St. Louis Friends of Israel denounces Amnesty report 


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On Feb. 1, Amnesty International issued a report on Israel that labels Israel as an “apartheid” state. Use of the emotionally charged term “apartheid” is intended to stigmatize Israel, isolate it in the community of nations and, ultimately, delegitimize its existence. Additionally, Amnesty’s use of the term is not limited to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank or Israel’s housing policies in Jerusalem. Rather, it is applied to Israel’s founding in 1948, suggesting that the mere existence of Israel as a Jewish state is in itself anathema.

St. Louis Friends of Israel (SLFI) denounces the Amnesty report in the strongest possible terms. There are nearly two million Arabs living in the State of Israel today, which is more than the total number of Jews in every Muslim-majority country combined. Arab citizens of Israel enjoy civil, religious, social, and political equality, and have equal access to property, work, healthcare, and education. Arab-Israelis hold positions in every sector of Israeli society: there are Arab doctors, lawyers, policemen, and even Arab diplomats. 

In 2021, the United Arab list – an Arab-Israeli political party – made history by being the first Arab political party to join the ruling Israeli government coalition. Israel allows and funds Arabic language schools for its Arab minority and allows complete freedom of religion to non-Jews. The same cannot be said about any other countries in the region, many of which deny certain rights and often persecute their minority populations.

Is there inequality in Israel between the Jewish and Arab populations? Absolutely, just as there is in any democratic nation, including the United States. But to suggest that Israel’s open, liberal and pluralistic society is in any way akin to South Africa’s policy of apartheid is nothing short of a slanderous fiction.

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In response to numerous terror attacks, Israel has implemented security restrictions that limit the freedom of movement of Palestinians who live in the West Bank and Gaza. The Amnesty report ignores the reason why these security measures have been implemented, and ignores the fact that Hamas, a terrorist organization that rules Gaza, is sworn to Israel’s destruction and frequently launches missile attacks on Israel’s civilian population.

The report also ignores that on several occasions, Israel has offered to withdraw from the territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War and to make peace with the Palestinians. In fact, at Camp David in July 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered an Israeli withdrawal from 100% of Gaza and 95% of the West Bank, including parts of Jerusalem. However, this offer was rejected by Yasser Arafat, and the Palestinians subsequently launched a wave of violence that became known as the “Second Intifada” (uprising). Today, the Palestinian Authority administers some 39% of the West Bank; 61% of the West Bank remains under direct Israeli military and civilian control.

Clearly, the Amnesty report is designed to sway public opinion against Israel. We sincerely hope that our local St. Louis pro-Israel advocacy organizations will repudiate this vile report.

Galit Lev-Harir and Traci Goldstein are Co-Presidents of St. Louis Friends of Israel.