I recently met with a group of Australian journalists, including editors of some of the leading dailies. They impressed me as a fair and open-minded group. In the course of discussions, one elegantly phrased question, not intended to offend, was put to me, which I have been mulling over. "Did I ever take into account that if virtually the entire world has concluded that Israel is the principal cause for the Middle East impasse, perhaps they are right?"# reads: 403
The question is particularly pertinent in relation to Europe, which has turned so dramatically against Israel. In these "enlightened", postmodernist secular societies, which shun all manifestations of nationalism, Israel is no longer considered a revival of Jewish nationhood, but as a colonial implant that many would be happy to see somehow disappearing as a national entity. And, of course, there is the "new antisemitism" in which demonisation of Israel has become the surrogate for traditional Jew hatred – just as Jews in the middle ages were blamed for all the ills of mankind, so today the Jewish state is increasingly held responsible for the principal woes facing humanity.
In this environment, the left and many liberals now focus their rage against Israel and have succeeded in hijacking human rights groups to serve as vehicles to undermine the Jewish state.
On the international arena, the automatic majority of Islamic and other radical states guarantees the passage of all anti-Israeli resolutions initiated at the UN, no matter how absurd. The so-called UN human rights council (UNHRC), which includes some of the worst tyrannies among its leading members, is just one example.
Simultaneously, the realpolitik imposed by oil-producing countries when securing energy has become the national priority for most nations, together with the growing empowerment of radical Islamic groups throughout Europe, has resulted in many countries siding against Israel, rather than confront the jihadists within their own borders.
It is in this context that Israel remains the only country in the world whose very right to exist is challenged.
It also highlights the dilemma facing Israel: the more concessions Israel has made over the last decade in order to reach an accommodation with its neighbours, the greater has been the terror unleashed against it and the more its international standing has eroded.
Yet, Israel remains the only democracy in the region; 20% of its inhabitants are Arab citizens, who enjoy equality of rights, freedom of expression and elect their representatives to the Israeli parliament. In contrast, Israel's despotic neighbours are autocracies or dictatorships, which deny freedom of religion and many other basic human rights. They also include the only countries in the world that deny Jews the right of domicile. But it is Israel that is depicted as a racist apartheid state.
Even under a rightwing government, a broad consensus in Israel supports a two-state solution and is desperate not to rule over the Palestinians. Two Israeli prime ministers offered to cede virtually all of the territories gained in wars initiated by Israel's enemies seeking to destroy it. The offers were rejected both by Yasser Arafat and his successor, Mahmoud Abbas.
The Sharon government unilaterally disengaged from Gaza and dismantled long-standing settlements. Yet the moment the settlements were evacuated, they were converted into launching pads for intensified missile attacks that culminated in the Gaza conflict.
Israel is confronted by two Palestinian entities. Hamas, ruling Gaza, unequivocally demands the total destruction of the Jewish state and unashamedly calls for the physical extermination of Jews. The other is the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, whom we are told represents a moderate partner for peace. Yet Abbas still honours suicide bombers as martyrs and provides their families with state pensions. The PA-controlled media, education system and mosques continue to promote rabid antisemitism and demand the rejection of the Jewish state.
Fully aware of these realities, most European states nevertheless apply double standards against the Jewish state. Many either applauded or stood by while the Arabs and their allies accused Israel of committing war crimes. This, despite the fact that the conflict against Hamas was only launched after thousands of missiles had been directed at Israeli civilians for years, and the submission to the UNHRC by the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp, who stated that "the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any army in the history of warfare".
It is frequently alleged that Israel is responsible for the world turning against it. We are told that Israel's military superiority has created sympathy for the Arab underdog. There is no disputing Palestinian misery and suffering, but it is rarely pointed out that this is a consequence of the intransigent policies adopted by their leaders. Israel is admonished and told to negotiate with Hamas; would anyone seriously suggest that the United States negotiate with al-Qaida?
Any objective evaluation would morally validate Israel's broad efforts to achieve peace in the face of Palestinian intransigence. It would also demonstrate how the false Islamic narrative of the conflict and constant portrayal of Israel as a rogue state by the UN and other purportedly reputable international organisations controlled by Arabs and their supporters, became embedded in the public consciousness. This has been facilitated by the realpolitik, bias and cowardice of much of the "enlightened" world.
Original piece is http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/nov/26/europe-double-standards-israel