THERE is an astonishing contradiction at the heart of the latest Amnesty International Report on Israel, one deserving further analysis. Resolving it, could be the key to unlocking a potential solution. Ignoring it, could mean, business as usual, since the document’s omission of history and demographic context, makes the report in all likelihood, an exercise in futility.
Prior to 2018 and the passing of ‘Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People“, by the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s raison d’être was exactly, as the didactic law maintains, to provide a nation-state for the Jewish people. Yet there was always hope that the country could achieve a lot more for all its citizens. As a cosmopolitan and democratic hub in the Middle East, it had pretensions at being just like any Secular Western country, a melting pot of divergent interests.
It was successive Intifadas beginning in 1987, which put paid to this notion. The reason can be seen by the manner in which Amnesty International treats the issue of nationality, preferring to tackle the problem from the perspective of a proposed, single unitary state, one which ignores the logic of Islamic Jihad, and Palestinian separatism, all while holding to a UN-sponsored fiction that Israel occupies Gaza, for the purpose of analysis.
Thus Palestinians in Gaza, according to Amnesty are being denied their rights to become Israeli citizens, at the same time they are being denied their rights to become Palestinians in a country that includes all of the territory under the former British Mandate.
The same is true in the West Bank, where the issue of nationality, passports and permanent resident status are compounded by an ongoing dispute involving land and borders, one that revolves around a centuries old teleological crisis involving the City of Jerusalem. To put this another way, it is a crisis within monotheism, as to which monotheistic religion prevails at the end of the day.
In recent years there have been a number of attempts to apply UN definitions of the ‘crime of apartheid’ under international law to the conflict. I have written about some of these earlier, mostly misguided endeavours to impose pseudo-scientific race definitions onto the situation , and have routinely objected to the resulting category error, since clearly nations are not races. There is no distinct Palestinian ‘race’.
[Amnesty International] does not seek to argue that…any system of oppression and domination as perpetrated in Israel…is…the same or analogous to the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.
Amnesty International has analyzed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation; segregation and control…It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid.
Amnesty claim without awareness of any contradiction: “Whilst they are granted citizenship, Palestinian citizens of Israel are denied a nationality, establishing a legal differentiation from Jewish Israeli” .
The Palestinian Authority Passport (Arabic: جواز سفر السلطة الفلسطينية) “is a passport/travel document issued since April 1995 by the Palestinian Authority to Palestinian residents of the Palestinian territories for the purpose of international travel.”
Amnesty deny such a document exists and instead appear to seek votes in the Knesset for citizens of a de facto parallel nation-state, with observer status at the UN, namely the West Bank PA, and thus seats in an institution which would, nevertheless, be abolished under a Palestinian government. And further appearing to demand that Israel should be supplying municipal services to Gaza, an enclave created by the Arab League in 1948. Which begs the question, why not Jordan (which experienced an attempted coup by the PLO in 1970, during a month known as black September), why have borders at all?
That Jewish citizens of Israel enjoy a privileged legal status in a similar manner as do Muslim citizens of several neighbouring Muslim Arab countries, is not the issue here, nor does the report inquire as to the historic reasons for the loss of Jewish population within the Arab world at large following the machinations of Adolf Hitler’s willing disciples.
What strikes one as truly odd and paradoxical, is the perceived need by Amnesty to pressure for reform of Israeli citizenship through the imposition of yet another identity, and thus Amnesty is essentially advocating that Israelis become Palestinians and vice versa. It is a plurinational theme that I have often returned to, but unfortunately one which fails to grapple with the central demographic crisis in the region.
Simple put, there are more Arabs than Jews in the world, and more candidate Palestinians, applying for the job as Palestinians, than Israelis. Should Israel become an Arab State to be absorbed into the Arab League? What would happen if Israel did not exist? This might be the case if the country were forced to answer the charge of apartheid by absorbing both the PA and Gaza, and from the perspective of human rights, it might make a whole lot of sense on paper.
At least until one realises that Israel was created, not simply because of the circumstances surrounding the Nazi Holocaust, but also because of the problem of Jewish refugees fleeing Arab States and dhimmitude under Islamic law, in the aftermath of the 1941 Farhud Massacre. The latest Amnesty report thus repeats many of the mistakes, omissions and errors of earlier reports — is unnecessarily dense in its quest to appear scholarly — yet is an excellent albeit flawed document of excessive rights violations such as house demolitions, forced removals and appalling restrictions on movement.
 Although it is unnecessary for persons to be defined as a ‘racial group’ in order to be discriminated against as a ‘group’ in terms of International Law, reports on Israel/Palestine routinely trot out race criteria in order to meet the definition of apartheid.