Holding Israel to a Higher Standard

Recently, I heard a critic of Israel acknowledge that Israel’s neighbors engaged in the same activity as Israel, but the critic quickly pointed out that Israel is held to a higher standard. I used to hear this type of argument made more often—both by Israel’s defenders and critics—but it seems to have become less common. One might wonder why it has declined and whether such a higher standard can be justified.

While holding Israel to a higher standard can be useful in particular instances to critics of Israel who are making an argument, its overall effect is to enhance Israel’s reputation. If one says that Israel should be held to a higher standard, the reason is that Israel is a morally superior nation, and that is something that the present-day critics of Israel cannot abide. For many of them, Israel is one of the most, if not the most wrongful countries in the world. The higher standard conflicts with that belief.

Is it legitimate to hold Israel to a higher standard? I used to think not, but I have changed my mind. If done in the right way, it is legitimate.

In fact, one might even say it is required. Israel is a Western-style country in a particularly bad neighborhood. It is simply misleading—insulting, if you will—to compare Israel to its neighbors. When there is a significant moral divergence between parties, a comparison is problematic. It would be insulting to compare someone who occasionally tells ordinary lies in his personal life to Bernie Madoff. So Israel might reject being compared to undemocratic countries that do not respect the basic rights of their citizens.

But if one is going to hold Israel to a higher standard, it should be done in full recognition of the difference between the countries. A critic should not be able to merely say “But Israel is often held to a higher standard.” No, it should be made clear what is involved. The critic should have say something along the following lines: “Of course, there is a strong argument for holding Israel to a higher standard. The country is a Western-style democracy, that protects religious freedom and other civil liberties, in a part of the world where none of its neighbors do any of this. We don’t expect countries of this type to act in the way Israel has.”

But if the critic says this, it puts another burden on him. The action Israel is taking must actually be something that Western-style democracies do not do. Unfortunately, sometimes Israel is criticized for actions that Western-style democracies take.

Perhaps, then, it is not so surprising that one does not often hear the higher standard invoked these days.

Reader Discussion

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on December 29, 2016 at 11:53:14 am

I know the history if Israel and world jewry / Zionism that both created Israel and protects Israel with 1st world weapons and finances Israel to a 1st world standard of living. I also know that Israel waged a war against its neighbors like Egypt and Syria and the Palestinians even as they played victim. I also believe the Palestinians are mentally ill from generations of living in an isolated ghetto and this mental illness together with Saudi Wahhabism and other segments to create a radical islam. THIS IS VERY PLAIN AND CLEAR TO ANYONE WHO LOOKS. THESE ARE THE DEMON SEEDS OF ISRAELS OWN CREATION. YES ISRAEL DOES DESERVE TO BE JUDGED AND WITH A NUCLEAR TURKEY, NUCLEAR IRAN AND NUCLEAR PAKISTAN ISRAEL IS LIVING UNDER AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT. So Israel is also locked into a mindset to coexist with these existential threats.

Now lets take a look at American and European Jews / Zionists who support Israel. They espouse open borders (Israels are closed), they espouse open immigration (Israel restricts immigration to Jews only who they know will assimilate), they espouse that the west is a anti-woman patriarchy rife with prejudice against gays and muslims and African americans and Hispanics (Israel rejects minority identity politics), they espouse proxy wars in the middle east (even as Israel doesn't want to fight them), they espouse Marxist redistributionism and cultural Marxism (even as Israel rejects this ideology as anti-Israel and unpatriotic).

Barbara Spectre and other jews lobbied for Europe to be multi-cultural. American jews demanded multi-culturalism rather assimilation.

The point is jews hold one set of beliefs for the nations of the west which will lead to their destruction and another set of beliefs for Israel. This is the real hypocrisy.

The other point to be made is that the GOP in the US defends Israel even as American Jews vote democrat. Again hypocrisy. Any other group and Israel would be jettisoned with jetsam and flotsam because there is no voting constituency supporting the GOP

I'm really tired of anti-semetism being used as a tool of deflection and I'm really tired of the hypocrisy so deeply interwoven into everything jewish and Israel that its practically a rug. Its time to jettison the hypocrisy and have a real honest dialogue. if that dialogue doesn't happen the west may be islamified and Israel may lose her protectors.

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on December 29, 2016 at 12:04:08 pm

A critic should not be able to merely say “But Israel is often held to a higher standard.”

All too often, such a statement serves merely as a cover for anti-Semitism. Yes, we hold Israel to a higher standard - but only so that it is easier to "hammer" them - is what is really going on.

I, for one, am absolutely weary of the modern form of anti-Semitism from both the left and the alt-right.

Hypocrisy - how about the Obamaites complaining about the settlements in areas won after a victory in war. Really, boyos, take a look at Guam. How do you think we came to be situated in Guam? Hey, how did we get Puerto Rico?, etc etc.

Anti-Semitism is once again fashionable; it now masks itself as "concern" for the oppressed or anti-Zionism. Bullpuckey, kids - it is the same old hatred of a people who have suffered from time immemorial.
Were I 40 years younger, I would join the IDF and be done with the buffoons in the now decadent Western *democracies.*

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on December 29, 2016 at 13:17:54 pm

Perhaps another way of expressing Rappaport's argument is to acknowledge that we simply, in the Age of Obama, joyfully hold our enemies to a lower standard as evidenced by the Palestinian reaction to Kerry's jeremiad.


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