Wednesday, April 06, 2011

How To Rank Comparative Unfairness In An Unfair World

Amid all the usual screechy hysterics from the muppets at Comment Is Free, it should be noted that Jonathan Freedland is largely right. Freedland is one of the nation's better columnists, in that at least he's honest and isn't obviously deranged, and he's right that the Israelis generally get a harder time for their numerous and frequent human rights violations, to a greater extent than other, often more deserving, nations.

When he notes that, say, the UN Human Rights Council focuses disproportionately upon Israel, he's correct.  Now, he knows as well as I do that this is because the Council is elected by the UN's member states, and that dictatorships game the system in their own interests as surely as the democracies do, but still - it's entirely true, and it does no greater injury to anything than it does to the oversight of human rights standards worldwide.

I'm more dubious about his claims of intrinsic bias in the "media, cultural and academic sphere", and I'm really quite cynical about the idea that any of this represents some epic injustice, in the way that Freedland appears to believe it does. {1}

If only, I thought to myself, there were some way in which we could assess the severity of this situation... And then, it hit me - there is!

Here's my proposition.  I reckon that from now on, we should all agree to treat the Palestinians' behaviour with the same level of outrage as we would the Israelis' frequent bombing campaigns.  Whenever a volley of improvised rockets is fired from Gaza, the UNHRC will issue stern condemnations and call for high-profile investigations, which will then be utterly ignored.  Simultaneously, we could all make loud declarations of solidarity with the suffering citizens of Israel, and the hacks could pen 48-point headlines about what a travesty it all is.

By way of compensation, we'll send the Palestinians three billion dollars' worth of cutting-edge military hardware every year, from fast attack jets to drones and smart missiles.  The Israelis can have the food parcels.

Hell, the Palestinians would go for it.  If you asked me if I'd like three billion dollars and total impunity from prosecution, I'd be far too busy being all, like, Wahey, I'm in a helicopter! to worry about Mohammed Al-Pissed-Offo or whoever watching his angry resolutions being swatted like flies on the East Side of New York.  Also, if I had three billion, I'd be able to handle a few Guardian journos calling me a prick in print, I can tell you that.

What have the Israelis got to lose?  At least it would cancel out the terrifying threat of all those pointy-headed English Lit professors trying and failing to enact some kind of boycott, and Just Journalism would never again have to worry whether the BBC had used the word Militant rather than Terrorist. 

I say, give it a go!   We'd find out in double-quick time exactly how unfair it is that some nations can't bombard heavily-populated urban areas without a lot of foreigners making sad-faces about it.

{1} A quick check-up of Freedland's own output might prove instructive here, of course.  Readers may notice that his own journalism isn't exactly a fountain of information about Congo or Darfur, although no doubt that's different.

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