Caroline Glick: Amnesty International Uses Airbnb to Push Wider Boycott of Israel

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Guilemetter Villemin/AFP

Last week, Amnesty International came out with a viciously antisemitic report demanding that online tourism websites boycott Jewish sites in the Holy Land.

On the face of things, it is hard to avoid the temptation to simply shrug it off with indifference.

After all, Amnesty’s obsessive hatred of Israel and Israeli Jews is nothing new. Amnesty has subjected Israel to withering condemnations without a shred of evidence for years. Amnesty has blocked any debate of its hostile preconceptions of Israel. It has based its anti-Israel reports on second hand allegations published by even less credible groups, many of which have open ties to terrorist organizations.

So it’s up to its old tricks again. Who cares?

Unfortunately, it’s important not to give in to the temptation of indifference. Because Amnesty’s latest anti-Israel campaign is so in-your-face bigoted that it needs to ignite warning lights all over the world. It is telling us that in the leftist circles populated by Amnesty and its fellow self-proclaimed human rights groups, Jew-hatred is so accepted, so rampant and so virulent, that there’s no need to bother to hide it with even the thinnest veneer of respectable discourse.

As Breitbart News reported, on Wednesday, Amnesty posted a report on its website calling for international online tourism giants, booking.com, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Expedia to delist all Jewish owned listings in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria from their websites, and accusing them of turning “war crimes into a tourist attraction.”

Amnesty claimed that tourism sites in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria — including the Western Wall and the City of David in Jerusalem, the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and the site of the Ark of the Covenant and Tabernacle in Shiloh –are all exploited by Israel to harm the Palestinians and deny their history. By Amnesty’s telling, the only reason that Israel promotes tourism to Jerusalem or Hebron or Shiloh is to harm the Palestinians. And the only reason Jewish tourists are interested in visiting these sites is because they wish to harm the Palestinians.

And by advertising Jewish-owned tourist sites, Israeli national heritage sites, Jewish-owned restaurants, or lodging listings on their websites, Amnesty alleged that the tourism websites are not simply joining Israel in being mean to Palestinians. They are abetting Israeli war crimes.

Amnesty’s legal claims are difficult to take seriously. As University of San Diego and Bar Ilan University law professor Avi Bell explained in a conversation with Breitbart News, “the legal claims made by Amnesty International in its report would be comic, if they weren’t so pernicious.”

Bell listed the flaws: “Amnesty claims, for example, that tourism in Jewish sites in the West Bank violates human rights norms because some people might hold the opinion that it is legitimate for Jews to live in the area. Amnesty claims it’s illegal for Israel to mark out hiking trails, to preserve archeological treasures, and for Jews to make wine. Amnesty claims that failure to comply with Palestinian demands for a Jew-free land is ‘inherently discriminatory’ and that permitting Jews to live in the West Bank creates an ‘illegal situation’ that infects, virus-like, even the most innocent third-party actions with the stain of war crimes.

“Amnesty claims that international law requires states to ban all business activities with Jews who reside or do anything else in disputed areas like the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. All of these claims are not only noxious and bigoted, they are all without legal foundation.”

If Amnesty’s distortion and indeed, rank invention of international legal norms to advance its anti-Jewish prejudices weren’t bad enough, Amnesty’s report attributed to Jews a sinister plan to exploit and manipulate Jewish history for nefarious, criminal purposes.

In the words of the Amnesty report, Israel cultivates historic sites “to make the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting…history which has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.”

With more than a whiff of paranoia, Amnesty claims to uncover Israeli plots everywhere. Israelis call the area Judea and Samaria not because those are the land’s traditional names, going back thousands of years, but as part of a “deliberate attempt to conceal from tourists that these places are in the [so-called Occupied Palestinian Territories] OPT.”

Israel does not protect places like the pool of Siloam and King David’s palace as archaeological parks to protect the invaluable heritage and share them with the world; rather, it does so “to justify the takeover of Palestinian land and homes.”

Amnesty alleges that “the Israeli government and others use archaeology and tourism as cover for removing Palestinian residents of Silwan [in Jerusalem] and installing settlers,” and “the settlers in Hebron see tourism as one way of strengthening their position. For political and financial reasons, they want as many people as possible to visit them.”

As they see it, Jews wanting to make a living off the tourism sites they live by is an act of avarice. And so too, as NGO Monitor notes in its analysis of Amnesty’s report, “the possibility that Jews would visit holy sites and want to see archaeological remnants of biblical locations for their religious and historical significance is not entertained.”

Amnesty suggests that Jews — whether tourists, the Israeli government, or tourism providers — are motivated solely by a desire to harm the Palestinians.

Amnesty’s substantive claims are so off the wall that it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that their intention has nothing to do with protecting Palestinian human rights and everything to do with denying Jewish human rights. This is particularly clear when one considers what Amnesty views as illegal Jewish behavior. Amnesty thinks all actions by Jews in the areas are illegal, including simply breathing in and out while being Jewish in the areas.

To advance their goal of criminalizing the act of being Jewish while present in Judea, Samaria or Jerusalem, Amnesty refers to Israel as an “apartheid regime.”

In so doing, like its fellow antisemitic political groups that pose as human rights organizations, Amnesty distorts the language of human rights and international law to libel Israel. In the real world, Israel is the only human rights respecting democracy in the Middle East.

Apartheid was the South African regime for forced legal separation between whites and blacks and other racial groups, and the subjugation of the latter to lower legal status. Apartheid South Africa forbade blacks from living in white areas unless in domestic servitude. Blacks were forbidden to use white bathrooms, white parks, white movie theaters and white beaches. And, of course, blacks were denied the right to vote. The laws were inherently discriminatory.

Israel’s legal code in contrast rejects any form of discrimination. Minorities in Israel have the same legal rights as Israel’s Jewish majority. And yet, here is Amnesty finding “inherent discrimination” in Israel’s legal code, which allows persons of all ethnicities – including Jews — to open up their homes to tourists.

By asserting a separate legal system for criminalizing Israeli Jews, by applying legal norms against Israeli Jews that are applied to no other group, Amnesty and its fellow antisemitic activist groups that are seeking to institute a quasi-apartheid regime – against Israel.

This is not simply a gross abuse of the very concepts of law and human rights. It is the negation of the concepts of law and human rights. Those who ascribe to Amnesty’s thinking view the law not as an instrument to serve justice blindly but instead is a means to discriminate against hated groups.

It is appalling that Amnesty has stooped this low. And of course, the pit of antisemitism is bottomless, so there is no reason to believe that it won’t go even lower in a month or two.

But the worst part about Amnesty’s galling report is that it shows that the powers-that-be in fake human rights group, with annual budgets in excess of $300 million, think that it is acceptable to wear their Jew-hatred on their sleeve.

Caroline Glick is a world-renowned journalist and commentator on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy, and the author of The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. She is running for Israel’s Knesset as a member of the Yamin Hahadash (New Right) party in Israel’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 9. Read more at www.CarolineGlick.com.

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