Friday, May 21, 2010

The Ethereal Standard

Many of Israel's defenders claim that it is subjected to double standards in the world community. If one looks at the spread of United Nations resolutions there can be no doubt that some double standard exists, unless one truly believes Israel to be the most evil nation in the world today. Other examples includes the fact that the UN couldn't wait to issue the Goldstone Report over Cast Lead but has yet to do the same for NATO's invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Alan Dershowitz in particular is quick to claim that those who subject Israel to a double standard are either hypocrites or anti-Semites. The EU's definition agrees.

That being said, I do not find that many of the talkbackers on the Huffington Post (anti-Zionist or otherwise) intentionally subject Israel to a double standard. Israel's defenders will often claim that Israel is not doing anything that America or Britain hasn't done many times before, and with far less good reason to do so. Their opponents will not attempt to dispute this point, but will instead ignore it and switch to other topics such as home demolitions. They will not argue against the fact that a double standard exists, but instead claim that Israel should be judged on its own merits and should not be compared with other nations. "Don't change the subject!" They say. Sometimes there is the knee-jerk reaction of "you're just trying to apologize for Israel's war crimes!" as well.

This is not a case of double standards, in my view. It is instead a case of the ethereal standard. The HPers won't tell you what exactly Israel should do when confronted with enemies like those they have. But what they do know is that Israel is doing the wrong thing. There is a standard for how Israel should behave in their minds, but Israel by it's very nature will never meet it. The standard will continue to climb higher and higher so that it is forever out of reach.

Cast Lead and it's fallout was the perfect example of this. The anti-Zionists had no answer to how to stop Hamas' rocket fire, but they were 100% sure that Israel went too far. They had no response for Colonel Richard Kemp's claim that Israel was doing more to avoid civilian casualties than any other army. They instead just said that "Israel killed too many people," and it doesn't matter what other nations do. They then went on with their rants. For Israel one civilian casualty is too many. Other armies fighting in other wars never even enter the conversation.

Bradley Burston's article about Israel becoming a fascist state (potentially) is another example of this. Burston is an Israeli, so he can criticize his nation as fairly or unfairly as he wants. The HPers don't have this luxury. For them, one old academic being denied entry is enough evidence to declare Israel is a fascist, totalitarian apartheid state, even though they would never say that were the discussion about any nation other than Israel. According to the ethereal standard, Israel is a fascist state for one or two or three actions (no matter how justified or unjustified they are). When other nations are brought up, the standard disappears again, only to return the moment Israel violates it.

Of course, I feel that the ethereal standard is just an excuse. As we have seen with many of the users on the HP, they will continue to hate Israel no matter what it does because they hate Israel's very existence. They will therefore impose the ethereal standard as an excuse for their bombastic rhetoric against Israel, all with the excuse that should Israel someday meet that standard, all will be forgiven. In some ways it is less an ethereal standard that is impossible to meet, but a pie in the sky that is forever sought but never gained. And then the HPers expect Israel to trip over itself to satisfy them and all it's other critics. When it's critics start being fair and the double standards disappear, maybe then I will agree with them.


  1. Its not really an ethereal standard at all. It is really no standard. After all, if you change the expectations constantly with regards to how Israel is supposed to behave, there is nothing Israel can do to get on the good side of its critics. This is all the more true when one considers that Israel's critics impose no litmus tests at all on its adversaries.