CAMERA Letter-to-the-Editor Addresses Misconceptions about “Double Standards”

The allegation that the United States maintains a double standard with regard to its policies toward Iraq and Israel was echoed in a recent Washington Times column by veteran reporter and editor Arnaud de Borchgrave. De Borchgrave, who has extensive Middle East experience, repeated but did not analyze the allegations.

CAMERA’s Washington Director, Eric Rozenman, answered that failure in a letter to the editor, which was published in the Sunday, April 6, 2003 edition of the Washington Times.

The letter appears below:

Washington Times
April 4, 2003

Dear Editor:

Arnaud de Borchgrave writes in “Tambourines or booby traps?”(Washington Times, March 30) that the Arab world sees Washington as exacting “the biggest of double standards.” How? “By mustering, for the second time, an Anglo-American armada to enforce U.N. resolutions in Iraq, while applying no comparable political, economic or military clout to implement 50-year-old U.N. resolutions on the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

De Borchgrave’s long Middle Eastern experience fails him. U.N. Security Council resolutions that apply to Iraq are Chapter Seven measures under the U.N. Charter. Binding resolutions, they deal with cases of aggression and permit the use of force to rectify.

But those relating to Israel are non-binding Chapter Six measures, dealing with the peaceful settlement of conflicts. Including U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the keystones of Arab-Israeli diplomacy, they anticipate that Israel will have Arab partners (as it had with Egypt and Jordan) for the peaceful settlement of disputes.

De Borchgrave quotes uncritically Jordanian columnist Hassan Barari. Barari claims that people are “fed up with everything American, including democracy … the only thing the Americans can do to reduce the Arabs’ bitterness is to show a firm stand toward Israel [imposing an Israeli- Palestinian settlement].” Only strong U.S. intervention on behalf of the Palestinian Arabs can rehabilitate America’s “disastrous” image in the region.

De Borchgrave takes the bait. America spends treasure and blood to free Iraq and this embitters Arabs so much they reject democracy? The U.S. intervened mightily on behalf of the Palestinians from the Oslo handshake in 1993 to the Israeli-U.S. offer of a state on 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2000, but Yasser Arafat and company rejected statehood if it meant living in peace with Israel, and launched a terrorist war now in its 30th month.

Judging by reports like de Borchgrave’s, the Arab world cherishes images of victimization. But it’s a self-vicitmization for which the Arabs refuse responsibility. As the U.N.’s report last year on Arab world development made clear, it is the lack of freedom, economic growth, women’s equality and minority rights — and the presence of religious extremism — that really retards Arab societies.

For those societies, or visiting pundits, to blame the United States and Israel is what psychologists call transference. In this blame-shifting, not American or Israeli policies, lie the sources of de Borchgrave’s “total disconnect between the Arab world and Washington.”


Eric Rozenman
Washington Director
CAMERA — Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America

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