Middle East

Israel appoints ‘anti-delegitimisation’ envoy

Israel has appointed actress, writer and activist Noa Tishby as its first special envoy for combating anti-Semitism and what it calls the “delegitimisation” of the occupation state.

The Israeli-American was unveiled yesterday by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who sent a chilling message to human rights groups.

Lapid said that the main target of the envoy includes major human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, which have charged Israel with the crime of apartheid. In October, Israel outlawed six Palestinian human rights groups in a move slammed by Hollywood stars as “an unprecedented and blanket attack on Palestinian human rights defenders.” According to Lapid, though, “The state of Israel is under attack by people calling us an apartheid state.”

READ: ‘Seriously flawed’ definition of anti-Semitism must be dropped, says Jewish coalition

Tishby insisted that, “Anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same,” and pointed out that her main goal is to crack down on anyone criticising Israel’s founding ideology.

The 46-year-old stressed this as her number one priority in an interview with Jewish Currents. “I need to make sure that people from outside the Jewish world are clear that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism,” she told the American magazine. Zionism, say critics, is a political ideology. Not all Zionists are Jews and not all Jews are Zionists, they add.

Eagle-eyed viewers of the social media video of the envoy’s introduction by Lapid commented on the necklace worn by Tishby while standing next to him. “Anyone else notice that the new Israeli official envoy for fighting anti-Semitism is wearing a pendant that appears to be a map of Greater Israel, including the entire West Bank and the Golan Heights?” said the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, Lara Friedman.

Another twitter user commenting on the necklace said: “Very honest, all Palestine is occupied under Israeli rule, including Syria’s Golan, so yes, you have Bantustans with natives under Apartheid.”

Others pointed out that the very first thing that Lapid talked about was “apartheid”, thus making it clear that the actual purpose of the envoy is to challenge the findings of human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) after their reports exposed the apartheid system imposed on Palestinians by Israel. Amnesty and HRW are among a number of human rights groups to have concluded that Israel imposes a system of apartheid. Others include B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Addammer, Al-Haq and the UN Human Rights Council, which in its 48th session said that Israel is practicing apartheid in the occupied territories.

Tishby’s other target is the Palestinian-led global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. She also wants to push for more governments to adopt the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. Critics, including the drafter of the definition, Kenneth Stern, have warned that the IHRA has been weaponised against critics of the occupation state and is having a negative effect on free speech, especially on university campuses.

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