The use of double standards against Israel has permeated large parts of the world’s mainstream. One finds it at the United Nations, among governments, in major media, academic institutions, NGOs, liberal churches and trade unions.
The definition of a double standard is rather simple. The Cambridge Dictionaries Online put it succinctly: “A rule or standard of good behavior which unfairly some people are expected to follow or achieve, but others are not.”
That the use of double standards against Jews was at the heart of anti-Semitism throughout the centuries has often been recognized.
Natan Sharansky, seeking to discern when anti-Semitism drives anti-Israel rhetoric and acts, invented the “3D test” – Demonization, Double Standards, Delegitimization. The definition of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights, an EU affiliate, suggests that manifestations of anti-Semitism targeting Israel include applying double standards by requiring behavior of it that is not expected of any other democratic country.
Double standards can be broken down into seven categories, some of which overlap. A major category consists of one-sided declarations or biased reporting. The third Durban Conference in New York was a recent example of the frequent use of double standards against Israel in the UN environment.
One additional example: the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. was praised by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. The killing of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin in 2004 by Israel was condemned by then-Secretary General Kofi Annan. The European Commission, along with the British and French governments, among many others, reacted with similar duplicity.
A second category is conscious self-censorship or omission of essential information that would render a balanced view. After the lynching of two Israeli reserve soldiers in Ramallah in 2000, Ricardo Christiano of Italian state TV Rai wrote a letter to the Palestinians stating it was another Italian station that had broadcast the pictures. He stressed that he would never have made them public.
A third category is disproportionality. Media and many human rights NGOs look at Israel through a magnifying glass and have repeatedly ignored major crimes in Muslim states.
Yet another category is interference in internal Israeli affairs. Liberal Party leader Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister of the U.K., has said the interests of the Israeli people are not being met by its government. One should ask him to show when he has said something similar about the Tunisian government, the Egyptian government, and too many others to recount here.
A fifth category would be that of discriminatory acts. Dore Gold relates that in 1997, when he was Israel’s ambassador at the United Nations, the Arab states succeeded in convening an emergency special session of the General Assembly to address Israel’s building of condominiums on the Har Homa hill. Gold learned there had been no such emergency sessions called when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan or Czechoslovakia, when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and when Turkey invaded Cyprus.
A sixth category is the application of double standards in international law.
A seventh type of double standards one can call humanitarian racism. It attributes intrinsically reduced responsibility to non-white people. The less some people are held responsible for their acts, the more they are considered to be demented, unintelligent or even animals.
The writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali told me that in the Netherlands she was taught that racism is only manifest among white people. She recalled, “My family in Somalia, however, educated me as a racist and told me that we Muslims were very superior to the Christian Kenyans. My mother thinks they are half monkeys.”
Humanitarian racists tend to hold Israel responsible for whatever it does to defend itself against terrorism. Palestinian responsibility for suicide bombings, missile attacks and the glorification of murderers of civilians is downplayed at best.
Many individuals and organizations apply double standards toward Israel. One can carefully choose a few such anti-Semites to be monitored. Most people are cowards. Many enjoy free anti-Semitic lunches, yet once it becomes clear that someone will have to pay for the meal, the number of diners will likely begin to drop.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.