February 1, 2022
We strongly reject the report produced by Amnesty International entitled: “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity. ” The report is replete with discredited and inaccurate allegations, including a deeply wrong accusation of apartheid. It is particularly incumbent upon those of us who have condemned the Occupation as a moral travesty, advocated strongly for its end, and who have a lengthy record of advocating for the human rights of the Palestinian people including the right to self-determination, to express our profound disappointment and explicit condemnation of this report.
This report reflects Amnesty’s inability to comprehend the history, context, and nuance of the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, or the very real threats to Israel’s survival and security that it has faced from its very founding. The report comes at a moment when Israel is making significant diplomatic progress with its Arab neighbors via the Abraham Accords and has seen the robust public political participation of its Arab/Palestinian citizens who make up twenty percent of its population. The report also comes at a moment when antisemitism worldwide is rising, and we are deeply concerned that this report will encourage those who seek to fan its flames.
Crucially, the term “apartheid” comes with a false equivalency to the institutions of formal and rigid segregation, denial of political and social rights, and basic dehumanization practiced by the South African regime over decades. Whatever Amnesty’s intent to differentiate the usage of apartheid from its most common association with South Africa, they have failed. Those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s very existence will cite this report as equating Israel with South Africa as an apartheid state to justify encouraging anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
Amnesty’s failures to address Israel’s legitimate security concerns and the very real genocidal threats it faces; its call for a full return of refugees and for reparations; its support for BDS and the economic and diplomatic isolation of Israel; its implication that Israel’s very founding and continuation as a Jewish State was a violation of the Apartheid Convention; its failure to place any responsibility on the PA for the change of conditions that could allow for greater rights and safety for all; and the failure to recognize that only a two state solution can best resolve the concerns addressed in this report—all endanger the existence of a Jewish democratic State of Israel.
As the largest religious and Zionist Movement in Jewish life in North America, committed to Israel’s Jewish as well as its democratic character which must ensure the civil, political, and human rights of all citizens, we call on our governments in the U.S. and Canada to reject the central premise of this report, and to continue the important work of fostering the conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Josh Weinberg, Vice President, Israel and Reform Zionism, Union for Reform Judaism
Jennifer Kaufman, Chair, North American Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism
Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Cantor Claire Franco, President, American Conference of Cantors
Rachel Roth, Chief Operating Officer, American Conference of Cantors