WASHINGTON – A typical DC storm has been brewing since Paul O’Brien, executive director of Amnesty International USA, spoke last Wednesday at the Women’s National Democratic Club (WNDC) in Washington. O’Brien gave an excellent talk about Amnesty International’s report on apartheid in Palestine and no sooner did he finish than a hand was raised to be called on for the first question.
The woman asking the question represented a Zionist organization and repeatedly claimed that calling Israel an apartheid state was “ridiculous.” She went on to quote Obama administration officials who made the same claim as though that boosted her argument. She said she had, “even visited Ramallah” and that clearly the arguments made in the report were, once again, “ridiculous.”
It was eventually revealed that there was an entire team of Zionists who attended with the sole purpose of discrediting the report and the organization that released it. They asked O’Brien for his personal view and feelings on the issue of Israel’s right to exist, Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, and other issues that were intended to corner him. O’Brien answered dutifully and validated their right to oppose him, Amnesty International, and its report on apartheid in Palestine.
As soon as the meeting was over, the Zionists surrounded O’Brien demanding his thoughts and feelings about the right of the Jewish State to exist and recording every word. Two days later the Zionist publication Jewish Insider, put out a story titled “Israel ‘shouldn’t exist as a Jewish state,’ Amnesty USA director tells Democratic group.” If O’Brien made that statement at all, it certainly was not to the entire group.
Does Israel have a right to exist?
The Zionists pushed O’Brien on this issue in an attempt to put a wedge between Amnesty International’s report on apartheid and what are considered the legitimate boundaries of conversations on Palestine. Questioning the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State is far beyond the boundaries prescribed by Zionists.
One may slice and splice the question into sub-issues, such as What is the meaning of “right”? What is the meaning of “exist”? And certainly, What is the meaning of “Jewish”? However, the main issue that this question reveals is: Is it acceptable for a racist, violent apartheid regime to control Palestine and treat Palestinians like subhumans and get away with it? Zionists want to be reassured constantly that the world will allow them this privilege. When someone suggests, as O’Brien did very skilfully, that this is not acceptable and in fact is counter-productive, that person must be destroyed.
What one can certainly surmise from the report is that there isn’t today, nor was there ever and indeed can never be, a Zionist state in Palestine that is not a regime of apartheid and terror. A Zionist state – or, as they refer to it, a “Jewish” state – in Palestine cannot exist unless it is the one that we see today: the State of Israel, murderous, racist and destructive. An Amnesty International official would never use these words, but the report they provided us makes the point very clear.
The Jewish Insider reporter who confronted O’Brien recorded the event without anyone’s knowledge or, as far as I know, permission. When the outlet published its report, O’Brien engaged in a civil and clear way with the piece via Twitter, stating clearly what he said in his talk. Yet Jewish Insider was still determined that their version of the truth was the right one, and they published a second article that includes, according to them, a transcript of their recording.
I've had a look at the transcript of the @WNDC meeting that has been misreported. What I said to the Jewish Insider journalist was to reference Amnesty's concerns with the 2018 Nation State law. My exact words were as follows: 1/5.
— Paul O'Brien (@dpaulobrien) March 12, 2022
The “terrible” statement made by O’Brien is encapsulated in the following response he gave to one of the Zionists’ questions about “preserving Israel as a Jewish State”:
The one thing I wanted to disagree with in what you said: It is not Amnesty’s position, in fact we are opposed to the idea — and this, I think, is an existential part of the debate — that Israel should be preserved as a state for the Jewish people. I don’t know if you exactly said it that way, but you said something about should there be a state for the Jewish people. That is, in essence, the 2018 law, that the State of Israel is preserved for Jews alone, and it should be theirs alone. And that, from a human rights perspective, is not equal treatment between the Jewish people and the Palestinian people.
But it is really important, I think, particularly for those who understand the threats that the Jewish people experienced over the last several generations, I think it is incumbent on people who engage this conversation to say, “No, I don’t believe that Israel should be preserved as a state in which one race is legally entitled to oppress another.” But yes, I understand that the Jewish people have a legitimate concern about their very existence being threatened. And that needs to be part of the conversation.”
His accepting the legitimacy of Zionist “concern” over the lives of Jewish people, and the “preservation” of Israel was a dangerous rabbit hole. One must accept that when Zionists attend a meeting, they are not there to engage in a productive discussion. They are there to read from a well-rehearsed and endlessly repeated script. The script is designed to label as antisemitic anyone critical of the violent, racist apartheid regime known as Israel.
Soldiers of apartheid
The Zionist team, seated together at the same table, were on the offensive as soon as O’Brien finished his remarks. They were agents of the very same apartheid regime that Amnesty International had just officially recognized as such. They were not innocent listeners interested in clarification or, as O’Brien called it, “a conversation.” They were soldiers, so to speak, of a regime there to trap him and hang him in the public square. The only statement that O’Brien could have made to satisfy them is a total rejection of the report. But instead he told the truth, and they would not accept that.
O’Brien’s transgressions were that he told the truth, spoke about the report in great detail, and spoke from his heart. However, instead of lending credibility to him as a person and to Amnesty International as an organization, Zionists are using his remarks to discredit the report and the organization. This is not any fault of his, but a well-thought-out strategy that places all who stand for justice in Palestine as the “enemy.”
Jewish Insider has made a name for itself with this latest “catch” and they are being quoted by other Zionists rags, including the Jerusalem Post. However, it is vital that O’Brien and Amnesty International revive the full support of everyone who believes in justice and freedom.
Feature photo | Paul O’Brien | Twitter
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”