On March 15, 2017, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) published “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid: Palestine and the Israeli Occupation, Issue No. 1.” The report, co-authored by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, accuses Israel of being “guilty of policies and practices that constitute the crime of apartheid.”

The two authors have long histories of anti-Israel activity. Richard Falk, former “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” is a fringe “9/11 conspiracy theorist” and has been widely denounced, including by the former Secretary-General of the UN, for vile comments blaming the Boston terrorist attack on “the American global domination project” and “Tel Aviv.” He is also the author of an article “Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust” that compares Israel to Nazi Germany.

Virginia Tilley has contributed articles to Electronic Intifada, a major online media outlet active in promoting antisemitism, extreme anti-Israel views, and propaganda. In one of Tilley’s articles, “On the Academic Boycott of Israel,” she states that “Israeli academic arguments are indeed too reminiscent of apartheid South Africa to escape the comparison.”

Oddly, the 74-page report contains only 90 citations and footnotes. Of these, only contains 11 citations to non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

However, many of the citations refer to Tilley’s own book Beyond Occupation: Apartheid, Colonialism and International Law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. For example, an entire section of the report, “Apartheid through fragmentation,” is described as an “edited version of the discussion” in Chapter 4 of the book (“Review of Israeli Practices Relative to the Prohibition of Apartheid”). In that chapter, 167 of the footnotes (~25%) rely on claims from anti-Israel political advocacy NGOs, including Al-Haq, Addameer, Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). These four organizations have direct or indirect ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization – designated as such by the US, EU, Canada, and Israel. (See table below for exhaustive list of NGOs cited in Chapter 4.)

The NGOs cited in the UN report (as well as Tilley’s book) include Adalah, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). Adalah is an Israeli NGO that publishes an online “Discriminatory Laws Database,” that does not distinguish between laws and legislative proposals and refers to Zionism pejoratively. This database is cited on page 40 of the UN report, where the authors demonize Israeli laws as comprising “a regime of systematic racial discrimination that imposes second-class citizenship on Palestinian citizens of Israel.”

B’Tselem, cited 3 times in the UN report and 35 times in Tilley’s chapter, aims to change Israeli government policy in the West Bank and Gaza, and has utilized apartheid rhetoric and unsubstantiated accusations of Israeli human rights violations.

Cited 6 times in Tilley’s apartheid chapter and once in the UN report, Human Rights Watch disproportionately focuses on condemnations of Israel and uses distorted legal rhetoric to regularly accuse Israel of “war crimes,” “[s]erious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” “collective punishment,” and fostering a “culture of impunity.” HRW also lobbies the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and other international frameworks, promoting these false, distorted, and unverifiable allegations against Israel.

NGO Citations from Tilley’s Book Beyond Occupation 

NGONumber of Citations
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)12
Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA)4
Amnesty International1
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)1
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)9
Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P)2
Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP)1
Human Rights Watch6
Ir Amim4
Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER)1
Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment (LAW)2
Ma’an Development Center1
World Organization Against Torture (OMCT)1
Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs (PASSIA)1
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)12
Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR)7
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)7
Yesh Din1