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One of the most potent means of vilifying Israel is through the use (and abuse) of the “racism” and “apartheid” labels. In 1975, the Soviet and Arab blocs in the UN sponsored the notorious resolution branding Zionism as racism, and the campaigns have continued in waves since then. In 2001, the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban conference, ostensibly set up by the UN to support anti-racism, picked up the theme in the form of an action plan to promote the “complete isolation of Israel as an apartheid state”.

US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), whose Executive Director, Ken Roth, has a long-standing obsession with Israel, played a central role in Durban and in implementing the strategy though frequent publications, campaigns, and social media posts in the subsequent 20 years.

This week, they published a 223-page “report” under the heading “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”. To make sure that the label resonates, they made 200 references to the word “apartheid”, approximately one per page. They 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 report, for those who actually read it, consisted of a chaotic mix of allegations, distortions and falsehoods, many copied from other NGOs, criticising everything from “discriminatory settlements” to 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, was condemned, as were counter-terror measures which, the authors claimed (without foundation), were used “to advance demographic objectives” without “legitimate security justifications.” The accusations were facilitated by the complete absence of any reference to the thousands of victims of Palestinian terror — as if Israeli Jews were not entitled to human rights or security.