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.

Read more at Fathom

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

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship