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On the ‘double standard’ for Israel

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As we know, it’s very common for “pro-Israel” activists (I hate the term “pro-Israel”, but can’t think of a better term, so I put it in scare quotes) to accuse critics of Israel, especially advocates of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, of anti-Semitic bias. One of the basic go-to pieces of evidence for anti-Semitic bias is supposed to be the “double standard” by which Israel’s critics morally evaluate Israel’s behavior in comparison with how the behavior of other states, or political actors generally, are evaluated.

As Charles Schumer said in his speech to AIPAC on March 5: “Let us delegitimize the delegitimizers by letting the world know when there is a double-standard, whether they know it or not, they are actively participating in an anti-Semitic movement.”

Like many of the accusations of anti-Semitism thrown around by the “pro-Israel” crowd, they work by making a certain superficial sense, but once pressed at all they completely fall apart. So I want to take a moment to put some pressure on the “double standard” charge. I’ll argue both that there is no double standard but, interestingly, even if there were, it wouldn’t support the accusation of anti-Semitism anyway.

First, what is supposed to be the double standard here? Here are two of the common ways of putting the “double standard” charge:

1. There are many countries (put in your favorite – China, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) with terrible human rights records, so why a boycott against Israel and not these other countries?

2. Why don’t you criticize X (pick country from list above)? Why do you focus on Israel?

Let’s take these questions in order. The first question actually betrays a misunderstanding of the political point of a boycott, or a campaign like BDS. The question seems based on the assumption that boycotting is essentially a matter of keeping one’s hands clean, an ethical statement one expresses with one’s economic choices regarding who is worthy and who is unworthy.

But that is not the way to look at boycotts. As far as I can tell, there is nothing I buy that is not stained with the mark of oppression from somewhere (well, maybe produce grown locally is an exception). If I wanted to keep my hands clean I’d have to live very differently than I do now, and not in a way that is sustainable for me, or most people.

But I observe and support the BDS campaign not because I want my hands clean, but because an oppressed people has chosen this method to fight for their rights and they are asking me – and everyone else – to respect their fight and not undermine it by buying Israeli goods. I think of it as similar to a union that decides to picket a business in order to put pressure on them to sign a contract. I believe in union solidarity, and so do not cross picket lines. Sure, there are businesses that have bad labor practices that aren’t being picketed and that I buy from. Does that mean therefore I should cross the picket line of the business targeted by the union out of consistency? That would be absurd. So too, I don’t boycott businesses from just any country that engages in human rights violations – what could I buy if I did? – but only those for which there is a political point. And being asked not to buy from those businesses by the people directly oppressed by the national government under whose sovereignty these businesses operate certainly has a political point.

Notice, if someone were to organize a BDS campaign against China over their human rights abuses – and especially if it’s organized by the victims of these abuses – I probably would observe that call as well. Also, notice that during the BDS campaign against apartheid South Africa, very few, if any, pressed the question why, given the human rights abuses in other African countries, it was white-dominated South Africa that was the target of BDS. Most people thought it sufficient that the black people of South Africa, through their representative organizations, called on the world to boycott South Africa. So, just as there was no double standard there, there is no double standard at work in the BDS campaign against Israel.

The second question intended to support a “double standard” claim is not aimed specifically at BDS but generally questions why one would be spending one’s energy on fighting alleged Israeli human rights abuses while there are all these other abuses taking place in the world. Again, once you think about the question, you realize how bizarre it is. Do we expect that everyone who is at all politically active must make a list of all the causes there are in the world, rank them in terms of importance to the fate of the world, and then only work on the issue at the very top of the list?

Of course not! There are all kinds of important causes in this world, and we expect that all sorts of reasons having to do with one’s personal history, personal interests, personal ties to others, and the like will go into determining where one puts one’s energy. Also, notice that for no other cause is this question posed: why are you working on that instead of this?

But suppose, contrary to the evidence, that many who actively support BDS are in fact guilty of applying a double standard. Perhaps they tend to ignore the human rights abuses of other Middle Eastern nations, or African nations, and focus on Israel’s crimes instead. Of course even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean that Israel’s crimes don’t exist and aren’t deserving of action. But one might say that it still provides evidence for the claim that the BDS campaign, and Palestine Solidarity work more generally, are fueled by anti-Semitism. So, how is that argument supposed to go?

You might think, from the Schumer quote above and similar statements often trotted out by Zionists, that holding Israel to standards one isn’t applying to other nations just is a form of anti-Semitism, not merely evidence of it. For example, the following appears as a characterization of one form of anti-Semitism on the State Department webpage on defining “anti-Semitism”:

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Multilateral organizations focusing on Israel only for peace or human rights investigations.”

(Of course with the restriction in the first clause to “democratic nation”, it’s not at all clear how the case even gets off the ground. What other “democratic nation” is now occupying another people’s land and denying them their rights? But let’s set this aside.)

However, anti-Semitism, properly understood, is a form of group hatred toward Jews. Merely applying a double standard to Israel doesn’t itself constitute hatred or animus toward Jews, but rather can serve only as evidence of this attitude. But its force as evidence is compromised by two considerations.

In general, A is evidence for B to the extent that B is the best explanation for A. Fingerprints on the gun is evidence that it was held by Jones to the extent that Jones’s holding the gun is the best explanation for the presence of the prints on the gun. That’s how evidence works. So applying a double standard to Israel is evidence of anti-Semitism to the extent that one’s hating Jews is the best explanation for applying the double standard. But is it?

For one thing, if there’s any bias at work here it’s not really about Jews but about Western, or European people. It wouldn’t surprise me if many people who work on or just support the BDS campaign have an attitude that the crimes of European/Western nations are more nefarious than those of non-European nations. Of course, one could decide to focus on these crimes not because they are more nefarious but just because one is oneself a member of a European nation and so plausibly feels more responsible to fight these crimes. After all, given the level of US aid to Israel, Americans do have a special obligation here.

But it might also be that one just finds these crimes worse than others, and maybe not always for defensible reasons. Why would people feel that way? Well, is that really surprising? Since Columbus the non-European world has been victimized by the colonialist-imperialist domination of Europeans. The Zionist enterprise, with its European routes, going back at least to the Balfour Declaration, is very plausibly considered to be just another stage in this pursuit of world domination and victimization on the part of Europeans. Even if you think this is unfair to Zionism (and I don’t, for one), still, it’s not like you can’t see how someone would come to this conclusion. Hence, no need to explain their special emphasis on Israel over, say, Saudi Arabia or China, by appeal to Jew-hatred. It’s sufficient that Israeli behavior is seen as part of the general pattern, indeed in aid of, the overall European domination of the non-European world.

Secondly, and this is related to the first consideration, there is an insidious assumption underlying the idea that the double standard is best explained by Jew-hatred: It is the assumption that the State of Israel represents the Jewish people. Without that assumption the explanation doesn’t really get off the ground. While Zionists, by definition, hold this belief, it isn’t shared by critics of Israel. Israel is seen as a state that does indeed privilege Jews illegitimately, but it is not seen as the representative of the Jewish people. In fact, it’s typical of anti-Zionist critics of Israel to claim that the Zionist movement, and then the State of Israel, “hijacked” Judaism by illegitimately presenting itself as the expression of the Jewish people’s aspirations. As the history of Jewish opposition to Zionism shows, from its earliest days on, this is far from the truth.

But my point is that even if you side with Zionism on this question, what matters for explaining the attitudes of Israel’s critics is not whether they are right in denying the intimate connection between Zionism and Judaism, but what they believe about it. So long as they do not see Israel as representing Jewry – which they don’t, in general – their motivation for supporting the Palestinian-led BDS campaign can’t be explained by Jew-hatred. If Jew-hatred is not in fact the best explanation of the supposed “double standard” (which, remember, there is precious little evidence for in the first place), then it can’t rightly be seen as either a form of, or evidence for, anti-Semitism.

Joseph Levine

Joseph Levine is Professor of Philosophy at UMass Amherst, member of the Academic Council of JVP, and member of Western Mass chapter of JVP.

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45 Responses

  1. eljay on March 28, 2018, 3:04 pm

    The “double standard” argument is nothing more than an expression of Zionist whataboutery and hypocrisy.

    … Here are two of the common ways of putting the “double standard” charge:

    1. There are many countries (put in your favorite – China, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc.) with terrible human rights records, so why a boycott against Israel and not these other countries? …

    OK, so how many Zionists are in favour of dropping a boycott against Israel and, instead, hitting it with harsh economic sanctions, aerial bombardment and regime change? Huh. “Double standard.”

    … 2. Why don’t you criticize X (pick country from list above)? Why do you focus on Israel? …

    Does every Zionist who criticizes a country other than Israel also criticize Israel? No? “Double standard.”

    • Stephen Shenfield on March 28, 2018, 6:45 pm

      Suppose that a Zionist accuses an anti-Zionist of double standards for criticizing only Israel and the anti-Zionist replies: “That isn’t true. In addition to supporting BDS I campaign against human rights violations in one or more other countries (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Turkey, etc.).” Logically the Zionist should then say: “I’m sorry, I didn’t know that. In that case your condemnation of Israel is fine”? But is he or she likely to say that? Like hell! He or she will just shift to another line of attack, thereby revealing his or her insincerity in raising the issue of double standards. Because what he or she wants is for those other countries to be condemned but not Israel — itself a double standard.

      The point about Zionism and Israel representing Jews is crucial. In reproducing the critic’s argument in order to attack it the Zionist always substitutes “Jews” for Zionism or Israel as the target the critic is supposedly aiming at. Often the substitution is justified by claiming that “Zionist” is a “code word” for “Jew” — which sometimes it is but usually not.

      • Misterioso on March 29, 2018, 10:32 am

        @Stephen Shenfield

        Worth noting:

        “Support for Israel continues to see a widening, partisan divide” by Ra’fat Al-Dajani
        National Catholic Reporter, Mar 23, 2018

        “The results of a recent Pew Research Center poll have revealed some unexpected findings when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely a widening partisan divide on the question of whether Americans sympathize more with Israelis or Palestinians on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a partisan divide that is the widest at any point since 1978.

        “Support for Israel in the broad sense, or as a strategic asset, remains very strong, with the percentage of Republicans, since 2001, sympathizing more with Israel than the Palestinians increasing 29 percentage points, from 50 percent to 79 percent. It is with Democrats and Independents, however, that the drop in sympathy for Israel has been precipitous.

        “Among Democrats in general, only 27 percent said they sympathized more with Israel, reflecting a dramatic drop in sympathy for Israel of 11 points among Democrats since 2001, from 38 percent to 27 percent.

        “Some other numbers worth examining can be found when support among Democrats is broken down. While moderate and conservative Democrats continue to sympathize more with Israel (35 percent) than the Palestinians (17 percent), that number has dropped 18 points since 2016, from 53 percent to its current 35 percent. The share of liberal Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians has also declined 14 points since 2016, from 33 percent to 19 percent.

        “Pro-Israeli leaders and groups have picked up on the danger of sympathy and support for Israel becoming one more point of sharp partisan divide in the increasing, partisan polarization under President Trump, both in Congress and among the American public.

        “Nowhere have the alarm bells begun to ring louder on this issue than at the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where there has been a growing recognition that navigating through the shoals of an ever more polarized political landscape is the new challenge for an organization that has always prioritized bipartisanship.

        “AIPAC’s leadership recognizes that the pendulum of American politics swings both ways, and that Israel, as an issue, would suffer from being kicked around as a political football. It could well end up becoming one as politically divisive and as politicized as abortion or gun control.”

        “Another important factor is that in recent years younger Americans, and especially younger minority Americans, have come to look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a human rights issue. This makes them sensitive to the hardships faced by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and to certain Israeli practices like home demolitions. These groups form a larger proportion of the voting public than they have in the past, and a growing proportion of the Democratic Party’s core constituency.”

        “The increasing partisan divide over Israel-Palestine has caused some Israeli politicians and many on the American right to argue that Israel and its supporters should write off the Democratic party and its leaders. This ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ approach misses the point. The decline in support among progressives and Democrats has little to do with any ideological opposition to Israel in and of itself.

        “Rather, increasing sympathy for the Palestinians is the direct result of the actions of Israel’s most right-wing government to date, actions that include expansionism and creeping annexation in the West Bank; rejection of a fair and just two-state solution; harsh treatment of the Palestinians; and Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s cozying up to President Trump.

        “Dismissing or ignoring the concerns of a large and growing segment of the American public will prove costly in the future and will alienate long time Democratic allies across the political aisle. When the next crisis inevitably occurs, especially if the Democrats are back in power, Israeli and Jewish-American leaders who encouraged writing off the Democrats will rue the day they did.

        “Combine the above factors of partisanship regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; a liberal, Democratic, Jewish, American community feeling increasingly alienated by the Republican right wing agenda’s dominating major pro-Israel lobby groups; and a younger, a multi-ethnic electorate increasingly sensitive to, and vocally critical of, the Israeli occupation and its treatment of the Palestinians, and you have a critical mass that could potentially be a future game changer in U.S. policy towards Israel-Palestine, especially when the next Democratic administration comes to power.”

    • Elizabeth Block on March 29, 2018, 6:11 pm

      I am one of a group of people – some Jewish, some not – who hold a vigil every Friday in front of the Israeli consulate in Toronto. Sometimes a Zionist asks us why we’re not demonstrating about Syria, or Yemen, or ….. The answer: “That’s a great cause. What are YOU doing about it?” They have no answer.

  2. ckg on March 28, 2018, 4:07 pm

    2. Why don’t you criticize X (pick country from list above)? Why do you focus on Israel?

    Thirty years ago many of us focused on South Africa and got the same complaint. For example see “South Africa Shouldn’t be Singled Out” from 1989.

  3. Maghlawatan on March 28, 2018, 4:35 pm

    Israel is never compared to Sweden, because it’s a kip.
    And in the Bible it’s supposed to be Shangri La. So there has been a falling short.

    I used to work with an Israeli who liked things to be ordered. He lived near a park and he walked his dog around the park and every time he walked on dogshit. Because Israelis do not care about their neighbours. Everyone is in competition 24/7. It is dog shit on dog.
    It’s almost as if God punished the bots for using Violence to get their holy land. Because you can’t switch off violence. You can’t switch off trauma.
    Israel won’t die in its sleep. It will die in agony.

  4. MHughes976 on March 28, 2018, 5:19 pm

    I agree that one does not always deal with the same situation in different contexts or places in the same way. Perhaps the same disease responds in one person to one treatment, in another to another.
    Mind you, I know of no other situation where a) many legitimate residents have been excluded b) sovereign power is exercised over disfranchised people c); danger radiates out from the region of conflict because it supplies our most important material commodity and is of great concern to our strongest religious traditions e);the political discourse of my country is dominated, in respect of this matter, by arguments which are both cruel and preposterous, which I really think I should opppse. Not much singling out needed.

  5. Citizen on March 28, 2018, 7:45 pm

    Would Bush Jr have bombed Iraq if AIPAC and the “Pro-Israel” news media and think thanks had protested such action? I don’t remember any of those creatures pointing out to the US public how feeble the evidence was for WMDs, do you? Are they now pointing out to the US public the good side of the Iran Deal? Discussing who would replace Assad if he was dethroned? Not liking Trump’s unpolished style, or Bolton’s brash style will not save US from more intervention in the Middle East, nor from the World’s contempt for the US for funding so lavishly Israel’s continued oppression, occupation, and land theft. We Americans could use that money at home. Shouldn’t that work both ways?

    Israel, the size of NJ, is the number one foreign aid recipient in US history. I’d say yes, Israel has been, and continues to be singled out for special treatment, a double standard.

  6. Citizen on March 28, 2018, 7:47 pm

    Shouldn’t that work both ways?

  7. Maghlawatan on March 29, 2018, 12:41 am

    Israel is almost always presented with a positive spin in the US, as if it isn’t even a foreign country.

    If you ignore all the cruelty and assume Greater Israel is kosher it is still not deserving of a free pass.

    The rule of law is weak. Contract enforcement is not up to scratch. The religious influence over the law leads to gruesome consequences in the areas of kidney transplants and divorce for women. Israel is high tech mediaeval.

  8. JLewisDickerson on March 29, 2018, 12:48 am

    I think Mr. Levine’s excellent discourse on the “double standard” illustrates why the charge is so frequently used by Israel’s defenders: namely, because the charge of “double standard”seems so simple and concise, yet it is fairly difficult to defend against. Forthrightly defending oneself against the charge requires a fairly nuanced defense (by today’s standards). Hence, for the less forthrightly inclined, it might be more effective to just counter with one of these:
    “You mother wears combat boots!”
    “Some of my best friends are Jewish and/or Israelis.”
    “How dare you! I’ll have you know that my maternal grandfather was Jewish.”

    P.S. Rabbi Michael Lerner used to (and may still) counter the charge by refusing to apologize for his forthrightly holding Israel to a higher standard than some other countries.
    Likewise, I hold the U.S. to a higher standard than I do some other countries (including Israel).


    • Stephen Shenfield on March 29, 2018, 10:49 am

      One reason why the charge of anti-Semitism is hard to defend against is the slipperiness of the concept itself. Even being Jewish yourself, let alone best friends and grandfathers, does not exempt you from the charge because Zionists consider Jews who “betray their own people” to be the worst anti-Semites of all.

  9. Qualtrough on March 29, 2018, 2:03 am

    2. Why don’t you criticize X (pick country from list above)? Why do you focus on Israel?

    Because in almost all cases my country (the USA) is not bankrolling or otherwise supporting those other countries.

  10. Maghlawatan on March 29, 2018, 7:51 am

    There is another double standard. The difference between the Jewish fantasy of a return to Zion and the grubby reality.
    It’s easy to pray for something unattainable. Actually getting it is very different.

    As Oscar Wilde said , there is only one thing worse than not getting what you wanted. Getting what you wanted.

    The Zionists had to kill a lot of Palestinians to seize the land and in doing so they made the fantasy of a Jewish state impossible. Most Israeli Jews are a psychological mess.

    Israel is a joke. For millennia Jews used a fantasy as an emotional crutch, as part of an imagined identity. It was harmless and it was more about binding the group together rather than actually something that should be done.

    But the Zionists went for it and added Messianism on top and now there is no way forward.
    Plus Judaism has been debased.

  11. Donald on March 29, 2018, 8:53 am

    Good piece as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. I don’t disagree with what you say about the various nuances and it is useful to point them out. But the fact is that consciously or unconsciously, the people who make these accusations are displaying anti Palestinian racism. We are swamped with this attitude in the West and so I think it goes unnoticed unless we stop to think about it, but the underlying idea is that Palestinians simply don’t matter and no one could possibly think they do. So any criticism of Israel or Zionism simply has to be motivated by antisemitism unless it is extremely mild and accompanied by “ balance”, which in practice tends to mean watering it down so that no serious pressure on Israel can ever be contemplated.

    You say much of this, but you don’t take that last step. The people making these accusations of antisemitism are bigots. It is a remarkable situation where the obvious bigots on an issue are allowed to put their critics in trial.

    • JulianaFarha on March 29, 2018, 10:35 am

      Spot on. This is an argument I’ve also made and I think it’s at the heart of this issue. Here’s what I wrote on my blog: ‘For the accusation [of anti Semitism] presumes that the only thing that could conceivably motivate a person to speak out over the Palestinian plight is Jew hatred rather than Palestinian humanity, or the horrors of blockade and occupation with its ritualised humiliations.’

    • Keith on March 29, 2018, 10:50 am

      DONALD JOHNSON- ” It is a remarkable situation where the obvious bigots on an issue are allowed to put their critics in trial.”

      You got that right! It is also connected to power, who has it, who doesn’t, who sets the limits on discourse and who is obliged to follow the rules or risk the consequences of appearing uppity. Corbyn’s big mistake is allowing his critics to set the narrative. Charges of irrational and eternal anti-Semitism are fundamentally a form of bigotry towards non-Jews who are claimed to be INHERENTLY irrational and murderously hateful.

    • kev on March 29, 2018, 9:28 pm

      You’re right.

      The real double standard is shown by “liberal Zionists” with their LEPer atttitudes (Liberal Except for Palestine). Why are Palestinians held to a double standard? Tell me again who the racists and hypocrites are? And why the hell is antisemitism uniquely evil compared to islamophobia, white supremacy, hatred of Blacks or Hispanics? Yeah, I get it, the Holocaust was horrible. So were many other genocides, including that of Native Americans. Slavery was horrible, and lasted for centuries. A lot of horrible tragedies have occurred, many caused by imperialism and settler colonialism. But somehow only the Holocaust and antisemitism are important enough, so important, that it gives Zionists and Israel carte blanche to oppress another people, and they aren’t to be criticized for it.

  12. Patrick on March 29, 2018, 11:35 am

    I would be just as critical of Saudi Arabia, another reprehensible regime that is given considerable support, especially military support, by the West.

    • annie on March 29, 2018, 12:14 pm

      patrick, you can follow @BDS_KSA (bds saudi arabia) here:
      i do.

      • gamal on March 29, 2018, 7:32 pm

        “you can follow”

        hey Annie by way of abject apology do you know Arab caprice ….but we never really sorry you are a source Annie…Francisco Tarrega….gorgeous

    • Misterioso on March 29, 2018, 3:21 pm

      @Patrick and Annie

      Al Jazeera, March 29/18
      “Leaked itinerary shows MBS [Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman] has met leaders of several right-wing Jewish organisations during ongoing US tour.”

      • JLewisDickerson on March 29, 2018, 5:44 pm

        According to the article, MbS also met with the Clintons. I imagine a cash infusion would have been greatly appreciated by them. I wonder how the did.
        It must be difficult to keep up all of those properties on the paltry presidential pension ($207,800 per year as of 2017 ).

    • JLewisDickerson on March 29, 2018, 5:08 pm

      I try to keep my distance from all of the ‘Gulf states’ (i.e., the Arab states of the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).
      They are all retrograde dictatorships!

      ■ GRAPHIC

  13. genesto on March 29, 2018, 1:37 pm

    The Zionist charge of a double standard emanates from the ‘world’s victim’ mentality at the core of its ideology.

  14. wfleitz on March 29, 2018, 2:02 pm

    I think Chomsky sums up my feelings in this video. It’s our responsibility to hold to account the powers which represent us. I don’t spend my time criticizing Russians or Koreans or Egyptians. etc. I have no power to change their perceived transgressions. However my country and Israel through the vast economic support given it by my country should be targets of my criticism, boycotts, etc. I boycott many American companies not only for their engagement with Israel (HP as one example) but American companies who engage in odious practices (too numerous to mention).

  15. inbound39 on March 29, 2018, 2:28 pm

    What I find odd is Zionist Israeli’s are anti semitic toward Palestinians in a far more damaging and deadly sense than anyone is on a global basis anti semitic toward Israel. Yet Zionists complain the loudest of Anti semitism toward Jews and Israel.

  16. James Canning on March 29, 2018, 2:33 pm

    Does a stronger BDS movement offer Israeli politicians backing, if they support ending the occupation of the West Bank? Viewed this way, BDS is a “pro-Israel” program.

  17. RoHa on March 29, 2018, 9:15 pm

    The “double standard” line is a fallacy of relevance.

    Let us suppose, for one happy moment, that the accusers are correct, and all my criticisms of Israel are motivated by my deep-rooted, genetically determined, anti-Semitism.

    Does this, in any way, make those criticisms false? Does it make Israel innocent of ethnic cleansing? Does it mean that Israel did not imprison Ahed Tamimi as punishment for slapping a soldier? Does it mean that no children were harmed by the bombs that dropped on Gaza and on Lebanon?


    The truth of the criticisms is independent of the motivation for the criticisms.

    This “double standard” cry is just an attempt at deflecting the criticism by use of a version of argumentum ad hominem.

    • Jon66 on March 30, 2018, 8:10 am

      The question is not whether or not the accusations are false. Let’s assume that some/most/all are true. It’s the idea that Israel is uniquely attacked for these ‘offenses’. There are worse offenders both in scale and breadth who are not made this focus.

      Let’s say you were a prosecutor in Montgomery in 1962 and you prosecuted every black man who spit on the sidewalk, but did not prosecute white men who did the same or worse. Spitting on the sidewalk is still vile, but the idea that it is only an offense when a black man does it or that it is to be more harshly condemned is the problem. It’s not that Israel is perfect, no country is, but rather that Israel is uniquely criticized and singled out for criticism.

      • eljay on March 30, 2018, 10:35 am

        || Jon66: … It’s not that Israel is perfect … ||

        That’s an understatement, seeing as how Israel is a deliberately and unapologetically oppressive, colonialist, (war) criminal and religion-supremacist state.

        || … but rather that Israel is uniquely criticized and singled out for criticism. ||

        I agree: Israel should not be singled out – it should receive the same treatment as North Korea, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq (to name a few).

      • RoHa on March 30, 2018, 10:08 pm

        Sorry, Jon, but I don’t get your point.

        Let us suppose that a policeman arrests black criminals, but refrains from arresting white criminals. He is not doing his job properly, but he is doing it better than a policeman who does not arrest anyone. There is no justice for the victims of the white criminals, but there is for the victims of the black criminals. And there is no injustice to the black criminals. They get arrested as they should be. Some justice is better than none.

        Similarly, if it is true that Israel is singled out for criticism, this is not an injustice to Israel. Israel is guilty of the crimes, and its victims should have justice. Perhaps this does leave the victims of other countries short of justice, but some justice is better than none.

      • Jon66 on March 30, 2018, 10:45 pm

        I still disagree.
        The role of a policeman is not isolated, but rather a piece of the justice system. If the police are biased then the system is unjust.

      • RoHa on March 31, 2018, 10:45 am

        “If the police are biased then the system is unjust.”

        Of course it is. It is unjust to the victims of the white criminals.
        But it is not unjust to the black criminals. In the biased system they are arrested. In an unbiased system they would still be arrested. Their position is not different in the two systems.

        To follow the analogy through, what you, and all those who prate about Israel being subjected to double standards, want is not the police to arrest more white criminals, but to stop arresting black criminals. And that brings even greater injustice.

      • oldgeezer on March 31, 2018, 1:02 pm


        Maybe jon is trying to admit that the justice system in Israel is a farce and an injustice system.

        Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians are not treated equally and therefore the system is unjust.

        And that’s without even getting into the injustice between criminal settlers and Palestinians in the occupied territories.

        I am all for eliminating the double standards against Israel.

        Full blown sanctions against the state and it’s leaders as was done with Russia and Iraq when they attempted to steal other peoples land.

      • RoHa on March 31, 2018, 8:48 pm

        “Maybe jon is trying to admit that the justice system in Israel is a farce and an injustice system.”

        Doesn’t seem likely.

        “I am all for eliminating the double standards against Israel.”

        You think Israel should get the same treatment as other countries, such as Iraq and Libya?

      • Sibiriak on March 31, 2018, 10:51 pm

        RoHa: You think Israel should get the same treatment as other countries, such as Iraq and Libya?

        Israel is being treated by TPTB like any other ally to the U.S. state and transnational capitalist/militarist empire.

      • annie on March 31, 2018, 11:38 pm

        Israel is uniquely criticized and singled out for criticism.

        Israel is uniquely favored and singled out for billions and never punished for their crimes against humanity. they deserve all the criticism they get and more.

      • MHughes976 on April 1, 2018, 11:57 am

        The more the latest news from Gaza comes to hand the less can anyone say, if ever they could with a straight face and a semblance of conscience, that Israel is being singled out. This stuff is unique.

  18. Dan From Away on March 30, 2018, 8:42 am

    Kudos to Joseph Levine…every word he wrote is vibrantly true and needs to be heard and repeated. I also agree with Donald Johnson’s post that said Joseph did not go far enough.

    Item: The Pew poll asked if Americans “support “Israel” and this is no small point. There are reasons Americans might support “Israel” – military treaties, Holocaust guilt and shame, Hollywoodification, etc. But a more honest, and revealing, test of American support would be to ask those questioned if they “support Zionism”? I would love to see the results of that poll.

    Item: The “double standard” smear is old-school hasbara. It is not meant to precipitate a discussion (Heaven forefend!) but rather merely, by virtue of its superficial reasonableness, to stall the criticism of Zionism and put the speaker on the defensive. See any number of hasbaritic web sites or the old favorite, The Hasbara Handbook. That there even is such a thing speaks volumes against the idea that Zionists are interested in honesty, discourse, accountability, etc. This ploy has “Luntz” written all over it.

    Item: Wflietz shines a light on perhaps the most subversive counter to hasbara’s “Double Standard” criticism…that American can and do criticize, condemn, delegitimate and otherwise work to subvert Zionism not owing to anything related to Judaism or Jewishness but rather because Israel’s monstrous behaviour towards the Palestinian redounds to us. The action of the Russian government EFFECT me but they do not REFLECT on me. Hasbaristas elide these important points. We here at MW do not.

    View 320 Hasbara posters:

  19. Mooser on March 30, 2018, 1:16 pm

    Any lack of philo-semitism (in relation to Zionism) is evidence of anti-semitism.

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