Israel and “singling out”

During Prime Minister Harper’s visit to Israel, he has fielded a few critical questions from journalists—about settlement development in the West Bank, for example. Harper has apparently settled on one go-to public talking point in response: that he refuses to “single out” Israel for criticism. After all, Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

The first time Harper made a statement to that effect, I felt as though I had heard it before, as though this red herring had been invoked in the past to rationalize an unjust system.

Then it hit me: while conducting some research on dubious justifications for South Africa’s Apartheid system, I had come across something similar.

Have a gander at this 1989 op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, by South African university lecturer Anna Marie-Kriek, and then ask yourself if anything about its line of reasoning is familiar.

The headline and opening paragraph:

South Africa Shouldn’t be Singled Out

WHILE the violation of human rights is the norm rather than the exception in most of Africa’s 42 black-ruled states, the spotlight remains on South Africa. The images of racism, white supremacy, Nazism, etc. are a most effective part of a campaign to play on white guilt and to condition hatred for South Africa. While it is true that there are many things wrong in South Africa, the facts are sensationalized and distorted. A cheap political campaign to get black and also well-meaning (though not as well-informed) white liberal votes, is being run by using the white “racist regime” in Pretoria as a unifying issue.

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