Events in Egypt expose ongoing double standard facing Israel

By Larry Levin

While I’m a Zionist, I won’t subscribe with a noncritical eye to arguments posited by pro-Israel organizations, even if they’re offered with the best of intentions. To the rightist groups that insist on fealty to Israel leadership, I say, let me know how you’d feel if Avigdor Lieberman became the next prime minister.  And I certainly don’t agree with leftist groups that everything could be solved if  only Israeli leadership laid down its weapons and played well with others, as though the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio were simply a massive McDonald’s PlayPlace.

So it’s from this middle ground that I offer a question to those who say the United Nations and Arab nations are justified in holding  Israel up to global contempt for its relations with Gaza. If the following comparison is imperfect or sophomoric, forgive me, but it seems to at least raise issues that we’ve seen little of since the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt began.

Q: If the  80 million people of Egypt were being oppressed by the government of President Hosni Mubarak for so long, then where the heck was the world in expressing moral indignation for all those years?  

It’s a bit of a rhetorical question, because we all know the answer, which, sadly to say, is nonsensical: The world was nowhere.  Well, actually it was somewhere, but that somewhere was the chronic wasteland of bigotry toward Israel.

Those who claim there’s no double standard toward Israel are smoking something. Look at what’s been alleged against Mubarak and his government over the years (this is just a representative sample, culled from one online anti-Mubarak petition):

Arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention of innocent people without charge or trial; 
systematic torture and sexual abuse of detainees, including women and children; killing Sudanese refugees in downtown Cairo to disrupt sit-ins; abductions in the street to frame people for crimes they never committed; shooting voters to prevent them from entering voting stations; persecution of and discrimination against Egyptian Christians (Copts) and other minority groups such as the Shiites, the Bahais, the Bedouins, the Nubians and others.

Does this sound like “life on the street” in Israel? Hardly.  How about in Gaza? Well, that’s not really Israel’s call now, is it, since Israel turned over jurisdiction in 2005 to Hamas (who many like to describe as the “democratically elected leadership; I prefer to call them the “fear-mongering leadership”).

To be sure, Israel has made some disastrous blunders during the last five years; you’d have to be ostrich-like to claim otherwise.  But with the exception (not to be forgiven) of overzealous and sometimes hateful soldiers – who contrary to Mubarak’s thugs, have been exposed to charges pursuant to established due process – the Israeli government’s excesses have derived from the perspective of preserving safety and security on its side of the border with Gaza.  

We’ve seen so many crimes against humanity exercised in the Middle East that have far exceeded any sane measure of what’s transpired between Israel and Gaza.  And with pathetically few exceptions,  Arab nations elect  to look the other way from their neighbors unless their own strategic interests are threatened.

Yet the same standard doesn’t apply to Israel. Never has, probably never will.  Those who claim that Arab nations are “fearful” of Israel attacking or threatening their interests, should be forced to cite one example in modern history of Israel being the aggressor against an Arab nation.  Shoot, we wouldn’t even be talking about “pre-1967 borders” if there had been no assault on Israel, who spanked its enemies’ butts when they were hell bent on annihilation of the Jewish State.

So the double standard continues unabated, and will continue to do so into the future.  When the next uprising comes, whether in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or what have you, the excesses and illegalities of that nation’s government for decades will be met with many affirming nods of the head. But underlying that response, whether people choose to admit it or not, will be the shame of knowing that Israel, little in both size and population, had to endure pariah status all the while that the world turned the other way from its neighbors’ atrocities.

Larry Levin is Publisher/CEO of the St. Louis Jewish Light.