Strongly Condemning the Amnesty International Report – February 4, 2022

I add my voice, with the strongest possible endorsement, to the call of our Reform Movement to strongly condemn the report produced by Amnesty International entitled: “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity” which wrongly accuses Israel of, “perpetuating the international wrong of apartheid.” The term “apartheid” is commonly understood to refer to the institutions of formal and rigid segregation, the denial of political and social rights, and the basic dehumanization practiced by the South African regime over decades. Using it to describe the relationship between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people does not reflect an understanding of the history, context, and nuance of the current situation. 

Jewish tradition teaches us that words matter not just because of their meaning, but because of the actions those words inspire. A quick look at the text underscores this point. While we generally define the word “d’varim” as “words,” the Mishnah (Peah 1:1) states “eilu d’varim…” and what follows isn’t a list of words, but a list of actions (honoring one’s father and mother, gimilut chasadim, and making peace). And it is for engaging in these actions that the Mishnah teaches we receive our reward.

Our movement clearly rejects this report which seeks to incite those who want to delegitimize Israel’s very existence who will now try to cite it as equating Israel with South Africa as an apartheid state. Israel’s detractors will use it to justify encouraging anti-Zionism and antisemitism. 

At the same time, I urge us not to use issues with the report as an excuse to avoid grappling with the day-in and day-out realities of occupation and the moral and strategic catastrophe it represents for Israelis and for Palestinians. 

Most significantly, as a longtime AIPAC member, a supporter of ARZA, and one who travels to Israel every year or two, I am proud to join the leaders of the largest religious and Zionist Movement in Jewish life in North America and declare my commitment to Israel’s Jewish as well as its democratic character, which must ensure the civil, political, and human rights of all citizens. 

Here you can read the full statement of our Reform movement.

Here you can read the teaching of the Association of Reform Zionists of America on “What are we talking about when we talk about Amnesty?”

Here you can read the joint statement released by AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Here you can read the joint statement from the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly.

Here you can read the statement released by J Street. 

Here you can read the statement from the Orthodox Union.

Keep abreast of the news in Israel with Times of Israel news site. Keep your eyes out for an announcement of a family trip to Israel in 2023, and an adult trip too. 

-Rabbi Paul Kipnes


Developed with input from statements by Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, the CCAR, AIPAC and ARZA.