Amnesty International Once Defended Soviet Dissidents. Now It’s Reviving Soviet Talking Points about Israel

When it was founded in 1961, notes Elliott Abrams, Amnesty International sought to call attention to the plight of people living under tyrannical regimes—like the Soviet Union—lying “in foul prison cells for the ‘crime’ of peacefully protesting oppression.” But its most recent report, accusing the Jewish state of “apartheid” and a “crime against humanity,” reads much like the anti-Zionists screeds that used to appear in the Soviet mouthpiece Pravda. In an interview, the two Amnesty officials responsible for the report show their inability to define the terms of their claims about Israel, outside their belief that there are certain territories in which Jews ought not to be allowed to live. Abrams comments:

Amnesty, as I wrote in National Review, truly has joined the jackals. Its complaints relate repeatedly to 1948, not 1967 when Israel conquered eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Amnesty’s argument is that the state of Israel is from its founding illegitimate, not that settlements are a bad thing. For those who thought Amnesty was an organization conscientiously working to free political prisoners, this report shows the falsehood of that view. Amnesty now leads fundamental attacks on the very existence of the state of Israel; . . . the term apartheid has never been applied by Amnesty to the condition of Kurds in Turkey or Uighurs in China; only Israel gets this treatment.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Amnesty International, Anti-Zionism


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount