Hypocrisy has no shame

Published in The Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, December 23, 2016.

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Global callousness and double-standards, from Aleppo to Jerusalem: The UN has no time to investigate the bad things happening in Syria. It’s busy with more important stuff, like yesterday’s (aborted) UN Security Council session which was to tackle, once again, those dastardly Israeli settlements – the real impediments to peace and security in the Middle East (sic)!

Compare the muffled global (non)response to the escalating slaughter in Syria, to international hyper-activity regarding anything Israel says or does. It seems that the world gets truly self-righteous and especially angry only when Israel is involved.

Of course, Israel holds itself to much higher moral standards than those of the butchers in Aleppo, and it’s no surprise or outrage that the world does too. But still, the hypocrisy is maddening.

Bashar Assad can starve and massacre hundreds of people a day, yet the issue doesn’t rate much more than a diffident frown from foreign ministry spokesmen in Washington, Berlin, Paris and London. In contrast, all Israel has to do is place a few caravans on a Samarian hilltop in the Jewish People’s ancient homeland, and all the spokesmen freak-out. Israel is condemned snap-quick in the strongest terms, and even threatened with consequences.

Assad can deliberately launch massive artillery barrages into civilian areas day after day for five years, yet the story hasn’t really been front page news in world newspapers for more than a few milliseconds. Were one Israeli shell were go errant and hit a Palestinian or Lebanese shack despite prodigious IDF cautions and safeguards – the story would lead every global broadcast for weeks with all the gory details.

The UN can’t cobble together a peacekeeping force to protect Syrians from their murderous leader even as the Arab League – the Arab League! – has begged for it. But UNESCO will send international observers at the drop of a hat to make sure that Israel doesn’t rebuild the Mughrabi Bridge leading to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. (Then of course, the Temple Mount isn’t the Temple Mount, according to UNESCO. It’s a Moslem heritage site, only).

Syrian guns can obliterate a field hospital; leave the wounded bleeding to death in the streets; and rampage through hospitals shooting rebel troops – yet the world merely and barely clicks its tongue in disapproval. When Israel tries to move 25 Palestinian squatters from a shanty village they set up in a Jerusalem national park, however, global protests are loud and vociferous.

Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Syrians have been killed by Bashar Assad’s barrel bombs and chemical weapons, and by the Hezbollah killing squads he imported from Lebanon, yet the world can’t agree to intervene or investigate.

In stark contrast, when Israel killed nine armed Islamic radicals trying to run its coast on a ship called the Mavi Marmara under Turkish cover in support of an Iranian-backed terrorist group, the world swiftly demanded and convened an international committee of investigation.

(And note this bitter irony: The brutal Hezbollah battalions now massacring Syrians were once in Israel’s cross-hairs, but the global community prevented Israel from decisively crushing Hezbollah in 2006.)

AFTER FIVE YEARS of violence, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was roused last week – on one of his final days in office – to comment on the situation in Syria. He expressed mild dismay at Syrian cruelty. “The Secretary General is conveying his grave concern to the relevant parties. He has instructed his special envoy for Syria to follow-up urgently with the parties concerned,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric laconically said.

Notice the timidity. It’s a spokesman, not the Secretary General himself, expressing “grave concern,” not outrage; and his concern is directed at, well, nobody in particular – just the “relevant parties.” How about naming Syria, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah? Nada. Ban Ki-moon doesn’t have the guts to actually “condemn” anybody, even when he has one foot out the door.

Yet the haughty Ban Ki-moon had no hesitations about condemning Israel repeatedly this past year. He “condemned” Israel for collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza; “strongly condemned” Israel for settlement expansion; “strongly condemned” Israeli archaeological work in eastern Jerusalem; and “condemned” Prime Minister Netanyahu for equating the eviction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank with ethnic cleansing. Ban Ki-moon was moved to call Netanyahu’s latter statement “unacceptable and outrageous.”

The dreadful carnage in Syria is, obviously, more acceptable and less outrageous to Ban Ki-Moon than Israel’s machinations in Judea and Samaria.

In 2011, when Assad cut-off electricity to residents of Homs and set-up military bases and sniper posts in schools, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights actually declared the situation “deplorable,” although she couldn’t convince the General Assembly to convene an “emergency special session” on Syria. There won’t be an emergency session now either – even as the UN humanitarian advisor on Syria Jan Egeland accuses Assad of “atrocities” in Aleppo.

That’s because emergency special sessions at the UN are reserved mainly for Israel. Five of the ten emergency special sessions held in all of UN history have been focused on Israel, and the tenth such session has been reconvened 15 times to censure the government in Jerusalem.

And in fact, when Israel acted to destroy Hamas missile bases and arms depots and to defend itself after eight years of rocket attacks from Gaza, the UN craftily located a Jewish jurist named Richard Goldstone to swiftly produce a heavy-duty legal writ crucifying the Jewish state.

Perhaps it’s an issue of time. The UN has no time to investigate the bad things happening in Syria. It’s busy with more important stuff, like this: An ambassadorial-level meeting of the UN Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which just approved a year’s worth of seminars and other “interventions” meant to oppose “Israeli apartheid reborn.” Or yesterday’s (aborted) UN Security Council session which was to tackle, once again, those dastardly Israeli settlements – the real impediments to peace and security in the Middle East (sic)!

The UN certainly has no time at all to recognize Israel’s humanitarian efforts on behalf of wounded Syrians. More than 2,000 Syrians have been treated in an IDF field hospital specially set up on the Golan, with dozens more treated in regular Israeli hospitals. No-one in the callous UN eco-system would dare give Israel credit for this.

Hypocrisy has no shame, and the demonization of Israel no limits.

David M. Weinberg is a think tank director, columnist and lobbyist who is a sharp critic of Israel’s detractors and of post-Zionist trends in Israel. Read more »
A passionate speaker, David M. Weinberg lectures widely in Israel, the U.S. and Canada to Jewish and non-Jewish audiences. He speaks on international politics and Middle East strategic affairs, Israeli diplomacy and defense strategy, intelligence matters and more. Click here to book David Weinberg as a speaker

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