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An e-newsletter delivering updates and analysis on current issues about Israel and the Middle East conflict

March 16, 2010

Exposing the outrageous truth: The world (again) uses a double standard to judge Israel

Dear Friend of FLAME:

The recent assassination of Hamas' Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai and the subsequent uproar about Israel's alleged involvement are case in point of the extreme double standard that most of the world applies to Israel. Sadly, the reality is that this double standard is a thin veil for a sinister and growing 21st century anti-Semitism.

As Andrew Roberts points out in his excellent Financial Times article below, it is only Israel's legitimacy that is questioned among numerous other countries whose intelligence agencies have carried out assassinations. At the end of last year it was the Goldstone report, and now it's the al-Mabhouh story. For Israel's foes there will always be a reason to question her right to exist. It is simply a matter of what the excuse will be on any given day.

The yearly farce that is Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) on college campuses is another crystal-clear example of this double standard. No matter what the organizers would have us believe, this protest has absolutely nothing to do with the abuse of human rights or rising up against mighty apartheid Israel. First, there is no correlation between the democratic nation of Israel and formerly racist South African regime. Secondly, if everyone involved in IAW truly cared about human rights, they would rename their movement Arab Apartheid Week.

Michael Freund illuminates this point in a recent article in The Jerusalem Post:

"Of the 18 countries in the Middle East that Freedom House (the independent Washington-based group that advocates for freedom worldwide) surveyed, only one is considered to be 'free.' And just who might that be? Yep, you guessed it: Israel. Not a single Arab country---not one!---did Freedom House consider 'free.' In effect, then, this means that of the approximately 370 million human beings currently residing in the Middle East, only 2 percent enjoy true freedom---namely those who live in the Jewish state. So much for Israeli apartheid."

To those who single out Israel above and beyond any other country in the world: The burden is on you to prove that your motives are driven by anything other than anti-Semitism. As Freund so forcefully points out, if Israel's numerous critics truly cared about "human rights," then they would focus on helping the plight of the other 363 million people in the Middle East.

There is no greater double standard than singling out the only democratic nation in the Middle East, while remaining completely silent as these Arab regimes abuse women, gays, and religious minorities in their countries. Not only is this silence deafening, but it is also utterly hypocritical.

I think you'll Andrew Roberts' exposé fascinating, as he analyzes the politics of terrorist assassination.

Best regards,

Dave Nogradi
FLAME Hotline Contributor


For more on the latest forms of anti-Semitism, please read FLAME's position paper titled "The New Anti-Semitism: Who are its advocates? What are its goals?" It is astounding how widespread this new anti-Semitism has become. Most of all, if you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

Israel is no more rogue than America
by Andrew Roberts, The Financial Times, March 2, 2010

Is state-sanctioned assassination justifiable, or does it somehow de-legitimize the state that undertakes it? Two articles in this newspaper last week, by Henry Siegman and David Gardner, have been violently critical of Israel in the wake of the assassination of the Hamas arms smuggler Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on 19 January.

Mr. Siegman wrote of how "Israel's colonial ambitions" and "checkpoints, barbed wire and separation walls" were "turning Israel from a democracy into an apartheid state", thereby creating a "looming global threat to the country's legitimacy". Two days later Mr. Gardner wrote of how Israel's "militarist extroversion" over the Dubai murder demonstrated an "Israeli preference for instantly satisfying executive solutions to complex political and geopolitical problems" which would "widen the international battle-space for tit-for-tat attacks" and "encourage the perception that [Israel] is a rogue state".

Both commentators are completely wrong. All that the Dubai operation will do is remind the world that the security services of states at war—and Israel's struggle with Hamas, Fatah and Hizbollah certainly constitutes that—occasionally employ targeted assassination as one of the weapons in their armory, and that this in no way weakens their legitimacy. As for the "separation walls" and checkpoints that one sees in Israel, the 99 per cent drop in the number of suicide bombings since their erection justifies the policy. There is simply no parallel between apartheid South Africa—where the white minority wielded power over the black majority—and the occupied territories, taken by Israel only after it was invaded by its neighbors. To make such a link is not only inaccurate, but offensive. If Arab Israelis were deprived of civil and franchise rights, that would justify such hyperbole, but of course they have the same rights as every Jewish Israeli.

Far from having any colonial ambitions, Israel wants nothing more than to live peaceably within defensible borders. But equally it demands nothing less.

Furthermore, rather than some kind of knee-jerk "preference for instantly satisfying executive solutions", the decision to kill Mahmoud al-Mabhouh—assuming it was sanctioned, planned and carried out by Mossad alone, which is anything but clear at this stage—would have been minutely examined from every political and operational angle. Yet sometimes complex political and geopolitical problems do require the cutting of the Gordian knot, and this was one such.

When Britain was at war, Winston Churchill sanctioned the assassination by its Special Operations Executive of the SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the capture (and killing if necessary) of General Heinrich Kreipe on Crete; ditto Erwin Rommel. Just as with some Mossad operations, such as the disaster in Amman in 1997 when agents were captured after failing to kill Khaled Meshal of Hamas, not all Churchill's hits were successful. But the British state was not de-legitimized in any way as a result.

The intelligence agents of states—sometimes operating with direct authority, sometimes not—have carried out many assassinations and assassination attempts in peacetime without the legitimacy of those states being called into question, or their being described as "rogue". In 1985 the French Deuxiéme Bureau sank Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior trawler, killing photographer Fernando Pereira, without anyone denouncing France as a rogue state. Similarly, in 2006, polonium 210 was used to murder Alexander Litvinenko without Putin's Russia being described as "illegitimate." That kind of language is only reserved for Israel, even though neither Pereira nor Litvinenko posed the danger to French and Russian citizens that were posed to Israelis by the activities of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.

The reason that such double standards still apply—more than six decades after the foundation of the state of Israel—is not because of the nature of that doughty, brave, embattled, tiny, surrounded, yet proudly defiant country, but because of the nature of its foes. Even though one has to be in one's seventies to remember a time when Israel didn't exist, nevertheless there are still those who call the country's legitimacy into question, employing anything that happens to be in the news at the time—such as this latest assassination—to try to argue that Israel is not a real country, and therefore doesn't really deserve to exist. Real rogue states such as North Korea might be loathed and criticized, but even they do not have their very legitimacy as a state called into question because of their actions.

Those who wish to understand Israel's actions and put them in their proper historical context should read Michael Burleigh's cultural history of terrorism, "Blood and Rage." Burleigh quotes a senior Mossad agent saying after the Munich Olympics massacre of 11 Israeli athletes: "If there was intelligence information, the target was reachable and if there was an opportunity, we took it. As far as we were concerned we were creating a deterrence, forcing them to crawl into a defensive shell and not plan offensive attacks against us."

Is that attitude so very different from the pre-emptive targeted assassination of Taliban leaders that NATO carries out by flying drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan today? Yet are Messrs Siegman and Gardner going to call into question America's legitimacy? No, that insult is reserved for only one country: Israel.


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