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The HRW apartheid report: Does it matter? – analysis

CM 27/04/2021


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 It’s a drill Israel knows all too well.

A well-known NGO, Israeli or international – B’Tselem, Amnesty International, Peace Now, Human Rights Watch (HRW) – writes a report blasting Israel. They send a press release to reporters outlining the damning findings; stamp an “embargo” label on it to prevent publication until a specific day, thereby increasing the drama; and then hold a press conference, as if this was 1947 and they were the UN Special Committee on Palestine.
The Foreign Ministry will either initiate a response or respond to queries about the report by slamming it as agenda-driven, anti-Israel drivel. The media will run a few stories. And the issue will fade… until the next time another “human rights” organization will do the same thing.
The question that needs to be asked is: Does any of it matter?
How important is a report accusing Israel of apartheid by a veteran anti-Israel activist who was deported from Israel because of his BDS (boycott, sanctions and divestment) activities, even if that report is put out – as it was on Tuesday by HRW – by one of the world’s better known, but wildly imbalanced, human-rights organizations.
The answer is mixed – it matters, and it doesn’t.
Where doesn’t it matter?

It doesn’t matter that much anymore in the corridors of power in Western democracies. Evidence of this is that few if any government will issue a statement or communiqué on the basis of this report.
Even though the State Department spokesperson may well be asked what Washington thinks of the report at a daily press briefing, it is highly unlikely that the White House or the State Department will deem it necessary to respond of its own volition. Not only Washington, but also in other capitals around the world.
One Israeli official said the golden age of human-rights organizations such as HRW seems to be in the past, as there is a less globalist and more national sentiment in many capitals, and they are looking more skeptically at these types of organizations.
The halo of the human-rights organizations has also come off over the years, he said, and they don’t command the same respect or influence among leading governments as they once did. This is partly because governments have changed, and partly because of various revelations that have come out about the organizations themselves.
For instance, in 2009 it was reported that HRW went to Saudi Arabia to raise money from wealthy donors there, with a key sales pitch being the organization’s work against Israel. That type of activity tends to take some of the shine off of their reports about Israel.
But where do these reports matter?
They matter amid highly influential young people who do not have a good grip on the history of the conflict.
While BDS now has very little impact, this type of report can help reinvigorate it. While BDS has vocal opponents who will object if BDS activists are invited to speak on college campuses, who will object to an HRW official giving a lecture about Israeli apartheid?
For instance, anti-Israel US democratic congresswomen Betty McCollum (Minnesota), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan) and Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) will surely make use of this report to bash Israel, and the report will provide background noise as they try to push forward a bill to restrict aid to Jerusalem. Reports such as these provide ammunition to the converted.
Beyond that, and what is more significant and dangerous, is that these types of reports lead to a radicalization of the conversation. Calling Israel an apartheid state takes the attack on Israel up a notch.
This is no longer “just” saying that the “occupation” is bad; this is saying that Israel itself is bad. Not only does the occupation have to be dismantled, but the country as well should be dismantled because it is intrinsically racist and evil.
Those who believe the occupation is bad want to see a two-state solution. But a two-state solution won’t be enough for those who view Israel as an apartheid state. For them, it is not enough to cancel the occupation, but rather it will be necessary to cancel apartheid, which – in their view – means Israel.
And that is where these types of reports are particularly pernicious.
Policymakers in Washington, London, Berlin, Canberra and New Delhi are not going to see this report on their desks and bang palm to forehead in a moment of epiphany as a result of it. Israel’s enemies, however, now have a full report with the imprimatur of a human-rights organization that will be used not only to blast Israel because of policies in the West Bank, but to undercut its very existence.
Zionism, the UN declared in a now-infamous resolution in 1975 that was later retracted, is racism. HRW now takes that a step farther: Zionism is apartheid, and – as everyone knows – apartheid is evil.
The danger is that this line will now seep into mainstream progressive circles, and then from there into the mainstream political discourse. HRW’s characterization of Israel as guilty of apartheid is not just one report, but now part of a campaign to brand Israel as an apartheid state. Jimmy Carter started it in 2006 with a book he wrote, B’Tselem adopted that definition of Israel in January, and now HRW gave it their full backing.
If this line is repeated long enough, and young people who don’t know any better are exposed to it over and over, it will sink in.
Which leads to another question: How can Israel combat it?
The Foreign Ministry issued a statement attacking HRW as an anti-Israel organization, and Ambassador to the US and UN Gilad Erdan added his own voice, saying it borders on the antisemitic. The problem with this is that when you shout antisemitism, people just tune out.
Israel is not an apartheid state, pure and simple. And what Jerusalem should be doing is arming its diplomats, and advocates abroad, with the arguments they need to dismantle this claim.
It sounds simplistic, but it remains true: The best way to uncover a lie is through education. Those convinced that Israel is evil will not be unconvinced. But those who don’t know much, including Jews, need to be educated about Israel and its history. That’s the job of the Foreign Ministry and Israel’s advocates and supporters around the world.
Another tool that would go a long way toward dismantling these arguments is if Israel would be able to tell the world what it wants: how it envisions the future. Does it envision one state, two states, a federation, a confederation with Jordan?
When you don’t know what you want, when you don’t articulate what you want, when you don’t define what you want, your enemies will do it for you – which is exactly what HRW is trying to do by screaming apartheid.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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