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Responses To the Amnesty International Report

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
April 2022

The Amnesty International (AI) report accusing Israel of “apartheid” has come  
under criticism from the Israeli government and supporters of Israel in the U.S.  
The AI report comes a year after Human Rights Watch and B’Tselem, the Israeli  
human rights group, issued reports also accusing Israel of “apartheid.”  
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, while not pointing to any inaccuracies in  
the 280-page AI report, called AI “just another radical organization which echoes  
propaganda without checking facts.” He also accused AI of anti-Semitism: “I hate  
to use the argument that if Israel were not a Jewish state, nobody in Amnesty  
would dare argue against it, but in this case, there is no other possibility.”  
Rabbi Eliot Cosgrove of the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York told his  
congregation that he didn’t want to respond from the pulpit to the AI report, but  
he couldn’t help himself because he has committed his synagogue to supporting  
Israel. Mondoweiss (Feb. 14, 2022) reports that, “Cosgrove spent 15 minutes  
trashing a report he admits he hasn’t read—but that’s what you do ‘when a family  
member is attacked from the outside.’…He said, ‘I do so because for me, Israel is  
part and parcel of my Jewish identity, it’s central to my vision of the  
rabbinate…It will remain central to the mission of this synagogue…For me, to be  
Jewish today means to be actively engaged with Israel.’ He said that apartheid is  
‘clickbait’ for the ‘feeding frenzy of Israel’s detractors.’ Rabbi Cosgrove  
admitted that even he had ‘all sorts of criticism of Israel, its systemic and  
ongoing restrictions of Palestinian rights, its repeated actions impeding  
Palestinian sovereignty…Israel’s inability to house liberal expressions of Jewish  
life, most recently the collapse of the Kotel.’ But, he said, when Israel is  
being criticized ‘from the outside,’ it must be defended as ‘family.’”  
Jewish Voice for Peace welcomed the report “documenting the brutal reality of  
Israel’s apartheid regime.” AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-  
Defamation League and other groups echoed the Israeli government’s criticism of  
the AI report. Columnist Liat Collins wrote in The Jerusalem Post that, “While it  
(AI) pretends to promote peace, it excels in promoting the tropes and stereotypes  
that encourage terrorism and violence. Amnesty’s study is not so much a damning  
report as a report in which truth be damned.” Those who called the report “anti-  
Semitic” were criticized editorially in Washington Jewish Week (Feb. 20, 2022):  
“It is not anti-Semitic to point out, as AI does, that Israel weakened its  
argument for equality when it passed the Nation State law in 2018. Not only did  
that law denigrate Israel’s Arab citizens and their culture, it also ignored the  
national aspirations of the Palestinian people.”  
Other responses to the AI report were more nuanced. Matt Nosanchuck, president of  
the New York Jewish Agenda, provided this assessment: (Jewish Telegraphic Agency,  
Feb. 10, 2022): “We must look beyond this report’s controversial legal  
conclusions and examine the difficult realities of Israel’s 55-year occupation of  
the West Bank, its control of the Gaza border and the unfulfilled promise of full  
equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. It’s not just AI that has  
documented this in detail. Numerous Israeli NGOs and the U.S. State Department  
have warned about the many costs of occupation. These realities cannot be  
ignored—not by those who live in Israel nor by those of us who support Israel  
here in America.”  
Speaking in personal terms, Nosanchuck writes: “I have traveled to Israel  
numerous times over the past 46 years, including spending a year there during  
college. I have seen first-hand the harsh realities of the occupation and felt  
the dream of a peacefully shared society for Palestinian and Jewish citizens of  
Israel slipping away. I have also observed how the lack of Palestinian equality  
corrodes Jewish ideals of a just, democratic and secure state. Like many others,  
especially many younger American Jews, I find it increasingly difficult to see  
those ideals in the current state of Israel.”  
Concerning the AI report, he concludes: “The categoric condemnation of the AI  
report by many in our community avoids grappling with the ongoing control and  
denial of rights that Palestinians in the occupied territories and to a lesser  
degree in Israel experience day in and day out. This unsupportable reality—with  
no moral, logical, or politically feasible endgame—must change…Imagine if those  
of us who care deeply about safeguarding a democratic homeland for Jews in Israel  
expended as much effort fighting for greater justice in Israel and an end to the  
occupation as we spend responding each time someone condemns Israel; we could  
make a real difference in transforming the situation…We remain committed to  
standing up for our values. This requires acknowledging that there are difficult  
realities on both sides.”

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