What the Washington Post Won’t Tell You About Amnesty’s Attack on Israel

A Feb. 1, 2022 Washington Post dispatch is distinguished by what it doesn’t tell readers about Amnesty International’s anti-Israel libel.

Reporter Miriam Berger begins by giving Amnesty’s report undue credibility, writing that AI “accused Israel of ‘committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians’ in a report released Tuesday, echoing a growing consensus among leading human rights groups and drawing a fierce rebuke from Israel’s government…[emphasis added].”

Regrettably, the Post’s report doesn’t get any better. Indeed, it reads more like Berger is simply echoing Amnesty’s talking points instead of being neutral and unbiased. Many of those “leading human rights groups,” Amnesty included, have a long track record of anti-Israel bias and even antisemitism.

Indeed, as CAMERA has documented (“The Faces Behind Amnesty International’s Lies,” Feb. 3, 2022), several of the individuals involved in compiling the report don’t even believe that Israel has a right to exist. The organization’s research director, Phillip Luther, has advocated for the “right of return” which, as CAMERA noted in the Washington Examiner, would effectively end the Jewish state’s existence. Ditto for Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East, Saleh Hijazi, who has promoted Palestinian terrorists on his Facebook page. In fact, Amnesty’s own head, Agnès Callamard, has referred to anti-Jewish violence as a “legitimate exercise of the rights of freedom of expression.”

Amnesty’s anti-Israel agenda is unsurprising when one considers its sources. As the Jewish Chronicle, among others, noted, Amnesty “relied in part on information provided by at least four human-rights NGOs designated by Israel as terror organizations.” These NGOs have documented links to U.S.-designated terrorist groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and other terrorist networks. Indeed, they serve as their propaganda fronts—and Amnesty’s sources.

In September 2017 Amnesty even referred to one of the employees of those NGOs, Salah Hammouri of Adameer, as a “human rights defender.” In 2005, Hammouri was arrested for attempting to assassinate Ovadia Yosef, the one-time Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel.

None of this pertinent information, however, is noted in the Washington Post’s report.

Instead, the newspaper’s correspondent uncritically quotes Callamard, who asserts that “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.” The Post also repeats Amnesty’s claim that Israel’s “system of oppression and domination against the Palestinian people” constitutes “a crime against humanity.”

The Post fails to inform readers that the majority of Palestinians live under the rule of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank or Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Indeed, not a single Israeli has resided in Gaza since the Israeli military unilaterally withdrew from the coastal enclave in 2005. Israel no more rules over these Palestinians than Egypt does.

The Post also omits that Arab citizens of Israel have their own political parties, serve in the ruling coalition government, have served on the Supreme Court and enjoy greater political freedoms than the Arabs living under the rule of the PA or Hamas. Indeed, more Arabs have voted in Israel in the last twelve months than have voted in the PA-controlled West Bank or Hamas-ruled Gaza in twelve years.

And while Israel is diverse, with Muslim and Arab citizens enjoying full rights, not a single Jew resides in Gaza—and it is illegal, under PA law, to rent or sell land to a Jew in the West Bank. Amnesty’s definition of “apartheid” is Orwellian—as a bevy of legal scholars have noted. But this hypocrisy isn’t illuminated by the Post’s reporter, who merely notes Israeli objections to AI’s report, but fails to highlight the scholars like Avi Bell, a professor of law at the University of San Diego, who called the report a “compilation of propaganda, lies and distortions.”

Instead, the Post seems intent on engaging in its own distortions, boosting other anti-Israel NGOs. Reporter Berger editorializes, calling B’Tselem “Israel’s leading human rights group.” By what measure? As NGO Monitor has documented, B’Tselem is funded almost entirely by foreign donors. It too has charged the Jewish state with “apartheid” and called for its dissolution. And it too has had employees that have variously offered apologias for, or vocally supported, anti-Jewish violence.

By the Post’s implicit standards, “leading human rights organizations,” happen to be those who don’t believe in Jewish self-determination.

Berger also rises to the defense of Human Rights Watch (HRW) an organization whose own founder, Robert Bernstein, repudiated it for its obsession with Israel. The organization has had employees who were caught making antisemitic comments, such as Matthew Myers, who once said “If you can’t laugh about the hair room at Auschwitz, get out.” Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s one-time executive director of the Middle East and North Africa section, has indulged in blood libels.

The Post notes that HRW’s local director was expelled from Israel in 2019 “over allegations that he supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which is illegal under Israeli law.” HRW, the Post says, “condemned the move as part of the state’s escalating assault on freedom of speech and human rights work.” However, the newspaper doesn’t note why BDS is illegal.

BDS, in fact, has extensive terror ties. One report, “Terrorists in Suits,” detailed “evidence of more than 100 links between BDS and Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PLFP), both U.S.-designated terrorist organizations,” according to Ziva Dahl, a senior fellow at the Haym Salomon Center. Dahl has observed that “more than 30 Hamas and PFLP operatives hold senior positions within BDS advocacy organizations. Known terrorists are invited to national conventions of BDS affiliates, radicalizing followers to view terror acts as legitimate resistance (“The Unmasking of BDS”).”

Indeed, former U.S. government terror analysts have even highlighted the links between BDS and terrorist organizations in testimony before U.S. Congress—testimony that CAMERA has previously supplied to Post staff (see, for example “Ties Exist Between Hamas-linked Charities and BDS,” April 22, 2016).

Other omissions abound.

Berger writes that “Palestinians have long used the language of apartheid to describe Israel’s system of governance since the country’s founding following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, during which some 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes, and the military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967.”

Seldom has so much history been omitted in a single sentence. The 1948 War only occurred after Arabs rejected a U.N. Partition Plan which would’ve created two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. The Palestinians could’ve had something that hasn’t ever existed—a Palestinian Arab state—but rejected it and chose war instead of living in peace next to a Jewish state in the Jewish people’s ancestral homeland. Further, many of the Palestinians who fled did so at the request of their leadership, which promised that they could return after the Jews had been annihilated. The figure of 700,000 is also likely inaccurate as CAMERA has noted. Further, more than 850,000 Jews were expelled from Middle Eastern lands in the war’s wake—but not for the first time they’re ignored by the Post.

Berger further deprives the Palestinians of any semblance of independent agency, when she tells readers that “hopes for a two-state resolution to the decades-long conflict rose following the 1993 Oslo peace accords, when Palestinians received limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip under plans for long-term Palestinian sovereignty. But in the years since, amid continued violence and the growth of Israeli settlements, facts on the ground have dramatically changed and, many experts say, upended the two-state paradigm.”

The Post reporter fails to note why “hopes for a two-state resolution” have dissipated. As noted above, Palestinian Arab leaders have rejected numerous offers for a “two-state solution”—dating back to the 1930s. Since 1993 and the creation of the PA, they’ve refused U.S. and Israeli offers for statehood made in 2000 at Camp David, 2001 at Taba and 2008 after the Annapolis Conference, as well as proposals to restart negotiations made in 2014 and 2016. In every single instance, Israel accepted, and the PA rejected, these proposed “two-state resolutions.”

In his 2005 autobiography, President Bill Clinton called Arafat’s rejection of the 2000 and 2001 offers a “colossal mistake” and “an error of historic proportions.” One has to wonder why the Post omitted them.

Instead of noting the PA’s culpability, Berger asserts that “violence” and “growth of Israeli settlements” are to blame. But this too, like much of the rest of her report, is utter nonsense.

Part of being a reporter—a good reporter anyways—requires being specific: listing the “who, what, where, when and why” for readers. The use of the term “violence” doesn’t qualify. Whose violence? Berger doesn’t say. Perhaps because she’d have to note that the PA pays salaries to those who murder and maim Jews—a violation of the terms and spirits of the Oslo Accords that created the PA and remains the basis for its legitimacy and funding. Yet, as CAMERA documented, shortly after Oslo was signed, the first head of the PA, Yasser Arafat, literally hid convicted terrorist Mamduh Nawfal in the trunk of his vehicle and swore to “eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian state.” Nawfal, the historian Efraim Karsh has noted, was the “mastermind of the 1974 Ma’alot atrocity in which twenty-seven [Israeli] children were murdered.”

As for the “settlements”: Jewish home construction is hardly the reason for the lack of a “two-state solution.” Indeed, had the Palestinians chosen to accept any of the various offers for statehood, such settlements would’ve been a moot point. But acknowledging this would mean recounting both history and facts—and this the Post is loath to do.