Today, Amnesty International, a global humanitarian organization, released a 200+ page report branding Israel an apartheid state.

The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks joins the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Jewish Federations of North America, ADL, AIPAC, AJC, and B’nai B’rith International in condemning the report as biased, unbalanced, and inaccurate. A joint statement was released yesterday.

The Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks and The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Mercer have prepared a FAQ to help our community understand the claims made by Amnesty International and explain why their view is inaccurate. We encourage you to share and discuss this message with your family, friends, and teens. Our teens will inevitably find themselves challenged with anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rhetoric on social media, news channels, and in conversations with friends.

And please join us tomorrow for a webinar with international policy experts to understand what is in the report, the reactions across system, and the potential implications for the world’s lone Jewish state.

We anticipate this report will lead to a further increase in anti-Jewish hate. If you or someone you know experiences anti-Jewish bias, hate, verbal or physical violence, or if you witnessed hate-biased crimes like vandalism – please contact Mark Merkovitz at 609-524-9910 or mmerkovitz@jewishpmb.org. We will investigate and work closely with local law enforcement, leaders, schools, and universities to make sure every Jew feels safe in our community.

Mark Merkovitz
Executive Director

Naomi Richman Neumann
Chair, Jewish Community Relations Council

Daniel Herscovici
President of the Board

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REPORT – FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q1. What is Amnesty International?
A1. Amnesty International is an non-governmental organization focused on human rights, with its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Amnesty International has a long history of leveling maliciously false charges and distortion against Israel.

Q2. What does the term “Apartheid” mean?
A2. It means racial segregation, specifically: a former policy of segregation and political, social, and economic discrimination against the non-white majority in the Republic of South Africa. The extreme racial segregation of apartheid lasted from 1948 to 1994 and included race based restrictions on where people could live or own land, what jobs they could hold, and who could and couldn’t participate in government. When applied to Israel, the label is falsely used to describe Israeli policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and towards Arab citizens of Israel.

Q3. What is problematic with using the label “Apartheid” when it comes to Israel?
A3. Labeling Israel as apartheid de-legitimizes the only democratic state in the Middle East and the only Jewish state in the world. It also mischaracterizes the nature of the Arab Israeli relationship.

Within Israel, there are safeguards aimed at ensuring the equal treatment of all citizens, Jews and Arabs.

Israeli laws and democratic institutions, including the independent courts and robust free press, uphold and speak out for people’s rights.
Representing over 20% of Israel’s population, Israeli Arab citizens serve as judges, ambassadors, legislators, journalists, professors, artists and play prominent roles in all aspects of Israeli society.
As of June 2021, an Islamist Arab political party is a partner in Israel’s governing coalition.

Q4. What about Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip?
A4. These areas are still subject to dispute and negotiation by Israelis and Palestinians. Due to the lack of final agreement, there are indeed policies and restrictions – including limitations on movement and access to certain resources that can impose tremendous hardships on Palestinians. From an Israeli perspective, such policies are justified by security considerations, given the past and ongoing threats posed by Palestinian terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, which targets Israeli civilians. While Israel’s policies and practices can certainly be criticized, it is not factually accurate to say they are akin to a permanent and institutionalized system motivated and designed by racism.

Q5. What is Amnesty International’s objective in using the term “Apartheid” to describe Israel?
A5. Is it to challenge and change specific policies? Or is it to demonize the entire state. In fact, using the label and demonizing the State of Israel will do nothing to improve the situation on the ground. It will infantilize Palestinians and Israelis and, rather than facilitate constructive discussions about Israeli policy. It will likely make it that much more difficult to bring about change. Using the term is doing a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace.

Q6. Any additional comments on Amnesty’s International Report?
A6.

  • You can always disagree with a government’s policy and advocate for changes while at the same time support the existence of the only Jewish state and hope for peace for everyone affected.
  • The distortion of information in the report fuels antisemitism around the world
  • The use of “apartheid” term as it relates to Israel cheapens and downplays the horrific suffering that was a result of apartheid in South Africa.
  • Israel is forging new agreements and accords with many Arab countries and relations between Arabs and Jews are flourishing in many parts of the Middle East
  • One-sided reporting inflames existing tensions and incite violence, while obstructing the path to peace and the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

FURTHER READING
1. Camera, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, has published a detailed rebuttal of the Amnesty International Report. CLICK HERE TO READ 

2. This Newsweek article provides additional background on Amnesty International’s agenda. CLICK HERE TO READ

FAQs Adapted from ADL; Miriam Webster Dictionary; The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), American Jewish Committee (AJC), B’nai B’rith International, and the Jewish Federations of North America Statement