Though Israel is rapidly losing support in the court of public opinion, the reality on the ground should be causing an opposite effect. The popular arguments against Israel neither reflect the true situation on the ground – nor are they void of biased double standards.
Claim – Far more “Palestinian” deaths are reported than Israeli deaths, so Israel must be acting unethically.
Defense – Espousers of such rhetoric are ultimately criticizing Israel for protecting its own civilians. The discrepancy in death has a great deal to do with the actions of each separate group. For instance, Israel’s emphasis on building bomb shelters and other safe zones is contrasted by “Palestinian” efforts to build invasion tunnels and offensive points of attack.
To think morally about this, we need to determine the difference in character between one group that uses human shields and another that is dissuaded from attacking enemy combatants due to the use of human shields. This distinction in character is, perhaps, the most important ethical factor to consider.
Claim – Israel’s attacks on “Palestine” are far more damaging than “Palestinian” attacks on Israel.
Defense – Despite the rhetoric that Israel is a genocidal power bent on violence and destruction, can anyone think of a militarily capable country under constant assault that has acted less severely than Israel?
When France was attacked by Islamic fundamentalists, they began a practical carpet bombing policy of Syria. In fact, the Syrian Foreign Ministry has written to the U.N. blaming French warplanes for the deaths of more than 100 civilians, mostly women and children, near the city of Manbij.
To give a more regional example of this double standard, let’s look at The Guardian’s coverage of both Israel and Saudi Arabia. A United Nations panel investigating the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen recently concluded that there had been “widespread and systemic” attacks on civilian targets; such action violate international humanitarian law. This information was provided by The Guardian in an intensely pro-Saudi article titled “Saudi Arabia is bombing in Yemen to bring peace and stability.” More than 6,000 people, about half of them civilians, have been killed since Saudi Arabia launched a multi-national campaign against rebels in March 2015. Why is Israel held to a higher standard than any other country in the world? To contrast, the last few articles by the Guardian on the topic of Israel are listed below:
1) Hour by hour, a hunger striking Palestinian journalist starves to death in Israeli custody
2) Israeli tips Palestinian from wheelchair
3) Palestinian support for violent uprising against Israel slumps
4) Hollywood stars urged to reject free Oscar goodie bag trip to Israel
There seems to be an evaluation discrepancy in which Arab countries are granted far greater leeway than Israel.
Claim: Israel discriminates against its Arab population.
Defense: There is a good argument that Israel ethnically or racially discriminates less than any of its neighbors. In regards to Israeli Arabs, many enjoy the religious freedom of being able to choose to be Jewish, Muslim, or Christian.
If we look North to Turkey, a NATO ally and potential member of the EU, more than 4,000 Kurdish academics, mayors, and human rights activists were arrested in 2011 alone. Hundreds of those arrested remained in pre-trial detention for months. As if false arrests were not bad enough, the year of 2013 brought with it a law that Kurdish speakers would have to pay their own translation fees in court. A similar act in Israel would merit front page news.
According to the International Campaign for Sunni Prisoners in Iran, “Thousands of Sunni converts are arrested this year for preaching Sunni beliefs during Ramadan.” Many of the affected Sunni Muslims will face the vague charge of “enmity against God,” which carries with it the punishment of being hung by a crane.
Now, despite the hypocrisy of standing by Iran and Turkey while condemning Israel, the greatest difference between these systems is in the respective court system. When there are issues in question, such as the case of the Separation Barrier, the Israeli High Court ruled that the route caused disproportionate harm to “Palestinians” and must be changed. There are actually mechanisms within Israel to tackle issues of discrimination. Such a pro-“Palestine” ruling is hardly a novelty in Israel’s high court, but, could we find any similar court in Israel’s human rights abusing neighbor states?
Claim – A state based on a religion is a bad idea, and the policy of allowing any Jew into Israel is unfair to Israeli born “Palestinians” who are not allowed to return to the country.
Defense – In a region where it’s explicitly criminal to practice or abstain from the practice of specific religions in many countries, the idea of a democratic, Jewish homeland doesn’t seem like the worst idea in the region. As a matter of fact, from Europe to the Middle East, there has been ambivalence over whether or not Jews are slaughtered like sheep. Don’t forget that the only Nazi to be excommunicated by the Catholic Church was Joseph Goebbels – and that was for marrying a protestant. As writer Christopher Hitchens once said on the topic, “after all, there are standards for these things.” Other than the United States and the worldwide movement of pro-“Palestine” supporters, who could forget Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s recent book about destroying Israel? If we’re looking far enough back into history, many countries – Iraq being the most commonly used example – literally kicked Jews out of the country. Of all the religions in the world, there is a better argument for a Jewish homeland than any other kind of non-secular state.
If we consider the Holocaust, there should not be a surprise that one of Israel’s first laws was to open its borders to all those which met Hitler’s definition of a Jew – which was void of any specific religious considerations. If the “Palestinians” had accepted one of many territorial deals offered by Israel and refrained from threats to drive every Jew into the sea, many of these “Palestinians” would currently be permitted into Israel.
Claim – If Israel cedes the West Bank, the conflict will end.
Defense – If history provides any lesson, let us recall the events which occurred when Israel left Gaza. As is typical in countries with Arab majorities, civil war broke out at the mere hint of a power vacuum, leading to years of “Palestinian” on “Palestinian” violence. Based on serious security concerns and continued missile attacks, Israel was forced to create a stronger, militarized buffer zone restricting “Palestinian” movement and imports/exports. Appropriately, Israel is hesitant to make the same mistake with the West Bank – an area in missile range of Tel Aviv.
In the interest of wrapping up, let us quickly go over a few facts:
The Egyptian leader denies the Holocaust, but wishes it did happen. Jordan does not allow people with visible signs of Judaism on them into the country. Former KKK leader David Duke was permitted to spew hate on Syrian state media. Tunisian Imam Sheikh Ahmad Al-Suhayli of Radès told his followers during a live broadcast on state TV that “God wants to destroy the sprinkling of Jews and is sterilizing the wombs of Jewish women.” A quarter of British Muslims think Jews are “responsible for most wars”; 40% say they “control global affairs.” Surrounded by hate and threats, Israel should be praised for their civility, character, and restraint. The world must recognize the difference between savagery and civility – and determine which they truly want to support.