US-based NGO Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of the crime of apartheid for the first time in the organization’s 43-year history.
Israel met the legal definition for crimes of apartheid as set out by the Rome Statute, it said in a 213-page report scheduled to be released on Tuesday entitled, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”
HRW called on the United Nations to verify the claim and then apply an arms embargo against Israel until verifiable steps are taken to end such crimes.
“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said Monday in a press release that accompanied a preview of the report.
“This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution,” he said.
“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” Roth said.
The Israeli left-wing NGO B’Tselem issued a similar first-time declaration in January.
The right-wing Israeli group NGO Monitor condemned the apartheid accusations, saying they were part of larger global campaign to discredit Israel and undermine its identity as a Jewish state.
“HRW’s report is part of a concerted NGO campaign over the past 18 months to interject the term ‘apartheid’ into discourse about Israel,” it said. “Indeed, HRW reiterates, cites and quotes many of these NGOs in its publication.”
“In a broader context, this report is another move in the decades-long series of obsessive attacks against Israel and its legitimacy as the nation-state of the Jewish people,” NGO Monitor said.
HRW’s report distanced its accusation of apartheid from any comparisons with South African apartheid, which is often used to discredit that claim.
Instead, HRW spoke of a three-pronged definition based on the Rome Statute: an intent to maintain racial domination by one group over another; a context of systematic oppression of one group over another; and inhumane acts.
Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, both within and outside sovereign Israel, met this definition of the crimes of apartheid, HRW said.
The report did not take direct issue with Israel’s identity as an ethnically national Jewish state. But as an example of discrimination, it cited Israel’s Law of Return, which grants citizenship to Jews who want to immigrate to Israel. Palestinian refugees and their descendants who had lived on territory now under Israeli sovereignty did not have that same right of return, it said.
HRW took issue with the 2018 Nation State Law that shored up Israel’s identity as a Jewish state without speaking of equity for its minority citizens.
The report addressed Israeli policies against the Palestinians in the West Bank, including settlement activity, demolition of Palestinian homes and lack of freedom of movement and access for Palestinians.
NGO Monitor said many of the report’s examples were taken out of context and diminished the security threats faced by Israelis and Jews who wanted to immigrate to Israel.
Israel was not the only country with preferential immigration policies, it said, adding that nations such as Ireland, Spain and Germany had similar laws.
The Law of Return was created in the aftermath of the Holocaust to allow Jews to seek a safe haven in Israel from global persecution, NGO Monitor said.
“The sharp rise in physical violence and other forms of antisemitism around the world in recent years only highlights the need for Israel as a safe refuge from persecution,” it said.
The Law of Return was consistent with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) that allowed certain special measures for racial or ethnic groups to protect fundamental freedoms, NGO Monitor said.
“As noted by the UN Committee, but erased in the HRW report, this provision seeks to remedy ‘inequalities resulting from the circumstances of history’… and to prevent ‘further imbalances from arising,’” it wrote.
HD Editor’s Note: Why Is This News Biblically Relevant?
In their Bible Bite, “Why Israel’s Enemies will Never Uproot the Fig Tree,” Pastor Barry Stagner and Amir Tsarfati explained how the rebirth of the Jewish state, and the hatred of Israel by the global community fulfills Biblical Prophecy:
Among the many prophecies concerning Israel and the last days, the rebirth of the nation of Israel is certainly among the most significant.
Amos 9:14-15 – “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the Lord your God.”
The Lord places the responsibility of bringing the people back into the land upon Himself and states that once He plants them there, they will never again be uprooted from the land He has given them. The fact that God takes responsibility for the return of the Jews to the land of Israel implies that this return will be of a supernatural means and thus against all the odds and, as is usual with God’s will, to the displeasure of the enemies of God’s people.
There is coming a day when all the nations of the earth will be “gathered” against Israel. The word “gathered” means; to be united in purpose, and in this context, the purpose is Israel’s destruction (Zechariah 14:3-4).
The attitude of the world toward Israel has changed since 1948 and will change further in the coming months and years. The attitude of God towards His chosen people will never change as He has “set His love” on them and brought the Savior of the world into the world through them (Malachi 3:6).
When Israel is miraculously regathered back into the land by the hand of God, when Israel is supernaturally protected by the hand of God while dwelling in the land, when the international community begins to unify against Israel, we know two things are on the near horizon, God is going to defend and fight as He fights in the day of battle for Israel, and Jesus is going to return with His feet touching down on the Mount of Olives and all His saints will be with Him.
For centuries God has supernaturally protected His chosen people, and they did not assimilate into the countries and cultures into which they were scattered. They had to maintain their national identity even when they were without a homeland because when Jesus returns, an incredible miracle will take place among the Jews;
The rebirth of the nation of Israel set a series of prophetic events into motion that will eventually lead to the salvation of the Jews as they recognize that Jesus of Nazareth, the one whom they pierced, is indeed the King of King and Lord of Lords, the Holy One of Israel, their Savior.
Matthew 24:32-35 – “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
The “fig tree” represents Israel, the “branch becoming tender and putting forth leaves” represents the rebirth of the nation. Jesus said the generation that sees Israel reborn will be the generation that sees all things written concerning them. Israel is now [almost 73] years old, and the world is gathering against them, and threats of war are looming around them. To the Christian, that means our redemption is near, and Jesus is coming for His church soon! To the Jews, that means Jesus is going to be revealed as their Messiah too.