Human rights organizations are playing a key role in efforts to brand Israel as an “apartheid” state according to a report released on Wednesday.
NGO-Monitor, a Jerusalem-based organization that monitors the activities of non-governmental critiqued a report first issued by Human Rights Watch in April 2021. That report’s accusations of “Israeli apartheid” and “Jewish supremacy” sparked international headlines and Israeli ire.
Discussing the report with the Tazpit Press Service, NGO-Monitor’s director of communications, Itai Reuveni explained that the HRW report marked a significant shift in efforts to isolate Israel.
International human rights groups, most notably HRW and Amnesty International, along with other organizations based in Palestinian areas, “are inventing a new definition of apartheid that’s disconnected from international law,” Reuveni said. “The issue now, they say, is that Israel is a Jewish state and everything it does is in order to promote ‘Jewish supremacy.’”
“Human Rights Watch is one of the most influential human rights organizations. This report gained a lot of attention. This report was very extreme, using terms like ‘Jewish supremacy.’ It’s very problematic,” he said.
HRW’s report, titled, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution” is part of a new NGO campaign to redefine apartheid and push the allegation to international forums, Reuveni said.
The UN General Assembly has already approved the creation of a controversial commission of inquiry with an unprecedented open-ended mandate to investigate Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The General Assembly is also expected to vote some time in December to ask the International Court of Justice to give a legal opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US does not have veto power in the General Assembly and the resolution is expected to pass.
“They want to make it not about settlements, borders or law and order — not about the conflict — but about Israel itself as a Jewish state,” Reuveni explained.
NGO-Monitor’s team focused on whether HRWs 217-page report was based on serious research.
“We found more than 300 flaws,” Reuveni said. “There was almost no use of primary sources. They quoted themselves more than 20 percent of the time. There was some research that they quoted from NGOs that they collaborated with in the apartheid campaign. Other quotes were taken out of context.”
The problems had a common denominator, Reuveni stressed. “The main line connecting these flaws is that they do it to make it fit their new definition of apartheid. You can’t do that and call it legitimate research.”
Further problematic was that the HRW report was written by Omar Shakir, HRW’s Israel-Palestine director. Shakir, is a US national who has a history of promoting boycotts of Israel.
But rather than deport Shakir, Israeli officials simply refused to renew his work visa, and he now works for HRW from Jordan.
“Shakir was actively promoting boycotts of FIFA and Airbnb while appealing through Israeli courts to stay,” Reuveni noted.
NGO-Monitor’s report was the fourth in-depth analysis of other reports by HRW and Amnesty International since 2021. Those reports were also flawed and reached sharply critical conclusions about Israel.
These organizations “hijack human rights and enjoy a halo effect,” Reuveni said. “Nobody criticizes those NGOs, or questions their work.”