Sunday, March 6, 2011

David Samel and the Misuse of Human Rights Language

Here is the second part of my conversation with Huffington Post blogger David Samel, which I thought deserved its own post. If you haven't read his opening remarks please do so now and then check back. Sorry it's a bit cut off:

There are two parts to this comment that I wanted to talk about.

The first is the rather obvious misuse of human rights language in Mr. Samel's comment. Yes, all Israeli citizens have the right to public education. And they get it. The problem is that Mr. Samel believes that there is unequal distribution of resources between schools for non-Jews and Jews. Of course, one potential explanation for this is that Jewish children make up three quarters of the total population of children in Israel, but that's not really the point.

The point is that discrimination and inequality is not in and of itself a human rights violation. Check out all that the universal declaration of human rights has to say on the topic of education. There is nothing in there that says that everyone must have the same kind of education as their neighbor. And it's a good thing too, because it is physically impossible for every member of society to have the same quality of education as everyone else. That is, unless that quality of education is poor to mediocre, which I don't think is what Mr. Samel was hoping for. Would having higher quality schools in rich areas than poor areas be a human rights violation? Or rich states vs poor states?

The truth, ultimately, is that this is just another form of discrimination, not against non-Jewish citizens of Israel, but against the Jewish state of Israel. Mr. Samel seems to believe that inequality in education funding is a human rights violation (somehow) but also that by the Jewish nature of the state there will always be inequality in education funding. And in fact it is the Jewish nature of that state that is responsible. Which is completely ridiculous: If Israel balanced the funding in their education system tomorrow, Mr. Samel would just find something else to justify his prejudices. Because his problem is not with "human rights" or with the education funding, but the fact that the Jews have a state of their own. Why, I cannot guess.

This brings us to the second part of the conversation, in which he completely reverses his formula when it comes to the Palestinians. When presented with the ethnocentric and Muslim-centric Palestinian charter, he either ignores what he wants to see or dismisses it with the "oh that's bad but I don't agree with it" argument. Like it's none of his business what the Palestinians do with their state (even if it means unequally funding of schools) but it is his business what the Jews do with theirs. Anyone smell a double standard?

Most informative is when he completely ignores the statement that Palestine is and always will be an Arab state and be part of the Arab League. The obvious implication is that non-Arabs are and always will be second class citizens, assuming that they are allowed to live there at all. In Mr. Samel's mind, is this a human rights violation? Yep. Is he going to ignore it to enforce a bigoted double standard against the Jews. Yep. Why? Again, I cannot say. I only know double standards when I see it, and this certainly fits the bill.

This conversation is informative for the way that he flounders around, trying to fit the square peg of human rights language into a round hole of politics, and it obviously doesn't work.

1 comment:

  1. Leftists have this notion of absolute equality but as we can see from the above example, they apply it inconsistently or in a hypocritical manner.

    And then they are not against all forms of ethnocentrism and religion-based discrimination. They are against a Jewish State but a Muslim or Arab state doesn't bother them all.

    They use liberal language in ways that doesn't square with their proclaimed liberal commitment and when confronted with this, they never address it honestly.

    That's what is revealing about what really happens on the HP every day and every year.


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