Amnesty International’s Cruel Assault on Israel: Systematic Lies, Errors, Omissions & Double Standards
In February 2022, Amnesty International (“Amnesty”) released a 280-page report titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against the Palestinians.” Amnesty asserted that Israel is and always has been an apartheid state, both inside Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. Statements by Amnesty officials and the report’s recommendations highlight that Amnesty’s objective is the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
As documented below in great detail, the Amnesty publication is fundamentally flawed, using lies, distortions, omissions, and egregious double standards to construct a fraudulent and libelous narrative of Israeli cruelty. A careful examination of the text shows that Amnesty conducted almost no primary research. Rather, it is bloated with cut-and-paste phrases and quotes and conclusions taken from third-party sources – notably other political NGOs that are part of the same libelous campaign against Israel. The footnotes are glaringly thin on primary documents, such as official Israeli government statistics, Palestinian documents, court documents, Knesset transcripts, interviews from leading officials, and much of the data is obsolete (often well over a decade old).
In preparing this report, we examined and critically assessed every line of the Amnesty publication and closely read the sources and citations provided. We uncovered five categories of faults: Errors, Misrepresentations, Omissions, Double Standards, and Dead Citations. This systematic review conclusively shows, contrary to Amnesty’s claims, that Amnesty’s allegations have no substance or merit.
Amnesty’s report followed similar ones by Human Rights Watch (April 2021) and B’Tselem (January 2021), part of a coordinated legal assault to delegitimize Israel – most likely in response to major setbacks to the anti-Israel community, such as the Abraham Accords that shattered the myth of Arab isolationism of Israel until the Palestinian issue was resolved. Supporters of the apartheid charge like to point out that there is a “consensus” among human rights groups and NGOs that Israel is in fact an apartheid state.1 However, in reality it is a fabricated thesis held by a tight knit circle of like-minded activists who share information and work together to create a false impression of broad based agreement against Israel.
Amnesty’s report is a particularly vicious stream of invective against Israel. In their narrative, Israel is a cruel state run by a long line of evil leaders since its inception who have done nothing but intentionally dominate and segregate another people, the Palestinians, in an inhumane manner. As Amnesty makes clear: “This system of apartheid has been built and maintained over decades by successive Israeli governments across all territories they have controlled, regardless of the political party in power at the time.” Amnesty emphasizes Israeli “cruelty,” a word that appears in the title page and thus literally on every page of the report as the title appears in the footer of each page. As part of this cruelty, Israel is depicted as a serial war criminal and murderous nation since its formation in 1948, intentionally killing civilians and medical personnel, and vindictively withholding medical care from Palestinian children. In the construct and terminology used in its report, Amnesty portrays Israel as the worst human rights violator on the planet.
One statement by Amnesty is telling and fits in with some of the themes of this document, which is that Amnesty deliberately assesses Israel in a vacuum among all nations in the world:
Amnesty International notes and clarifies that systems of oppression and domination will never be identical. Therefore, this report does not seek to argue that, or assess whether, any system of oppression and domination as perpetrated in Israel and the OPT is, for instance, the same or analogous to the system of segregation, oppression and domination as perpetrated in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.
How is it reasonable to argue that there is no need to compare the first and only nation in history to be called apartheid, South Africa, to only the second country in history to be called apartheid? Amnesty insists that it applies rigorous international law to label Israel as apartheid, but ignores one of the most basic rules of legal analysis: precedent. Amnesty admits that it will not even bother to examine precedent. The reason is obvious — precedent would show that the notion of apartheid in Israel is preposterous.
Despite numerous rebuttals, many based on pointing out key factual errors and omissions,2 a “meta lie” quickly emerged from Amnesty and its supporters that those that oppose the report are simply claiming “antisemitism” or generally rejecting the narrative without actually refuting the report, and that no one can actually point out where Amnesty is wrong. For example, Amnesty’s Paul O’Brien, who is quoted above, said that none of AIPAC’s statement about the report “actually disputed findings of the report, except to say, in broad strokes, we do not believe that this report is motivated for the right reasons or reaches the right conclusions.” The purpose of this document is to specifically address the false notion that “no one can show where Amnesty is wrong.”
After uncovering and compiling nearly 300 examples of flaws in the report, the conclusion that emerges is that Amnesty has written a modern-day libel. This is not exaggeration or hyperbole. Based on their deliberately falsified narrative, Amnesty has accused every Jewish leader since 1948 and the institutions that comprise the State of Israel of numerous “inhumane” acts: stealing all the land from Palestinians, deliberately and cruelly dominating and persecuting Palestinians in every aspect of life, willfully and systematically killing Palestinians civilians, torturing Palestinians including children on a “large scale,” deliberately bombing the majority of Gaza’s healthcare facilities and dozens of ambulances, forcing Palestinians into dense enclaves, restricting basic rights of Palestinians including the right to “food” and limiting water to amounts that “does not meet their needs” – in other words, since its inception the Jewish state is the worst human rights abuser in the world. Amnesty also liberally uses the term “Jewish domination” to refer to Israel’s policies (in fact, “domination” appears in the report subtitle which is then copied on every page of the report), a concept, which along with charges of wholesale theft of land and property, that directly evokes antisemitic tropes of Jews seeking to wield power over others. When these accusations are made by relying on hundreds of deliberate factual errors and misrepresentations, mixed in with gross application of double standards, it is akin to historical libels of the Jewish people.
Rebutting Amnesty’s report in detail was a time consuming process since Amnesty created a massive document with 1,559 footnotes. Amnesty points to the report length and the fact that it took four years to produce as evidence of its veracity, as if numerous references by itself means that thorough and rigorous analysis was employed.
As we examined and critically assessed every line of the Amnesty report and followed up on nearly every source and every endnote, we documented five categories of faults. There is some level of overlap and subjectivity in how each item was classified, but in the end they are all serious flaws that in aggregate shows the report to be mendacious and it’s authors as incompetent.
ERRORS: Errors refer to incorrect facts and figures, mistaken quotes and statements, and erroneous conclusions. Errors are typically items that can be easily verified as false with no subjectivity in making the determination of falsehood. Amnesty commits errors for several reasons: simple mistakes; copying erroneous information from third party reports which Amnesty did not bother to verify; copying information from obsolete sources; and in many cases, deliberate fabrication or manipulation of information. While many errors are simply due to the shoddy nature of the research, given the scale and nature of many of the errors, they suggest a deliberate pattern of falsification by Amnesty.
MISREPRESENTATIONS: Misrepresentations occur when Amnesty manipulates facts or events to fit its fabricated apartheid narrative. Examples are false conclusions inferred from certain data, the deliberate manipulation or removal of certain critical information that would materially modify or nullify the point Amnesty is making, truncated quotes, using isolated incidents to make broad conclusions, and information taken out of context. Misrepresentations are similar to errors in intent and effect, and a large number are certainly deliberate, which is to say they are similar to lies.
OMISSIONS: While errors and misrepresentations may seem to be the most important flaws in the report, it is omissions that ultimately render the report as useless propaganda. Amnesty deliberately and carefully omits an incredible number of key aspects of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Information that may contradict the apartheid libel is not included in the report. Another example of omissions is the completely one sided history of the conflict that erases any violence perpetrated by Arabs against Israel. A subset of the Omissions category is the dismissal of any legitimate security needs that Israel may have. Amnesty presents all Israeli actions that are purported to be for security as a sham, a fabricated excuse and cover for Israel to implement its cruel policies of apartheid.
DOUBLE STANDARDS: Amnesty consistently holds Israel to what we call a “perfection standard,” where any disparity between Arabs and Jews is seen by Amnesty as a result of and evidence of apartheid. For example, higher poverty rates for Arabs versus Jews is seen as part of deliberate apartheid, even if these poverty rate differences are far better than those of minorities in many Western nations. Amnesty deliberately presents all data in a vacuum since any comparison to other nations would contradict their apartheid narrative.
DEAD CITATIONS: What is quickly apparent upon review of Amnesty’s report is the shoddy analysis and rampant violation of generally accepted rules of research. For example, Amnesty regularly does not cite firsthand sources and many of the third parties they do cite themselves do not cite an end source – what we call a “dead citation.” Dead citations also refer to worthless sources, such as using data from an unknown blogger or relying on 25-year-old data for current analysis. The Dead Citation category exposes the fact that much of the report is simply cut and paste information from prior NGO reports. Each NGO cites the other often citing another, with little primary research conducted.
Overall, our analysis uncovered 287 total flaws comprised of 102 errors, 97 misrepresentations, 29 omissions, 24 double standards, and 35 dead citations.
One aspect of the Amnesty report that this document does not delve into is the manipulation of international law to redefine apartheid and then apply to Israel only. Other references and manipulations of “international law,” which are common throughout the report, will similarly not be evaluated in this document. Amnesty’s falsification of the legal definition of apartheid and its application under international law, which it performs over 17 pages of its report, goes hand-in-hand with the falsified evidence it uses against Israel to fit this newly created definition of apartheid. Amnesty’s deliberate errors in its analysis of “apartheid” in international law is well covered in two reports authored by legal experts Joshua Kern and Anne Herzberg and published by NGO Monitor, False Knowledge as Power: Deconstructing Definitions of Apartheid that Delegitimise the Jewish State (December 2021) and Neo-Orientalism: Deconstructing Claims of Apartheid in the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (March 2022).3
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- For example, see this Tweet: https://twitter.com/saribashi/status/1506633391676002308
- Here is one example of many: “Amnesty International’s Big Lie About Israel,” CAMERA, January 31, 2022; https://www.camera.org/article/amnesty-internationals-big-lie-about-israel/
- Reports available at: https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/apartheid-report/ and https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/apartheid-report-2022/