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Opinion: Why is Israel's butchery singled out for criticism? Answer - it isn't

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Opinion: Why is Israel's butchery singled out for criticism? Answer - it isn't


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Opinion: Why is Israel's butchery singled out for criticism? Answer - it isn't Opinion: Why is Israel's butchery singled out for criticism? Answer - it isn't

By 24dash reporter Max Salsbury, writing in a personal capacity

The philosopher Sam Harris has explained at length why he doesn't "criticise Israel".

Seemingly compelled by complaints that he expends most of his vitriol on Islam, Harris, who has made a name for himself as a combative atheist, has gone to great pains to explain why Israel's butchery in the occupied territories and Gaza are of a different breed of savagery than elsewhere.

Harris makes several points in his defence, many of which I disagree with, but the one point I want to draw out is his claim that Israel is "singled out for criticism".

Now, as it happens, this idea is thrown at Israel's critics frequently from many sources - but it is based on a vast distortion.

Defenders of Israeli militancy with often say something along these lines: "You don't mind attacking Israel but what about all of the world's other horrors and injustices? Syria, Iran, North Korea, Sudan etc?"

Let us focus on Syria. Some ask where the protests against the atrocities in the war-battered country are, in relation to the amount of protests focused on Israeli belligerency.

If we're concerned chiefly with the scale of suffering, Syria takes the dirty prize. But then the Syrian government HAS come under enormous criticism - from western governments.

So much so that only last year the US and the UK were seriously plotting to attack the country, just as they did Iraq, Libya etc.

But when it comes to Israel, the US, the richest and most militarily powerful country in history, not only fails to criticise its actions but actively backs it politically, financially and, of course, in terms of firepower. The same is true of the UK, France and the rest of the western powers.

As for the media, the British press almost entirely supports Israel over the Palestinians - papers with huge circulations such as The Sun and Daily Mail are firmly on its side. It is true that the Guardian with its relatively meagre circulation is a dissenting voice, but it's hardly a pro-Palestinian propaganda pamphlet. Meanwhile, the BBC, which is often either rabidly pro-Israeli or a crazed supporter of Palestine depending on who you talk to, seems to do a reasonable job of being objective and factual in a thankless situation.

I don't know much about the American media, but I understand enough about the widely watched Fox News to know that it is very much in favour of Israel's behaviour.

So, Israel has the backing of western governments and the majority of the media - but for Sam Harris the country is "singled out for criticism". On the streets maybe, by protestors who, as the invasion of Iraq proved, do not really have much, if any, impact on world events.

Meanwhile, the UK and US's stance against, for example, Iran or North Korea is entirely hostile. Sanctions are applied. Endless rhetoric is expended on the danger these countries represent. Selling arms to them (openly) is unthinkable.

So, Harris is wrong. Israel isn't singled out for criticism as far as real power is concerned. In fact, the country is treated in the opposite fashion: its crimes are overlooked, ignored, played down and facilitated.


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