Beit Yehonatan 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
There is a new malady sweeping the land, one so widespread and corrosive that it
is rapidly becoming a serious epidemic. It strikes with increasing frequency,
leaving its victims babbling incoherently. And while it makes no distinction
between young and old, it does seem to hit those on the Left with particular
It is what I call Selective Outrage Syndrome, or SOS, and the
symptoms are really quite obvious: applying a selective double-standard in
matters relating to human rights and politics.
To better understand this
phenomenon, let’s take a look at an especially egregious example in the heart of
Jerusalem. For months, left-wing activists have been pressing for the eviction
of the Jewish residents of the Beit Yehonatan apartment complex in the
neighborhood of Shiloah, or Silwan, citing repeated court rulings to seal the
Mustering all the passion at their disposal, the campaigners
invoke lofty principles such as the rule of law, while denouncing the presence
of Jews in the neighborhood as an act of “occupation.” They insist that failure
to carry out the court orders would constitute a travesty of justice.
yet, just 100 meters down the road, some of those very same activists have been
busy trying to block the implementation of another court ruling. In this case,
it has to do with the Old Yemenite Synagogue, where an Arab family was found to
have been squatting illegally for decades. In January 2010, a court decided that
the Arab tenants should be evicted.
Amid a mounting brouhaha, Jerusalem
Mayor Nir Barkat put the two sets of evictions on hold this past Sunday, at
least for the time being. But the case provides a compelling example of moral
myopia bordering on blindness.
In one instance, when it comes to evicting
Jews, the left-wing protesters are all in favor of upholding the court’s
decision. But when it comes to evacuating illegal Arab tenants, they do
everything in their power to subvert the court’s ruling.
do-gooders don’t seem to understand is that the rule of law is not something
that can be applied only when it fits one’s political agenda. If the law is
supreme, you can’t insist that Jews be held to a certain standard, while making
excuses for Arabs. Unless, of course, you suffer from selective outrage
YET ANOTHER instance of this kind of thinking was on display
earlier this week, when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas made a
statement worthy of American segregationists from the 1960s. “When a Palestinian
state is established, it will be empty of any Israeli presence,” said our
ostensible peace partner. “ If a Palestinian state is established with Jerusalem
as its capital, we will object to the presence of even one Israeli in its
territory. This is our position.”
That’s right. Abbas said it loudly and
clearly: No Jews allowed.
Despite the outright racist nature of his
remarks, Abbas’s comments evoked nothing but silence on the liberal Left. There
were no howls of protest, or denunciations of this blatant anti- Semitic
Contrast this with the fury that erupted when a group of rabbis
ruled last month that homes should not be rented to Arabs or other non-
Once again, we see that the Left is quite ready to deplore a
certain behavior by Jews, while ignoring similar conduct by
Ironically, then, these liberals end up being the most
vocal advocates of drawing distinctions between Jews and Arabs based only on who
they are. Ummm, isn’t that racial discrimination? And so, under the guise of
enlightened progressivism, left-wing activists are actually advancing
To be fair, leftists are not the only ones plagued by SOS.
There is plenty of it on the Right as well, only in the opposite
And of course there are quite a few thoughtful left-leaning
people who still believe in upholding the principle of one standard for all. But
they seem to have been drowned out by the more vocal, extreme
It is to these radicals that I say: you can’t have it both
ways. If you want to invoke noble values and ideals, that is truly
But the moment you start applying those principles
inequitably, you become precisely that which you so fiercely condemn.