Shayna Abramson

The Real Double-Standard


Twenty women were kidnapped from Nigeria on Sunday, by a group associated with Boko Haram. No one cares. People are much more concerned with the Pope’s Peace Summit; I suppose it makes sense: Why wouldn’t the media be obsessed when a celebrity calls for a meeting designed to bring world peace?

Of course, even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were solved tomorrow, there’d still be the conflicts in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia, as well as terrorism in Nigeria, but none f those conflicts are sexy – perhaps because they’re happening to people with darker skin.

You see, as much as some pro-Israel activists gripe about the double-standard applied to Israel, that standard is proof of Israel’s acceptance into the community of Western nations: The West expects more of itself than it does of others (perhaps a vestige of cultural racism?) and is obsessed with looking inwards, in part because things within the West are easier for it to control.

In fact, every time that the world focuses on a minor skirmish in Israel over a major conflict in Sudan, Israel should pat itself on the back, and award itself for a job well done. Right wing extremists complain that the more Israel appeases the West, the more critical the West is of Israel – they’re right. The more Israel is perceived as Western, the more comfortable the West feels criticizing it. Of course, this phenomena, coupled with the West’s broken promises to Ukraine, probably doesn’t provide a good incentive for countries choosing whether or not to become a part of the West and adopt Western values. But luckily, Israel already made that choice and is a flourishing modern democracy, dealing with the same social issues of racism and immigration that all other Western democracies are facing. (I’m looking at you, France, with your Roma roundups. )

You see, the real problem with the human rights community’s focus on Israel to the exclusion of other countries isn’t that it’s anti-Israel: It’s that human rights crises across the globe -crises much worse than anything happening in Israel – are left unattended. There is a limited amount of capital and human resources, and the more that is invested in Israel, the less there is to go around, leaving kidnapped girls in Nigeria and rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the lurch.

This makes me wonder: Could the focus on Israel to the exclusion of more serious human rights violators be one of the major human rights issues of our generation?



About the Author
Shayna Abramson, a part-Brazilian native Manhattanite, studied History and Jewish Studies at Johns Hopkins University before moving to Jerusalem. She has also spent some time studying Torah at the Drisha Institute in Manhattan, and has a passion for soccer and poetry. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Political Science from Hebrew University, and is a rabbinic fellow at Beit Midrash Har'el.