The apartheid and racism campaigns - the NGO contribution to antisemitism

Gerald M. Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Under the headings of promoting human rights and international law, the influential network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has been a central actor in the political war targeting Israel though allegations of apartheid and racism. In applying these slanders, the NGOs systematically erase the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, including decades of warfare and terrorism, and join in the attempt to delegitimize the nation-state of the Jewish people, regardless of borders, and as distinct from criticism of Israeli policies regarding territory occupied in the 1967 war. This process constitutes the essence of post-Holocaust or ‘new antisemitism’, as included in the consensus working definition published by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The NGO campaigns are constructed on the foundations established by the Soviet and Islamic blocs culminating in the 1975 UN ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution. This theme was revived in the NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference, led by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Palestinian groups such as Al-Haq, and used to justify appropriating the methods of the South African anti-apartheid campaign, including boycotts and lawfare. After the Durban conference and for 20 years since, this NGO network continued and expanded the campaign based on the apartheid and racism allegations. Their claims were amplified in media platforms, international bodies, anti-Israel church groups and on university campuses in the form of ‘Israel apartheid weeks’. European governments enabled activities of the Palestinian and Israeli NGOs through substantial funding, estimated at 120 million Euros annually. In 2020 and 2021, the NGO emphasis on these themes increased, led by HRW, and supporting the decision of the ICC prosecutor to accept jurisdiction over Palestinian claims and to open investigations against Israel. This context amplified the potency of the allegations of apartheid and racism in attempts to demonise Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-72
Number of pages21
JournalIsrael Affairs
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords

  • Amnesty International
  • BDS
  • Durban conference
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Criminal Court
  • Israel
  • NGOs
  • Palestinians
  • Soviet Union
  • Zionism
  • antisemitism
  • apartheid

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