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The attempts to falsely paint Israel through the use of labels such as “racism” and “apartheid” have a long and dark history. In 1975, the Soviet and Arab blocs in the UN sponsored an infamous resolution branding Zionism as racism, and the campaigns have continued since then. A number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) joined this propaganda effort, and in 2001, the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN Durban conference picked up the theme in the form of an action plan to promote the”complete isolation of Israel as an apartheid state.”

In their opinion piece, “On Israel and Palestine, it’s time for Canada to recognize reality,” Farida Deif and Omar Shakir repeated these false and dangerous accusations. Both are employed by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), which played a central role in Durban and in implementing the strategy though frequent publications, campaigns, and social media posts in the subsequent 20 years.

The apartheid libel that Deif and Shakir repeated is an extension of the latest campaign, including a 223-page publication, in which Shakir is listed as the main author, and includes 200 references to the word “apartheid”—approximately one per page. He and HRW head Ken Roth held press conferences and were interviewed widely by journalists. With a budget of over $90 million and a major PR operation, they gained a great deal of favourable coverage, repeating the “Israel apartheid” message.

The “evidence” consists of a chaotic mix of allegations, distortions and falsehoods demonising the essence of Israel’s existence as the nation state of the Jewish people. The 1950 Law of Return, enacted in the shadow of the Holocaust to allow the survivors to return to the Jewish homeland, is vilified. Amidst hollow accusations that Israeli security measures are secretly designed to promote “apartheid,” HRW erases all reference to the thousands of victims of Palestinian terror — as if Israeli Jews were not entitled to human rights or protection.