Why some Palestinians think Amnesty’s report isn’t enough

The Palestine Project
4 min readFeb 3, 2022

By Soheir Asaad

I’ve been following the discussion on Amnesty International’s apartheid report published on Tuesday 1st February 2022. The report came after Human Rights Watch and b’Tselem’s reports. Palestinian organizations and activists have been saying this for decades.

Despite the importance of such reports for global campaigning efforts, and the fact that Amnesty’s report goes further than the previously published reports (incorporating Palestinians in 1948 and the Palestinian refugees part of those subjected to Israel’s apartheid regime), there are issues with this report, just like the others. Critically, it doesn’t break away from the frameworks imposed on us as Palestinians. Frameworks that are used to silence us and force us to define our cause and struggle according to what is acceptable for the human rights elites’, and their unwillingness to pay the price for the implications of a real confrontation with the nature of Israel’s regime.

Amnesty’s director chose to open the press conference by emphasizing Israel’s right to exist and the fact that Amnesty doesn’t challenge the legitimacy and basis of its establishment, which as we all know, took place at the expense of our people. The report itself does not see a problem with the Jewish identity of the Israeli regime, and Israel being the “home of the Jewish people’’. Today Amnesty declared on their Twitter account that they have no position on the occupation itself, but rather the apartheid within it.

These positions are hidden in the celebratory applauses declaring the report as an achievement for finally acknowledging what we have been saying for years. These positions and this framing are dangerous in the way that they over centralize legal definitions and discourse while undermining experiences and analytical framings stemming from those involved in the struggle on the ground, such as those which emerged during the Unity Intifada last year.

Shifting the focus from a 1967 occupation framing to the apartheid framing has no meaning as long as there is no recognition of the root cause of the issue, the basis and source of everything else (occupation, apartheid, and others) — the colonization of our homeland, our continuous displacement, and our fragmentation. If this is not the starting point for any analysis (occupation or apartheid), then these analyses will fall short and continue to perpetuate the brutal hegemony of the Zionist colonial on the level of discourse and practice.

The human rights framework is limited, there is no question there. It is also not the arena where we will attain liberation. However, despite these limitations, it can provide space for a more radical discourse than the one advanced by Amnesty and other human rights organizations. Let us not be fooled, the adoption of this harmful discourse is a cautious choice taken by academic and legal scholars and practitioners who, unfortunately, are unable and unwilling to hold themselves accountable for their own role in sidelining and silencing Palestinian voices. We have the right and capacity to describe the reality we live in and to define our liberation discourse without these circles setting the boundaries of legitimacy.

The director of Amnesty International said that Israel must stop its treatment of the Palestinians on the basis of apartheid, and I am confused… does she really think that apartheid can end without ending the Zionist settler colonial project?! Apartheid is a tool that serves this larger project, and it will fall only if this project falls.

We Palestinians do not want to improve our living conditions under the Zionist regime, we want to tare it down. We don’t want equality, we want decolonization, liberation, justice, and dignity.

During last year’s Unity Intifada, we reclaimed our political will and our agency in the streets of Palestine. We eloquently spoke of our lived reality and the forces that shape it. We Put forward our analysis and what freedom and justice look like to us. This is the voice that must be centered and emphasised. We expect our allies and supporters, the free people of the world, to be attentive to movements on the ground, what analytical frameworks they put forward and centralize them.

This is our voice, amplify it: