The Hatred Europe Cannot Shake
April 16, 2002
Israel has one-thousandth of the world's population. So why do we and others spend half our time writing about it?
There are many reasons: The land is holy to billions of people and is the front line in the clash between civilizations. Israeli Jews are outnumbered 50:1 by hostile neighbours, yet have repeatedly thwarted them all by force of arms. It is the only country in the world to have been created by the United Nations; the only one whose refugees the world refuses to resettle; and the only one whose borders are undefined. It is an island of democracy in a sea of dictatorships; a technologically advanced First World country surrounded by economic backwaters.
Israel is unique -- uniquely hated, uniquely besieged, uniquely interesting.
And that uniqueness has induced much of the world to lose its mind when it speaks of Israel. Ariel Sharon is depicted as a blood-drenched butcher in the European press, although he sacrificed Israeli soldiers in ground assaults to spare Palestinians the indiscriminate aerial bombardments that Arab dictators would have ordered as a matter of routine. Palestinians use ambulances as terrorist taxis, yet Israel is lambasted for searching them. Human rights activists, who are appalled by bloodshed in every other context, reinvent themselves as doe-eyed apologists for terror when it is Palestinian teenagers lighting the fuse.
In fact, the mere act of killing people is redeemed in the eyes of an extraordinary number of people and governments around the world for the simple fact that the victims are Jews. It becomes "resistance" borne of "frustration" and "humiliation." Israeli self-defence is repackaged as "state terrorism."
No organization has done more to legitimize these perversions than the United Nations. Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Commission condemned Israel for its campaign to root out terrorists in the West Bank. The 53-member commission voted 40 to five, with seven abstentions, to express "grave concern" over "acts of mass killings perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities against the Palestinian people." By selective reference to past documents, the resolution also exhorts Palestinians to cast off "foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle."
These coded phrases are understood by the Muslim nations that introduced the motion and the diplomats who passed it. "Foreign occupation" means Jews. "Armed struggle" means people blowing themselves up in restaurants and markets. Naturally, the UNHRC resolution mentions only the Palestinian deaths, condemns only the Israeli actions. It mentions not at all the hundreds of ordinary Israelis murdered in the course of going about their daily business during one of last month's numerous suicide bombings. Nor does it upbraid the Palestinian Authority for funding and facilitating them.
Israel's commitment to human rights is so clear that its Supreme Court ordered the Israeli army not to bury Palestinian victims from the Jenin refugee camp until an investigation could be conducted -- and the army complied. It is exactly the sort of legalistic gesture the world's human rights lawyers typically applaud. But instead, they take the side of Palestinian gunmen, who have whiled away their time in hiding by putting bullets into the heads of scores of suspected "informants."
Congratulations go to Germany, Britain, the Czech Republic, Guatemala and, thank goodness, Canada, for voting against the UN motion. At the beginning of the terrorist war Yasser Arafat launched against Israel in October, 2000, Canada supported a string of one-sided resolutions at the UN Security Council. But this time it stood up for reason and decency, and voted No.
The resolution destroys whatever shreds of credibility were left to the UNHRC after the fiasco of the Durban anti-racism conference. The commission is made up of some of the world's worst human rights offenders. Fewer than half are free countries. Neither the United States nor Israel are on the commission, but 14 Muslim nations are. Naturally, dictatorships and absolute monarchies sided with the Palestinian Authority. The sad shock is that they were joined by supposedly decent nations such as France, Spain, Sweden and Belgium. Europe is abandoning the same people as those who were selected as its victims half-a-century ago. The continent's moral implosion is almost as terrible to watch as the terrorism its leaders yesterday endorsed.