On Singling out Israel
By Johnny Too Bad
Why to single out Israel? The question often addressed to anti-Israel crowds targets the usual double-standards, which in the case of Israel, are considered anti-Semitic. It’s been asked by Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz, and on YouTube, it can be listened to from American-Jewish rapper Ari Lesser’s toast, “Boycott Israel,” where he enumerates the bad human rights record of Israel’s neighbors. It is the main message of UN Watch, a NGO that sharply reveals the immoral nature of the current United Nations, which was originally founded in the spirit of “never again” on the ruins of the WW II. The question has been asked by any serious person who wonders, when and why, did the world turn upside-down.
Of course, the question is a legitimate one. However, at the same time, it causes a major distortion. Actually, it’s a question that does to Israel exactly the same that it has had to resist, and this results from the oft reiterated following line which is, “After all, Israel is the only democracy in the region.”
Ben Gurion Airport is a three hours flight away from the office where I scroll down my Facebook news-feed to see civilized, well-educated people (who hold a degree in fighting-for-human-rights-by-erasing-Israel-from-the-map) give their best by posting blood libel memes against the Jews. We think that since the only visible supporters of Israel are revivalist end-time wizards and old ladies waving an Israeli flag at religious gatherings, it is a sign of good sense if one stands against the Jewish state that has supposedly “illegally displaced the indigenous inhabitants of the land.”
When a young dude in the southern city of Lahti, posed for a newspaper photo dressed up in a KKK hood last autumn, the whole country was upset. Some people thought it marked the beginning of the new Holocaust. The current asylum seekers crisis has been compared to the Holocaust in the most disgraceful way. If someone drops a wine glass onto a stone floor, they scream it’s now the new Kristallnacht. Journalists themselves have lost the sense of proportion. But we were not upset because of the KKK costume itself. We were upset because the picture went viral and ended up in the Telegraph’s news.
We are not that bad, people mourned, we’re so sorry, excuse us, for we are the good ones, not the bad ones, those who are civilized, well-educated people holding a degree in fighting-for-women’s-rights-by-supporting-sharia-symbols, they cried in social media. Finland is just a country that endlessly mirrors itself and asks what others think of it. The dude himself thought it was a funny photobombing move to show up in a KKK garb in front of the asylum seekers center. It was just a bad sense of humor.
It is our own fear that we’ll get singled out. The biggest fear in this country is the fear of getting labelled as an Islamophobe. Correspondingly, the biggest pleasure for the people in this country is when locals in any random tourist trap recognizes Finland by telling you have very nice fjords – which actually exist in Norway. We think ice-hockey championship changes the image of Finland from Tokyo to Nauru. We were the ones who made Nokia cell phones, so how about that. Aren’t we something! Look and see me!
Why am I telling this?
Because this country could never deal with the demonizing accusations that Israel is forced to swallow every day. And that was the reason for the original question of why to single out Israel needs to be asked in the first place.
After the question, the usual argument used to defend Israel against haters is that Israel is the only democracy in the region. Israel is better than any of its neighbors.
No, it is not.
No member state of the European Union wants to be compared to the worst human rights violators on earth. It’s like what Peter Tosh sang about, “everybody wants to go to heaven, but none of them want to die to get there.” To ask, why single out Israel, and then to compare Israel to its brutal neighbors is in itself singling out Israel. Israel is not better than any of its surrounding dictatorships. No way. It’s because Israel is beyond any comparison with them. Israel is far better than Finland or Sweden. Israel is better than Spain. But to say that Israel is better than its neighbors, is to say that Italy is better than North-Korea. It’s a pure insult. It’s a big fat double-standard that basically drops Israel onto the level where its ugliest haters want to picture it.
None of the western societies are ever compared to countries practising full force Sharia as the legal basis of the society and thus oppressing their own people institutionally. This is done only to Israel – by those who defend Israel.
This should be just the other way round. The European Union members could be easily compared to Israel. Take the freedom of speech. This is important, for once again in their World Press Freedom Index the Reporters Without Borders recently ranked Finland the number one free speech country in the world, while Israel was ranked just the number 101 out of 180 states. If the Palestinian Authority restricts the free speech, you know for sure who to blame.
Let’s face reality. In this country, some of our journalists working as correspondents in the Middle East act like rock stars. For them, Hamas press releases are pure fact, while the IDF spokesperson on the contrary is busy at hasbara not should not be taken seriously. Many journalists are but pure haters who pretend to be neutral, for in our country neutrality in this case is at best just sardonic grin. In this country the freedom of speech is limited to an extent where an attempt to just listen to Israel’s view means killing one’s career.
Journalists get hysterical about hate speech when it comes to the threat of Islamophobia, but when it comes to the Jewish state they raise rage against any of their colleagues who are willing to even try more even-handed way of dealing with the conflict. Few days ago The Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF) launched a campaign against hate speech under a hashtag #sananvastuuvala (“responsible speech oath”). It is an oath journalists are asked to take on Twitter. It goes like the following. “I express myself respecting human rights. Hate speech does not silence me. I take full responsibility for my words. #sananvastuuvala”
It is, however, not supposed to protect the Jewish state from demonization, double-standards or delegitimization. It is just to make sure journalists align behind the line from where they do not take any critical step towards the immigration crisis.
Many of the readers themselves are OK, though. One should never underestimate their literacy. But the way the journalists control each other makes it shameful to be marketed as the number one country in free speech. Finland could never tolerate the self-hate some Israeli journalists practice in their country. This proves the freedom of speech is bigger in Israel than in Finland.
Journalists, NGO’s and churches are eager to teach Israel how to handle terrorism. No one ever asks in reverse way, if there is something Europe could do as they do it in Israel. Remember, it was the Israeli intelligence that helped Germany to prevent another terror attack soon after one has happened in Paris. Remember, it was the Israeli technology that possibly could have prevented the Charlie Hebdo attack. In Europe, we have now checkpoints of our own, and we don’t know how to cope with that. Is there something we could learn from Israel on how to live everyday life under such pressure and with such preventive measures?
Set the things right first, and let’s see then, if there are morally relevant ways to single out Israel by the question of why to single out Israel.
Johnny Too Bad is a Finnish pundit who weighs in on social issues and the media