A majority of the world's political leaders, non-governmental organizations, and populations at large tend to judge Israel with unique severity -- particularly when compared to their judgments of other nations and peoples, most notably the Palestinians. Such a view involves a unique, and uniquely sinister, double standard.
In past years, the international community and the UN yawned while millions were killed and enslaved in Sudan; while hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were murdered in Rwanda's genocide; while millions were starved to death and enslaved in North Korea; and while Tibetans were killed and oppressed by the Chinese.
But in 2006, "world opinion" was morally incensed by Israel's unintentional killing of a few hundred Lebanese civilians behind whom Hezbollah had intentionally hidden during its war against the Jewish State. In a similar vein, "world opinion" was livid at American abuses of some Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. In fact, "world opinion" is constantly upset with America and Israel, two of the most decent states on earth, yet silent about the world's cruelest countries. There are several major reasons for this:
1) Television news: Because it is almost entirely dependent upon access to the people and events that provide newsworthy images, TV news is only capable of showing human suffering in, or caused by, free countries. So even if the BBC or CNN were interested in showing the suffering of millions of Sudanese blacks or starving North Koreans, they could not do so because reporters cannot visit Sudan or North Korea and videotape freely. Likewise, China's decimation and annexation of Tibet, one of the world's oldest ongoing civilizations, occurred off screen.
2) "World opinion" is shaped by the same lack of courage that shapes most individual human beings' behavior: This is another aspect of the problem of the distorted way in which news is presented. It takes courage to report the evil of evil regimes; it takes no courage to report on the flaws of decent societies. Reporters who went into Afghanistan without the Soviet Union's permission were killed. Similarly, reporters would risk their lives to get critical stories out of Tibet, North Korea and other areas where vicious regimes rule. But to report on America's misdeeds in Iraq (not to mention at home), or on Israel's transgressions, is relatively effortless and entirely safe; Pulitzer Prizes may even result from such reports.
3) "World opinion" bends toward power: To cite the example of Israel, "world opinion" far more fears alienating the largest producers of oil and 1 billion Muslims than it fears alienating tiny Israel and the world's 13 million Jews. This is not only because of oil and numbers. When a news outlet offends Muslims, for example, it risks being targeted by a fatwa, having its editorial offices burned down, or receiving death threats. By contrast, Jews do not burn down their critics' offices, issue fatwas, or send death threats, let alone act on such threats.
Adapted from "'World Opinion' Is Worthless," published by TownHall.com and authored by Dennis Prager (August 1, 2006).