Brendan O’Neill on the singling out of Israel for Leftist opprobrium

November 26, 2018 • 11:45 am

This well-argued Spectator piece by Brendan O’Neill is behind a paywall, but I’ve put some excerpts from it below.  His argument, with which I happen to agree, is that the singling out of Israel among all states for special opprobrium by the Left reflects anti-Semitism constantly disguised with the euphemism “anti-Zionism.” As you’ll see in the excerpts below, O’Neill answers some Leftist arguments for why Israel deserves to be singled out, and, at the end, he argues that the hysterical anti-Israel sentiment of the Left may be responsible for the rise in anti-Semitism in the West.

Some excerpts:

Airbnb has taken the extraordinary decision to stop advertising homes for rent in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. It is extraordinary because Airbnb still advertises places to stay in Tibet, a place many Tibetans consider to be unjustly dominated by China. And in Crimea, recently annexed by Russia. And in Northern Cyprus, a Turkish-ruled statelet since the mid-1970s, which only Turkey recognises as a legitimate state, and to which Turkey has sent huge numbers of settlers in recent decades. Why are Turkish settlers less offensive to the Western conscience than Jewish ones? Why is it OK to rent a holiday apartment in Turkish-settled Northern Cyprus but not in Israeli-settled parts of the West Bank? Anyone?

What’s more, you can still get Airbnb places in countries which in recent years have executed far worse acts of war and militarism than Israel has.

. . . It is only Israeli-claimed territory that is singled out. It is only Jewish settlements that are punished. It is only apartments being offered for rent by Jewish people who believe in the idea of Greater Israel that are delisted. Only those people. But we shouldn’t be surprised. It is always only those people. Israel is always singled out. It is treated by right-on Westerners as being more wicked, more toxic, more evil and more destructive than any other state on Earth. That is why they boycott it, rage about it and take to the streets about it in a way they never do about Turkey, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else. They hate Israel more than any other place. The question is: why?

Their attempts to answer this question of why are spectacularly unconvincing. ‘Our governments support Israel, so we have a special responsibility to kick up a fuss about this’, they say. Our governments support the Turks and Saudis too. ‘The Israeli conflict is an old and bloody one and deserves our attention’, they insist. The Turk-Kurd conflict is old and bloody too. ‘Palestinians are asking us to take these kinds of actions against Israel’, they protest. The Kurds would also like some solidarity, only you can’t hear them over the din of your obsessive, myopic loathing of Israel above every other state. Their attempts to explain why — why they loathe Israel so much — only makes the whole thing more mysterious.

And then they wonder why some people think there is a whiff of anti-Semitism to this peculiarly passionate contempt for Israel and for every piece of fruit, piece of art and piece of academic literature it produces. They wonder why some people think the line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is an increasingly thin one and that perhaps the special hatred for Israel might have echoes of the older special hatred for Those People.

‘It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel!’, they say. And they are absolutely right. Every single nation and government should be up for debate, ridicule, protest. But we aren’t talking about straightforward criticism of Israel here. We are talking about the singling out of Israel above all nations for a ceaseless and intense programme of boycotting, protesting and hysterical accusations, primarily that Israel is ‘genocidal’, ‘apartheid’, ‘racist’. Show me the gathering of 100,000 people in London who said those things about Saudi Arabia and then I’ll buy the idea that Israel is just being criticised as all other states are criticised.

It is becoming so clear: hating Israel is now second nature in certain Western political circles and this is unquestionably stoking up prejudice. If you treat the Jewish State as nastier and more insane than any other state, then please do not feign surprise when anti-Jewish sentiment increases.

. . . It looks increasingly ridiculous to deny that respectable Westerners’ singling out of the Jewish State for special punishment is stoking racist Westerners’ singling out of the Jewish people for special hatred.

If you have explanations for why Israel deserves to be singled out among all nations, and not just about Airbnb places in the settlements (remember the BDS movement, whose real aim is to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state, as well as the repeated anti-Israel resolutions by the UN), then make them below. Remember to be civil!

101 thoughts on “Brendan O’Neill on the singling out of Israel for Leftist opprobrium

  1. The piece by O’neil seems to be there for the reading. As for answering the question why is Israel being singled out, there really is only one answer.

  2. Don’t forget the odious behaviour on campuses in Canada and the US of members of SPHR/SPR. Another organization that protects and emboldens anti-semites.

  3. It would be nice if we had one, single moral baseline in the world, but as a practical matter we do not. Some countries choose to hold themselves to a higher moral standard and it fair for their citizens and their friends to critique them and, perhaps, even to take responsive measures when they fall short.

    When a moral critique is leveled by an enemy, however, it should always be viewed with the greatest suspicion; for even if the enemy’s critique may be sometimes on the mark, it is almost certainly motivated by fetid animosity and not by healthy moral outrage.

    1. All Western countries are holding themselves to higher moral standards (certainly at least as high as Israel), however this type of singling them out for scrutiny under the electronic microscope and opprobrium is definitely not a rule. No action by American or British army, or by NATO army was ever condemned as harshly as actions by Israeli army. And the difference is that Israeli army is defending its own citizens from immediate danger while Western armies were defending their interests whithout any enemy being close to their citizens. Just two examples: there were estimated 200,000 civilian death as a result of the U.S. wars on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan; in the 1998-9 Balkan War, hundreds of civilians were killed in a NATO air campaign, which hit residential neighborhoods, old-aged sanatoriums, hospitals, open markets, columns of fleeing refugees, civilian buses and trains on bridges, and even a foreign embassy. Of course, there were demonstrations against both wars but never with such intensity and such hatred towards nations whos armies they were.

  4. I agree with the author on the diagnosis, that Israel gets far more scrutiny than comparable states. I also agree that this is wrong.

    I no longer even think there should be a two-state solution. Rather, Gaza should be incorporated fully into Israel, and minority protections need to be established if they aren’t yet, as in western states, where recognized ethnic minorities enjoy some additional support. It’s not a strong conviction of mine, however. I simply see how nobody in Germany cares about all the lost German territory, except some Eighty-Year Olds who grew up there, or some fringe right wingers. I just say, get over with it already, and then make sure the people get a perspective, so they know they can build on something. Keeping people perpetually as prisoners, so that western NGOs can justify their own existence, and any solution perpetually stuck — that’s an open sore.

    I don‘t agree that the reasons are necessarily anti-semitic.

    1) Unlike the other examples, Israel is considered a western state, with a legacy closely tied to the West. Lots of NGOs and activist also for legacy reasons have an eye on it.

    2) That’s perhaps bitterly ironic, because the western and west-open orientation may have fostered a closer attention. It was much more difficult to apprehend the situation behind an iron curtain, in the Himalaya.

    3)It may be that other rulers were far more ruthless, when nobody was looking, and thus there aren’t constant demonstrations an skirmishes that produce constant headlines.

    4) It may be that other conflicts lack the same level of contrast as Israel vs Palestine. I can only guess, but in Turkey or China, it appears more like neighbourhood conflict between subtly different groups who — to westerners — seem basically alike. That may be ignorance, but such ignorance looks pretty plausible to me. There isn’t the same “racial” aspect to it, as Americans would put it.

    Lastly, other activism does exist. For example the rap group The Beastie Boys were concerned about Tibet, e.g. here. Also consider the Dalai Lama, who is a famous celebrity. I agree that this isn’t nearly on the same level as Palestine, though.

    1. ad 1 and 2) Israel is a democratic state in the Middle East with over half of its population consisting of refugees from Islamic world and their descendants. Israel’s neighbour are NOT Switzerland and Canada but countries seething with hatred of Jews. The closest neighbours,Palestinian from the West Bank and Gaza, want to annihilate Israel and do all they can to do just that. It would be nice if people in peaceful, democratic countries in the West were able to understand it.

      ad 4) What contrast? When 1922 Eastern Palestine was cut off from the British Mandate of Palestine and an Arab country was created there which now is Jordan, the level of development was much the same as in Western Palestine which was supposed to be Jewish (Jews were forcibly expelled from this part of Mandate to the last one Jew). Jordan had more time to develop a flourishing society than Jews had. But now Israel, which was established many years later is flourishing, modern, rich society. Jordan is not. Palestinians got more international aid per capita than any country in the world (many times more than the whole Europe after WWII in the Marshall Plan). They have chosen to spend the money on corruption, armament and training their population to kill Jews. This is quite a contrast with Israel.
      And what ”racial aspect”? Jews and Arabs belong to the same group of people and there are many, many Jews with much darker skin than Palestinian Arabs.

      1. I agree, I don’t quite see the argument. The ties between Israel and western countries seem evident to me, because it is a democracy and because many Jews emigrated from other countries, including from the West.

        There might be also reason 5. Isreal is a relatively young country, compared to China or Turkey, adding to the impression of colonialism.

    2. I no longer even think there should be a two-state solution. Rather, Gaza should be incorporated fully into Israel, and minority protections need to be established …

      The problem with such a one-state solution is that Jews would soon be in the demographic minority. Israel must separate itself from the Palestinian people if it wishes to remain a Jewish democracy. If it fails to do so, it will either forsake being Jewish, or forsake being a democracy.

      1. And let’s face it, the Palestinians are not going to go for that anyway. They want the destruction of Israel. Until they stop wanting that, everyone is stuck where they are.

        1. In fact, they’re pretty explicit about wanting the destruction of Israel:

          The myopic focus on Israel and its misdeeds is another point on which I divert from *some* of the left. That obviously doesn’t mean I support everything that Israel does. But among more politically engaged left-leaning people, and especially Muslims, the conflict is seen in entirely black-and-white terms. I certainly don’t view it that way. But my understanding of the relevant history and politics leads me to believe that Israel is closer than Palestine to being the so-called good guy.

        2. I agree. There won’t be a lasting peace until both groups want peace. Right now, most Palestinians don’t. Most Israelis do in principle, but unless or until they can get control of the pro-settlement groups, they are in a practical sense rejecting the two-state solution. You can’t truly want peace with your neighbor if you’re unwilling to stop annexing the territory the two of you dispute.

          1. Israeli settlements are a bit of a red herring. Those settlements are in Area C, where Israel has every right to build settlements or add to existing ones. This was agreed under the Oslo Accords, signed by the PLO/PA. When they complain about Israel “stealing Palestinian land” they are banking on people forgetting all about past agreements.

  5. I agree that Israel should not be singled out for its treatment of Palestinians. I am not acquainted with anyone who is critical of the human right record of Israel who is not equally critical of the human rights records of other authoritarian regimes, including the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, etc. This sounds more like a “straw man” argument than it does a fair argument against all who are critical of Israeli human rights policy.

    1. See below about the UN sanctions. And have you been on any college campuses lately? I live on one, and I don’t hear any criticism of Turkey, Egypt, and the like. ALL the criticism is against Israel.

      Is there a Students for Justice in Turkey organization (or for any of the other countries) that is as visible and vocal as Students for Justice in Palestine? I don’t think so.

      And why is there a BDS against Israel but not against any of those other regimes that you criticize above? Think about it before you accuse me of making a “straw man” argument again.

      1. I thought I was suggesting that O’Neill was making a “straw man” argument. Nevertheless, I am almost never on a college campus. Among the older adults I associate with, there is widespread criticism of all human rights abuses throughout the world. Israel is just one among many. I would support BDS against them all, except that living in the US makes it impossible to participate in BDS against it, so I don’t participate in BDS.

        1. O’Neil (who I usually find to be an annoyingly predictable contrarian) is right on the money here. Hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day…
          I work in an Irish university and the call to participate in an anti-Israeli BDS was pretty much a weekly irritation (until I turned off my general notifications).
          The Irish, whom I love to bits, have an utter blind spot when it comes to Palestine, as does the left generally, and this is O’Neil’s point. He is not (I think) arguing that they are all anti-semitic, but many of them are having their better feelings manipulated by those that are. And the proof? Utter lack of consistency across causes.
          If you want consistency–join Amnesty. They condemn Israel wehn it commits human rights abuses, AND Hamas when it does. Which is frequently.

    2. There is a world wide BDS movement to prevent anyone from doing business or even collaborating with Israel; this includes academic collaboration. Yet there is no world wide movement to ban work with Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, campuses have BDS and SPR groups but no equivalent for Saudi Arabia, or China, or Turkey. It’s a hint about SPR in particular as several of their members have sent out horrible tweets laughing about the holocaust and such.

  6. I don’t think Israel is hated, etc more than any other country. I have not seen that. I think that is an exaggeration and a little paranoid. He did not say who exactly hates Israel more than they hate any other country. I would have liked him to nsme, groups or countries.

    But to answer the question there is no reason that Israel should be singled out and held to a higher standard than any other country.

    1. Just take a look at the amount of condemnations of Israel both by UN General Assembly, by UN Human Right Council and by any other UN organ. Last week in one session the UN condemned Isreal in 9 resolutions and the rest of the world got ZERO resolutions. Now another 20 resolutions condemning Israel are waiting in the UN to be approved while there are 3 or 4 for all the rest of the world. Paranoia? That’s right. But the question is, who is paranoid?

      1. That is a long list of resolutions. Only thing I can say is the Israel is getting a lot of attention. I don’t who is pushing this agenda.
        I think countries like Saudia Arabia, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea are disliked and hated. Regardless of the resolutions I don’t see Israel hated by the majority/mainstream Americans or Europeans.
        But that is just my view and my opinion from shat I see and hear.

        1. Some years ago there was a survey of many European countries about what constitutes the greatest danger to the world peace. Israel came first. I wouldn’t judge it as a sign of sympathy or even neutrality. Many thousands strong demonstrations on the streets of Europe with slogan “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be free” (i.e. Israel will be annihilated) is hardly a sign of friendship.

  7. I think it’s the exact opposite of any kind of ‘-ism’. People police those who they see as being in their own in-group, vs. those they see as outsiders. You lay down the law with your own kids and family members at the grocery store, not the people an aisle over who you don’t know.

  8. Jews in the US are much better off and less harassed than in many countries around the world, however here (on a per person basis) Jews are more likely to suffer hate crimes than any other religious of ethnic group (even Muslims). Millennia of denigration by Christianity and Islam seems to be the likely source of this hatred.

    1. I live (part of the year) in fundamentalist Christian Appalachia, and there are many “I stand with Israel” signs in people’s yards.
      I understand that there are often strange reasons for this, but those folks are not going to vandalize a Jewish cemetery or support a pogrom.
      I think that is a fair reflection of the current Christian attitude towards Jews and Israel. Not the historic relationship, which has often been troubled.
      But we are talking about current threats.

      Also, I think quite a bit of the BDS support here comes from people with very little knowledge of the actual history and issues, who just want to go along with whatever the cool kids say. Plus, you get to pretend you are a revolutionary, and possibly wear a kaffiya.

      1. “Strange reasons,” indeed — an eschatological belief that that it increases the odds of their gaining access to “Mount Megiddo” for the final battle of Armageddon (where they can “perfect” the Jews by giving them the opportunity to convert to Christianity rather than spend eternity burning in hell).

        Dunno about you, Max, but “support” like that I think merits a bit of skepticism.

          1. With respect, BJ, I do hope that was meant facetiously. Some ‘friends’ are likely to get you into disrepute. I wouldn’t trust these particular ‘allies’ an inch since they would quite happily see you consumed in the final Armageddon – just prior to which you would be forcibly converted to their religion to boot.

            (Reminds me of what various Xtians and Muslims have done in the past to minority sects).

            The real problem is, these idiots don’t care about real world problems like climate change and would quite happily see all the rest of us in the sh*t if it confirms their crackpot prophecies. And (I think) they are perfectly happy to see the Israel-Palestine war continue forever if it furthers their agenda.


      2. “Also, I think quite a bit of the BDS support here comes from people with very little knowledge of the actual history and issues, who just want to go along with whatever the cool kids say.”

        It’s less that they have little knowledge, and more that they have a plethora of fake knowledge. As I’ve said many times before in these threads, my first year at a top-tier liberal arts school was filled with professors stating conspiracy theories and fake “facts” about Jews and Israel during class time, in addition to the many campus groups who did the same through rallies, speakers, posters, and performance art-like demonstrations. Multiple professors didn’t just say things in class, but presented materials like conspiracy theory books and fake documents like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

        I believed all of them at the time and was vehemently anti-Israel and believed the nefarious Jews controlled the global economy/IMF/World Bank. It’s hard to believe that your own professors — people who seem like good, intelligent people and supported by the administration — and friends are telling you outright lies in class and in the dorms, quad, and lecture halls.

        I left after that first year, and it was about a year later that I learned to think for myself and do my own research, after having an epiphany regarding some statistics about an unrelated subject. But most people don’t learn to think critically and/or have the capacity to do so. That’s part of what makes misinformation so insidious.

        1. BJ, it is absolutely tragic that nowadays you have to leave a university in order to learn to think for yourself! Once upon a time the point of a university was to help you learn to think critically!

  9. Airbnb side, I separate general indictment of Israel by BDS and the like, along with the obvious antisemitism that has arisen from (or underly) it, from opprobrium directed at the settlements. I am not fan of the latter, thinking their expansions is a terrific lack of judgement on Israel’s part, and I am no fan of Israel’s current government. But this view comes from being a supporter of Israel and wanting it to behave better, despite its already being far above any other states in the region.

  10. Some classical anti-semitism must be mixed up in the obsessive pop-left campaign against the state of Israel. However, I detect one additional motivation. The anti-Israel fever represents a virtuallly clinical case of displacement activity for Corbynish lefties who would really like to boycott, sanction, and divest against the USA, if only they could arrange it. Why, if Ken Loach were fully aware of the states which sent troops to join George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, he would surely campaign ceaselessly against the presence at any film festival of films from the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Australia, Poland, or Bulgaria, among other places.

    1. The invasion of Iraq was solely US/UK (of which as a Pom I am disgusted and ashamed) / Australia (predictably) and Poland.
      A few other countries were later persuaded (or bribed or bullied) into sending token forces – check this article
      But that’s a whole different can of worms.

      But you’re right that Israel is seen as a puppet of the United States, albeit often an out-of-control one. Every time Israel has done something particularly indefensible, the US has clucked like an old mother hen, but Netanyahu knows the US will back him anyway. What with the Jewish vote and the fundie Xtian vote, he’s got Washington by the balls.

      The Palestinians know this full well too, this is why they celebrated when Saudi Arabia – oops sorry, Al Qaeda (*not* Iraq of course) hit the World Trade Centre.


  11. I disagree. I don’t think it’s racism against Jews. I think its racism against arabs and the middle easterners. I think many on the left still divide the world into first world developed peoples, who can be expected to be civilised, and the third worlders who are savages who can’t be expected to obey laws and deal with issues in a civilised way. I think they see Jews as 1st worlders who must obey the rules of war. But palestinians are uncivilised and of course will riot and throw stones and commit war crimes and terrorism. I think a lot of people on the left who are fans of John Pilger think this way. It’s why American military intervention is terrible but Russian or Chinese annexations are normal…

    1. It is true that the Ctrl-Left regards the Palestinians (and other Arabs, and other Muslims) as savages. However, I think you are underestimating their adoration of savages. They (the Ctrl-Left) want to see civilization destroyed and civilized people either converted to savagery or physically absent.

      1. If all the scientists are right about climate change we will all go back to hunting, gathering and farming in a hundred years or so, if any of us are left alive.
        All this argument seems to be a moot point unless drastic action is taken.

        1. “If all the scientists are right about climate change we will all go back to hunting, gathering and farming in a hundred years or so, if any of us are left alive.”

          Good lord, no. It won’t be pretty, it will mean, over time, disruptions in human society in many parts of the word, possibly wars and other conflicts, and hard economic times… but it will not destroy civilization. A great deal of the disaster will fall on wild animal populations. For many of them this will be an extinction event.

          It’s a real, pressing and dangerous threat to us and we’ve long passed the time we should be doing serious things to address it, but Chicken Little scenarios about the end of human civilization aren’t any closer to the truth.

      2. “They (the Ctrl-Left) want to see civilization destroyed and civilized people either converted to savagery or physically absent.”

        I call bullshit on that.


      3. Where did you get the idea expressed in the last sentence? Does anyone other than you believe that or is it your original idea?
        I seriously would like to know if this is a widespread belief.

        1. It is not my original idea, but I don’t know how widespread it is. People like to close their eyes to facts, and to the simplest explanations of facts, if these are inconvenient.

  12. An eloquently stated “two wrongs make a right argument” from the odious and arch-Bresiteer. A man who recently paraded his knowledge of Irish affairs on the grounds that he was “descended from Irish peasants” and he knew how they thought. You will go a long way to find somebody who so hearkens to Britain’s jingoistic and imperialist past. Of course he favours settlements in occupied territories – it’s what the British did for centuries after all.

  13. Aren’t those West Bank settlements the illegal settlements which are, by their existence, inflaming the conflict?

    I’m with airbnb on this.

    I’m anti-Zionist (if Zionism means agreeing with Netanyahu). I don’t think that I’m therefore antisemitic but PCC tells me I am so I must be [/sarcasm].

    Oddly enough I can poke derision at Orthodox jews and Haredim for their more inane actions (like most on this site) and nobody calls that ‘antisemitic’. But if I say that Israel is being led by an authoritarian right-wing government that are building walls and using tanks and helicopters to enforce their illegal land grab (you know, just like certain other despotic regimes in the past) that’s antisemitic?

    Umm, points in Israel’s favour: They seem to have free speech and the rule of law (that’s a big one);
    From time to time they have attempted to restrain the illegal building of settlements

    Points against:
    The special status of religion in the state;
    tRump, the Rethuglicans, loopy American Xtian fundies and Saudi Arabia are all good friends of Israel, mostly for the worst reasons;
    At times they have allowed illegal settlements and protected them; and many of those settlers are (I think) deliberately acting as agents provocateurs from some sense of Zionism (they’re on a mission from G*d)

    That’s probably enough.

    I expect a storm of ‘what-aboutery’ (in fact O’Neill’s article was nothing but ‘what-aboutery’)


    1. I also dislike the growth of west bank settlements.

      Having said that, why do you think it’s okay for AirBnB to offer rental sites in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, or Russia-occupied Crimea, but not okay to offer rental sides in the Israel-occupied west bank?

      1. In my post #21 below, I have a link to the AirBnB statement about the listings in disputed territories. They do not take listings for rentals in Crimea.

    2. No whataboutery from me. I think you’re spot on.

      And the argument re. ‘why aren’t you also boycotting x, y, z?’ is a specious one. Not all disputes are as clear cut as the question of Israeli settlements and not all disputes are as widely known about either. Few are as culturally relevant or centred around groups of people we in the west know as well as we do Jews and Palestinians. There are lots of reasons that the dispute gets more attention in the west than other disputes, and many of the reasons are neither reasonable NOR unreasonable, neither malevolently anti-Semitic NOR perfectly reasonable and fair: basically they’re the same reasons why any particular cause is more ‘fashionable’ than another.

      It seems to boil down to the idea that either

      a.) Air BnB should educate itself on every single territorial dispute in the entire world and then go about boycotting everywhere that deserves it, or

      b.) Air BnB should not boycott anywhere, ever.

      It’s a kind of ‘gotcha’ argument that ignores reality, and the stuff about ‘right-thinking’ people in the west ‘despising’ Israel, hating it ‘more than any other country on earth’ is hysterical, strawmandering bumph. O’Neill is a professional twat, and if there’s any chance of a sensible, moderate discussion to be had about this issue it won’t come from him.

      1. I have long said, about this and other matters, that the argument from hypocrisy is dangerously close to the child-like one “but he did it too!” The answer to that is not “oh, then, we’ll let you have a pass”, but “You’re right, we should care about both!”

        In this specific case there are also, the way I see it, at least the following confounds:

        1) The US does hold sway (including the power of the purse) in this conflict, and not, say, in Tibet.
        2) Precisely because Israel is democratic (at least in approximately the same way the US or whatnot is, anyway), public opinion *matters* more. Convince an average, even middle class, Chinese that Tibet is being brutalized (and it is), and the answer is “So what? What do you want me to do?” (This is *not* that the more is relative to *zero*, either.)

    3. Of course “Zionism” has nothing to do with agreeing with the Israeli government of the day. It is simply the position that Israel ought to be able to exist without threats of being wiped off the map. That is not much to ask. Everyone should be a “Zionist”, but haters of Israel have tried to change the definition of the word to something sinister.

  14. The media plays such an enormous role in this. Every time there’s so much as a skirmish, there’s breathless, 24-hour reporting on the plight of the Palestinians by Left-leaning media. If ten Palestinians die because there was a hail of rockets launched and Israel took out a launcher (or blew up terrorist tunnels, or took some other small military action to protect their nation), mainstream sources like the BBC and CNN report on it like it’s the world’s greatest tragedy at the hands of an evil monster (and, of course, they never bother to delineate between Palestinian terrorists who died and civilians). Israeli deaths and the terrorism committed against them — like random stabbings of civilians, constant firing of rockets into their cities, etc. — are never reported on.

    First-world nations (not to mention others) probably kill far more people every day than Israel kills in a year, and those nations live under a threat level that’s probably 1/1,000,000th of Israel’s. Why is Israel singled out?

    Why does the media do this? What gives? Why is this most extreme of double-standards/hypocrisy only applied to Israel, and why by mainstream media (and almost always Left-leaning media) as well as the Left generally?

    Speaking of the BBC/UK news outlets: imagine if Jeremy Corbyn’s history of antisemitism was the same exact history, except he had been making the same statements about black people and palling around with terrorists from groups like Boko Haram. But there’s little coverage of his long history of antisemitic statements and praise/hanging with terrorists, because it’s Jews and terrorists against Israel. Hell, look at the coverage Bolsonaro was getting in Western media before he was even elected. He may have made horrible comments in the past, but, as far as I know, he wasn’t seen on stage with terrorists calling them his friends.

    It really does seem like antisemitism can be the only explanation. And, when it comes to Corbyn, I’d like to be clear in saying that I don’t think anywhere close to most Corbyn voters are antisemites, but just that they’re willing to ignore his history where they wouldn’t if it pertained to another minority. It’s the same phenomenon that makes me think most people who voted for/support Trump aren’t racists either.

    1. BJ – Israel has tanks, guns and helicopters. The Palestinians have home-made rockets.
      The death toll is something like ten Palestinians for every one Israeli (or some such figure). What’s it going to look like?

      The thing is, this conflict is getting reported on. It’s ‘news-worthy’.

      Similarly, if some shooter in the US kills ten people in a mass shooting, *that* gets extensively reported too. While the hundreds of other US deaths by handgun are just background noise.

      Or if some Muslim terrorist with a knife kills *one* person in Sydney or London or Paris or any other developed city, that hits the headlines.

      While a few deaths by violence in Taiwan, or Nigeria, or China, or India, or Mexico, or [insert non-topical country] – nobody notices unless there’s video.


      1. I think you’re discounting the rockets launched into Israel regularly. If it weren’t for the iron dome, things would be even worse. Also, the desire to put their children in front of targets as human shields and their desire to kill any Israeli they see vs. Israel’s announcing ahead of time to Palestine that they will bomb certain targets.

        1. No, but a rocket that doesn’t kill anybody isn’t going to make the news.

          I doubt the Palestinians have any ‘desire’ to use their children as human shields, that sounds like a canard to me. Some Palestinians may want to use other Palestinians as cover. I have no doubt the Israeli forces would rather not kill children (it looks terrible, among other things) but it’s a risk they will take if they feel they have to.

          Also – it is quite possible to announce ahead of time which targets you’re going to bomb when you have overwhelming military superiority. It even appears to give your attack some semblance of legitimacy.

          The thing is, the two sides are hopelessly mismatched militarily. Both sides are fighting with whatever they can use in the circumstances.


          1. If they don’t want to use their children as human shields then why do they put them at strategic locations after Israel announces they will bomb it? And rockers do kill Israelis it’s just the majority don’t because isrsel invested in defence. Just because Israel has military superiority doesn’t mean they are guilty of something. Indeed, with that superiority they could easily decimate large portions of Palestine yet they do not while Palestinians dig tunnels into Israel and run over people with their cars.

            1. “Indeed, with that superiority they could easily decimate large portions of Palestine yet they do not while Palestinians dig tunnels into Israel and run over people with their cars.”

              Israel could solve their problem in half a day. They choose not to. They choose to act only in self-defense, unlike the other side, which raises its children to believe that killing a Jew is one of the highest honors they can attain, and do, in fact, intentionally use them as human shields.

              And you’re right, Israel announces by ludspeakers where they will do an airstrike multiple times before they occur, just so Palestinians have the chance to evacuate. There is literally no other nation in the world that does as much or has invested as much in technology to minimize civilian casualties. But it’s tough to minimize them when your enemy intentionally makes them as big as possible. Hamas literally tries to ensure that as many civilians as possible are killed every time Israel defends itself; not to mention their overblown reports on the numbers that the media, UN, and our commenter above simply take at face value.

          2. There are many videos available showing Palestinians sending their kids to attack Israeli soldiers, and sometimes even daring the soldiers to attack the kids.
            I don’t know if you have spent much time there, but it is a different world, and they have an unusual attitude towards women and kids. Besides the honor killings, martyrdom is encouraged even in the very young.
            I think I can say without exaggeration that many Palestinians hate Jews more than they love their children. I can absolutely believe that they would deliberately put kids in harm’s way to get sympathetic news coverage.

      2. In this last spate of conflict, the Palestinians fired about 400 rockets into Israel, reportedly killing 1 person and wounding at least 16. The Israeli military said it had fired on 100 targets and the Gaza authorities say this resulted in 5 deaths and 15 wounded.

        So, while the Palestinian rockets were far less effective than the Israeli weapons, they used a lot more, resulting in casualty counts of about the same order of magnitude.

        If the story you got from the news was a 10 to 1 death toll, then this is pretty much exactly the sort of bias in reporting or representation of the conflict that O’Neill and JAC are talking about.

        1. So, from what you just quoted, that’s a 5 to 1 death toll.

          My ten to one was just based on a vague memory of something I read somewhere, not any specific news report.

          Wikipedia gives (for 1987 – 2011) 7978 to 1503. Which is 5 to 1.


          1. In 2018 death toll so far is 278 to 12.
            That’s is a little over your initial estimate of 20 to 1.
            That has been true for the last few years. The last few years before 2011 were about 20 to 1.

            Your early statement reflects the current year figures and the numbers for the last few years.

              1. I looked at that also, and noticed a trend starting in 2006. It stopped in 2011. I jumped ahead to pick up 2018 numbers.
                Have not chsckrd 2002-2017 but believe the 20-1 numbers would hold up.
                There has been a definite change in the conflict over the last ten years. To ignore the current numbers does not give present status of the conflict

              2. This whole discussion about the numbers of killed is quite astonishing to me. You have one side which is building bomb shelters (obligatory in every building, in every apartment, every kindergarten etc.) You have excellent alarm system and recurrent trainings of the civilian population. You have people inventing Iron Dome to save lives of civilians. On the other side you have people launching rockets from schools, mosques, hospitals and residential areas. You have people using human shields and bragging about it. Cement goes for terror tunnels – not for bomb shelters. And you have the latter side attacking the first. Why a surpise about unequal amount of victims? And since when, if you have a machine gun, you are oblige to allow yourself to be killed by somebody with a knife? Israel is not attacking Palestinians but is not allowing them to murder Jews at will either. Of course, there are many who bemoan that in spite of Palestinians best efforts so few Jews are killed.

              3. I was not trying to make a point. I o lot wanted to get the numbers correct. I am obsessive about things like that.

              4. And people have to go into those shelters a lot more than you think because Israel is trying to limit casualties. The Iron Dome has been phenomenal at stopping rockets but still, every time one is launched, the sirens go off and into the shelters people go whether they are at work or at home. This has significantly reduced casualties on Israel’s side.

          2. It seems like every time you bring up points in a conversation on a post about Israel, people make all the counterpoints in this thread with you (Israel’s protection of their citizens; the fact that they spend more time and money on minimizing casualties than any other nation on earth; the fact that Palestinian leaders maximize civilian deaths for the media; the fact that Palestinians continually start these actions by Israel by intentionally provoking violent responses for the media; the fact that Israel kills far fewer people and only in direct threat of their own citizens than any other democracy), and then you never respond to any of them. You just gish-gallop and never respond to any corrections.

            I mean, here’s something you said in this very thread:

            “I doubt the Palestinians have any ‘desire’ to use their children as human shields, that sounds like a canard to me. Some Palestinians may want to use other Palestinians as cover.”

            You were corrected on all of that, but didn’t respond. It seems you get corrected on a lot of misinformation every time we have one of these threads, but you never respond to the corrections and then again bring up the misinformation the next time there’s a post. If your information upon which you’re basing your opinion is wrong, shouldn’t you be updating your beliefs?

            You know I like you and enjoy our discussions, whether we agree or disagree. It just seems like, on this one issue, you repeatedly refuse to actually engage, and instead ignore corrections and new information. I never see you do that with any other subject.

    2. “Israeli deaths and the terrorism committed against them — like random stabbings of civilians, constant firing of rockets into their cities, etc. — are never reported on.”

      Then how do you (and I) know about them? They are reported on.

      “But there’s little coverage of his long history of antisemitic statements”

      Accusations of Corbyn being an antisemite have had extensive coverage in the UK media.

      1. It was very clear from my comment that I was talking about mainstream media like BBC and CNN.

        Yes, and it took a very long time for that coverage to happen. There’s been coverage, but it had to start in publications considered to be leaning Tory, and it took a hell of a long time (considering the subject and how it would be handled if it was about another group) for other media to come around. If he had said and did the things he has about any other minority, he never would have become the Leader of the Labour Party because the media would have been all over him from the moment he announced his candidacy. I can just imagine the coverage from The Guardian, for example.

        It’s about the double-standards.

  15. I was very anti Israel in so much i could not understand a people so victimised as the Israelis and reconcile that with what they were doing with the Palestinians. Of all people surely they would understand and actively persue a homeland for these wretched impoverish poeple. So much for that. For THAT is not how it is however, for the same can be said for the Israelis, an illusion is hidden in the wealth and might perceiveed to be held by the Israelis. David vs Goliath or is it, white vs brown, whatever it is, it sets off the regressives quiet nicely.
    The curse of the Palestinians is hidden and in full veiw, their leaders. They more than any have the Palestinians on their knees, one wonders if that’s wheŕe they want them., They show no signs of helping themselves other than holding fast to unworkable and an absolute dumb proclamation,
    the extermination of another state.
    Nowhere to go with that, just more misery.

    1. Yes, their leaders are interested in one thing and one thing only: killing Jews/annihilating Israel. If they could just get leaders that wanted to rebuild their economy, use foreign aid to help their people, provide good education (instead of antisemitic propaganda), and be a peaceful nation, I really believe this whole situation would resolve itself.

      I truly do feel bad for the Palestinians. It’s not their fault. They are oppressed by their own leaders and the cycle of hate and violence they provide them.

      1. When people have a good economy and social structure, they become far less interested in hate and violence. That’s really what they need. If they could get leaders to build an economy and society, the hatred and violence would subside considerably on its own (of course, they would also need to stop all of the propaganda, like the children’s cartoons depicting Jews as devils, etc.).

  16. The facts are: Israel and the Palestinians have irreconcilable differences. Israel has a powerful military, the Palestinians do not. The only way for the Palestinians to achieve any of their goals is to manipulate world opinion by constantly provoking Israel into retaliating. This can go on forever.

  17. I located the Airbnb statement on the rentals in the West Bank here. I found it to be thoughtful, and acknowledging the difficulty in making their decision.

    They state that they have removed listings from Russian-occupied Crimea; the article by Brendan O’Neill in the Spectator is wrong on this point.

    The Airbnb statement also gives some context to the number of listings involved in this situation. They have 20,000 listings in Israel proper for rentals, and for the West Bank, 200.

    I also found this interesting opinion piece in the Jerusalem Post, written by a former Knesset member. I agree with her viewpoint on the whole matter, which acknowledges that the territory on the West Bank is in dispute, and rentals in the disputed Jewish settlements are not equivalent to rentals listed in Israel.

    I recall reading a few weeks ago that tourists visiting Israel had booked rentals in what was called ‘Judea and Samaria’, without realizing that the rentals were in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

  18. This is basically the tu quoque fallacy enacted at the national level. If the only standard for political action is that all other offenders much simultaneously be addressed at the same time, then nothing would ever get done. Apartheid South Africa certainly wouldn’t have fallen if all other regimes in the world had to be addressed at the same time.

    1. Not really. The idea always was that one should start with the worst offender. So why, after the only other harmonized effort of the world to change the inhumane regime of South Africa, the next country so chosen was Israel? Israel definitely is not the worst offender in the world. Nothing comparable to South Africa’s apartheid was ever present in Israel (though some people may believe it because of all lies that are disseminated or
      because of their own total ignorance of both real apartheid and real Israel).

      1. South Africa wars not the worst human rights offender. They were just the one picked out as the most likely to have a successful outcome.

        1. It was definitely the worst offender to people’s sensibility then: racial discrimination of the majority of indigenous people was beyond pale.

            1. Ha ha. Beyond THE pale, obviously.
              Another difference is that the South African system was not a democracy with universal suffrage, whereas Israel is. Boycotting such a democracy always seems to me a very high-handed attempt at coercion–“never mind Israeli voters, WE know how you ought to run your country, so do as we say”.

              1. There is also good reason in expecting higher standards from a democracy. The Bloody Sunday killings of protesters in Northern Ireland resulted in a 30 year government enquiry into the actions of the security forces: Israel had similiar event in May 2018 and they probably won’t face such stringent internal examination.

                It’s interesting that “the Pale” came up as it stems from the sectarianism and partition of Ireland.
                “The Pale” as applied to Israel would be the area of Israeli control and interest.
                I fear that Israel is in the process of creating (or has already created) a similar intractable situation for itself, which is a shame for all parties.

                Jerry suggested that Left Wing opprobrium of Israel is responsible for increasing antisemitism in the West.
                I would suggest however that the means of creation and actions of Israel (together with international politics, post-colonialism, Cold War etc.) have been responsible for an increase in anti-semitism in the Middle-East since 1948.
                There is an awareness of Israel as an international problem which will draw inevitable criticism from the Left (and Right).
                The current Netanyahu government is often descibed as nationalistic and Thatcherite which won’t win it friends amongst the Left either when compared with Israel’s Kibbutzim past.
                Natanyahu is likely facing a corruption investigation which will also draw inevitable and justified critique.

                I do not agree either that anti-Zionism or critique of Israel is equivalent to anti-semitism. There are many critiques possible of Israel which have NOTHING to do with its Jewishness.

              2. If you think that the anti-Semites who scrawl swastikas on synagogues do so because they oppose the policies of Israel, think again. We’re not thinking of what critiques are possible but which ones actually exist. BDS wants Israel wiped off the face of the map. Is that because of the present policies of the Israeli government? I don’t think so.

                And I guess you oppose the existence of Israel, too, as you see it as an “international problem” that has existed since 1948. (By the way, that was 70 years ago and we’re discussing the rise in anti-Semitism now.)

              3. Kevin O’Neill: “Israel had similiar event in May 2018 and they probably won’t face such stringent internal examination.”
                Funny you should say that, because just yesterday I heard a retired British colonel, Richard Kemp, talk about a group of international military men he had recently been with in Israel. They had been monitoring the Israel Defence Force. The foreign generals were concerned that Israel was setting such a high standard that in the future other armies wouldn’t be able to live up to it! The IDF has the highest standards and the lowest ratio of civilians to soldiers killed in conflicts of any army in the world. You hear about the exceptions, of course, because they make the news.

  19. Jerry,
    I’m afraid the website doesn’t let me reply directly to your reply to mine, so I placed it as a header comment.

    “If you think that the anti-Semites who scrawl swastikas on synagogues do so because they oppose the policies of Israel, think again.”

    I don’t think that. Never said anything even close to that.
    Certainly anti-semites will do what they do anyway and they will also criticise Israel.
    That does not mean that arguments agianst Zionism are intrinsically ant-semitic.
    Similarly the actions of the Israeli State may be (and are) often defended by accusation of their critics as holding anti-semitic views.
    As I said, there are many things concerning Israel that can be reasonably criticised without supporters playing the antisemitism trump card.

    There are many forms of Zionism which may even be in conflict with each other (extremist fundamentalist religious Zionism for example).
    My comments in part come from my experience as and anglo-brit and all the historical/sectarian problems that I have grown up with. I would not wish those problems on anyone. I see obvious parallels with the Israeli question.

    “We’re not thinking of what critiques are possible but which ones actually exist.”
    I have doubts that either a single state or multiple state solution can lead to a peaceable solution (again see Irish question over the last 200-1000 years, depending on where you see the problem starting, Norman Invasion or Irish famine).

    “BDS wants Israel wiped off the face of the map.”
    That’s not their declared intention, though some might have that opinion. However any organisation taking the Palestinian side is too easily open to accusation of anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist or anti-semitic intention. They may just be pro-Palestinian.

    “Is that because of the present policies of the Israeli government? I don’t think so.”
    “And I guess you oppose the existence of Israel, too, as you see it as an “international problem” that has existed since 1948.”
    You mean that you don’t think that the Israel/Palestine situation is an international problem?
    I don’t oppose the existence of the Israeli State as such as you seem to assume. But I am not that comfortable with aspects of it either.

    “(By the way, that was 70 years ago and we’re discussing the rise in anti-Semitism now.)”
    There is a recent increase of racism in general, concerns about immigration, right wing populism, instability of Western economies.

    Sure it was 70 years ago: that’s when the current Israel/Palestine problem started: problems starting 70 years ago can be the basis of current problems. Decisions taken then have led to seemingly intractable situations of today.

    In previous WEIT posts I referenced the IHRA document as I thought it could be of interest to the group. This originally came up in relation to the accusations of antisemitism within the UK Labour party.
    My view is that the IHRA definition is unworkable, that it fudges the issue by failing to distinguish between anti-semitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Israeli arguments to a point that expression of constructive and valid opinions may be supressed due to knee-jerk accusation of anti-semitism. This is not helping debate on the issue.
    I also noted that no Arabic/Muslim country has endorsed the IHRA.

    1. Just a side comment: The situation Ireland/Britain is not really comparable to the situation Arabs/Israel. However awful was the Irish situation, British never pronounced that all Irish should be thrown into the sea or massacred on land. British children were not taught from the cradle about Irish as ”the worst of the mankind”, ”sons of pigs and apes”, British priests and pastors didn’t teach from their pulpits every Sunday that the Day of Judgement will not come until the British kill the last Irishman. But that was (and is) the attitude of vast majority in Islamic world and all this was going on for centuries, long before establishment of Israel. There were pogroms and persecutions of Jews in the whole Islamic world – not only in Christian world. I don’t know how many Irish leaders and intellectuals who wanted some kind of compromise with the Bristish were killed by other Irish people. In the British Mandate of Palestine between 1920 and 1939 about 2,000 Arabs who wanted peace with Jews were killed by Arab forces led by Hitler’s friend, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini. Israel is a country of refugees: about half are refugees from Arab countries and their descendants, and the other half are refugess from Christian countries and their descendants. Plust a small minority of American Jews who either wanted to prepare refuge for their persecuted bretheren or out of religious reasons chose to live in the country of their ancestors.

      Before the WWII the slogan was ”Jews are our misfortune” and it was called antisemitism (often proudly). After the WWII it was not fashionable any longer and the slogan morphed into ”Jewish State is our misforune” and it’s calle anti-Zionism. Many are very proud that they are anti-Zionist.

      1. “British never pronounced that all Irish should be thrown into the sea or massacred on land”

        Some British viewed the famine as an “act of god”:
        Trevelyan described the famine as “a direct stroke of an all-wise and all-merciful Providence”, one which laid bare “the deep and inveterate root of social evil”. The famine, he declared, was “the sharp but effectual remedy by which the cure is likely to be effected… God grant that the generation to which this great opportunity has been offered may rightly perform its part …” This mentality of Trevelyan’s was influential in persuading the government to do nothing to restrain mass evictions.

        Trevelyan was the man in CHARGE of dealing with the famine crisis.

        The analogy made between UK/Ireland and Israel/Palestine usually equates the UK with Israel and Ireland with Palestine. Your comment interestingly equates the UK with the Arab world/Palestinians (or at least those wishing Israelis “thrown into the sea or massacred on land”).

        “I don’t know how many Irish leaders and intellectuals who wanted some kind of compromise with the Bristish were killed by other Irish people.”
        The Irish Free State was born from a compromise with the British, particularly concerning physical partition of the country: this led to the Irish Civil War (between those accepting partition and those wanting a single state solution). The first Irish head of state, Michael Collins, was left politically isolated (due to having accepted the partition compromise) from most leading republicans of the time and was soon after assassinated during an ambush. The civil war lasted about two years. The patrition created lead to the “Troubles” beginning in the 1960’s and to the current uneasy Peace Agreement.

        Of course the Irish and Palestinian questions are not identical, but there are elements to bear in mind.

        What I find perturbing is that make any hint of a critique of Israel and out come the antisemitic accusations.

        1. Of course, British behaved abominably against Irish and nobody denies it. The difference with the situation of 8 million Israelis versus over 400 million Arabs (and 1,5 billion Muslims, inclusive bloodthirsty Iran) is however too big to draw any conclusions from the situation of Irish versus British and Jews versus Arabs. Poland was divided between three Empires and didn’t exist at all for over 100 years. We know what it means to be under an occupation of a cruel power, and there are a few people who want to compare Poland to Palestinians. It’s as absurd as comparing Irish to Palestinians.

          You are not criticising Israel. The formulering is already slightly absurd – do you ever criticize France, for example? – no you criticize French government for doing this or that. Everybody can criticize Israeli government for their decisions and many do, inclusive practically all Israelis. It’s especially ugly argument – when you say that the existence of the Jewish state is a problem – that your words is a legitimate criticism of Israel and people are unjustly accusing you of antisemitism. Did you ever said that the exitence of Jordan (created out of part of Palestine after WWI) is a problem? Did you ever said that creation of Pakistan (created after WWII, just before Israel) is a problem? Denying Jewish nation the right to their own state, demonizing this state, delegitimazing this state – this is antisemitism. Not saying that Netanyahu policy about settlements (or in any other field) is wrong.

          And, in a comment to Sarah, you wrote that “Times of Israel” is not a reliable source. I would suggest you think a moment why do you deem this liberal, left-leaning, very critical towards Netanyahu mainstream Israeli newspaper being unreliable. May it be, perish the thought, because it’s Jewish?

    2. Excuse my intervention, but you dispute the purpose of BDS: “BDS wants Israel wiped off the face of the map.”
      “That’s not their declared intention, though some might have that opinion.”

      But it is their “declared intention”. As Alex Joffe demonstrates: “In short, the call demanded dismantling of Israel through the ‘right of return.’ This has not changed: the end of Israel is the core BDS goal.”

      1. @Sarah:
        I was not really disputing their purpose: I responded to Jerry’s claim as to their purpose.
        I have no particular views on the BDS.

        In reply to your link:
        Their declared intention may be partially “right of return”: that is not “BDS wants Israel wiped off the face of the map” except by interpretation, the Times of Israel perhaps not being a wholly unbiased source.

        1. Recall that the hope is the “right of return” (and by the way, there is no such thing) would result in a Palestinian state with a Jewish minority and that Abbas has already said that not one Jew would be allowed to live in the eventual Palestine state. BDS is portrayed as a benign, non-violent economic movement, but it is much more sinister than that.

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