By Adv. Craig Snoyman

If Amnesty International UK has the same contempt for Yiddish as it has for the state of Israel then it has probably never heard of the word “Chutzpah”. For any Amnesty International members who should chance upon this article, it can be very roughly translated as a brazen cheek. Whether the word is known or not, it was sheer chuzpah on the part of the Secretary General  when she  released its most recent report on Israel this week.

The irony of Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, releasing the report in Jerusalem, Israel was not lost on me.  Callamard, still notoriously remembered for her  lie that the late President Shimon Peres admitted that Israel was liable for the death of Yasser Arafat, didn’t seem to see anything unusual about a British organisation coming to Jerusalem to release a report in which Israel is described as an Apartheid state. I was born and brought up in Apartheid South Africa! I can remember  the dark days of Apartheid when the security police randomly arrested university students on campus for no good reason. One particular image is that of our student representative leader approaching Brigadier Rooi Rus and asking him what  his security police were doing on campus. The brigadier’s response was simple. He barked an order and had our student leader arrested. That was Apartheid South Africa! Callamard, coming from Britain to Jerusalem to offend Israel by  releasing a report  of it’s alleged Apartheid conduct, certainly had no such fears.

Reprehensible Report. Secretary-General of Amnesty International Agnes Callamard issues its report replete with lies, distortions and misquotes on Israel during a press conference in Jerusalem, on 1 February which labels Israel an “apartheid” state that treats Palestinians as “an inferior racial group”. (photo credit: FLASH90)

As lawyers, we  seek  to get to the crux of an issue quickly – ‘cut to the chase’ in today’s parlance. So we might start off reading a document and then jump to its end to see what relief is requested so that we have an idea of what to look out for during the more throurough read. I read the first bit and then I jumped to the conclusions and recommendations section at the back of the document. The recommendations were long and read like a Hamas wish list to Santa Claus – with probably as much chance of being fulfilled. Although I should add, that if you do read the report, you’ll come out being none the wiser as to precisely what “Hamas” is or what it stands for. Mentions of the PLO and Palestinian Authority are also tellingly scarce. By reading the report alone, you never really understand that Hamas has military or political intentions or objectives. I could not find any reference to any type of aggression by Hamas against Israel or its citizens. Full disclosure – I could not force myself to read the full  distorted report; it would have been as painfully repulsive as putting my head in a bowl of scalding hot oil!

All is Revealed. Beneath the veneer of the Amnesty International Report lies the bare antisemitic truth.

The report starts by declaring Amnesty’s integrity:

We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion and are funded mainly by our membership and individual donations”. 

However, as NGO Monitor points out, Amnesty receives governmental funding, including from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the European Commission, the Netherlands, the United States, and Norway.

So what’s at the beginning of  the report? It opens with an Instagram quote from Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu:

 “Israel is not a state of all its citizens… [but rather] the nation-state of the Jewish people and only them.”

Perhaps I should say it starts with half a quote, because Amnesty never published the balance of the quote :

“There’s no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel––they have the same rights as us all and the Likud government has invested in the Arab sector more than any other government.” 

Amnesty’s Antisemitism.  The plight of Jews are ignored in the Report when wholesale violence from Hamas construed as “war crimes” that fires rockets from Gaza at Israel’s civilian population rates no mention. (photo: Mohammed Abed | AFP)

So, from the outset, there is a half quote that is completely decontextualised and misrepresents what was said.  Pinocchio  rating[1]:-  partially true, decontextualised and misleading  Three Pinocchios. It gives one an inkling of what is to follow in the rest of the report. Strike 1!

So on to the first  two paragraphs of the Executive Summary:

“On 18 May 2021, Palestinians across cities and villages in Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip closed their offices, shops, restaurants and schools, abandoned construction sites, and refused to report to work for the whole day. In a display of unity not seen for decades, they defied the territorial fragmentation and segregation they face in their daily lives and observed a general strike to protest their shared repression by Israel.

The strike was sparked by the Israeli authorities’ plan to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian residential neighbourhood near the Old City in East Jerusalem, which has been repeatedly targeted by Israel’s sustained campaign to expand illegal settlements and transfer Jewish settlers. To stop the threatened evictions, the Palestinian families launched a campaign on social media under the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah attracting worldwide attention and mobilizing protesters on the ground. Israeli security forces responded to the protests with the same excessive force they have been using to stifle Palestinian dissent for decades. They arbitrarily arrested peaceful demonstrators, threw sound and stun grenades at crowds, dispersed them with excessive force and skunk water, and fired concussion grenades at worshippers and protesters gathered in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Now I am no great recorder of dates, but my friend professor Google is.  I called on Google to report what was recorded about the strike on 18 May 2021. I received a response of nine pages of references. Every single article says that the nationwide general strike  was to protest Israel’s flare up with terror entities in Gaza. Some suggest that there were other reasons as well. Not a single article suggests that the strike was sparked by the Israeli authorities’ plan to evict seven Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Fact check: the grounds as stated for the strike must be rejected as false. Four Pinocchios.  Strike 2.

As far as the “protests” in Jerusalem are concerned, there was only one media item that I could find that dealt with  this issue. The Jerusalem Post reported the following:

According to reports from the Red Crescent, 41 people were injured in riots in Sheikh Jarrah and by Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The riots were in response to a call from Fatah encouraging West Bank residents to confront Israeli security forces, and as a result multiple demonstrators clashed with Border Police forces, throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks throughout the afternoon and evening, said police. Protests also occurred at other locations across the country with police saying that some disturbances occurred but that they will work to allow people to demonstrate within the confines of the law.

Fact check:  Amnesty version improbably not true, but only one contrary version. Two Pinocchios.  Strike 3!

At this stage, the average  attorney has by now made up his mind and will send the report to his assistant to read or send it to his advocate for closer scrutiny. I wanted to look at two  other issues: Its definition of apartheid and why it is regarded as antisemitic.

Amnesty tries to go bigger and better than the reports that preceded it, which were issued by the ‘luminary’ establishments of Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, organisations with the same similar “objective” standards that one might find amongst  the rank and file of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions brigade, which also purports not to be antisemitic. The report  can be nicely precise’d by referring to its statement that:

  “almost all of Israel’s civilian administration and military authorities, as well as governmental and quasi-governmental institutions” are involved “in the enforcement of the system of apartheid against Palestinians across Israel and the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] and against Palestinian refugees and their descendants outside the territory.

The BDS’ers, at least in South Africa, have largely conceded that within the  1967 borders of the state of Israel, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are treated much the same as any other citizens. Their gripe was with the treatment of the Palestinians in the “occupied Palestinian territories”, where they were subjected to apartheid-like conditions. There are no such reservations in this report, its conclusion:

Israeli Apartheid extends far and wide, both within and beyond its borders.

Sound familiar?

 A very similar to the familiar canard used by more recognised antisemites, regard the Jews as controlling the world. But a simple fact check of this short quote will reveal at least four fabrications. Were  I  to waste my time actually researching this totally unsubstantiated allegation, I am sure that I would find at least three  more  items for Pinocchios.

Part 4 of the Report deals with the concept of Apartheid and international law.The internationally defined crime against humanity of Apartheid has to be manipulated and massaged in order for Israel to be guilty of Apartheid – a human rights crime. Human Rights Watch had to do the same thing! Amnesty abandons the universal definition of Apartheid and attempts a similar rehash of HRW’s attempt but with a purported reliance on international law.

The report relies on aspects of the “Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid”  in order to define Israel as an Apartheid state. The fundamental problem with such reliance is that the Convention was discussed and adopted in the General Counsel of the United Nations, not a body that  can create international law.

I still remain baffled by the statement  on page 37 where Amnesty states that:

 “it does not seek to argue that, or assess whether, any system of oppression and domination perpetrated in Israel and the OPT {Occupied Palestinian Territories] is, for instance, analogous to  the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.”

It basically is alleging that while Israel is an Apartheid state,  it can’t be said that Israel’s “Apartheid” is analogous to Apartheid of segregation, oppression and race domination that was the official policy of the only country that ever officially practiced apartheid!!

The Jewish communities are united in stating that this report was antisemitic. Was it because of the mere allegation that Israel is an Apartheid state? Regrettably, they all seemed to be generic and referred to the report as a whole. This is understandable as in this day and age one looks for short sound bytes. To get involved in the detail is to bore your audience, who increasingly follow media items to affirm their own pre-existing opinions. So I went looking for the smoking gun! and true to form, amnesty had gone BIG! No longer was it just Apartheid post-1967. At page 20, the embargoed version, a version which was harshly criticised in the lead article of The Wall Street Journal  on 31 January 2021 and  vigorously attacked by the  Embassy of Israel (and which may have resulted in this origins of  Apartheid Israel being subsequently deleted, just seconds before the twelfth hour) provided the  justification that the antisemitic bigots around the world had been waiting for:

“this system of apartheid originated with the creation of Israel in May 1948 and has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all the territories they have controlled, regardless of the political party in power at the time.”

Amnesty’s  True Colours. Israel’s creation in 1948 as reported here in ‘The Palestine Post’ three years after the Holocaust, is characterized by Amnesty International UK in its 2022 report not as a final haven for Jews who have been subjected to  massacre after massacre for 2000 years but as the beginning of a system of Apartheid.

Finally, a large “ human rights” organisation came forward  and verified  the credo of every “River to the Sea”  believer that Israel is a ******* country conceived and born as a result of the crime of Apartheid and therefore having no legitimate right to exist. The cherry on the top is that  in its recommendations section, this initial fallacy has not been refuted in that it calls for the dismantling of “this appalling system of Apartheid” which is clearly a reference to the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Totally dishonest, the maximum five Pinocchios.

In a report that Amnesty International UK claims took four years to write, during all that time, not subscribing to the definition of antisemitism as set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and refusing to acknowledge it publicly, it could not have been unaware of this definition.

Part of this definition that reads “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming the existence of the state of Israel, is a racist endeavour” constitutes antisemitism. Nonetheless, it sent out its report to the world denying the  legitimate birth of  Israel and its subsequent existence. Its call for the dismantling of Israel’s  appalling system of Apartheid, which is the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state. In its own words, Amnesty International UK condemns itself as an antisemitic organisation. A desperate last-minute amendment for a document that had been so long in the making cannot alter Amnesty International UK‘s antisemitic intent.

So yes,  the report is antisemitic!

As was noted by NGO Monitor, the report’s release:

 “is timed to bolster a forthcoming March 2022 report from U.N. Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk that will advance similar allegations, and influence the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry.”

Perhaps the timing of the release  of the Report until afterInternational Holocaust Day was not coincidental!

Notwithstanding the  ringing endorsement of the report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the “State of Palestine”, I seriously  question whether this report could withstand the light of critical examination in a court of law. However, I have no doubt that were such a court case to take place, the haters would flood the media with anti-Israel vitriol  and run riot while such a case was proceeding.

 ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Day’  on the 27 January every year commemorates the victims of the Holocaust resulting in the murder of one third of the Jewish people.

After the ending of Apartheid in 1994, the new duly democratically elected South African government, established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, whereby  perpetrators of violence during the apartheid era could come forward, and if they fully and truthfully confessed their offences, they could then be granted immunity from prosecution. In my own little private ‘truth and reconciliation commission’, this biased report, packed with half-truths and lies, and with substantial omissions and unsubstantiated allegations, doesn’t even come close to meeting the standard required for immunity. Amnesty International UK may have gone big, but now it’s time for them to go home with their tails between their legs. But I suppose that it does not work that way in the world of realpolitik. Amnesty – no doubt to the approval of members of the Human Rights Council, and of course the State of Palestine – have once again revived the blood libel of:

  “Zionism is Racism

For Amnesty International UK,  I have another Yiddish word: “Schande”. It’s pronounced the same way in German and very similarly pronounced in Dutch.

I’ll save you the trouble of translating. It’s a disgrace!

[1]  Acknowledgement to the Washington Post, which rates fact checked articles with Pinocchios.

About the writer:

Craig Snoyman is a practising advocate in South Africa.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO).

4 thoughts on “Chutzpah

  1. This horrendous and deceitful “report” is simply a re-write of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion using different language but the identical message and conveniently timed to coincide with the resurgence anti-Semitism running rampant throughout the world.

  2. As the world sees the current stand-off between mighty Russia bullying a much weaker Ukraine, other than the media the worlds capitals are quite and not a demonstration outside any Russian embassy.
    If this were powerful Israel threatening little weak Gaza the streets of world capitals would have been filled with outrage, demonstrations and attacks on Jews.

    1. We saw it at the 1942 expulsion, when the Jews/Marranos had no backup. They were expelled immediately. King Ferdinand was in fear of attack by the Moors/ Mariscos backup in North Africa and so when they left, they were able to take all their possessions. This time the Jews/Israelis have no backup so Amnesty can do as they like without fear of consequence.. The world is scared of the might of the Russians so they too. will be able to take Ukraine with little consequence. The Jews are the only real Christians in the world- they turn the other cheek. The Russians are not nearly so polite.

  3. Wonderfully addressed; excellently expressed.
    Unfortunately the blind eyes, deaf ears and brains washed out by lies, indoctrination and false propaganda are numb to the truth and absorb only with the word ‘lie’ in the word ‘belief’.

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