Amnesty International Apartheid Report on Israel
Amnesty International Report
Amnesty International (AI), the world’s largest human rights organization, released a report in 2022 titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity.” The report details AI’s investigation into Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to determine whether Israel’s policies and practices amount to apartheid.

This Amnesty International report demonstrates that “Israel has imposed a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians [… in which] segregation is conducted in a systematic and highly institutionalized manner through laws, policies, and practices, all intended to prevent Palestinians from claiming and enjoying equal rights to Jewish Israelis within Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories].”

 

Who Is Amnesty International?

Amnesty International (AI) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1961 that is dedicated to fighting abuses of human rights around the world. AI claims to be independent of any government, religious, or political ideology, and it is primarily funded by 10 million individuals’ donations.

AI conducts detailed research to campaign for a better world, change oppressive laws, and bring torturers to justice. Its stated objective is “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated.” The organization is involved in many causes related to human rights, from ending armed conflicts to supporting refugees.

AI was awarded a prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 because “the defense of human dignity against torture, violence, and degradation constitutes a very real contribution to the peace of this world.” AI has had a special consultative status with the United Nations (UN) since 1964, helping to shape key UN Conventions and to create a High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, and its Universal Periodic Review.

 

What Is Apartheid?

Apartheid (which means “apartness” in Afrikaans) is most well-known as the harsh, institutionalized system of racial segregation the white-ruled Nationalist Party implemented in South Africa in 1948. Years of protest by African leaders like Nelson Mandela and international sanctions ended the brutal apartheid system in the 1990s. Historians also consider the American Jim Crow segregation and disenfranchisement laws as a system of apartheid.

Two international treaties have defined apartheid since the term was coined. The first is the 1973 United Nations International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, known as the Apartheid Convention. The second is the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was adopted in 1998.

Elements of Apartheid

Both the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute define apartheid as having three elements:

  1. An intent to maintain domination by one racial group or group over another.
  2. A context of systematic oppression by one racial group or group over another.
  3. Inhumane acts which intentionally cause suffering or injury to physical or mental health or deny group members the rights of life and liberty.

While Israel has not ratified either of these treaties, the State of Palestine did in 2014 and 2015; this creates a legal basis for the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute to be applied on the territory and legally prosecuted at an international court. The International Criminal Court began its investigation “of the Situation in Palestine” in 2014, and it is currently ongoing.

Apartheid

Evidence of Apartheid

Amnesty conducted its research for this apartheid report between July 2017 and November 2021. The research included speaking with representatives from Palestinian, Israeli, and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, academics and scholars, legal experts, and journalists. The organization analyzed Israeli legislation, regulations, military orders, government directives, and government documents, such as planning and zoning documents, budgets and statistics, parliamentary archives, and court judgements, as well as reports by Palestinian authorities.

A Breakdown of the Report

The 280-page AI report on apartheid in Israel breaks down its analysis into these categories:

  • Territorial fragmentation
    • Fragmentation of Palestinians into domains of control in and outside of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
  • Segregation and control
    • Denial of right to equal nationality and status
    • Restrictions on freedom of movement as a means of control over land and people
    • Separation of families through discriminatory laws
    • Use of military rule
    • Restrictions on right to political participation and popular resistance
  • Dispossession of land and property
    • Land expropriation laws and policies
    • Land title settlement: registration of land rights
    • Discriminatory allocation of expropriated Palestinian land for Jewish settlement
    • Discriminatory urban planning and zoning system
  • Denial of economic and social rights
    • Suppression of Palestinians’ human development
    • Discriminatory allocation of resources
    • Discriminatory provision of services

The investigation concluded Israeli laws, policies, and practices deployed against Palestinians violate international human rights law and constitute as crimes under the Apartheid Convention and the Rome Statute.

 

Reactions to the Amnesty International Report

Earlier the same year, two non-governmental organizations, Human Rights Watch and Israel-based B’Tselem, both released their own reports showing evidence of an apartheid system in Israel. Following AI’s report, Harvard Law School released its own report titled “Apartheid in the Occupied West Bank: A Legal Analysis of Israel’s Actions,” which also recognized Israel’s apartheid regime.

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy reported that most Israeli media disregarded Amnesty International’s report and accused the organization of antisemitism. Levy wrote that while “the world will say apartheid, Israel will say antisemitism.” Levy, however, argued that the apartheid report only shared facts.

Jewish Israeli citizen and veteran of the Israeli army Rafael Silver wrote an op-ed for Mondoweiss in which he confirmed the evidence detailed in AI’s report: “I know Israel practices apartheid because I helped enforce it. […] Even within Israeli proper, the system of apartheid is baked into the structure of the state in almost every aspect of life. I know because I benefited from such an apartheid system within Israeli as a Jewish citizen who enjoyed rights that were not afforded to Palestinian citizens of the same country.”

The Independent Jewish Voices of Canada (IJV) released a statement welcoming AI’s report, which read: “The evidence is in, and the facts are clear. If government officials read Amnesty’s report, there should be no doubt in their minds that Israel is indeed practicing apartheid.” The Rabbinical Council of Jewish Voice for Peace similarly stood by AI’s report, calling on “all people of conscience, including Jewish people in our communities, to read the reports carefully… facilitate open discussion on the reports… We cannot work for healing justice if we live in denial of the reality Palestinians have been facing every day since 1948.”

 

To learn more about the Israel-Palestine conflict and how you can get involved, visit The Promised Land Museum and consider hosting an exhibit to promote peace.

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