The problem with the right’s “double standards” argument

Posted: August 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: media, The Right, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Yossi Gurevitch – who writes the passionate “George’s Friends” blog (George being George Orwell) – is making a good point regarding the “double standards” argument Israelis and their supporters abroad like to wave:

A strange protest was held in front of the American embassy: a group of right wing people, some of them dressed up as Native Americans, protesting against the Obama administration’s demand to stop all construction projects in the settlements. The reason for the costumes was, so it seems, to protest the United States’ double standards: the same country who inherited the Native American’s land, sometimes through mass killings, and in other cases by starvation and expulsion, does not let Israel do the same now.

The right is constantly making the same accusation towards the Europeans: we will not listen, they say, to lectures on morality from the English who conquered Ireland, nor from the French who ran a dirty war in Algeria. Those who were responsible for such acts in the past should keep their mouth shut now.

The original sin of the United States – explosion and eradication of the native people of the land – and this of the Europeans (colonialism), does not only remain uncondemned by the right, but becomes a fine example that should be praised. The settlers are admitting – by comparison – that they are committing acts of unlawful taking, enslavement and murder. They just don’t understand why they can’t enjoy the same privileges (as the Americans and Europeans did).

To this I might add the growing tendency in Israel – and amongst its defenders abroad – to compare the situation of the Palestinians to this of the Arabs in our neighboring countries. Whenever another case of discrimination against the Arab citizens of Israel is reveled, there are those who remind us that these Arabs are still better of here than in Syria or Iraq.

Never mind the fact that this is mostly false when we deal with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, or that this argument always end up sounding very bad (“we treat our Arabs better than they treat theirs“), the whole analogy simply cannot be taken seriously as a moral claim. After all, a segregationist in Alabama, even a slave owner in the 19th century, could have made the same claim regarding the Blacks in Africa, and in some cases, he might have even been right. But did this justified slavery or segregation? Of course not.


One Comment on “The problem with the right’s “double standards” argument”

  1. 1 Thomas said at 6:27 am on September 4th, 2009:

    Noam,
    My girlfriend’s parents (Israelis) always use the argument that the Arabs in Israel are better off than in the neighboring countries. Somehow I don’t believe it. Thanks for bringing it up.
    They also say that Syria, Jordan, etc. won’t “take” the Palestinians, so Israel shouldn’t have to treat them like humans since nobody wants them. That never seems to make sense to me either.
    tc