Thursday, June 28, 2012

Advice for Habarists 2: It is legitimate to ask what the standards are

I promised this would be a series. Please see the first installment. In this installment, I am going to make a simple point. Some Israel-bashers have honed their rhetoric, and some of them are very good at making it sound bad that Israel's defenders often point to the records of other countries when Israel's human rights record comes up. Here is a comment from a recent MondoWeiss comments thread:
Gotta love how Zio-supremacists use injustice and immorality elsewhere in the world to justify their own – and their Glorious Jewish State’s – injustice and immorality.
If we ignore the smug sneering about "Zio-supremacists" for a second, we can note that there is a potentially (or theoretically) legitimate point here. A common fallacy is the "tu quoque" argument (meaning "you also"). The person making the argument points to the hypocrisy of someone accusing him of a misdeed and tries to show that the accuser is equally guilty or inconsistently indifferent to someone else who is equally guilty.

Defenders of Israel should avoid making "tu quoque" arguments. There is, however, a legitimate, and in fact important, way in which the actions of other countries enter into the discussion. The rhetoric of our sneering friend from the MondoWeiss comments section implies quite clearly that a unique infamy attaches to Israel and its actions. That provokes the question of what the standards are. Who does well if we apply these standards? Anyone? Is there any recent military campaign by any country that Amnesty International has approved of? How does Israel's human rights record compare to that of some of the Security Council members?

Israel is singled out far more than any other country by the UN Human Rights Council. Why is this? The answer is obvious. Attacking Israel is cheap and convenient. Why criticize a member of a powerful voting block at the UN when you can criticize the object of that voting block's hostility? It is easier to side with a mob than oppose one. And the left romanticizes the mob, the masses, the mass-movement. Given the obvious bias and craziness directed constantly at Israel, the obvious antidote is the truth. And accurate and truthful generalizations about matters such as Israel's human rights records require us to be clear about what the standards are.

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