Amnesty International Israel: Government Ministers incite with “anti-semitism” to silence war-crime allegations towards Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

1 February 2019, 11:41 UTC |

Since the publication of the new Amnesty International report “Destination: Occupation” last night, ministers in the Israeli government are attacking the Amnesty International movement as “anti-Semitic”. This is wild incitement based on lies, deception and misrepresentations that are easy to debunk, with the purpose of derailing public debate from the real issue, which is war crimes and other human rights abuses of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.

We would like to reiterate: Antisemitism, and any other form of discrimination – are contradictory to human rights and we, as the largest and oldest human rights movement in the world, oppose any such discrimination, racism and hate crimes of all forms, be it on the basis of religion, ethnicity, race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation or identity, or any other basis. Amnesty International publishes 150-200 press releases, reports and position papers each month relating to human rights violations around the world.

Back to our issue, we will clarify: as detailed in the new report, Amnesty International found a close connection between Israeli settlements and the violation of human rights of Palestinians on every aspect of their lives: The right to housing, to education, to health, to water and other natural resources, to life with dignity and livelihood, and more. The four online tourism companies discussed in the report make a profit from doing so, and contrary to the claims do not only publicize “sites of national heritage”, but also and mostly places of lodging, restaurants and a variety of ‘attractions’. Also, they deceive their users with their search engines by not clearly marking entries which are in illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, on lands taken from Palestinians. Needless to say, that through the archaeological findings at these “heritage sites”, run by NGO’s identified with the settler community or by settlements themselves, the Israeli Government continues to manufacture the narrative and legitimacy to continue to appropriate in the Occupied territories.

Beyond this, this is not the first report Amnesty International has issued, examining the effect of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories on the human rights of Palestinians. In this current report, as in the past, we call on world governments and the international companies based within, to not settle for condemnations and declarations regarding the construction of illegal settlements, bot to move from words to action.

As consensus increases surrounding the illegality of Israeli settlements, and the understanding that they lead to additional human rights violations, so increase the voices calling on Israel to meet the international standards and treaties for the protection of human rights in occupied land. Israel is a party to some of these treaties. Our call, as said, is directed to governments and international tourism companies.

Regarding BDS, Amnesty does not hold a position regarding the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, does not support or partake in it, nor do we oppose it. Amnesty International believes every individual or group has the right to choose a nonviolent strategy to advance human rights. This right must be protected without it’s partakers being exposed to threats, harassment and/or sanctions, which violate of limit the individual’s right to freedom of expression.

Molly Malekar, Amnesty International Israel’s Programs Director, said: “Unlike Israeli Government ministers who attacked us, we at Amnesty International believe that the facts must speak for themselves. Ministers Erdan, Regev, Levin and Elkin are underestimating and belittling the citizens of Israel when they assume they can use such cheap rhetoric. We suggest to the Israeli public to reject this incitement, meant only to silence those who protest the industry of repression and dispossession for over fifty years. International Humanitarian Law and the protection of human rights were created by the global community following the genocide and horrors of the second world war, and as humans we have an obligation to protect the treaties that Israel has been part of creating. The cynical use made by the Israeli Government in archeological sites and historic heritage of the people of Israel to further political goals of repression and expulsion does not just aid war crimes, but creates a fertile ground for delegitimization of Israel in the global arena – at its own doing.