Esawi Frej
Esawi FrejNoam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Regional Cooperation Minister Esawi Frej (Meretz) on Wednesday responded to Amnesty International's recent report on Israel, which claimed Israel is an "apartheid state."

Speaking to 103 FM Radio, Frej said, "Israel is not an apartheid state, but it is also not a light unto the nations."

"Why should we ignore reality? This report should be raise an alarm for us."

Frej, who is an Arab, continued, "In the State of Israel there is Jewish supremacy, there is inequality and discrimination, and that requires us to hold a discourse regarding the injustices of the occupation. There are problems which need to be solved, and we cannot escape holding a discussion on this. I cannot be like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand."

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides said the report "is absurd. That is not language that we have used and will not use."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the report prior to its publication, calling it "an effort to demonize Israel and undermine its legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic state. In an environment of rising anti-Jewish hate, this type of report is not only inaccurate but also irresponsible and likely will lead to intensified anti-Semitism around the world."

"This new report goes beyond criticizing Israeli policies and actions to painting Israel's very creation as illegitimate, immoral, and faulted.

"In addition, by using extreme language to attack Israel – including calling it an apartheid state, accusing it of ethnic cleansing and of committing war crimes – it feeds into an environment that emboldens those who seek to dismantle Israel, and casts aspersions on those who support a Jewish and democratic state, including the vast majority of Jews around the world and creates fertile ground for a hostile and at times antisemitic discourse.

"Amnesty International's rhetoric is irresponsible. These are not simply abstract words but the kind of spurious charges that, time and again, have placed Jews in danger around the world," the ADL statement concluded.