Recently, Amnesty International has joined its voice to Human Rights Watch and several Israeli NGOs to conclude that Israel has been committing the crime of apartheid. The conclusion is based on over two hundred pages of evidence, and it concerns the treatment of Palestinians, both in Israel proper and in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967.
The reaction from the government of Israel and its many supporters around the world was condemnation of … Amnesty International. The Amnesty report was called antisemitic, the standard accusation meant to deflect criticism of the Zionist state. It was Abba Eban, Israel’s veteran foreign minister, who proposed this deflection strategy in the early 1970s. Conflation of criticism of Israel with antisemitism ensures Israel’s impunity, which is open for all to see. This expansive use of the specter of antisemitism stands in guard for Israel and frightens those who hesitate to call a spade a spade. The career of a politician or a journalist who dare do so may abruptly come to an end.
Israel lobbies active around the world are well-organized, motivated and financed. They rely on millions of Christian Zionists who see the state of Israel as an embodiment of their messianic hopes and on the substantially more modest numbers of Jews for whom Israel has become the center of their identity. Israel also enjoys solid support from right-wing political movements who admire Israel as a model of unabashed exclusive nationalism.