On Wednesday, Amnesty International, which supports the BDS movement against Israel, will publish an anti-Semitic report that is intended to cripple tourism to Israel, according to NGO Monitor, which states that the Amnesty International report alleges, “the Israeli government has political and ideological reasons for developing a tourism industry in occupied East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank … Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archaeological sites … [as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of the OPT.”
Just as the United Nations passed a resolution in the twilight of Barack Obama’s presidency that rejected Jewish claims to the holiest places in Judaism, including the Temple Mount and Jerusalem, the Amnesty International report, titled, “The Tourism Industry and Israeli Settlements,” apparently attempts to paint tourism to Israel as connected to the expansion of Jewish settlements, in the process making it seem as if Jewish holy sites are not of tremendous historical significance for visitors.
As NGO Monitor notes, “Amnesty repeatedly diminishes Jewish connections to holy sites in the Old City of Jerusalem and in other areas of religious and historical importance to Jews. 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.’”
Amnesty acknowledges that “The top three most visited places by foreign tourists in 2017 were all in Jerusalem’s Old City,” which just happen to turn out to be “the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.” NGO Monitor notes, ‘By suggesting that foreign tourism to Israel is about supporting settlements, not about religious and/or historical interest, Amnesty International erases the Christian connection to the Holy Land.”
NGO Monitor notes that in its attempt to vilify Israel, Amnesty International obfuscates facts. It quotes the Israeli government acknowledging “45% of foreign visitors went to the Dead Sea, much of which is in the OPT.” But the chief tourist attractions, including the Ein Gedi nature reserve, Masada, and the resorts in Ein Bokek are all within Israel’s pre-1967 borders.
According to NGO Monitor, Amnesty International targets Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Booking.com, accusing them of contributing to “human rights violations” because they acknowledge and discuss Jewish historical and cultural sites such as the ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Which organizations does Amnesty International use to buttress its arguments? According to NGO Monitor, they include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); terror-tied NGOs Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P) and Al-Haq; the pro-BDS NGOs Who Profits, EAPPI, Human Rights Watch, and Diakonia; and Israeli political advocacy NGOs B’Tselem, Emek Shaveh, Kerem Navot, Ir Amim, and Yesh Din.
Professor Gerald Steinberg, founder and President of NGO Monitor, stated:
Precisely because tourism to Israel is at an all time high, Amnesty International is targeting this sector. Amnesty is specifically contesting Jewish historic connections to biblical sites, including in Jerusalem – reminiscent of UNESCO resolutions. In essence, Amnesty faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians. In the foreground of Amnesty’s campaign is a long history of anti-Semitism. Amnesty has tolerated blatant anti-Semitism within its own ranks and has treated anti-Semitism as the one form of discrimination not worth fighting against. Unsurprisingly, Amnesty is now fully embracing discriminatory BDS and singling out Israel. The timing is clearly aimed to coincide with the UN’s upcoming BDS blacklist.