Moshe Yaroni, writing in Zeek, offers an extremely eloquent answer to the question “Why is there so much attention on Israel’s human rights abuses when there are so many other worse offenders, including Iran and any number of Arab states?”
This is a tired argument. Few states enjoy such close cooperation in the diplomatic, industrial, political and economic arenas with the United States than Israel. None of these countries have the kinds of human rights violations allegations made against it that Israel does due to a forty three year long occupation, one that has only grown harsher and more complex in its severity since the peace process first began in the early 1990s.
Israel is welcomed into the family of Western democracies, by the US and Europe, and therefore enjoys many benefits that Arab states and Iran and other states do not. Israel’s recent admission to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is the latest example. These benefits should carry with it raised expectations—Israel is supposed to behave better than Iran or Saudi Arabia.
The occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza are very serious issues. They are sources of immiseration and exploitation, with enormous global consequences. It is a fallacy to suggest that these issues, which involve American governmental and corporate support to a much greater degree than many other issues, cannot be protested simply because there are worse problems in other places.
Finally, few human rights issues around the world affect Americans to the extent that the Occupation does. Not only do they complicate American diplomatic and military efforts in the Middle East (even Dennis Ross, who wrote, with David Makovsky, the strongest argument against what they called “linkage” recently admitted this) but Israel is a close ally on many levels and is a focal point for the faiths of a majority of religious Americans. There is every reason for Americans to focus on this conflict.