who call themselves human-rights activists may have good intentions.

Amnesty is also counting on observers and the press to respond to its activities as they would have done in the distant past, when it was seen as an apolitical group solely interested in opposing tyranny around the globe.

Similarly, many Jews long saw B’Tselem as merely liberal Zionism in action, seeking to hold the Israeli government accountable for its behavior, and not as a group that is opposed to the state’s existence, as its own recent “apartheid” accusation made clear.

Many also believe that worrying about this is unnecessary because it is contradicted by the willingness of Israeli Arabs — one of whose political parties now sits in Israel’s government as a partner — and of much of the Arab world to accept Israel in recent years.

The Abraham Accords showed that Arab and Muslim nations now understand that allowing themselves to be held hostage by Palestinian intransigence wasn’t in their own interests.

They recognize that the Jewish state is a valuable trading partner and an ally they can count on for support against aggression from Iran, and its terrorist allies and auxiliaries.

Many Jews and friends of the Jewish state think that in a world where Israel’s president is warmly greeted in an Arab capital, worry about what anti-Semitic ideologues and UN bureaucrats say about Zionism is a waste of time.

They’re right if they think this is not 1939. Israel is strong, prosperous and here to stay. But they’re wrong if they think the Amnesty report and the UN inquiry can’t hurt Israel by using the blunt instrument of international law against it, even if its claims will be false and flatly contradicted by any notion of justice.

That’s why the reaction to the Amnesty report can’t be just a series of press releases expressing outrage, followed by the Jewish world moving on to other seemingly more important matters.

Pro-Israel groups must make opposition to the UN inquiry and associated efforts a top priority. That’s also true for liberal groups like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the ADL, which have denounced Amnesty but are far more interested in aiding the Biden administration’s domestic agenda and likely preparing to give cover to Washington’s Iran appeasement strategy in spite of how dangerous that is for Israel.

Israel’s government and the Biden administration also need to understand that the latest apartheid smear is a shot fired over their bows that must be answered. They must mount a full-scale offensive aimed at making clear to the UN that if the inquiry is allowed to go forward as currently planned, then it will call into question further American financial support, as well as leaving open the possibility of a complete withdrawal from the world body.

It’s hard to imagine a Biden State Dept. that believes in diplomacy for its own sake, and that regards multilateralism as a more important value than Israel’s legitimacy, citing with the urgency that is needed.

The Amnesty apartheid propaganda is not just a terrible libel of Israel. It’s the beginning of a struggle at the UN that can undermine the Jewish state’s ability to function on the world stage.

Those who underestimate the potential danger involved with this effort are unable to see the forest for the trees.

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