Amnesty International on Wednesday dismissed criticism in the US of its report accusing Israel of apartheid.
In a statement, Amnesty called on the US administration to pressure Israel to stop its alleged apartheid against Palestinian Arabs.
“The US Government is uniquely placed to meaningfully pressure Israeli authorities to repeal discriminatory laws and policies, issue reparations where appropriate, and uphold its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law,” the organization said.
“We encourage all members of Congress to use the full power of their office to advance human rights for all by calling for a thorough review of US security aid to Israeli forces to determine whether such aid has been used in the commission of violations; and by conditioning security aid appropriated to Israel on an end to violations of international humanitarian law and improvements in respect for human rights,” it added.
“Amnesty’s research, campaigns, advocacy, and statements pertaining to Israel are focused on the actions of the Israeli government – they are not, and never will be, a condemnation of Judaism or the Jewish people. Furthermore, we condemn anyone who would cynically cite our research as justification for committing antisemitic acts of hatred and violence. Amnesty International condemns antisemitism in the strongest possible terms,” the statement added.
The criticism of the Amnesty report was widespread in the US.
US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides denounced the report, writing on Twitter, “Come on, this is absurd. That is not language that we have used and will not use.”
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, "I reject the view that Israel's actions constitute apartheid. The department's own reports have never used such terminology."
"I think that it is important, as the world's only Jewish state, that the Jewish people must not be denied their right to self-determination, and we must ensure there isn't a double standard being applied," he added.
In addition, a group of nine US lawmakers from the Democratic party issued a statement denouncing the Amnesty International report.
“We wholly reject Amnesty International UK’s report which is nothing but part of ongoing efforts to delegitimize the Jewish and democratic State of Israel,” said the lawmakers.
“The ‘apartheid’ accusations against Israel misrepresent and diminish the actual tyranny, segregation and dehumanization perpetrated in apartheid South Africa. South Africa’s institutionalized racial segregation of the past bears no equivalence to Israel’s vibrant democracy where all citizens, regardless of religion or race have rights and are represented at the highest levels of government, education, healthcare, business and the courts. In fact, Israel currently has perhaps the most diverse governing coalition in the word, made up of parties across the political spectrum, including the United Arab List. The government ministers include Jews and Muslims, religious and secular, Arabs, Ethiopians, and LGBTQ people. Israel is the only country is the Middle East where Jews and Arabs govern together,” noted the nine lawmakers.
“In a region where religious intolerance and authoritarianism is too often the norm, Israel stands out as a pluralistic exception. Israel is not perfect, nor is any nation, and Palestinians’ rights must be respected. Amnesty International could work to strengthen Israel’s democracy for all Israeli citizens, Jewish and Arab, while also promoting the national aspirations of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, they do the exact opposite.”