Amnesty’s Conspiracy Theory Puts Biden and Progressive Jews in a Bind

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On February 1, Amnesty International published a conspiracy theory about Jews.

Amnesty’s 280-page diatribe entitled, “Israel’s Apartheid Against the Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,” alleges that the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and the only Jewish state in the world is a criminal enterprise and has been since its formation in 1948. According to Amnesty, the State of Israel is an apartheid state whose very existence is a crime against humanity.

In an interview with The Times of Israel website last week, Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director of research and advocacy for the Middle East and North Africa, described the way he and his fellow authors perceive Israel’s parliamentary democracy, which as his interviewer Lazar Berman noted, is admired by 68 percent of the Palestinians.

Luther and his colleagues approach Israel like a Potemkin village set up to conceal the evil at the heart of the Jewish state.

In Luther’s words: “It is such a complicated system, and it’s a dizzying array of laws, policies and practices that interweave with each other. Now, any one component of those may mask the reality behind it, or may have what appears to be an innocent and legitimate aim. So the idea that you would dismantle construction that has no building permit seems logical, and you can see why anyone who’s not looking at the broader context would feel…well, that’s just a normal thing you do under the rule of law. So I can see [why] you would have some situations like that. Now, the problem is it’s the way all these things work together.”

In other words, Israel’s laws are easy to understand. And their equal enforcement towards all Israelis—Jews and non-Jews alike—is entirely proper. Indeed, every aspect of Israeli governance is entirely proper. But none of this matters because it’s all just a big conspiracy.

“The Israeli state has made it so difficult to penetrate,” Luther continued. “They have tried to create a smokescreen around, and of course there is a democratic system, and there are judicial institutions that of course then call the state to account, or at least challenge their decisions. But that’s what makes it so challenging in some ways, then, to disentangle them when you put it all together.”

Everyone in Israel is a smokescreen maker. Everyone—judges, generals, lawmakers, government officials and ministers—is in on “put[ting] it all together.”

To expose the truth of Israel’s devious venality, the world needs the likes of Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and progressive groups from Brussels to Berkeley to devote their resources to exposing the tiny democracy surrounded by racist enemies who openly call for its destruction. It’s not that they want to ignore Syria, Iran, China or Pakistan. The Israelis just leave them no choice.

As Luther put it: “The Israeli state…ends up being the driver of…resources unnecessarily spent on investigations by anybody, because it’s made so damn complicated.”

Berman reasonably tried to understand why Amnesty International felt it needed to publish its conspiracy theory now. There is no war going on. The only recent developments in Israel would seem amenable to Amnesty’s goal of ending the existence of the Jewish nation-state. Israel’s new governing coalition is dominated by the radical Left. Even more significant, Israel’s ruling coalition commands a bare parliamentary majority and is wholly dependent for its survival on its smallest faction, the United Arab List, an Arab Islamist party historically aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood.

So why is Amnesty fixating on Israel now?

Luther’s response on this issue revealed much about the nature of the Western progressive camp’s steadily escalating campaign against Israel.

Luther explained that in the progressive camp: “There is a growing debate on the subject [of whether Israel is an apartheid state]. We thought it was absolutely right and proper that we brought up. …When you’re looking at the question of whether you’re going to be looking at any particular place, well, is there a debate on it? There are external factors, that’s part of the strategic landscape. It’s, ‘Do we have something to say on it? Is it something that we might have a contribution?'”

In other words, from Amnesty’s perspective, publishing the report was about keeping up with the Joneses. Last year, Human Rights Watch falsely accused Israel of maintaining an apartheid regime in united Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria—areas Israel took control over from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. Other progressive groups published similar reports. On campuses throughout Europe and the U.S., “Israel Apartheid Month” has become a major annual event. Amnesty’s decision to publish a report accusing Israel of maintaining an apartheid regime not only in unified Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, but in sovereign Israel and indeed all over the world, was about jumping to the front of the line.

Luther’s backhanded admission that it was social pressure that compelled Amnesty to publish its conspiracy theory alleging Israelis run a secret criminal state behind their liberal democracy tells us two important things. The first is about the nature of the progressive camp today and what a distance it has traveled in recent decades.

In the 1960s and 1970s, led by the Soviets and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Non-Aligned Movement embraced the notion that Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement, was inherently racist. The high-water mark in this period’s “Israel apartheid” campaign was the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379 in 1975, which defined Zionism as a form of racism.

The backlash against 3379 from the U.S. was powerful, bipartisan and consistent. As a consequence, over time, outside the radical fringes of the political Left, it became less and less acceptable to stand athwart reality and accuse the Jewish state of being racist. The joint Soviet-PLO campaign was finally defeated with the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. That year, the first Bush administration successfully brought about the abrogation of Resolution 3379.

If 30 years ago it was considered socially unacceptable to refer to Israel as a racist state, today, as Luther indicated, falsely accusing Israel of apartheid isn’t merely acceptable. For progressives, it is de rigueur.

And this brings us to the second lesson from Luther’s admission. In 1993, Amnesty and the rest of the progressive, self-proclaimed “human rights community,” along with the Israeli Left and the vast majority of the American Jewish community, cheered the initiation of the peace process between Israel and the PLO. They uniformly leveled their condemnations of Israel in the context of the peace process. By enforcing its sovereignty in unified Jerusalem and asserting its national and legal rights in Judea and Samaria, Israel, they alleged, was undermining chances for peace through a two-state solution.

But the two-state paradigm was based on an acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. The two-state policy model views the Palestinian conflict with Israel as a real estate dispute. To resolve it, Israel needs to transfer a certain amount of land to the PLO, on which the PLO will establish a sovereign Palestinian-Arab state. That state will then live peacefully, side by side with the Jewish state.

Amnesty’s report, and Luther’s assertion that the report was motivated by social pressure to keep up with the progressive herd, make clear that the two-state paradigm is defunct. The progressive Left, which was the two-state solution’s main champion, no longer accepts its central premise—that Israel has a right to exist in the first instance. Obviously, with the progressive Left now fully aligned with the PLO, Hamas and Iran in rejecting Israel’s right to exist, the jig is up. There can only be one sovereign state on the landmass west of the Jordan River—either Israel or Palestine.

The principal victim of this state of affairs is not Israel. Most Israelis accepted long ago that Amnesty and the progressive Left, of which it is a leading member, are implacably hostile to the Jewish state. So too, most Israelis recognized in 2000 that the two-state solution was dead after the PLO rejected statehood and peace and instead initiated a terror war, the Second Intifada, against Israel.

The principal casualty of the progressive camp’s formal embrace of Iran’s position that Israel must be wiped off the map is the Biden administration. President Joe Biden and his team have lost the fig leaf of “peace” to justify their demands for Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. With the two-state solution now abandoned by its main champions—Biden’s progressive base—the strategic and political rationale for the two-state solution is gone. All that remains is hostility toward Israel.

The secondary casualty of the progressive Left’s open championing of Israel’s destruction is the American Jewish left. Amnesty’s report, like the “Israel apartheid” campaigns more generally, present Jewish progressives with a choice. They can support Jewish political freedom and rights, or they can be progressives. Reasonably, but futilely, American Jewish progressives, such as the Union of Reform Judaism, reacted with fury to the Amnesty report.

Israel has managed over its 74 years to develop a system that provides full civil rights to all its citizens, while protecting and preserving Israel’s Jewish national identity. Contrary to Amnesty’s conspiracy theory, Israel’s democracy is real, sustained and sustainable. But its progressive detractors in the Biden administration and the American Jewish community are now faced with a choice. Either they can embrace conspiracy theories and maintain their position in their progressive circles, or they can embrace the truth.

Originally published in Newsweek.

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