Amnesty International is right about Israel’s apartheid state  

By Carlton Joseph

Carlton Joseph

On February 1, 2022, Amnesty International declared that the state of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is a crime against humanity and is illegal under international law, and that Israel’s “oppression and domination” of Palestinians amounts to apartheid. Interestingly, the major United States (US) media did not see this announcement as newsworthy, so there was little or no coverage of this declaration.

Even before the report was officially issued, the Israeli foreign ministry urged Amnesty to withdraw it, calling it “false, biased, and antisemitic.” The U.S. State Department said that it rejects the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid, and the Biden administration and congressional leaders of both parties launched a full-frontal assault on the integrity of Amnesty International, the world’s largest and most respected human rights organization.

Meanwhile, Biden has accused the government of China of carrying out genocide against Uyghur Muslims, raised concerns about Tibet and Hong Kong, doubled down on US’s commitment to the “one China” policy on Taiwan, and pledged to defend Taiwan in the event of an attack by China.  Biden seems intent on going to war with Russia or China, or both simultaneously.  Biden seems intent on getting Trump elected in 2024 because the American people will not support such military actions.

Recently, the US, the European (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada announced sanctions against two Chinese government officials over continued human rights abuses against the country’s minority Uyghur, who are predominantly Muslim.  Biden specifically brought up concerns with China’s behavior in Xinjiang province, accusing the government of using a national security law to crack down on protests. China responded by imposing punitive measures against the EU. 

Human rights abuses by any country are wrong and the abusers must be accountable.  Disturbingly, the issues the US and her allies are raising in protest against China pales in comparison to the human rights abuses reported by Amnesty International against Israel.  Amnesty stated that Israel has embraced laws and practices that “are intended to maintain a cruel system of control over Palestinians, have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished, and in a constant state of fear and insecurity.”  The US and her allies must stop being hypocritical and call out the abuses of friends and perceived foes.

Racists, white supremacists’ ideology seems to drive every decision that the US and her allies have made in the past and present.  One might recall that the US and allies supported apartheid South Africa before and after 1948 when apartheid laws called for the separate development of the different racial groups in South Africa. The laws forced the different racial groups to live separately and develop separately, and grossly unequally.   

One might recall that in 2015, President Jimmy Carter was attacked by the Western media for saying that all hope for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict has ended, and there was zero chance of the two-state solution because the Netanyahu government decided early on to adopt a one-state solution but without giving the Palestinians equal rights.  Netanyahu has pursued a deliberate policy of annexing and colonizing the West Bank, ensuring that the Palestinians under Israel’s occupation remain stateless and without rights.

The US is continuing its 19the century foreign policy, when communication was not instant and information was not readily available from anywhere in the world.  Today, communication is instant and facts can be verified instantly; people are intelligent and know when they are being manipulated; they understand that charges of human rights violations are not only for the people you decide to dislike, but for any government who violates other people’s rights. 

The US’s dysfunctional foreign policy is easily discernable and makes one question her motives, and question the idea of right or wrong, or if right or wrong depends on if you are an ally.  The logical conclusion is that there is no right or wrong.

In my quest to understand racism and how it works, I visited the ghettos of Poland where Jews were forced to live.  The Jews had to leave behind their homes and most of their possessions when they moved to ghettos; most families were able to stay together, with multiple families sharing one apartment.  Jewish resident Chaim Kaplan wrote in his diary: “We have entered into a new life, and it is impossible to imagine the panic that has arisen in the Jewish Quarter.  Suddenly we see ourselves penned in on all sides. We are segregated and separated from the world and the fullness thereof, driven out of the society of the human race.”

I also visited Israel and witnessed how Palestinians are being forced off their land and out of their homes, separated and segregated by laws, walls and checkpoints.  Jewish Israelis have only one ID card, with a status that grants them the rights to live almost anywhere they wish in the country, they can move freely with access to healthcare and vast resources.  Palestinians, on the other hand, have four types of ID cards or no ID card, they have to beg for a job every day, and live in a constant state of fear and insecurity, and are deliberately impoverished.

I also visited South Africa and witnessed how difficult it is to dismantle an apartheid system.  Twenty years after Mandela became president the ghettos are still fully in place and the apartments that the new government are able to construct perpetuate the ghetto, because the funding is not available to develop decent housing.  Apartheid was still entrenched twenty years after the new black government assumed power.

I also visited Auschwitz concentration camp, a complex of concentration and extermination camps operated by Nazi Germany during World War II and the Holocaust.  I walked the corridors and saw the shoes, polish, toothbrushes and glass cases full of hair of the Jewish people as they were unknowingly led to the gas chambers.  The cruelty was palpable and convinced me that man’s worst enemy is man, but it raised the issue of Israel and Palestine.  How can the Jewish people, that was subjected to this horror, now subject another race to a similar horror?  Is man incapable of learning from past mistakes?

The US needs to abandon its old racists playbook if it wants to be the world leader.  Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization with 10 million members worldwide, has received the Nobel peace prize and has been cited by the US and other world governments for its unbiased human rights reporting.  US officials and law makers rejection of this report as absurd, as delegitimizing the existence of the state of Israel and fueling hatred toward Jews is ridiculous and counter-productive.

US lawmakers need to review and seriously consider encouraging Israel to implement Amnesty’s recommendations, and to change Israel’s apartheid policies, before the world is presented with another genocide.  The US needs to recognize that what began in Hitler’s Germany as official and state-encouraged discrimination and prosecution, developed into an unprecedented policy of industrialized mass murder.  

The Biden administration has repeatedly committed to human rights and to stand for a world in which human rights are protected and rights abusers are held accountable.  The US must apply that standard everywhere, equally and not make exceptions for allies.

(Trinidad-born Carlton Joseph who lives in Washington DC, is a close observer of political developments in the United States.)