Europe

Amnesty Under Fire for Denying Historical Jewish Connection to Israel

Amnesty International is under fire for its recent campaign encouraging travel websites to boycott Israel, which denies the historical Jewish connection to the land of Israel, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday.

A statement from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council blasted the human rights organization for portraying “Jewish access to Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall as a reason to criticise Israel.”

The Amnesty campaign targets travel websites, including TripAdvisor and Airbnb, accusing them of encouraging “war crimes” by driving tourism to what it called “illegal settlements” and “occupied Palestinian land.”

The Board of Deputies statement noted that Amnesty had recently “left Jews out of its work on racism and refused to allow the Jewish Leadership Council to host an event at its offices.”

The current campaign and recent snub highlight the organization’s “long record of double standards on Israel.”

NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based watchdog group that holds NGO’s accountable for their biases, issued a critical report of the Amnesty campaign.

The NGO Monitor report noted that Amnesty “accuses Israel of creating a ‘settlement tourism industry’ to help ‘sustain and expand’ communities beyond the 1949 Armistice line. Israel’s interest in Jewish archaeology is ‘to make the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,’ while ‘rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.’”

The report also observed, “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.”

The Amnesty report emphasized that “the top three most visited places by foreign tourists in 2017 were all in Jerusalem’s Old City.” Citing this example, the NGO Monitor report noted that this presentation suggested “that this is a serious problem that needs to be solved.” But only by reading a footnote in the Amnesty report does one learn that those three sites are the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The inclusion by Amnesty of the historic church in the list of sites that it accuses Israel of manipulating for political purposes, instead of a historical, religious site, shows that Amnesty also “erases the Christian connection to the Holy Land.”

The denial of the historical connection of Jews to the land of Israel is a typical tactic of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. In one notable example, Abbas said in a December 2017 speech that Jews “are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres criticized the denial of history in a May 2017 speech condemning anti-Semitism at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “History must be respected. Jerusalem is a holy city for three religions,” Guterres said at the time.

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