Washington, DC – The world's leading human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW), today issued an important report, which highlights the systemic oppression, discrimination and blanket violations of Palestinian human rights under Israel's almost 54-year-old occupation. The report lumps these violations together with the discrimination that Palestinian citizens of Israel suffer and defines them all as "Apartheid."
After 40 years of documenting and protesting against the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, we do know a thing or two about it. And we know that the carefully documented facts in the HRW report on the occupation are largely indisputable. We also know too well what the occupation does to Palestinians and Israelis, and how desperately it needs to end.
Let's talk about the facts on the ground, not what you think about the use of the term Apartheid. Let's talk about occupation, about military detention, including of youth, and about the theft of Palestinian lands. This, not manufactured outrage about "double standards" and "inaccurate use of terminology" is what our community leaders should be addressing.
We are therefore appalled by the reaction of some fellow American Jewish organizations, who rushed to launch ad-hominem attacks at the report's author, accusing him and HRW of antisemitism. Yet again – as so often happens– these groups failed to seriously address the facts meticulously laid out in the report.
These same Jewish organizations that speak with pride about the Jewish value of tikkun olam (fixing the world) fail to speak up about fixing Israel's democracy and its relationship with its Palestinian neighbors.
As our Israeli sister organization Peace Now today pointed out, the HRW report should be taken as a wake-up call, indeed an opportunity, for both Israelis and their friends overseas, to take action to end the occupation and help advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians.