Monday, April 26, 2021

  • Monday, April 26, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
On Sunday we began our look at Human Rights Watch's latest anti-Israel screed.

The 223 page Human Rights Watch report that is being published Tuesday completely hinges on defining Israel as being guilty of apartheid. In order to do that, it has to become very creative in its definitions.

It says, accurately:

The Apartheid Convention defines the crime against humanity of apartheid as “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” The Rome Statute of the ICC adopts a similar definition: “inhumane acts…committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”
But HRW has a problem. Both definitions are very specific that the crime of apartheid depends on one racial group oppressing another, which means that the liberals of HRW are saying that Jews are a different racial group from other humans. That is a little problematic for those who know a little history of what happens when Jews are considered a distinct race.

HRW therefore tries to fudge things:
Both the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute use the term “racial group,” but neither defines it.  The development of the Apartheid Convention against the backdrop of events in southern Africa in the 1970s, as referenced in the text of the Convention, as well as the non-inclusion of other categories beyond race, and the rejection of proposals by some states to expand the treaty’s scope, could lead to a narrower interpretation focused on divisions based on skin color.  While discussion of the meaning of “racial group” during the drafting of the Rome Statute appears to have been minimal,  its inclusion in the definition of apartheid, after the end of apartheid in South Africa and when international human rights law had clearly defined racial discrimination to include differences of ethnicity, descent, and national origin, indicates that “racial group” within the Rome Statute reflects, and would likely be interpreted by courts to reflect, a broader conception of race.
HRW makes an assumption that the definition of apartheid not only includes racial groups but also groups that share descent, national or ethnic origin. It's entire argument rests on the idea that Israel discriminates against Palestinian Arabs based on their national origin, which is interesting for a people who have literally no national origin. 

For HRW to make its argument, it further has to prove that Israel systematically oppresses Palestinian Arabs.

Now, let's look back at the definitions of apartheid, and do a test based on HRW's assumptions. 
  • Is Lebanon guilty of apartheid based on its laws that limit where Palestinians can live and what jobs they can have? Sure it is. 
  • Is Jordan guilty of apartheid based on how it treats Palestinians who never lived in the West Bank, denying citizenship and its benefits? Sure it is.
  • Is the PLO guilty of apartheid based on its laws that anyone who sells land to a Jew is liable to the death penalty? Sure it is.
  • How about Kuwait, which expelled over 400,000 Palestinians because they were Palestinian? Or Libya, 
  • Is Hamas guilty of apartheid for shooting rockets (inhumane acts) with the purpose of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state (committed with the intention of maintaining that regime)? Sure it is.
  • What about the US, with its spate of police killing people of color? HRW's American friends would be the first to say that this is systematic oppression and domination meant to maintain the US racist regime.

So not only is everyone racist, but everyone is guilty of apartheid! 

Yet only Israel is given that description by Human Rights Watch.

HRW needs to go through additional rhetorical hoops  in its zeal to pretend that Israel is guilty of apartheid. It needs to prove that Israel is discriminating against Palestinians who live under the government of the Palestinian Authority, which is recognized as the "State of Palestine" by 138 members of the UN. Since it is obvious that people who live under a completely different national government are not victims of apartheid by a different government, HRW needs to airbrush the Palestinian Authority out of the story.

Indeed, it does - the PA is not mentioned once in terms of Palestinians living under that authority.

Then HRW has to pretend that Arabs who live in Israel are discriminated against because they are Arabs. As we showed yesterday, like many nations, Israel gives preference to its own people for citizenship, but HRW twists that into discrimination against Palestinians - and implies that any state that does that is racist. (Sorry, Italy!)

The rhetorical knots the report is forced to tie itself in gets almost humorous:
Israeli policies have also denied residency rights to thousands of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and left many without nationality. Since its annexation of East Jerusalem in 1967, it has applied its 1952 Law of Entry to Palestinians from there and designated them as “permanent residents,” the same status afforded to a foreigner who wants to live in Israel. Permanent residents may live, work, and receive benefits, but that status derives from their presence, can be revoked at the Interior Ministry’s discretion, and does not
automatically pass to one’s children or non-resident spouse even if they have lived in Jerusalem for years. A path to citizenship exists for Palestinian Jerusalemite permanent residents, but the vast majority have chosen not to pursue it, as it involves recognizing Israel, the occupying power, as the legitimate sovereign.
So first HRW says it is terrible that they are not citizens, then says they can become citizens if they want to, but most don't want to, and who can blame them for not wanting to?  

It goes on:
The vast majority of those who applied did not receive citizenship. Authorities rejected many applicants for failing to demonstrate that Israel, and not the West Bank, was their “center of life,” or for their having a criminal record, insufficient knowledge of Hebrew, or “lack of loyalty [to Israel].”
Does any other country allow people to become citizens without a vow of loyalty to the state? Only for Israel does the ordinary become criminal.

Of course, HRW doesn't address the fact that if Israel allows thousands of Arabs to become full citizens even today (and it doesn't mention the many Arabs in the Golan Heights that are now seeking citizenship,)  then Israel clearly does not discriminate against Palestinians as a national group! 

Its historic review likewise does not mention that Israel gave citizenship in the early 1950s to tens of thousands of Palestinians who managed to get back to their previous homes and offered citizenship to 100,000 more, and some 20,000 more in the 1990s and 2000s under "family reunification." This again is inconsistent with "systemic oppression and domination."

This report characterizes itself as a "detailed legal analysis" on the question. However, any real legal analysis looks at both sides of an issue. This report most emphatically does not do that - on the contrary, it tries mightily to lead the reader away from any other arguments, let alone debunkings.

In summary, Human Rights Watch will grab onto the most tenuous threads to pretend that Israel is guilty of apartheid, and it will go to great lengths to avoid any proof that shows it isn't. 

Which makes this book-length report nothing but propaganda.

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