Ireland urged to find out Israel is committing apartheid against Palestinians – The Irish Times
Ireland is the most “historically appropriate” country in Europe to formally recognize that Israel commits the crime of apartheid against the Palestinians, an Israeli human rights activist has said.
Hagai El-Ad, the director of the human rights organization B’Tselem, urged the government to take the “important step” of officially backing the separate findings of his own organization, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
After meeting Minister of State Joe O’Brien as well as a number of TDs and senators in Dublin, Mr El-Ad said Ireland could be “a leading voice internationally to put end to this apartheid”.
“This is an opportunity to show leadership,” he told The Irish Times. He said there was a growing consensus on the issue, and “nowhere in Europe has a more historically appropriate position [than Ireland] take this step forward”.
Last month, the Catalan parliament’s foreign affairs committee passed a motion recognizing Israeli actions as apartheid. South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor has called for a further deterioration in her country’s diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv due to what she called apartheid.
“I would like to see the Irish parliament do the same,” Mr El-Ad said. “It would be a very important step. There is a deep sense of emotional identification [in Ireland] of reality for what it is. I think it comes directly from the history of the Irish people.
Apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law, prohibited by three major treaties, including the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid.
In a February report denouncing Israel’s ‘apartheid against the Palestinians’, Amnesty International said Israel had engaged in an institutionalized regime of ‘oppression and domination of the Palestinian population for the benefit of Jewish Israelis’. .
B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch made similar findings on apartheid, while a March report by Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory, is came to the same conclusion.
Reacting to Amnesty’s report at the time, Israel’s then foreign minister, Yair Lapid, now acting prime minister, accused the human rights organization of being a “radical group ill-informed activists who echo propaganda without serious examination of the facts”.
Mr Lapid called the report “delusional – cut off from reality”, adding that Israel was “a strong and vibrant democracy that grants all its citizens equal rights, regardless of religion or race”.
“The report denies the right of the State of Israel to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Its extremist language and distortion of historical context was designed to demonize Israel and add fuel to the flames of anti-Semitism,” he said.
Mr El-Ad said Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians should be recognized as apartheid and treated as such. “That’s what I said during the meeting with Minister O’Brien. We are hopeful that Ireland will step forward and take a leadership position by joining the human rights community and calling it what it is.
“Israel controls everything between the river and the sea and applies the same principle everywhere, advancing the supremacy and dominance of one group of people – Jewish individuals like me – to the detriment of the other half of the population, the population Palestinian.
“Jews are meant to enjoy full protection and privileges wherever they live, while Palestinians are never offered equality anywhere under Israeli control – they are second-class citizens. “
Mr El-Ad said the accusations of anti-Semitism leveled at critics of Israel were a “cynical tactic” by the Israeli government to “silence factual criticism of its policies”.
“The government never discusses facts, because it cannot dispute facts that are unfolding in broad daylight. So what they do is resort to the only thing they have left besides settling the situation, which is to try to shoot the messenger.
“It’s cynical and it’s absolutely not acceptable. It’s even worse because there is real anti-Semitism, and of course it must be defeated like any form of racism. But making false accusations is is losing the ability to fight genuine anti-Semitism.