Israel and the double standard

It’s funny when you compare the response to stories like this, where a Hamas children’s program demonstrates cruelty to animals while ostensibly teaching children not to be cruel to animals, with the response to stories about Israel refusing to accept any more African refugees. The Hamas children’s show story got limited play, of course, while the Israel/Darfur story is already developing very long legs. The AP had constantly updating stories out on it over the weekend, and more today. The New York Times and the Washington Post have picked up the story and run with it.

I am decidedly torn about Israel’s response to these people. Some of them are refugees from Darfur. Others are simply people trying to find work and a better life for themselves. Still others are leaving Egypt because Egypt’s treatment of African refugees is despicable. They have beat and murdered refugees without compunction, and why wouldn’t they? The world stands by and ignores it, even when the AP puts a boilerplate into every one of its articles pointing out that the Egyptian police murdered 30 Sudanese when “clearing a refugee encampment.” Where is the UN Refugee Agency on this issue? Why no statements from the Secretary General demanding that Egypt follow international law and stop treating the refugees so cruelly? Where is the UN’s response to the Egyptian border police’s murder of Sudanese refugees trying to escape into Israel? How is it that those incidents pass relatively unnoticed by the world, yet Israel’s policy on refugees crossing the border from Israel merits over 400 articles now, double what it was yesterday, and five times the number of stories that went out about Hamas’ animal cruelty-slash-brainwashing video.

Once again, we see the world’s double standard for Israel—and Jews—in full swing. Because Jews suffered, they are obliged to never let other people suffer on their watch. Because modern Israel was created partly due to the world’s guilt over the Holocaust, Israel must rescue all the refugees from all violence all over the world—or so goes the current thinking. And it is right there in the lede of all the AP articles speeding ’round the world.

Israel said Sunday it would no longer accept refugees from Sudan’s Darfur region, touching off debate over whether the Jewish state, founded after the Nazi genocide, has a duty to take in people fleeing persecution.

Israel has been grappling for months with how to deal with a swelling flow of Africans, including some from Darfur, who have crossed its porous southern border with Egypt’s Sinai desert. Overnight, Israel returned 48 Africans to Egypt.

My gut reaction is that Israel should take care of these people—but then I have to wonder, why is the UN not taking care of the refugees in Egypt? Why is it that only Palestinian “refugees” are on the UN docket in that part of the world? And why is it that once again, the world expects Jews to prevent all other people from suffering, simply because we suffered so much ourselves? It’s that old double standard, and the impossible expectations the world puts on Jews. No such onus is put on Egypt. It’s as if the world expects Egypt to behave badly, and thus, finds no compunction in the double standard here:

The announcement, raising new concerns over the refugees’ safety, heightened a debate in Israel over what responsibilities a nation created by survivors of genocide in Europe bore toward people fleeing mass killing in Africa.

It was unclear Sunday whether Egypt would in turn deport the refugees to their countries of origin. Israel had received assurances from Egypt that it would not send Sudanese refugees to their troubled home country, an Israeli official said by telephone, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Egyptian police told the Associated Press, however, that Egypt would send the Sudanese back to Sudan. An Egyptian Foreign Ministry official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel had sought no assurances about the future of the refugees. “Israel just said, ‘Please take them,’ ” the Egyptian official said.

What is the angle of the article? That Israel is expelling Sudanese refugees back into Egypt, thus possibly contravening international law regarding refugees (there’s an incredible debate going on in Israel over this issue right now, and none that I know of in Egypt). The angle should be that Egypt is returning refugees to Darfur, not that Israel is returning refugees to Egypt.

But the same articles that use the Holocaust so accusingly haven’t so much as noticed that Israel is currently struggling to make sure her own people—including Holocaust survivors—are being taken care of. And Israel is at war. Rockets are falling on her towns nearly every day. Schoolchildren are at risk, and will be going to school without properly fortified shelters. In short, Israel has problems of her own. That never comes up when the world has a chance to show how imperfect Israel is.

The Israel-haters are already out in the comments sections of the newspaper articles, having a field day. Look, they scream, Israel’s refusing to accept refugees, just like the rest of the world did to the Jews in the 1940s. Except it’s not just like the rest of the world.

These refugees are coming from Egypt. They have not been expelled from Egypt. They have left Egypt because they don’t like the treatment they’re receiving there. This is a problem that could be solved by simply holding Egypt up to a higher standard, and insisting that Egypt follow international law and accept and treat well Sudanese refugees.

That isn’t the story, however. The story is that Israel is refusing to accept every single refugee from Africa that crosses the border illegally from Egypt. But that isn’t true. There are many in Israel, including the Prime Minister’s wife, who are calling for Israel to help the refugees from Darfur—but not open their borders to all.

The Israeli prime minister’s wife, Aliza Olmert, has also expressed sympathy for the plight of the refugees and become active on their behalf. She personally intervened in one case where a small girl had been left behind in Egypt after her parents dashed across the border into Israel. Mrs. Olmert appealed to President Mubarak’s wife for help, and the girl was reunited with her parents in Israel.

Mrs. Olmert wrote an article earlier this month titled “Exodus: Sudan,” tracing the journey of the refugees pouring across the border from Egypt into Israel. It was published in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

“The mercy we can give these broken people is to quickly identify those who are eligible for refugee status and speed along their absorption in Israel,” Mrs. Olmert wrote.

“As for the wave of economic migrants,” she added, “we cannot handle it — we must be compassionate, but also firm. What we must not do is send them packing back to Egypt without receiving assurances that they will be treated fairly.”

This is not just an example of the Israeli double standard, but also an example of the soft bigotry of lowered expectations. The world expects Egypt to behave in a cruel, brutal, and inhumane manner to African refugees, and turns a blind eye to such cruelty—and then blames Israel when Israel refuses to accept Egypt’s escapees. That soft bigotry will create outraged editorials and op-eds that will read something like this, “Of course Egypt should be taking better care of the Sudanese refugees, BUT—” followed by a long harangue of why Israel should accept those same refugees, and no more mention of Egypt’s responsibility to the refugees.

And no one—no one—will take note of the incredible double standard to which Israel is held.

Well, I do. Once again, it’s Israeli Double Standard Time. It occurs every day of the week that ends with a “y.”

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9 Responses to Israel and the double standard

  1. Paul says:

    Israel has every right to not accept refugees from Darfur.

  2. chsw says:

    My apologies, Meryl. I sent you a round-up of articles and I now see that you had already addressed the issue.


  3. Not-my-real-name says:

    I think we all hurt. I remember a boat full of European refugees. This was what?, almost 70 years ago now.

    This is an item for prayer. Some problems only G*d can solve.

  4. Israel should completely flatten Gaza, and then give it to the Darfur refugees.

    In the worst case, nothing changes. In the best case, maybe they’ll show some gratitude and be better neighbors than the Palis were.

  5. Ed Hausman says:

    Jews suffered, so Israel should take in refugees?

    Jews suffered because the world didn’t care, and the world still doesn’t care that Jews suffer.

    Israel has nothing to prove, while the UN effectively continues to support war against Israel. We have no reason to take advice or accept moral judgements from our enemies.

    Sudan. Darfur. Muslims killing Muslims. (Oh, THAT old song.) Other Muslims failing or refusing to help. Tell me again where all that Muslim charity goes?

    Sure we should take them in and show the world how it’s done, but the world will not be impressed. It’s just another ploy to fill Israel with non-Jews.

  6. Lightnin' Roy says:

    I’m probably in the minority on this but I think Israel should have an almost-no-questions-asked refugee policy with respect to non-Muslims who are being persecuted by Muslims. It seems like the kindest possible way for Israel to A) win the demographic war in the long-term, and to B) shine a spotlight on Islamic barbarity.

    Maybe I’d feel differently if I were Israeli, but it seems to me that Chaldeans, Yezidis, Copts, Assyrians, Mandaeans, Zoroastrians and Sudanese Christians are Israel’s most natural allies. And it doesn’t look like anyone else is interested in helping them.

  7. Michael Lonie says:

    Well the Darfurians are Muslims, so your proposal, Roy, doesn’t apply here. It is a curious fact that Middle Eastern Christians are often more hostile to Israel than Muslims are. Certainly that has been the case with the Palestinian Arabs, right up until the time when the Muslim Palis started killing and driving out the Christian ones, so that 80% of them now live in Israel and not the PA or Gaza.

    Israel exists as a refuge for Jews, who are often denied refuge anywhere else. An example of this was the airlift of Ethiopian Jews to Israel during the Communist induced famine there. If the Israelis want, now and then, to take others in, like those Vietnamese boat people, that is their prerogative. But there is no obligation on them to do so.

    All too many “asylum seekers” in the world today are fakes. Some coming into Europe destroy their own papers in order to present themselves, falsely, as refugees and gain admittance more easily to the EU. The real ones should be identified and given refuge, and the more numerous fakes sent home.

  8. Not-my-real-name says:

    *anyone*, any people group, any religious assembly, any group at all, that evidence’s hostility to Israel should be dealt with as an enemy.

    I was under the impression that the refugee’s were Christian’s and that the Sudanese were Muslim’s, and in fact, that the Muslims hold Christians as slaves. (Indeed, this is reported in the news frequently.)

    And that the Darfur refugees were Christians fleeing this sad situation.

    But if they are Muslim’s, well — then I think we should let the god of the muslims resue them.

    The problem here, or at least one aspect of the problem, is that the word labels we are using refer to very different people,

    For example, the word “Christian” refer’s both to those anti-Jewish people who send representatives to make nice with Hamas as well as the Christians living in Georiga, who I suspect are very proud to have a Jewish person among them.

    But I know for a fact that both the Presbyterians and the Methodists send people to Syria (and used to send people to Lebanon, to the Bekka valley,) to tell terrorists how much they agreed with their agenda.)

    Tell me, does anyone think G*d agrees with their agenda…

    One day such sympathizers will join their fellows. Read the last third (or so,) of Isaiah, he has quite a bit to say,

  9. Michael Lonie says:

    Christians in the Sudan are predominently in Equatoria, the southernmost province. They were the victims of a 21 year war of extermination and enslavement by the Islamist Arab government of the Sudan. This was finally settled by diplomacy, just as the violence started in Darfur. Note how long it takes “soft power” to do anything about a crisis. Some two million peopole died at the hands of the Arabs there, and hundreds of thousands more were enslaved, while diplomacy ground its wheels.

    In Darfur the people being attacked by Arab Janjaweed are followers of Sufi orders and black Africans, whom the Arabs consider natrual-born slaves. The Wahhabi influenced, Islamist Arab Sudanese consider Sufis heretics, if not outright apostates. Also they possessed farmland the Arabs wanted for grazing their flocks. The sheep and goats are liekly to ruin the farmland because the Arabs there practice indiscriminate grazing that ruins grazing land.

    Gorilla Boy in Tehran has said he’ll share nuke technology with the Sudan, so the Islamists there can have nuclear bombs too. What do you suppose the genocidal regime in Khartoum will do once they get their paws on nukes?

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