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Tragedy for aid workers, Biden’s double standard for Israel

Double standards for Israel is not just a nasty tactic. It defines anti-Semitism under the IHRA definition.

Any time aid workers in a conflict zone are killed is a tragedy for the victims, for their families and for people of good will everywhere. The number of fatalities among aid workers has risen sharply. In 2021, 141 workers were killed and 117 were kidnapped while while performing their humanitarian work. One can only stand in admiration and humility before such dedication.

Based on the scale of the outrage against Israel for its killing of seven aid workers with World Central Kitchen, one would think that mistakes in war have never happened before. Based on the skepticism that greets Israel’s statement that it was, in fact, a mistake, our thoughts turn to one example of anti-Semitism in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism:

“Applying double standards by requiring of it [of Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”

What is expected or demanded when other nations make mistakes in war?

Do other nations, in fact, make mistakes in war? Given the intensity of the outrage against Israel, one could think that Israel’s error was the first time any such error everoccurred. Unfortunately, however:

On August 29, 2021, the US killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in a mistaken drone strike.

“Targeting the wrong vehicle,” the US admitted. Just like Israel has said it targeted the wrong vehicle.
The US was believed. Israel is widely not believed. We have here the intersection of tragedy and double standards.

Yes, the US was believed, but only after it took responsibility. Originally, no less than the Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Mark Milley called the US killing a “righteous strike.” Israel took responsibility immediately. Not the US. Not Joe Biden. It took weeks for the US to admit its mistake. It took Israel one day. We have here a different double standard that highlights the hypocrisy of Biden threatening Israel and its prime minister for a terrible mistake of exactly the same kind the US forces made.

On December 15, 2023, Israel mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages during a battle in Sheyaiye, Gaza, a Hamas stronghold. Israel killed its own citizens as they were waving white flags. It should not be hard to believe Israel’s claim of a mistake against the seven aid workers if Israel made the same kind of mistake against its own people. Here is a particularly twisted and pernicious application of the double standard: Believe Israel when it errs against its own, but not when it errs against others.

Does the repetition of this error by Israel demonstrate that Israel it is trigger happy? Not when other nations commit the same type of mistakes, as the US did not only on August 29, 2021 but also on December, 26, 2010, when an American soldier killed a British aid worker in Afghanistan, Linda Norgrove, 36, in a failed rescue mission.

On January 17, 2017, Nigeria killed roughly 90 civilians in a mistaken bombing of a camp for displaced persons in an attempt to kill Boko Haram terrorists.

Wars against terrorists, whether waged by Israel, the US, Nigeria or others, are wars against human beings in whom it is impossible to discern any humanity, human beings whose creativity in brutality will, indeed, catalyze defenders of humanity to make tragic mistakes.

Woefully, our listing of such mistakes is incomplete. But the fullness of this recent mistake by Israel must not obscure the specificity of the anti-Semitism manifested against Israel, applying the double standard clause in the definition of anti-Semitism.

A double standard is not just a nasty tactic. It is anti-Semitism.

The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted by hundreds of entities, including organizations and governments — including the US government.

It is expected of other nations that they defeat their terrorist enemies. For the US to assert that Hamas must be defeated, that Gaza must be free of Hamas; and also to assert that Israel is doing a wicked job, based on its mistaken killing of seven aid workers, and based on the extent of the devastation in Gaza, is to apply a double standard.

The devastation is horrendous yet inevitable given the wicked and cowardly tactics of Hamas — the intentional use of homes, schools and hospitals as military operation sites, their occupants exploited as human shields. The wickedness is all on the side of Hamas.

This is Hamas’ war, not Israel’s.

Copyright © 2024 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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