Why Israel sees double standard in response to Wikileaks' Iraq files
The Wikileaks files on US actions in Iraq has some Israelis arguing they were unfairly singled out by a UN inquiry over the Gaza war.
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"In the US, we already have a greater understanding. They know that they are vulnerable and they will be the next in line"' to be accused of wartime misconduct, says Mr. Steinberg, who also runs NGO Monitor, which has criticized non-profits that criticize Israel. "If this was a fair world and there were universal human rights, then Goldstone would open up an investigation, and the United Nations would meet to investigate the allegations… There would be more Wikileaks about violations in China and Saudi Arabia.''Skip to next paragraph
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Some Israelis complain of unfair criticism of the IDF that they argue holds the Israeli military to a higher standard than any other country. At the same time Israeli politicians and army officers often call the military "the most moral army in the world."
The Goldstone report faulted Israel for the deaths of many civilians during a war with Hamas nearly two years ago that left 1,400 Gazans dead in less than four weeks. Israel also faces two international panels investigating the May 31 killing of nine pro-Palestinian activists on the Mavi Marmara, which challenged Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
"What the Wikileaks show is the fundamental difference in battlefield contexts,'' says Dan Diker, a fellow at the conservative Jerusalem Center for Public Policy. "Israel is fighting in its backyard in a fishbowl.... In Iraq, you are many thousands of miles away from the home front, and the military has much more control over who sees things.''
Iraqis carried out most crimes detailed by Wikileaks
To be sure, the vast majority of crimes detailed in the Wikileaks documents were carried out by Iraqis – though there are credible accounts of unarmed civilians shot by US soldiers. That last isn't exactly news.
Most such incidents have been written off as "heat-of-battle" accidents, though at least 23 US soldiers have been convicted for killing civilians in the Iraq and Afghan wars. Israel's much shorter war in Gaza has yielded three convictions of soldiers so far, two for the endangering of a Palestinian boy and a third for theft.
The Wikileaks release was featured prominently in Israeli newspapers and spurred sarcasm about the notion of the US facing a UN inquiry or the United Kingdom facing a boycott from its own academics. (Many British professors have called for a boycott on attending conferences in Israel.)
In the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper, political commentator Zvi Barel wrote that condemnation of the US is muted across the Arab world because economic and security ties with the US are too robust to be severed overnight.
"It will be interesting how Turkey responds to the documents and whether it will term them a war crime or state-sponsored terrorism like it accuses Israel,'' he wrote. "Israel can be satisfied with the 'insurance policy' the documents give it against possible condemnation for its actions in the territories.''