Opinion: Distorting and omitting facts in the Israel-Palestine conflict benefits no one – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted By on March 5, 2022

Barton is an attorney and adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law. He has served on the boards of several Jewish organizations and served as the national chair of leadership, national chair of education and national vice chair of international affairs for the Anti-Defamation League. He lives in Encinitas.

While the effort to label Israel an apartheid state is not new, the newly released report by Amnesty International has charted new territory in the breadth of its accusations and factual distortions, essentially characterizing the entire history of the Jewish state as one continuous effort to impose intentional inhuman conditions on non-Jews residing in Israel and surrounding lands. In doing so, Amnesty International has called into question its own legitimacy as an organization dedicated to, as its own charter declares: effective action for the universality and indivisibility of human rights, impartiality and independence, and democracy and mutual respect.

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The report has been denounced in the harshest terms by Western governments and others. Of note was the criticisms from colleagues at Amnesty International itself. In an interview with The Times of Israel last week, Molly Malekar, executive director of Amnesty International in Israel, described the accusations of apartheid as a punch to the gut and that many others who campaign for Palestinian rights feel the same way. She also accused the report of turning Arab Israelis into victims, into an object. Her Amnesty International colleague, Tal Gur-Arye, criticized the flawed methodology and conclusions of the report and the absence of any solid analysis.

Among the many omissions in the report, several stand out. While alleging that Israeli systemic dominance goes back to 1948, there is little mention of the history of Arab state aggression against Israel, the terrorist campaigns against Israeli citizens, and the still-existing calls for armed struggle and the destruction of the Jewish state by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. International law specifically allows for a nations self-defense and the report altogether abandons any analysis of the context in which this applies to the declaration of Israel as an apartheid state.

Second, the report completely omits the efforts by Israel since its inception to seek a negotiated settlement with neighboring countries. The report mentions the Arab rejection of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for independent Jewish and Arab states, but leaves out that the Jewish Agency for Palestine accepted the UN plan which would have established a separate Arab, now Palestinian, state. The report also fails to acknowledge that Israel held an open invitation to discuss a negotiated settlement with its neighbors and that comprehensive agreements were reached with Egypt (1978), Jordan (1994) and, most recently, with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco in the Abraham Accords.

Most glaring is the absence of any discussion of the multiple offers by Israel to the Palestinians in the past decades that would have resulted in an independent Palestinian state. These offers included a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank, withdrawal from Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, and placement of the Old City and Jerusalems most sensitive holy places under international control. The offers included agreements for the return of certain refugees and a compensation package for those not returning. All of these offers were rejected by Palestinian leadership with an immediate cessation of negotiations and resumption of violence. In the case of the Camp David negotiations in 2000, Yasser Arafat rejected the Israeli proposal and initiated a terrorist campaign resulting in the death and injury of thousands of Israelis.

The reports discussion of the Arab citizens of Israel is equally troubling. There are approximately 2 million Arab Israelis (20 percent of the total population of Israel) who hold the same rights to vote and other protections afforded under Israels Basic Laws. Arab parties currently hold 11 seats in the Knesset, Israels Parliament, and one of its parties, Raam, sits with Israels governing coalition. Raam is actually an Islamist party that identifies with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Arab Israelis hold positions in all level of government, nearly 10 percent of judicial appointments and one seat on the Israeli Supreme Court. Anyone who has been to a hospital in Israel knows that Arab and Jewish patients are seen and treated by Arab and Israeli providers. According to official government data published in the daily Haaretz newspaper, Arabs now make up 17 percent of the countrys doctors, 24 percent of the nurses and 48 percent of the pharmacists. Arab Israelis are provided an education and make up 16 percent of all undergraduates in Israeli universities.

None of the above is meant to suggest that there are no systemic issues with discrimination against Arab Israelis. Indeed, a great deal of study and effort has been undertaken by Israel to address these issues. In the past 10 years, the Israeli government has significantly increased funding in education and housing for Arab Israelis, including $30 billion in the governments most recent five-year plan and another $70 million in expanding access to the tech sector.

The question posed by the Amnesty report is how any of the above can be reconciled with an allegation of apartheid somehow akin to South Africa, which denied its Black populations even the most basic rights. In leaving out layers of history, facts and context, the report can only be viewed as an attempt to lend credence to the most radical elements that oppose Israels very existence and will say and do anything in an effort to bring about its demise. In the end, it is hard to see how the report benefits anyone, including the Palestinians.

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Opinion: Distorting and omitting facts in the Israel-Palestine conflict benefits no one - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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