Taking on the Selective Outrage Directed at Israel

Les Gelb doesn't have much time for the outrageously outraged world community of the easily outraged:

Turks, French, all leaders large and small condemned Israel and called for international commissions. Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations Secretary-General, said he was "shocked" by the attack. He condemned the violence, and added: "It is vital that there is a full investigation to determine exactly how this bloodshed took place. I believe Israel must urgently provide a full explanation."

Well, where was all that international outrage and demand for explanations and retribution when the North Koreans sunk a South Korean ship? Where was it when the Gazans attacked Israel? Where, when Afghan men flogged their women for not wearing veils? Where, when Saudi Arabia funds terrorists around the world? This international outrage is highly selective, isn't it? The one consolation is that the international community, such as it has become, doesn't get anything of value done.

The problem with Gelb's argument is not moral, but practical: We all understand the reality that Israel will be judged more harshly than other nations -- it has always been so, though only recently has this been true on the Atlantic website. Israel is not big enough -- and the world's fourteen million Jews are not strong enough -- to reshape this particular reality. So we have to learn to live within the reality created by others. This doesn't mean that Israel must go and commit suicide, as much of the world (including the Turkish humanitarians) would like it to do. But it means -- and I repeat myself here -- that Israel should approach its problems with elegance and subtlety.