The Israeli Government and Jewish organizations around the world have condemned the Amnesty International UK report published Tuesday that accuses Israel of apartheid.
Amnesty International accused Israel of subjecting Palestinians to a system of apartheid founded on policies of “segregation, dispossession and exclusion” that it said amounted to crimes against humanity.
The London-based rights group said its findings were based on research and legal analysis in a 211-page report.
Israel said the report, the second by an international rights group in less than a year to accuse it of pursuing a policy of apartheid, “consolidates and recycles lies” from hate groups and was designed to “pour fuel onto the fire of antisemitism.” It accused Amnesty UK of using “double standards and demonization in order to delegitimize Israel.”
In a statement, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said “Israel is not perfect, but it is a democracy committed to international law and open to scrutiny” with a free press and a strong Supreme Court.
Amnesty said, “The U.N. Security Council should impose an arms embargo on Israel for killing scores of civilians during weekly protests.”
Amnesty also called on the International Criminal Court to consider the accusation of apartheid in its investigation into possible war crimes committed by both sides during several bouts of conflict in the Palestinian territories.
Lapid responded, “I hate to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish State, nobody in Amnesty would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility,” he said.
The Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council issued a joint statement describing the accusation as “a preposterous slur.” Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl and Jewish Leadership Chair Keith Black said they were “shocked but not surprised” by the report, “given the history of AI UK’s one-sided positioning on Israel.”
They continued, “Israel is a vibrant democracy and a state for all its citizens, as exemplified by its diverse government and robust civil society.
“Despite AI UK’s claim to recognise the Jewish claim to self-determination, the report makes clear both through its lamenting of the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and through its policy recommendations, that it does not support that right … There are still many who insist on punishing Israel for its very survival. Jewish communities across the world see too clearly through these attempts and reject them.”
The statement went on to say, “The situation for the Palestinian people is indeed distressing; this will not be alleviated by destroying Israel. The signing of the Abraham Accords shows that this is now being recognised and accepted in the wider region. The quicker serious Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are resumed, the sooner a lasting peace can be achieved.
“If Amnesty UK were serious about improving standards, it would find ways to strengthen existing efforts on the ground.”
The Board of Deputies is the democratically elected representative body of British Jewry, and the Jewish Leadership Council is comprised of leaders of British Jewish organizations.
In the United States, the Orthodox Union also criticized the report and called for productive discussions, describing the report as “biased” and “an unbalanced, inaccurate, and incomplete review.”
The statement said, “At a time of surging antisemitism in the UK, Europe, the United States and around the globe, this libelous document resorts to baseless ‘apartheid’ accusations against Israel, among other distortions. With this report, Amnesty International-UK throws its lot with those who not only hate Israel, but the Jewish people.
“We call on all parties of good faith to condemn this ideologically-driven polemic, and instead focus on efforts that will advance peace and security – rather than instigate more distrust and divisiveness.”
Reuters contributed to this report.