The Trump administration is considering designating several preeminent international human rights groups "anti-Semitic" in response to their criticism of Israeli crimes against the Palestinian people, according to a report published Wednesday.
Politico reports the State Department could as early as this week declare groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam to be anti-Semitic organizations and urge world governments to stop supporting them.
The Trump administration is considering declaring that several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam — are anti-Semitic and that governments should not support them https://t.co/z54MGnA2Ay
— POLITICO (@politico) October 21, 2020
Not The Onion! White supremacist Trump administration weighing labeling major human rights organizations – Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam – antisemitic.
Aim is to delegitimize their criticism of Israel's systematic violations of Palestinian rights.https://t.co/jSpTS7QMx7
— Adalah-NY (@AdalahNY) October 21, 2020
A congressional aide told Politico that the move is backed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who reportedly has presidential aspirations and is burnishing his Zionist credentials while serving in what is arguably the most pro-Israel administration ever.
The proposal is highly controversial, however, and has raised eyebrows and ire among career State Department officials including attorneys who argue the potential designation poses serious free speech concerns.
The declaration would likely take the form of a report from Elan Carr, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. It would likely cite the groups' criticism of Israeli policies and actions, as well as their actual or perceived support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), the peaceful global protest movement for Palestinian rights that is backed by prominent Jewish peace groups. None of the targeted organizations officially support BDS.
Tells you not only how immoral Trump is, but also how dangerous and fascist the pro-Likud crowd is... https://t.co/fHCkOdixYU
— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) October 21, 2020
Carr's report is expected to cite posts, reports, and media statements by the rights groups criticizing Israel's ongoing illegal occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights, as well as the exclusively Jewish settler colonization of Palestinian territory, which is also illegal under international law. Both the occupation and settlements have been the subject of dozens of United Nations resolutions, most of them condemning Israel's actions.
Settlement building and expansion have also been called a form of ethnic cleansing and apartheid by international observers, icluding over 400 Jewish scholars and the former U.N. human rights official Richard Falk—who is also Jewish.
It is unclear what, if any, impact the proposed anti-Semitic designation would have on the rights groups. None of the three named groups receive any funding from the U.S. government. All three categorically deny accusations of anti-Semitism.
State department's approach to criticism of Israel by human rights groups @hrw @amnesty @Oxfam farcical and driven by utter disdain for human rights. Criticism of Israel's conduct not anti-Semitic.https://t.co/NGrCMS6QXV pic.twitter.com/oocMeymsKL
— Iain Levine (@iainlevine) October 21, 2020
The weaponization of the definition of anti-semitism to mute criticism of Israel reaches a new scandalous peak. Pompeo is readying to declare @amnesty @hrw and @Oxfam anti-semitic because they're critical of Israeli violations of int'l law. It is obscene https://t.co/pskwORvisL
— Nour Odeh #NojusticeNopeace (@nour_odeh) October 21, 2020
"AIUSA is deeply committed to fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of hate worldwide, and will continue to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth, and dignity are denied," Amnesty International USA iterim director Bob Goodfellow said in a statement. "We vigorously contest any allegation of anti-Semitism, and look forward to addressing the State Department's attacks in full."
Eric Goldstein, an official with HRW, said in a statement that his organization "fight[s] discrimination in all forms, including anti-Semitism."
"Criticizing government policy is not the same as attacking a specific group of people," added Goldstein. "For example, our critiques of U.S. government policy do not make us anti-American."