By Martin Sherman, JPOST
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. — William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 4,
Israel should insist that we discriminate [against it], that we apply double standards [to it], this is because you are one of us. — Jesper Vahr, Danish ambassador to Israel, at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference on December 12
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. — Albert Einstein
Last Thursday, the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference took place in the capital with an impressive lineup of prominent public figures — including the present and the previous presidents and the US ambassador.
The real fireworks, however, took place in the panel discussion dealing with relations between the EU and Israel.
Ignorant buffoon or disingenuous bigot?
The furor was set off by an inane remark by Denmark’s ambassador, Jesper Vahr, who in the space of a few short minutes managed to bring discredit to himself, his country and its diplomatic service, and to reveal himself to be either an ignorant buffoon or a disingenuous bigot.
I imagine some unkinder souls might hold that the two (buffoon and bigot) are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
In response to allegations that Israel was being treated unfairly by the EU, Vahr eagerly rushed to confirm them, and proffered a startling “rationale” (for want of a better word) for why Israel should warmly endorse this openly confessed European bias.
He declared: “There is the allegation that Europe is applying double standards, discriminating. Let make this point. I think Israel should insist that we discriminate [against] you; that we apply double standards.”
According to Vahr, Israel should embrace this undenied bias “because you are one of us.”
Referring to events in the other Mideast countries and the values they reflect, the Nordic envoy informed us that “those are not the standards that you are being judged by. It is not the standards that Israel would want to be judged by. So I think you have the right to insist that we apply double standards — put you on the same standard in the European context.”
Soft bigotry of low expectations
In response to this barefaced display of European arrogance and blatant bigotry of low expectations, the discussion moderator, The Jerusalem Post’s Herb Keinon, asked, with perhaps more courtesy than was called for: “But isn’t it kind of patronizing to Palestinians to say we hold Israel to a higher standard than we hold you?” Vahr’s less-than-convincing reply was that Israel was the much stronger party in the conflict with the Palestinians and hence it was only natural that Europe engage “our long standing partner [Israel] in a different fashion than we engage others.”
This position is manifestly absurd — on a number of levels.
First, there seems no way to interpret it other than condoning weakness as a license — or at least, an excuse — for moral depravity, or at least moral inferiority, regardless of the merits of the case of the stronger party, or the lack thereof of the weaker party.
In the case …read more