An Impossible standard: Anti-Semitic wolves and Israel
Who could dismiss the argument that if someone wants Jews to die, there’s no question: he has to be anti-Semitic? But they no longer dress up like Reinhard Heydrich (pictured)
Double standards are standard fare. Israelis more than other people have a right to feel blighted by them, for the whole world looks to Israel for a standard of conduct not expected or demanded of other people. Often it is Israelis themselves that insist on a discriminatory superior level of conduct.
“Shouldn’t our expectations be higher?” asks Jessica Montell of the Leftist B’tselem grouping. “From my country, I demand a lot more.”
Hence the feverish monitoring and reporting that almost makes Israel the human rights capital of the world. Israel’s conduct is daily and hourly under the microscope.
“Shame on those members of the American Studies Association for singling out the Jew among nations. Shame on them for applying a double standard to Jewish universities.” Alan Dershowitz, of all Israel advocates, ought to know better.
Attack the dastardly ASA on academic freedom, but not on double standards. The Jew among nations not only invites but expects to be judged by different standards. And if the God of Israel meant for it to be a light unto the nations, Israel defenders who cry foul might just as well save their breath.
In any case, Israel is far from being the only victim of double standards. In a world of no absolutes, of no right and wrong, if something feels good or looks good, if it catches voters or buyers, it is good. Comfort or expediency not consistency governs the way our world works. Barak Obama won’t pardon Jonathan Pollard for petty espionage, yet thinks nothing of snooping on America’s close allies.
Cry foul, but the fact remains that Alan Dershowitz is Obama’s long-time friend and committed voter.
Make no mistake, the words of (the truly) great pro-Israel advocate is not the lesson to learn from this. Many besides him, including the US State Department, rely on the double standard for sorting Jew-bashing from well-meant protest. For that very purpose the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) once laid down five criteria by which to pick out the wolf (anti-Semite) from the sheep (well-meaning critic).
The double standard again! But how applicable are any of the items? Do they stand the test for defining anti-Semitism? For example the latest test. If the criteria were applied, would they make the Bethlehem Wall stunt pulled by the Church of St James in London anti-Semitic?
Which of the five boxes would be ticked? None that I can see; vile as it is, the replica wall, hard by the church, crosses none of those particular red lines. In any case the question is academic after a new entity dumped the EUMC code and, signally and suspiciously, failed to offer a new one.
Who or what shall now pick out the wolf from the flock? And how can we avoid painting and tarring all criticism of Israel with one brush? Without a valid identikit what’s to prevent anti-Jews (or pro-Palestinians, the other side of the coin,) acting with impunity, knowing they’ll not be brought to book for racial incitement?
The double standard is dead; long live the impossible standard.
Acting the part of a stand-alone identikit, the impossible standard renders many fashonable definitions of anti-Semitism redundant. Five arguable criteria never stymied one demonizer of Israel that I know of. The chattering class anti-Semites can be clever and irritating. The more complete your system to bag them the more slippery and dismissive they get. But no one slips past the impossible standard.
Anti-Jews, from your blood-thirsty Jihadist at one end to your oh-very civil chattering class at the other, demand that Israel conducts itself according to a bizarre, not to say infantile, code of war.
If they allow Israel to retaliate at all when attacked, anti-Jews insist that it operates under iron fast conditions. The Israeli military may not kill the enemy, injure the enemy, or damage property belonging to the enemy. If one or all of the above happens, Israel-haters blow the whistle and cries of ‘disproportionate!’ and ‘war crimes!’ rent the world.
Needless to say the demand for waging war safely so that that no one gets hurt and nothing gets damaged applies only to Israel. That’s one red light.
A second red light is that concern for Palestinian lives is demonstrably not behind the demand to wage war safely. Assad the butcher of Syria starved hundreds of Palestinians to death in a refugee camp, evoking not a peep from Israel-haters.
Here were the same Palestinian people that Israeli operations are forbidden to harm, but that Syria may starve to death with impunity. Note, motives are being withdrawn, not double standards raised. By removing one all-powerful motive, the impossible standard cuts off the anti-Semite scuttling for cover behind human rights.
That word ‘disproportionate’ sets off another red light; ticks a third box. The Israel-hater relies on it heavily, never stopping to explain how and why Israeli operations are disproportionate. And that includes professors of international humanitarian law (IHL).
Some, like erstwhile members of the Goldstone Commission, don’t even wait for the evidence; overwhelmed by their impulse to demonize the Jews.
“Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defense - it’s a war crime. The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defense…Israel’s (disproportionate) actions amount to aggression, not self-defense.”
Thus ranted Professor Chinkin of the London School of Economics. Note that when she delivered her premature verdict Chinkin had yet to set foot in Gaza; had not, outside the media, seen a shred of evidence. Other Israel-haters being more circumspect are difficult to bag. The Lawman of Leiden, Professor John Dugard, is one who knows how to keep his cool.
“It is not possible to adopt an armchair attitude in assessing Israel’s response to suicide bombings and Palestinian violence. Israel is entitled to a wide margin of appreciation in its response. But, even allowing for this, it is suggested, on the basis of the evidence provided, that Israel’s response to terror is disproportionate.”
That word again. Has ‘disproportionate’ a dimension that can be measured? It seems not when even professors of law take it to mean what they consider to be Israeli excess – force that offends them. Chinkin’s words reek with her disgust for the juggernaut Jew.
Even level-headed Dugard can merely suggest that Israel had crossed the line of the law. The professor’s feelings guide him. And how much weight can we give the feelings of a lawman who undertook to hear no evil, speak no evil, report no evil about crimes that Palestinians commit? What kind of prosecutor is it who, like Admiral Nelson, puts the telescope to his blind eye to avoid evidence that annoys him.
No honest lawyer would give a straight answer, only because there is none to give. UN lawmen of the Dugard and Falk stamp know that well, or their indictments of Israel would come with legal argument and precedent. Instead they spew up ‘disproportionate and ‘indiscriminate.’ Period.
The International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia long ago confessed: there are no hard and fast rules for disproportionate force, or targeting civilians for that matter. War crimes, declared the ICT, have to be carefully proved one by one, case by case.
No – there is no objective yardstick for Israel to meet. There is only the impossible standard: for the anti-Semite a single Palestinian victim of the Jews is a victim too many. An Israeli attack is simply an attack that Chinkin, Dugard, Falk and Co don’t like, or an attack committed by people they don't like.
But the devil in all this detail lurks where? So what if people falsely and maliciously convict Israel? How does that prove Jew hatred beyond a reasonable doubt? We shall need two eminent figures to guide us to the devil. One is a French playwright, the other an American columnist.
At the end of the Holocaust a thin but seminal book titled ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’ smoked the devil from its hideout. In memorable terms Jean-Paul Sartre grasped the essence of what we now call the chattering class:
“The anti-Semite has murderous instincts, but has found a means of sating them.. His thunderous diatribes at the ‘Yids’ are really capital executions.. He is a murderer who represses and censures his tendency to murder without being able to hold it back, yet dares to kill only in effigy.”
So by instinct there is no difference between wearers of tweed jackets and black balaclavas. The one is a closet Jew killer, the other an actual killer unafraid to admit as much.
Now for the American, if you think the Frenchman somewhat over the top. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer wrote in the wake of the escapade of the Free Gaza Flotilla:
“But if none of these (Israeli military tactics) is permissible, what's left? Ah, but that's the point… What's left? Nothing. The whole point …is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense. ..The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, six million - that number again - hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists - Iranian in particular - openly prepare a more final solution.”
The impossible standard: imposed to thwart the capacity of Jews to stop their would-be killers. Who could dismiss the argument that if someone wants Jews to die, there’s no question: he has to be anti-Semitic. If the wall of the Jews in Bethlehem prevents Jewish death, and London churchgoers object to that wall, they have to be anti-Semites.
So when setting out on a wolf hunt take along this identikit and you’ll not snare real critics in your bagful of bigots.
Steve Apfel is director of the School of Management Accounting, Johannesburg. He is the author of the book,'Hadrian's Echo: The whys and wherefores of Israel's critics' (2012) and a contributor to, "War by other means." (Israel Affairs, 2012). His articles and blogs are published in several foreign journals and his new work, 'How the West was won' is due out next year
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