In a recent blog item, the reluctance in some circles to acknowledge Israel’s major contribution to the relief effort in Haiti was noted. Alan Dershowitz has clearly articulated the inherent double standards involved in his article For Bigots, Israel can do no Right.
Dershowitz makes a few telling points. To the accusation that Israel should be aiding Gaza and not Haiti, Dershowitz replies “Even The New York Times, in an otherwise thoughtful analysis of the controversiality of the aid among some Israelis, failed to note the difference between Israel sending its limited resources to faraway Haiti and to nearby Gaza. Haiti is not at war with Israel. Haiti has not pledged itself to Israel’s destruction. Haiti has not fired 8,000 rockets at Israeli civilians. Gaza, on the other hand, has a popularly elected government that has done and continues to do all of the above. Moreover, there is no comparison between the tens of thousands of Haitians who have died from a natural disaster, and the people of Gaza who suffer far less from what is, essentially, a self-inflicted wound.”
Then to the argument that Israel is sending this aid to Haiti for its own selfish reasons, Dershowitz provides two answers. “First the realpolitik answer: All nations have interests; and all act, at least in part, out of self interest. When the United States government is asked by Americans to justify its multibillion dollar foreign aid grants, it generally responds by arguing that these grants are serving the interests of the United States. When it comes to Israel, however, a double standard is always applied. Israel must act only out of altruistic motives, while all other countries are entitled to leven altruism with self interest. The second answer is that Israel is doing far more in Haiti than would be required to satisfy its self interests. It is sending more aid per capita than any country in the world. It is doing it with extraordinary efficiency and real impact. Isn’t it at least possible that the millennia-long Jewish tradition of tzadakah – that is, charity based on justice – is at least part of the explanation for Israel’s generosity? ”
The letter-writers included this comment from Sweden “Swedish media prefer to not mention Israel’s aid efforts at all, in conformity with their habitual suppression of any positive Israeli aspect. I think the suppression or open criticism of Israel’s humanitarian efforts just proves the critics’ utter disregard for the victims. Imagine your child were in grave danger and somebody would rush to save it: Would you be able to tell people, “Sure, he did save my child, but just out of self-interest?” This callousness you could only muster if you didn’t care about your child at all. And it does shed some light on Israel’s self-righteous critics …”
and another comment that “The NY Times needs to fit the event with the narrative it already established: Israel is the aggressor and the Palestinians are the victims. There was a time when reporters used to report.”
The Haiti disaster will have taught countries that when they need urgent help for natural disasters, Israel can be relied upon… and the bigots for whom Israel can do no right, will just have to gnash their teeth.
Martin Amis had a good expression relevant to double standards used against Israel – reported in this 2008 interview with Johann Haari: Martin Amis … :I know it’s a great tradition of the British left to support Palestine, but when you come up against this question (of Israel), you can feel the intelligence and balance leaving the hall with a shriek, and people getting into this endocrinal state about Israel. I just don’t understand it. The Jews have a much, much worse history than the Palestinians, and in living memory. But there’s just no impulse of sympathy for that…. I know we’re supposed to be grown up about it and not fling around accusations of anti-Semitism, but I don’t see any other explanation. It’s a secularised anti-Semitism.” (consistent with Sharansky’s 3D’s of illegitimate criticism: Demonisation, Delegitimisation and Double Standards)