Amnesty International Exposes the Man Behind the Curtain

Few who have followed the activity of Amnesty International and other similar organizations in recent years had reason for surprise when it issued a lengthy and tendentious report accusing Israel of implementing systematic “apartheid” against Palestinians. But something deeply revealing happened when the Israeli journalist Lazar Berman interviewed the group’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard, and its Middle East and North Africa research and advocacy director, Philip Luther. While Berman’s questions were straightforward and even predictable, the two interviewees were at a complete loss to answer them cogently.

Shany Mor comments:

Luther . . . says Israel has actually managed to “shut down scrutiny using the power of its relationships” and charges that the UN is actually a locus of inaction because Israel “has influence over powerful allies who then manage to stop it, stop the scrutiny.” And that of course is the appeal of anti-Israel activism in the West: the sincerely held belief that by engaging in it you are somehow standing up to dark, powerful forces at home. There’s a word for this pathology.

Besides the conspiratorial tone (there would be more of that in the interview), it’s an odd claim to make when elsewhere Luther argues that Amnesty can’t investigate other countries for the crime of apartheid precisely because they, unlike Israel, are actually able to stop scrutiny of their actions.

That’s not even the furthest extreme of Luther’s conspiratorial claims. Later in the interview he claims that what makes it hard to see the apartheid in Israel is the “smokescreen” created by Israel’s “democratic system” and “judicial institutions.” These, according to Luther, “make it challenging to disentangle” the picture of the apartheid he and others claim to have found. What he refers to as “the Israeli state” is “a driver of complexity and a driver of resources unnecessarily spent on investigations by anybody.”

These passages were rightfully mocked online, but it’s worth pausing over what he is saying and the psychological process he is describing. He knows Israel—ahem, “the Israeli state”—is guilty of not just committing a grievous crime but of being a grievous crime. But what he observes are a complex set of practices and institutions that don’t quite appear to be the unvarnished evil he knows is there, and to him this is not cause to revisit his assumptions, but actually further proof of just how nefarious the “Israeli state” is.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Amnesty International, Anti-Semitism, Human Rights

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin