Alan Baker
Alan BakerCourtesy

(JNS) The penchant for criticizing Israel, whatever it may or may not do, appears to have become a permanent fixation. Whether such criticism relates to Israel’s internal policies, governance of the territories and responses to terror attacks, or situations with no apparent linkage to Israel, the obsession with Israel and its alleged malfeasances inevitably emerges.

No such fixation exists in regard to any other country. The obsessives single out Israel as a butt of criticism for any and every reason. It appears to be an ingrained component of the psyche of those who revel in it and seek out every opportunity to denigrate and delegitimize the Jewish state.

No society or country is beyond rational criticism, Israel included. Israeli society, media and domestic politics are examples of the country’s openness and critical introspection.

Odd as it may seem, however, as a member of the world community, Israel has never benefited from the equality to which every other state is entitled. Since its establishment and acceptance into the United Nations as a full-fledged member of the international community, Israel has been denied one of the basic rights guaranteed to all states as set out in the opening articles of the Charter of the United Nations—that of sovereign equality.

This discrimination, which continues to the present, takes the form of exclusion from U.N. regional groupings. This prevents Israel from exercising the right to submit its candidacy and candidates to U.N. organs such as the Security Council or the International Court of Justice. Since this discrimination has been the accepted norm for over 70 years, it is no wonder that the fixation on singling out Israel is accepted internationally.

This normalization of the obsession with Israel extends to political and media entities, domestic and international, who have an agenda hostile to Israel’s existence and engage in delegitimizing Israel in international fora. These obsessed critics also include progressive and liberal elements within Western Jewish and gentile communities.

Another obvious source of automatic criticism has existed from time immemorial and permeates international society—anti-Semitism.

This is reflected in the anti-Israel fixation of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian elements that seek to delegitimize Israel in the international community. In turn, the effectiveness of their strategy is evident in the abuse and manipulation of respected international bodies such as the International Criminal Court, the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. educational and cultural agency UNESCO.

As is widely known, the establishment of the ICC was inspired by the horrors of the Holocaust and other grave atrocities and crimes of concern to the international community, with the purpose of ensuring that the perpetrators of these crimes would be duly punished. Jewish and Israeli lawyers were among those who envisioned and worked toward the creation of such a court.

The Palestinians, however, have attempted to hijack the court and turn it into an Israel-bashing tribunal, abusing and undermining its founding statute. A similar phenomenon has occurred with the hijacking and irreparable abuse of the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, whose declared mission is “to promote and protect human rights around the world.”

Even the ostensibly professional UNESCO organization—established to promote “collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world”—has been similarly hijacked, preferring to vent an obsession with Israel through politically inspired resolutions denying the linkage of the Jewish people to its historic holy sites.

Recently, the Palestinians have voiced concern that the international community is more interested in the Russia-Ukraine war than in pursuing Israel. Their expressions of indignation seek to equate the low-intensity Israeli-Palestinian dispute with the high-intensity open warfare conducted by Russia against Ukraine, with its massive bombardment of civilians, use of illegal weaponry and millions of refugees.

This attempt to invent a false equation is misplaced and malicious, indicative of the blindness caused by the obsession with criticizing Israel.

This obsession has also been voiced by the fringe U.S. anti-Zionist organization Jewish Voice for Peace, which claimed, “The Israeli government is settling Jewish Ukrainian refugees on land it illegally occupies.”

Similarly, American Jewish pro-Palestinian propagandist and apologist Peter Beinart stated in the left-wing magazine Jewish Currents:

Ukrainians, a mostly white and Christian people battling an American foe, are viewed as fully human, and thus entitled to fight for their freedom. Palestinians, a mostly non-white and non-Christian people battling an American ally, are not.

Similar malicious comparisons have been made by former Human Rights Watch director Sarah Leah Whitson, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace Lara Friedman, president of the Arab American Institute James Zogby and British Labor Parliament member Julie Elliott.

The attempts to equate the immensity and lethality of the Russia-Ukraine war with the Palestinian issue are false, misguided and presumptuous. They misrepresent the nature, history and complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and ignore and undermine the ongoing Middle East peace process sponsored and supported by the international community.

Ambassador Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center and the head of the Global Law Forum. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. He served as legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to Canada.

This article was originally published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.