Amnesty International’s ‘Israel Apartheid Report’, published late last year, has been soundly rejected by responsible democracies around the world and by New Zealand’s principal allies: Australia, USA, United Kingdom and Canada. These countries recognise that the report is ‘divorced from reality’, displays double standards and is antisemitic. Notably, no Arab nation has endorsed the report.
A number of New Zealand advocacy groups recently co-signed a letter to Peter Fa’afiu, Vice Chair of Amnesty International, concerned that the report was racist, replete with lies, repeated a false and contrived definition of ‘apartheid’, called for an end to Israel, whitewashed terrorism and would likely contribute to antisemitic attacks.
Fa’afiu has been on AI’s International board for two and half years and has been Vice Chair for six months. Given his senior position, Fa’afiu bears direct responsibility for the extremist Israel Apartheid report. In his correspondence with the advocacy groups, Fa’afiu doubled down, stating “To be clear if I wasn’t before – as Vice Chair of the International Board, I stand by the report”.
Dr David Cumin of the Israel Institute of NZ wrote,
We are deeply disappointed by Mr Fa’afiu’s response. We wrote to him in the hope that he would be guided by the Kiwi and Pacific Island values of balance, fairness and anti-racism, that he would distance himself from the report and condemn its contents. We hoped that he would be an ‘upstander’ for all human rights, in this case the human rights of the Jewish people.
Hon. Alfred Ngaro, former chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel group, and co-director of the Indigenous Coalition for Israel, has condemned the report, stating,
Jews have more than three thousand years of continuous connection to the land of Israel. If, as the AI demands, self-determination and indigeneity must be denied to Jews, one of the world’s most ancient indigenous peoples, what rights remain for other indigenous peoples? We had hoped that Peter, as a representative of Pacific nations, would understand this.
Amnesty International’s stance is not unique. It aligns with other politically oriented NGOs that are disproportionately fixated on demonising the world’s only Jewish state, while dictators and despots throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and elsewhere are ignored.
Fa’afiu was formerly employed by MFAT. His position reflects a disturbing trajectory that has emerged from MFAT NZ in recent years. This government agency has progressively distanced New Zealand from traditional western democratic allies in the attempt to cultivate relationships with regimes like Iran, China and Turkey.
With the world in a state of turmoil, it’s time for New Zealand to revisit poor decisions made by unelected bureaucrats and re-align with traditional Kiwi values of balance and fairness.
In recent years, multiple Arab states have turned from hostility and embraced peace with Israel. Pasifika peoples have long shown strong support for Israel. It is disturbing that a Pasifika leader has chosen to stand with the lies and antisemitism of a movement calling for the destruction of the only Western-style democracy in the Middle East. We hope that Pasifika leaders of goodwill will call Fa’afiu to account.