WITH the US on Wednesday voicing disagreement with Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s allegation that Israel is committing “apartheid” against the Palestinians, Australian Jewish leaders say its report is a “textbook example of a biased organisation knowing what conclusion it wants to reach and then writing a report to substantiate it”.
In a report on Tuesday, HRW said that Israel is “committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” saying Israel had an “overarching” policy to “maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.”
Israel, which is facing an investigation at the International Criminal Court opposed by the United States, denounced the report and accused the New York-based group of having an anti-Israel agenda. Israel’s ambassador to the United States said the report was full of “lies and fabrication” that were “bordering on antisemitic.”
Responding to the report, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said, “Anyone who genuinely cares about the future of Israelis and Palestinians, or about real human rights as proscribed by international law, should treat this so-called report with the contempt it deserves.”
Noting, “Israel is not an apartheid state, and to claim it is dishonours the real victims of apartheid in South Africa,” Rubenstein commented, “All Israeli citizens, regardless of race, colour or creed, have the same democratic rights. Israeli Jews, Israeli Muslims and Israeli Christians sit alongside each other in Parliament and on judicial benches, they work alongside each other in hospitals and they sit next to each other on buses and trains.”
He added, “Human Rights Watch has run an obsessive 20 year campaign of vilification against Israel, including making similar apartheid claims in the past. Even HRW’s founder Robert Bernstein has denounced these claims.”
Echoing the sentiments, Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler said, “By distorting the meaning of apartheid to fit its anti-Israel agenda, Human Rights Watch has betrayed the memory of the victims of Apartheid and weakened the necessary fight against racism wherever it appears in the world. Human Rights Watch and all its backers should be ashamed of themselves.”
Leibler concluded, “This report results in a great stain on Human Rights Watch’s reputation. Enemies of the State of Israel will delight in this report. But people who have a genuine interest in Palestinian self-determination will realise that this report makes that process harder, by rewarding with silence the true oppressors of Palestinian rights.”