By Miriam Bell…
Outrage over Amnesty International’s new global campaign which calls on the world’s leading digital tourism companies to stop listing in Israeli settlements is growing, with Jewish groups in New Zealand and internationally speaking out against the move.
The campaign also calls on governments to bring in regulation to prevent these businesses [Trip Advisor, Expedia, booking.com, and AirBnB] from operating with or in these communities.
Amnesty claims that the campaign is against “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” but in Amnesty’s view that includes East Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.
According to Amnesty, “the Settlements are illegal under international law and are also at the root cause of a vast range of human rights violations suffered by Palestinian communities”.
In a media release, the Zionist Federation of New Zealand says that Amnesty chooses to ignore the complexity of the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
“They choose to ignore that the legal aspect of the West Bank and the settlements are far from agreed upon by experts in international law, and they continuously ignore the human rights abuse on the Palestinian people by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“Amnesty continually chooses to look at the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs only through Palestinian eyes and only on very rare occasions will hold the PA and Hamas to account.”
The Zionist Federation says that Amnesty displays ongoing double standards when it comes to Israel while actively supporting a One-State solution with respect to Israel-Palestine – a solution that will most likely result in the elimination of the world’s only Jewish State.
“Amnesty’s continual double standards, demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel can only lead to the conclusion that Amnesty International are at best disproportionately biased against Israel and at worst suffer from institutionalised anti-Semitism.
“Ultimately, Amnesty International’s position does not contribute to a peaceful resolution to the situation in Israel, but reinforces Palestinian violence and intransience.”
The Zionist Federation adds it is particularly disappointing that Amnesty’s boycott call comes so soon after UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
In a similar vein, in its media release the NZ Jewish Council says it is gravely concerned by Amnesty’s statement which urges discrimination against Jews.
“Leaving aside the overly simplified and tenuous claims the statement makes, it attempts to bully those businesses into complying with its obsessive campaign against Israel by discriminating between Jews and non-Jews in the relevant areas, targeting only Jewish landowners and businesses for boycott.
“The underlying premise is that Jews are not entitled to live in the area. The outcome Amnesty seeks is ethnic cleansing of Jews from the territory.
The Jewish Council says that, by declaring East Jerusalem and the West Bank to be occupied Palestinian territory, Amnesty pre-empts the outcome of bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian people and also subverts Jewish historical and religious connection to the area.
Both the Zionist Federation and the Jewish Council point out that Amnesty has no such boycott campaign in relation to any other land disputes and negotiations in the world, including Western Sahara, Northern Cyprus, Kashmir and Tibet.
“Amnesty’s statement singling Jews out for discrimination will fuel already escalating anti-Semitism and do nothing to advance the cause for negotiated peace in the form of two states for two people,” the Jewish Council says.
Meanwhile, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) says it is disconcerted and disheartened by Amnesty’s campaign.
WJC CEO Robert Singer says Amnesty’s s singular focus on corporate entities doing business in Israeli settlements is gravely misguided and undermining of the organisation’s true mandate.
“If Amnesty wishes to involve itself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should center its attention on the real human rights abuses ongoing in Palestinian territories, and not attack corporate businesses who strive to bridge divides and build peace through global tourism and interaction.”
Amnesty has expressed its concern that these businesses are profiting from and contributing to what it calls human rights violations caused by the settlements, Singer says.
“But let it be reminded that in the Palestinian territories today, convicted terrorists who murder innocent Israeli civilians are awarded handsome salaries for their so-called martyrdom, by the Palestinian Authority. This is profit from terror and human rights abuses, plain and simple.”
“Amnesty would do well to shift its focus and campaign against this atrocious policy and urge corporate entities and governments to halt any funding to the PA that might be used for terror payments, and advocate loudly and clear against the continued incitement and encouragement to terrorism that proliferates in these territories.”
Singer adds that the WJC is ready and willing to engage with Amnesty to work against the real human rights abuses and abusers threatening the world today and to ensure that the price of unbridled hatred is never forgotten.