Our world is full of double standards, and today, more than ever, we see the most blatant double standards applied with regard to the Middle East. These double standards drive me absolutely apoplectic, perhaps because of the irritability of my advancing middle age. Perhaps it is a legacy of my legal education, which demands consistency in the application of rules of justice and logic. Or perhaps it is my sense, as a Jew with a strong sense of history, that double standards usually inure to the (often tragic) disadvantage of my people.
Factors that are bringing these double standards to the foreground today include the Middle Eastern and North African refugee crisis (from Syria, Iraq, Libya, etc. — all countries we screwed up, in one way or another), the ascendancy of Obama’s jayvee team of terrorists, ISIS, certain world leaders’ never-ending obsession with the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and the most recent terrorist attacks in France (by the way, sorry Mr. President, we ARE engaged in a “Global War on Terror”, despite your Orwellian dictates prohibiting this term from public usage).
Let me share some examples of inconsistencies that perplex and anger me:
- Why is it that when Palestinian terrorists bomb, shoot, stab or run over civilians in cold blood, the media — the Associated Press, Reuters, the New York Times, CNN and every other mainstream media outlet — refers to these “incidents” as having been committed by “activists” and “militants”, not “terrorists”? Following the latest French terrorist attacks, killing 129 people, every one of those media sources was tripping over itself to describe these as terrorist atrocities. Why the difference in language?
- Why is it that no one — no one — is questioning President Hollande’s unconditional statement that “France will destroy IS,” or condemning as a violation of human rights the French declaration of a state of emergency, including making it easier to strip dual nationals of their French citizenship if they are convicted of a terrorist offence, or speeding up the deportation of foreigners who pose “a particularly grave threat to the security of the nation”? Where are the threats of investigation and condemnation by the UN Human Rights Council, warnings from State Department spokesmen to avoid inflaming the cycle of violence or oppressing the rights of innocent individuals, or the onslaught of condemnations from EU-funded “humanitarian” NGO’s, vapid editorials and “news analyses” in the media — all pressures to which Israel has been subjected for uttering similar words in its fight against Islamic terrorism (Hamas is a self-proclaimed Islamic organization).
- When the French military drops bombs on ISIS targets, does anyone ask whether they are hitting civilians or imposing unacceptable collateral damage? Acting with disproportionate force? How about Russian air attacks in Syria? Is anyone in the media even trying to report casualty information? Was the U.S. hauled before the UN for condemnation, or American military officers threatened with arrest while abroad, when our special forces tragically and mistakenly called in an air attack on the Afghan Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, killing at least thirty innocents? A bit inconsistent from the treatment Israel receives when defending itself against barrages of terrorist missiles fired by people hiding behind human shields — Palestinians who democratically elected Hamas to govern them.
- The Middle Eastern and North African refugee crisis hitting Europe and coming soon to the US — this one really intrigues me. OK, let me get this straight. During the twentieth century, international law calling for return of refugees to their original homes, on one hand, and international policy to permanently resettle refugees in order to alleviate misery, on the other hand, have been very different in all but one case. As I wrote some months ago, during the 20th century, millions upon millions of Greeks from Turkey, Germans in Poland and Czechoslovakia, Poles from everywhere, Indians and Pakistanis, Jews from Arab countries and others have been permanently relocated following ethnic or national conflict. In that tradition, today the Western world is gearing up for an enormous permanent resettlement of Arab refugees in “culturally very different” Europe and the US. And yet, one group, the Palestinians of 1948, has eluded such humanitarian resettlement by order of the United Nations, which instead has maintained these Palestinians as a “temporarily” dispossessed community in squalid refugee camps for seventy years, awaiting their mythical return to their homes in Israel, now inhabited by people dispossessed from someplace else who had returned to Israel, THEIR home of two thousand years earlier (if the greatest book known to man, the Bible, is to be believed). Consistent with policies regarding other refugee crises, the Palestinians should long ago have been permanently resettled in neighboring Arab countries. Alternatively, to maintain consistency with the world’s shameful treatment of the Palestinian refugees, the current wave of Arab refugees bound to Europe and the US should be placed in similarly temporary refugee camps until they can be returned home from whence they came (Jews who perished in the Holocaust would have given anything for that treatment). This is not meant to be a judgment of the dangers faced by many of these refugees, those who are genuine political (rather than economic) refugees, especially oppressed and powerless minorities like the Christians. I am just asking for consistency vis a vis the Palestinians, the lack of which points to more odious policy goals.
- Then there is the double standard of the European Union’s labeling of goods from one internationally disputed area in the world (“Made on Settlements in the West Bank”), while not applying the same standard of “transparency” to items made in any other disputed area on Earth (Western Sahara/Morocco, Tibet/China, Northern Cyprus/Turkey, etc…). Beyond this glaring inconsistency, the U.S. State Department defends the Europeans against claims that this is an ethnically motivated boycott, and is merely “product sourcing transparency”. This is just another inconsistent smokescreen — otherwise the Europeans would mirror US law that simply requires disclosure of the disputed territory where the goods are produced, i.e., “The West Bank”, and not require disclosure of the ethnic ownership of the factories where they were produced — “[Jewish] Settlements in the West Bank”. Ironically, Palestinian employees at these settlement enterprises will be the biggest losers of this anti-Jewish policy.
There are other double standards I can cite, like Israel’s being the only nation in the world required to defend its right to exist before the international community, with its virtually unrecognized capital (except in the Bible), accused of being a war-mongering threat to world peace because it seeks to defend itself against a nuclear-bound country whose leaders call out publicly for its extermination. There are countless other examples of Jewish life being treated as less important than the lives of others, or than someone else’s feelings, like when Obama made the statement in February about the Paris Kosher food market attack being committed by ”vicious zealots who… randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris”, or the odious explanation of why attacks on European Jews are understandable because of Israel (and is the attack on France understandable?), etc…
One can charitably ascribe such unexplained and unexplainable double standards to profound ignorance, disinterest or laziness. In polite company, we usually let people “off the hook” with these more relatively palatable excuses, which often ring hollow, especially when used with respect to intelligent people who should know better. I still regret a debate I had in the student lounge in law school, more than thirty years ago, with a classmate about the culpability of FDR’s State and War Departments in the extermination of the Jews of Europe, and specifically how John McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War during WWII, had repeatedly sought to prevent actions to save Jews from the Nazis, and in his role later as U.S. High Commissioner of Germany, was an enthusiastic rehabilitator of some of the more odious Nazis. My friend turned to me with his steely blue eyes and said, “So, you are accusing John McCloy of being an anti-Semite or employing anti-Semitic policies?” I flinched, unable to say “yes” and use such a term in polite company, even though the conclusion had merit, and lost the argument.
We all know that unexplainable double standards are, in many cases, simply a manifestation of anti-Semitism. We must accept that truth, and then fight back by calling it out and explaining this uncomfortable reality to everyone you can.