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« HR's Post War Solidarity Mission to Israel | Main | The BBC During the Gaza War: Biased Coverage of the Conflict »

Monday, March 23 2009

Haaretz, The IDF, And The World's Double Standards


Last week, Haaretz "exposed" the IDF "Killing civilians, vandalism, and lax rules of engagement" during Operation Cast Lead. After reading the article on Thursday, it wasn't hard to see reax like this long in coming.

But Haaretz's report isn't all it's cracked up to be, and several have astutely noted the world's double standard against Israel coming into play once again.

Melanie Phillips points out that Haaretz's report is based on shoddy hearsay journalism:

There are precisely two charges of gratuitous killing of Palestinian civilians under allegedly explicit orders to do so. One is what even Ha’aretz made clear was an accidental killing, when two women misunderstood the evacuation route the Israeli soldiers had given them and walked into a sniper’s gunsights as a result. Moreover, the soldier who said this has subsequently admitted he didn’t see this incident – he wasn’t even in Gaza at the time – and had merely reported rumour and hearsay.

The second charge is based on a supposedly real incident in which, when an elderly woman came close to an IDF unit, an officer ordered that they shoot her because she was approaching the line and might have been a suicide bomber. The soldier relating this story did not say whether or not the woman in this story actually was shot. Indeed, since he says ‘from the description of what happened’ it would appear this was merely hearsay once again.


And Herb Keinon accuses Dani Zamir, who transcribed and publicized the "admissions" of having his own agenda, having appeared in the 2004 book, Refusnik, Israel's Soldiers of Conscience, It includes a section by Zamir, who wrote:

"Accordingly, collaboration with a regime or government that forces or orders me to be part of an anti-democratic apparatus that leads to self-destruction, disintegration and national decay, along with the utter denial of its own foundations, is illegitimate, unjust and immoral, and will remain so . . . ."

Keinon's acerbic response:

The testimonies of the soldiers that he brought to the public's attention seem to corroborate - what a coincidence - his thesis.


Noting the rising trend of the world's pots calling the Israel kettle black, bloggers raise two important points about the manifest double standard arising from this. Z-Word says:

Perhaps because for many commentators it’s only permissible for the Jews to have a state and an army if that state and that army comply with standards of behavior far higher than that required of other states, including their own. Any failure to live up to these standards tends to be taken as evidence of the basic illegitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.

And Elder of Ziyon articulates why it's wrong for the world to hold Israel's own high standards against it:

One can observe that Israel falls short on occasion from its own self-imposed moral standards but it is quite hypocritical to judge Israel based on that. Only Israel has the right - and indeed the obligation - to judge its own people based on a higher moral code. When others do it, it is not based on morality; rather it is based on jealousy.

When one starts to judge Israel based on arbitrary "standards" beyond what is expected from others, it quickly devolves into an exercise of demonization - especially when these standards are set arbitrarily high, even beyond Israel's own self-imposed standards. Too often, Israel is judged against perfection, while others are merely judged against the status quo or their previous behaviors.



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The best response of the Haaretz publication that I've seen so far was by Yaakov Lozowick. I think it deserves to be mentioned here:

His blog is generally very worth reading:

You know, I've been wondering: how do we know that those women "misunderstood the evacuation route"? They didn't live to tell the tale, so how can anybody presume to know what they were thinking in the moments before they died? Perhaps they were Hamas spies, deliberately heading toward a Hamas position to provide information about the Israeli presence. Mind you: I'm not suggesting that these unfortunate women were spies; I'm saying that we have no way of knowing that they weren't. The notion that they "misunderstood the evacuation route" appears to be an assumption that someone made after the fact with no evidence whatsoever of why they went in that direction.

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