The West to Israel – Do as We Say, Not as We do

The Jewish state is subjected to a triple standard – there is one standard applied to Muslim Arab dictatorships, another to the West, the harshest is only applied to Israel.

One standard for the world, another for the Jews

The Jewish people has been held to different standards throughout much of its history. It is therefore not surprising that the Jewish state is held to different standards as well. In a debate with the prominent Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, Denmark’s former Ambassador to Israel Jesper Vahr made the following candid remark concerning relations between Europe and Israel:

“Israel should insist that we discriminate, that we apply double standards, this is because you are one of us.” By “one of us”, the Danish Ambassador was referring to Western democracies.

This common attitude among the European political elite, reveals more about Europe than about Israel and the Middle East. While post-colonial Europe claims to be the champion of “anti-racism”, it displays a profound condescending racism of low expectations towards Muslim and Arab states that are perceived as eternal children that cannot be held responsible for their actions.

Ambassador Vahr’s remarks also reveal the systematic European hypocrisy towards Israel. Unlike most European countries, Israel belongs to an exclusive group of countries that have maintained a democratic system since their inception. Israel’s democracy continues to thrive despite the fact that the Jewish state is subjected to systematic aggression that would have demolished most democracies. Israel therefore does not need European lectures on democracy and human rights.

Europe overwhelmingly welcomed the elimination of the arch terrorist Osama Bin Laden. “A world without Osama Bin Laden is a better world. His hatred was a threat to us all”, said Sweden’s former Foreign Minister Carl BildtDenmark’s Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen summarized the European position: “I congratulate President Obama and the American people with the success in finishing the era of bin Laden’s unscrupulous and inhumane violence and destruction”

By contrast, Israel’s elimination of the Hamas arch terrorist Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was condemned by the same West that praised the elimination of bin Laden. Britain’s former Foreign Minister Jack Straw articulated this profound anti-Israeli hypocrisy:

“All of us understand Israel’s need to protect itself – and it is fully entitled to do that – against the terrorism which affects it, within international law. But it is not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing and we condemn it. It is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives.”

The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana added his voice to the consistent anti-Israeli hypocrisy:

“The position of the European Union has been consistently a condemnation of … killings. In this particular case, I think a condemnation ought to be stronger. These types of actions do not contribute at all to create the conditions of peace, the conditions of dialogue, which are necessary at this moment.”

What makes it “lawful” to eliminate bin Laden but “unlawful” to eliminate Hamas chief Yassin who had numerous civilian Israeli lives on his conscience? Neither Mr. Straw, Mr. Solana nor any current Western official offer any answers.

While far more civilians have been unintentionally killed by NATO forces than by IDF, Israel is the only Western democracy that is systematically criticized for “disproportionate” and “excessive” use of force. While few serious voices would equate the EU and the US with Al Qaida and ISIS, Israel’s Western critics systematically make a false moral equivalence between Israel and her genocidal despotic enemies.

Israel is investigated for more false “war crimes” allegations than the rest of the Western democracies combined. The infamous UN Goldstone report made no moral distinction between democratic Israel and genocidal Hamas. No similar UN report has ever been produced against any other Western democracy.

When NATO accidentally killed 18 civilians including women and children at a wedding in Afghanistan, there were no calls for investigations of “war crimes” or condemnations of “excessive force.”

Few Western officials have been more hostile towards Israel than Sweden’s current Foreign Minister Margot Wallström who infamously demanded an investigation of Israeli “extrajudicial killings” at a time when a wave of Arab terrorism was targeting Israeli civilians. On October 22 2015, Swedish police killed the 21-year old Anton Lundin Petterson who murdered three immigrants with a sword and a knife at a school in the Swedish town Trollhättan. Swedish police claimed self-defense and neither Wallström nor any Swedish officials demanded an investigation into “extrajudicial killings.”

On its website, BBC states its position regarding the term terrorism – “We try to avoid the use of the term “terrorist” without attribution.  When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.” BBC systematically refuses to use the term terrorism when Israeli civilians are targeted, but it does not display the same inhibitions when British, European and American civilians are targeted.

While the West would never tolerate thousands of rockets falling on New York, London or Paris, it hypocritically condemns Israel for defending itself against rockets on Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Much of the West sees the Iranian nuclear threat mainly as a “Jewish problem.” This explains why most European governments defend the nuclear deal with Iran and eagerly do business with Teheran. By contrast, Western governments defend sanctions against a nuclearized North Korea, which is seen as a universal threat.

The same West that rejects a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, embraces British control of Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, Spanish control of Catalonia and the Basque Country, Danish control of Greenland and a French control of Corsica and Martinique.

The real issue is not that the West expects more from Israel than from Middle Eastern dictatorships but that the West expects more from Israel than from itself.

Anti-Israel critics are right when they deny that Israel is subjected to double standards. The Jewish state is subjected to a triple standard – there is one standard applied to Muslim Arab dictatorships, another one to the West and the third and harshest standard, is only applied to Israel. Those who demonize and single out Israel are not driven by the desire to maintain Israel’s democracy but by the desire to end Jewish national independence.

Daniel Krygier is a writer and political analyst. He lives in Israel.


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4 comments on the article

  1. One point in your excellent article. Please don’t cite Gibraltar as an example for double standards. In 1967 during talks between Spain and the UK, the people of Gibraltar were given a vote. 99% voted to stay as a British overseas territory. Since 1992 that day is celebrated as a holiday and in 2017 they celebrated the 50th anniversary of that choice .

    1. Nobody is ignoring that but it is important to note that the number of Spanish descendants in Gibraltar is around 2.5% of the population as most of the Spaniards fled or were expelled by the British and Dutch. Most of the remaining were Catalonians which one would expect, in light of what is happening today in Spain, are not necessarily enthusiastic of returning to Spanish rule. Certainly not in 1967 while Spain was under Franco dictatorship and Britain was a democracy. The fact of the matter is that it is treated differently especially when you consider that in contrast Judea and Samaria are the cradle of Jewish history and Gibraltar has no connection to England other than through conquest. That is the historical fact, regardless of how the people voted.

  2. The British control over Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands:
    The residents of both places prefer British control over the alternatives (Spanish and Argentinian respectively)

    1. Regarding Gibraltar see previous response. As for the Malvinas Islands as the Argentinians call them, there too the population are nearly 40% English. The point of the article though is not what the population prefer but rather how the international community, especially Europeans, refer to these in comparison to how they treat Israel. And Israel’s historic claim to Judea and Samaria are much stronger than the British claims to either.