Kristof Pleads Guilty to Double Standards

Nicholas Kristof

NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof pleads guilty to unfairly holding Israel to a higher standard. After saying that Palestinians in the West Bank should be allowed to vote in Israeli elections, Kristof explains:

That’s what democracy means: people have the right to vote on the government that controls their lives. Some of my Israeli friends will think I’m unfair and harsh, applying double standards by focusing on Israeli shortcomings while paying less attention to those of other countries in the region. Fair enough: I plead guilty. I apply higher standards to a close American ally like Israel that is a huge recipient of American aid.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk — or drive a diplomatic course that leaves their nation veering away from any hope of peace.

Indeed. Since friends don’t let friends drive drunk — or write NYT columns veering from sanity, would it be no less an act of friendship on my part to fisk Kristof by pointing out the myth of of Israeli intransigence, the White House’s mis-steps, and a very misguided Bill Clinton?

That leaves us with Kristof’s mea culpa.

Generally speaking, a plea of guilt is an acknowledgment of wrongdoing. For it to be meaningful, it is normally accompanied by a commitment to change and/or a punishment.

In this case, we’re talking about a prominent columnist at a widely-read newspaper saying he unfairly holds Israel to a higher standard. Although Kristof has also written about Syrians literally dying for democracy, Saudi women who have no right to vote, and Iranians who had an election stolen from them, is it any consolation that their far worse problems get short-shrifted by the Kristof mentality?

So now that Kristof has admitted  he unfairly holds Israel to a higher standard while paying less attention to problems in other countries, what’s he going to do about it?

UPDATE Oct 6, 1:15 pm: Clearly, Greg Sheridan’s column applies just as much to Kristof as it does to Sheridan’s intended target, Australian FM Kevin Rudd:

A few days ago Rudd issued a statement criticising Israel’s approval of 1100 new housing units in Gilo, an area of Jerusalem. This statement was a mistake in its own terms, but it also reflects Rudd’s basic strategic misjudgment. That judgment is that what the situation needs most of all is increased international pressure on Israel.

It is perfectly legitimate to make reasonable demands of Israel. But I have not seen, from the Australian government or from most Western commentators, commensurate demands on the Palestinian Authority. For the past two years it has been the PA, not the Israelis, that has refused direct negotiations. Shouldn’t Rudd have called on the PA to engage in direct negotiations? Or how about some passing reference to continued anti-Jewish incitement among many Palestinian groups?