Double Standards in Modern Politics

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The European Union (EU) consists of twenty-five states with a population of 460 million covering a territory of about 3.9 million square kilometers. Israel is a small country - covering a territory far less than one-hundredth of the EU's size - with a population of six million, partly surrounded by mortal enemies. Europe and Israel are not comparable entities. In view of the imbalance in power,

populations, and geographic size of the two areas, an analysis must focus primarily on the much larger European side.

When looking for telling pointers in such a complex relationship, often a useful shortcut is to identify extreme attitudes. In turbulent times these become indicators of how Europe's attitude toward Israel may evolve if the world political situation deteriorates.

Analyzing extreme European attitudes is meaningful for another reason as well. It was against the Jews that Europe reached its absolute low of barbarian behavior in the twentieth century. Although Europe's current worldview is very remote from that of the 1930s, still there are several disquieting similarities with the demonizing of the Jews - mainly by Germans but also by others - before the Second World War. The focus of the defamation has shifted from the individual Jew to Israel, the Jewish state.

In the 1930s there were many Jews who closed their eyes, not wanting to see the signs of the times. In a large universe of events one can always find some positive pointers. Looking for those, while the power of Germany's Hitler regime was increasing, one could have cited the fact that in 1936 for the first time a Jew, the socialist Leon Blum, became prime minister of France. In 1939, Lodewijk Visser was appointed the first Jewish president of the Dutch Supreme Court.

These events could have been interpreted as signals of a greater acceptance of Jews even in the highest positions in various European countries. These, however, were irrelevant in the broad framework of the overall deterioration of the Jews' status in Europe.

Bayefsky stresses the relationship between anti-Israeli bias and the European desire to avoid condemning world anti-Semitism, which mainly means its high Muslim and Arab component.

One example of this occurred at the 2003 General Assembly. The issue arose of including the word "anti-Semitism" in a resolution on religious intolerance in a preamble. Ireland, which had been the lead state on the subject of religious intolerance for many years, was determined to keep mention of anti-Semitism out.

So Israel decided that it would move an amendment to add it from the floor. The Irish were unnerved. Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen and Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom made a deal that Israel would withdraw its threatened amendment to the resolution on religious intolerance. In exchange Ireland would introduce for the first time in UN history a resolution on anti-Semitism.

Israel was delighted by the prospect. The Irish delegation sat on the third committee, waited for the resolution on religious intolerance to pass through the committee without the mention of anti-Semitism. Then they withdrew their promised resolution on anti-Semitism. Their excuse was the lack of consensus. Among others, Ireland went to the Iranians for their support. They afterwards claimed that they were surprised at the opposition. To sum it up: there was no resolution on anti-Semitism.

The mood created by the political leaders of European countries toward Israeli government officials often permeates their societies. The EU's mindset and discriminatory attitude toward Israel is also manifested by various European ambassadors. It is unlikely that some of their statements would be tolerated concerning any other democratic country.

One of the most publicized scandals involved the former French ambassador to the UK, the late Daniel Bernard. At the dinner table in the home of then Daily Telegraph owner Lord Black, he said Israel was a "shitty little country" that had triggered the international security crisis. Bernard's remark was typical of the new anti-Semitism, in which Israel has taken the place of the Jews as the scapegoat for the world's evil.

Black's wife, journalist Barbara Amiel who is Jewish, quoted her guest without giving his name or the country he represented in a Daily Telegraph column. It did not take long until other papers revealed who Israel's undiplomatic detractor was.

Bernard's subsequent reaction gave even clearer insight into his mindset. Initially the press secretary at the French embassy said that the ambassador did not remember if he had used those words. Thereafter Bernard insisted that what he had said had been thoroughly distorted. It was reported that he - rather than addressing his own anti-Semitism - was outraged "that a private discussion found its way into the media." Zvi Shtauber, former Israeli ambassador to the UK, relates that Bernard came to the Israeli embassy afterward to apologize though publicly he had denied that he would do so.

The foregoing describes Europe's double standards toward Israel and what they have caused. One has to assess as well what should have separated Israel and Europe objectively. Only a few indicative remarks can be made.

To do so one has to define Europe's characteristics, policies, and worldviews. For Israeli strategy expert Yehezkel Dror, Europe is characterized by its focus on citizens' welfare and neglect of security risks. It is busy with current issues but does not devote adequate attention to the long-term future.

For Trigano, the EU's ambitions mainly create associations with the Napoleonic Empire because of its bureaucratic political character. He points out that every empire needs an enemy, and Europe defines itself in opposition to the policies of the nationalist American state.

Andrei Markovits, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, says: "Nobody knows what it means to be a European. It is unclear what Greeks and Swedes have in common. But one important characteristic they share is their not being American." He also observes that anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism are the only major icons shared by the European extreme Left and Right, including neo- Nazis.

The rejection of its proposed constitution by the populations of France and The Netherlands in spring 2005 has created some uncertainty about the direction the European Union may take. It is telling mainly in regard to the EU's worldview that many observers consider that a crisis in a democratic entity such as the EU may be advantageous for another democracy, Israel. This author summed it up by saying: "While past EU policies have been heavily biased against Israel, as it enters a period of disarray, EU policies may become less threatening to Israel."

1.3 International Law

The International Court of Justice

The United Nations plays an important role in the establishment of international law. Israel is confronted with many new issues where international law falls dramatically short in meeting reality. In this area as well, Israel has become an indicator of the failures of Western society.

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