The Great False Equivalence

I've noticed a disturbing trend emerge lately in the op-ed pages of some of my favorite I-P news sites. A number of prominent Left-leaning journalists are feeling the need to criticize their own for privileging Palestinian suffering over that of their fellow Jews. In the immediate aftermath of the Itamar murders, Dimi Reider of +972 Magazine wrote:

"The activist Left’s confused and muted response reveals a shameful double standard – one that is not necessarily thought-out and intentioned, but one that needs to be urgently confronted and weeded out. It demonstrates that despite political awareness and commitment to human rights and international law, our community has yielded to one of the most common afflictions of a conflict area, and dehumanized an entire community, consciously or subconsciously rendering it second-class, semi-legitimate target for brutal violence." 

And in the wake of the recent escalation with Gaza, Bradley Burston of Ha'aretz wrote:"Somewhere, we have lost perspective. In war without end, in inhumanity without boundaries, we have lost some of our own humanity. In a kind of affirmative action, driven by the one-sidedness, the chauvinism, and the exclusionism of the pro-Israel establishment, it has been the fate and the practice of some progressive American Jews to support, identify with and help Palestinian victims of the conflict, while relating to Israeli victims with a cold shoulder, or worse, with victim-blaming."

I'm disturbed by this trend for two reasons. First, this sort of self-critical analysis is only possible on the Left where the concept of human rights is actually taken seriously. But more importantly, it's a straw-man argument. Why do I as a person who cares deeply about human rights need to be reminded that it's wrong to kill Israeli civilians? How insulting! Unfortunately, there are many Israelis and Jews who *do* need to be reminded that Palestinians are people with rights. Furthermore, the sheer volume of human rights violations against Palestinians dwarfs the violations against Israelis. So if it seems like those of us who care about human rights devote a disproportionate amount of our efforts to talking about violations of Palestinian rights, it's because they happen more often and a large percentage of the Israeli public and their Zionist supporters have been culturally programmed to ignore them. It's not that we don't care about Israelis. On the contrary, we care so much about Israelis that we are willing to stand up to the inevitable opprobrium of our own community to secure their safety. Let's put the hand-wringing behind us and get back to finding a solution that is based on justice and equality for all.