Comment By Mathew Carr
Feb. 2, 2022: The USA is under pressure as it rejects some views of Amnesty International on Israel, yet cites the human rights group on China, Iran and Cuba.
These questions and answers below apparently reveal quite a fascinating double standard and/or bias in the US administration, since tension between China and the US (for instance) is a key problem as the world seeks to make progress on key global issuues, including climate protection, trade, build back better and energy provision.
Here is what’s happening:
Reuters: Amnesty International accused Israel of subjecting Palestinians to a system of apartheid founded on policies of “segregation, dispossession and exclusion” that it said amounted to crimes against humanity. The London-based rights group said its findings were based on research and legal analysis in a 211-page report into Israeli seizure of Palestinian land and property, unlawful killings, forcible transfer of people and denial of citizenship.
Here is the read out on a US press conference just held Feb. 1: key bit highlighted below
Journalists ask questions of State Dept. spokeman Ned Price
QUESTION: Going with Israel, Amnesty came out with this report accusing Israel of imposing apartheid on the Palestinians with policies of segregation, dispossession, and exclusion that amount to crimes against humanity. What’s the U.S. Government’s response to that? Do you agree with the conclusions of this report, and do you share those concerns about the situation there in Israel?
MR PRICE: Well, Simon, you know that as a general matter we don’t offer public comprehensive evaluations of reports by outside groups. We have our own rigorous standards and processes for making determinations on potential human rights abuses, for documenting what we see take place around the world, including on an annual basis in the Human Rights Report.
What I will say, however, is that we reject the view that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid. The department’s own reports have never used such terminology. We are committed to promoting respect for human rights in Israel and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. We have an enduring partnership with Israel, and we discuss a wide range of issues with our Israeli counterparts, including those related to human rights.
We support the efforts of the Israeli Government, of the Palestinian Authority, alongside human rights activists to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses. And we continue to emphasize to Israel and to the Palestinian Authority the need to refrain, as you’ve heard us say repeatedly, from unilateral actions that exacerbate tensions. This includes the annexation of territory, settlement activity, demolitions, incitement of violence, and the providing of compensations for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism. We take all allegations of human rights abuses seriously – that is true around the world – including allegations of arbitrary detention, and we continue around the world to urge respect for human rights.
QUESTION: A follow-up on —
QUESTION: Do you think it comes from a place of anti-Semitism to make those accusations? That’s what Israel’s response to Amnesty has been.
MR PRICE: We have had an opportunity to speak about this with our Israeli counterparts. They have conveyed their objections to the report. As we’ve noted, we don’t offer our own public comprehensive evaluations of reports, but we certainly reject the label that has been attached to this.
When speaking about Israel – one other point here – we think that it is important as the world’s only Jewish state that the Jewish people must not be denied their right to self-determination, and we must ensure there isn’t a double standard being applied.
QUESTION: Ned, it may be true that you don’t offer public comprehensive evaluations of outside reports, but you certainly cite them quite a bit in your own Human Rights Report. And I went back and looked, and in terms of just the last Human Rights Report cited Amnesty International on Ethiopia, on Cuba, on China and Xinjiang, on Iran, on Burma, on Syria, on Cuba. And that – those references are endorsements of what this group, Amnesty, and then other groups as well that are cited, have found. Why is it that – without taking a stand or making a judgment about the findings of this particular report, why is it that all criticism of Israel is – from these groups is almost always rejected by the U.S., and yet accepted, welcomed, and endorsed when it comes – when it comes out, when the criticism is of other countries, notably countries with which you have significant policy differences?
MR PRICE: Matt, I would make a couple points. Number one, when we include a footnote in something like —
QUESTION: These aren’t footnotes, Ned. These are – these are full-on citations.
MR PRICE: When we cite – when we cite, which it’s a game of semantics, I suppose, but whether you call it a citation or a footnote —
QUESTION: Well, when it says in the report, Amnesty International found this, X —
MR PRICE: Yes.
QUESTION: — in Xinjiang with the Uyghurs, and we – and we determine that we think that it’s a genocide, and you guys come out and cite that, and say, well, we also agree that it’s a genocide —
MR PRICE: That is a far cry, Matt, from saying – from saying that we have —
QUESTION: I’m not saying it’s the same thing, but —
MR PRICE: — comprehensive agreement with a third-party report that was produced by an outside group.
QUESTION: So it’s just – so it’s just when it’s criticism of Israel that you feel free to disagree? Where have you ever disagreed with an Amnesty report or a Human Rights Report on a country such as Iran or China?
MR PRICE: This is not – Matt, this is not about any outside group. This is about our vehement disagreement with a certain finding in a report by an outside group.
[CarrZee note: No answer to the question]
MR PRICE: There are plenty of times where we cite, as you said, outside groups in our own reports. We cite the facts that they have uncovered, that they have put forward. But I don’t think you’re going to find any citation in any State Department document – and I don’t think I’ll regret saying this – that says the department agrees on a comprehensive basis with absolutely everything that’s in this report.
QUESTION: Is it the department’s view that human rights abuses resulting from occupation are discrete events rather than resulting from discriminatory policies or discriminatory systems that are backed up by law?
MR PRICE: Barbara, we document this comprehensively in our own Human Rights Reports. And we document allegations of and what we have found in terms of Israel, and the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip comprehensively on an annual basis. So I will leave it to that document to speak to our framework for this. I think you have heard us on a number of occasions when we have heard reports of or been in position to corroborate human rights abuses in this region that we have not hesitated to speak out.
[CarrZee note: no answer to the question, though “framework” cited]
QUESTION: I got two really brief ones on Israel (inaudible).
MR PRICE: Sure.
QUESTION: One is you may have seen that the Israeli military today said it was censuring or reprimanding a couple – several soldiers for their role in the death of – or leading to the death of a Palestinian American. Is – I’ve been asking for a couple days now about whether you’re satisfied with your request for clarification for – does this do it? Have you gotten from – have you gotten this information from the Israelis, and are you satisfied with the response?
MR PRICE: Well, I expect you’ll – we’ll have a little bit more to say on this later today, but let me say that we continue, as I said yesterday and last week, to be concerned by the circumstances of the death of Mr. Omar Assad. He, of course, was a U.S. citizen who was found dead on January 12th after Israeli soldiers detained him in the West Bank.
We do note the public statement on the report of the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, commanders’ investigation into the case and its findings, including the determination that, quote, “the incident showed a clear lapse of moral judgment,” and a failure to, quote, “protect the sanctity of any human life.” The IDF public summary of the investigation further states that the disciplinary action is being taken against the commander of the Netzah Yehuda Battalion and other officers responsible for the unit involved in the incident, and that the military police criminal investigation division investigation of the case is ongoing. We expect a thorough criminal investigation and full accountability in this case, and we welcome receiving additional information on these efforts as soon as possible. We continue to discuss this troubling incident with the Israeli Government.
QUESTION: Okay. So this – what the IDF announced today is not satisfactory in and of itself; you want a criminal investigation?
MR PRICE: We have – we are continuing to discuss this. These are public statements that have come from the IDF. Again, we know that the investigation itself is ongoing, so it’s something I expect we’ll continue to discuss with our Israeli counterparts.
CarrZee wonders about the clear human rights violations being committed (and being locked in for the future) by many countries including the US as they support and subsidize fossil fuel production and burning around the world, including in the less-wealthy parts of the USA where particulate pollution is really bad.
(corrects spelling of country in lead [blush])