Australia/Israel Review

Amnesty International’s “woke racism”

Mar 2, 2022 | Adam Levick

Amnesty publishes report after report denying any agency to Palestinians, reflecting “woke” ideology that patronisingly treats a disadvantaged group as powerless, eternal victims (Image: Amnesty International)
Amnesty publishes report after report denying any agency to Palestinians, reflecting “woke” ideology that patronisingly treats a disadvantaged group as powerless, eternal victims (Image: Amnesty International)

If the 280-page report published by Amnesty International accusing Israel of ‘apartheid’ was a person, we’d say that he doesn’t have an honest bone in his body.

Whilst both the Economist and Freedom House have assessed the Jewish state as a liberal democracy, with the former ranking Israel’s democracy score higher than even the United States, Amnesty, like other so-called human rights organisations which have embraced the radical left’s malign obsession with Israel, offered what can fairly be described as a conclusion in search of evidence.

Their report is riddled with errors of omission, fact, law and basic logic.

To cite just a few errors:

  • Amnesty charges that Arab citizens of Israel can’t access state land in Israel. The charge is false – Israeli-Arabs have the same access to state land as any other Israelis.
  • Amnesty claims that Palestinians, and their millions of descendants, possess a legal “Right of Return” to Israel. In fact, there is no such right in international law.
  • Amnesty portrays Palestinian residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in east Jerusalem as being “ethnically cleansed”. However, all that’s happening is that several dozen Palestinian families face possible eviction due to their failure to pay rent for decades.
  • Amnesty claims that “2.5 million Palestinians live in Israel and East Jerusalem, restricted to enclaves that make up 3% of the entire area.” Again, this claim has been shown to be a fabrication. [see]
  • Amnesty even questions the legitimacy of Israel’s security measures designed to prevent the flow of weapons into Hamas-controlled Gaza, when even a United Nations investigation, for instance, declared its naval blockade “legal”.

But, arguably, even more egregious than its counter-factual allegations against Israel is the near absence of any context on the Arab wars, Palestinian terrorism and Palestinian leadership’s repeated rejection of peace offers which have led to the current territorial, political and security situation.

In fact, searching for the words “terror” or “bombing” or “suicide” or “stab” or “stabbing” reveals that in the entire 280-page report there is not a single mention of any particular Palestinian terrorist attack against Israelis. The 1,377 Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism since September 2000 are erased from the moral and political equation.

And this is illustrative of a problem with Amnesty’s report few have explored – a denial of agency to Palestinians. Their document seems predicated on a view of the Palestinians and Israelis in a manner that American authors and social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff characterised as “The Untruth of Us Versus Them: Life is a battle between good people and evil people.” Such a Manichean framing invariably leads to a patronising view of the Palestinians, treating them as eternal victims – a dynamic described by American academic John McWhorter as “woke racism”.

Tellingly, at the end of Amnesty’s report there are dozens of bullet-point recommendations for ameliorating the problems it outlined, almost all of which are directed towards what Israel should do to solve the “human rights violations” it outlined. Some of these recommendations, such as allowing for the unlimited Palestinian right of return, would, for all intents and purposes, mean the end of the Jewish state.

So, what’s asked of the Palestinians? As you can see below (excerpted from p. 276 of the report), essentially nothing. The only thing demanded of Palestinians is that they assist Amnesty in its delegitimisation campaign and smear of Israel:


• Document as necessary and in line with international standards the discriminatory impact of Israel’s system of apartheid against the Palestinian population in the OPT to provide evidence of such impact to relevant international courts and other bodies.

• Ensure that operations and any type of dealings with Israel, primarily through security coordination, do not contribute to maintaining the system of apartheid against Palestinians in the OPT.

There are no demands that Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza, disarm and accept Israel’s existence. There are no calls for the Palestinian Authority to, for the first time in 16 years, hold elections and begin the process of building functioning and transparent democratic institutions in preparation for statehood. There’s no admonition of Palestinian leaders for their promotion and glorification of terrorism, or their culture of antisemitism. Nor is there the suggestion that they should pursue peace and co-existence with Israel.

In the 200,000 plus word report, the word “coexistence” isn’t used once (except to cite an NGO named Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality). The word “peace” is only used either to reference the NGO ‘Peace Now’, or in contexts unrelated to the word’s meaning as it relates to the Israeli-Palestinian quest for “peace” or a “peace agreement”. The term “two states” isn’t used at all.

Of course, making peace with Israel is the only effective way to end the conflict and improve the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis. But, to acknowledge such an intuitive truth would require ceasing to infantilise Palestinians, and treating them instead as we treat all adults – as moral actors whose bad decisions inevitably lead to bad outcomes.

Adam Levick serves as co-editor of CAMERA UK. He has published reports on antisemitism at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, and op-eds at publications such as the Guardian, the Independent, the Irish Examiner, the Algemeiner, JNS and the Jewish Chronicle. © Times of Israel (, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved. 


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