Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Gaza – Israel – Double Standards ?

Does the world expect too much from Israel?

The latest round that took place between Israel and the Hamas produced immense misery for the population of Gaza, great discomfort for the Israelis and not only very many dead Palestinians but also a high number of Israeli casualties. The media war and the war over public sympathy have created serious anti-Israel sentiment that has worryingly also turned anti-Semitic.

Over the last three years, the civil war in Syria has seen more than 170,000 Muslims, who were killed by fellow Muslims. According to Palestinian sources, the number of casualties in Gaza is 1800. Yet, it seems that there is much more agitation concerning the dead of Gaza than there is about the Syrian dead. Why? Israel and many Israelis feel that they are victims of double standards. Is it possible that what hurts or angers those condemning Israel is not the killing of Muslims but the fact that it was Israelis who did the killing?

Or does Syria simply “benefit” from the fact that it is a pariah state, of which there are no moral expectations and which makes no claims to be a western democracy?  


  1. The fact that our Western Governments arm, financially support, and refuse to criticise Israel even when it engages in such atrocities might have something to do with it, do you think? Everyone criticizes Syria, Hamas, etc. till they are blue in the face. But our UK PM cannot bring himself to say that Israel has done *anything* wrong in Gaza. It is our clear and direct connection to and responsibility for what is going on that upsets so many of us. Not so Syria, Hamas.

    It is disingenuous to, as some do, assume this differing level of voiced outrage = antisemitism.

  2. Trevor Asserson6 August 2014 at 20:21

    As someone sitting in Israel it is bizarre that anyone can suggest that Israel is not criticized by the West. That seems to be almost exclusively what we hear. We hear barely a word of criticism against Hamas that started the war; aimed 3,000 rockets at purely civilian targets; spent billions of aid on weapons and terror tunnels; used mosques, schools and hospitals and generally built up areas for military installations; and forced or persuaded civilians not to flee when warned by Israel to do so. Hamas war crimes - criticized by some Arab regimes - barely get a mention in the West. It is hard to find a reason for this asymmetric reporting and asymmetric moral outrage. The fact that a death in Palestine is far more than 10 times as important to the West and the UN as a death in Syria - not to mention South Sudan; Nigeria; Iraq etc - is only a tiny part of the asymmetry and double standards.

    Trevor Asserson

  3. Was Du wieder für Sachen schreibst! Bin gar nicht einverstanden mit der Regierung Netanyahu. Das kommt nicht gut. Auf ihn und seine Regierung ist die Kritik gerichtet, nicht auf die Juden. Und die Deutschen, denen ist einfach nicht zu helfen. Ich habe nie verstehen können, dass Juden nach 45 noch in Deutschland leben konnten.

  4. Lieber David, wie immer, sind Deine Kommentare hochinteressant. Bei Israel und Gaza kann ich Deinem letzten Absatz voll zustimmen. An Israel werden einfach andere Erwartungen gestellt. Sie reklamieren für sich die einzige parlamentarische Demokratie in diesem Teil der Welt zu sein. Da gelten m. E. In derTat andere Standards.

  5. Trevor, you say, "It is bizarre that anyone can say Israel is not criticised by the West". But of course no one said that, did they? You are attacking a straw man. I said the asymmetric moral outrage expressed is in large part due to the fact that our Western regimes do not arm, fund and express support for, regimes like Hamas, but do Israel. If we supply the guns and bullets, surely it's not "asking too much" to ask that Israel not then fire them at children? Saying, "But look, Hamas do worse! Why aren't you complaining about them" is (i) false (Western regimes obviously do endlessly criticise Hamas, don't they?), (ii) playground politics (the tu quoque fallacy, in fact) and (iii) entirely to miss the point I am making.

  6. Incidentally, it remains the case that out UK Prime Minister still cannot bring himself to say that Israel has done anything wrong in Gaza.

  7. Trevor - I notice I may have expressed myself sloppily in the first instance, leading you to suppose I think that no Western Government has ever criticised Israel ever. Of course, I am aware that's not true. But the US and UK in particular are often remarkably slow to criticise, and often don't when they should, as in this case. As I say, the British Government still refuses to criticise Israel over its current action in Gaza (though, to his credit, the leader of the opposition has). As a result, one UK minister has now resigned in protest.

  8. You and I both know the rest won't get better , at least within our depleting horizons. The paradox of this (western) world which parades rights like none of its forebears, is its increasing imperviousness to moral argument. What matters most is marketing. Double , or why not triple, standards are buried without trace. Were I in Israel, rather than the tuscan idyll, I would probably be among the hawks. Perpetual defence, at least until there are people to do deals with. Right now there are just rampant Shia/Hammas, or Sunnis, with their powerful theocratic sponsors. They would not let any deal with 'moderate' representatives of poor, desperate Pallestinians , no doubt the majority, survive. As for guarantees from the West, forget it. People here are too busy defending themselves against a world where a stake in post war prosperity is no longer a right, and the reserves of energy on which they rely are in the hands of the theocrats or , worse, ex KGB Russians. As for the politician/professionals , every recent intervention in the Middle East, in the name of moral, democratic regime change, has unleashed the forces of darkness.

    It will need more than one of Max Weber's charismatic figures to transcend this relentless logic. I don't see any, and arguably in this world of mass global forces propagated by media, leadership has less scope to transcend the dialectic.

  9. Der Vergleich mit den syrischen Verhältnissen hinkt insofern ein wenig, als es sich hier um einen Bürgerkrieg handelt, bei dem sich Frage der Angemessenheit nicht in gleicher Weise stellt, leider.

    Im übrigen teile ich Deine Meinung, dass die Welt schlecht und ungerecht und es gleichwohl unsere Aufgabe ist, wie Sisyphus dagegen anzukämpfen, damit sich die Dinge nicht noch weiter zum Bösen wenden.

  10. Firstly I'd like to support this post that suggests that there Israel is not the worst enemy to human race since Hitler.

    Secondly, I'd like to say that its clear to everyone that actually uses their brains, that there is a huge double standard. It's so much as a double standard, I don't even think it can be refereed to as a "standard". In Syria alone the number of death each month is about 1100. Human lives should be the only factor, not some vague political or even military support (by the way, when did the UK support Israel militarily?)

    Now that is all sadly restarting, I hope that some of the sharp readers of this blog could please advice me of what is a proportional response to rockets fired at cities, and what is the response per tunnel. Please be specific, max Kg of explosives, number of dead terrorists per rocket, number of dead civilians and so on. If I get a formula that i can understand, I will make my best to send it to the IDF.

  11. Hi Elad

    There is of course no precise boundary re proportionality. But that doesn't mean we can't see when a response is disproportionate, does it? Leveling entire districts and killing hundreds of civilians in the process because Hamas members live in that area is not proportionate. Neither is blowing up a house and everyone inside it because it is associated with a Hamas member (who is probably not inside it). Setting up an invisible red line around a hidden IDF position and shooting dead anyone who crosses it, whether or not a threat, is also not proportionate. I could go on.

    I'd hope you would not consider such actions proportionate. If you would, then why not consider nuking Gaza? If that would not be proportionate, please advise me what precise boundary would have been crossed - please be specific, max Kg of explosives, etc.!)

    The UK exports many arms to Israel. Yet the UK government is, as I say, strangely unable to say that the IDF has done anything wrong, when clearly it has (see above).

    There is a further reason why many Westerners might be rather more concerned about what Israel is doing than about what is happening elsewhere. The Palestine/Israel conflict is the single most important foreign policy issue re the threat of global terrorism, including in the UK. The 9/11 terrorists were clear it was their main motive, for example. And it is clear that Israel's current actions are motivating not just many Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, but also Muslims in my own country, to turn violently against us as the armers and supporters of clearly cruel and unjust actions. Very many UK citizens consider Israeli actions such as this to be, not just morally unjustified, but highly counterproductive re tackling global terrorism and achieving a peaceful settlement. I live in an area with many Muslim young men, and it is clear that Israel's current actions are contributing to their radicalisation. That's not true of the actions of Hamas, or Syria, etc. So can you now see why some of us might be particularly concerned about what Israel is doing, and about the UK Government's inability to say *anything* critical (while issuing plenty of critical statements about how awful Assad, Hamas, etc. are)?

    Here's some info on the scale of UK arms exports to Israel compared to elsewhere:

  12. Elad, you say: "In Syria alone the number of death each month is about 1100. Human lives should be the only factor"

    OK, if body count is the only factor you think we should consider, then let's count the bodies on other side in this particular conflict.

    What other current conflicts have a body count that is as disproportionate?