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January 9, 2017 7:22 am

Extrajudicial Killings: Another Case of the Israel Double Standard

avatar by Manfred Gerstenfeld

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French President Francois Hollande. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

French President Francois Hollande. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The reactions of democratic governments to extrajudicial killings vary greatly according to what country undertakes them. As usual, when it comes to Israel, there is very often a double standard at play. (This double standard, of course, is a core element of antisemitism).

Extrajudicial killings are in the news due to a new French book: Fatal Errors. Its author, journalist Vincent Nouzille, claims that French president François Hollande approved at least 40 extrajudicial killings between 2013 and 2016. Some were carried out by the French army or the country’s intelligence services, and others by allied nations on the basis of intelligence France provided. One cannot find much information about these killings in major English language media.

This relative silence differs greatly from the huge condemnations made against Israel after the execution of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a leader of Hamas, whom Israel killed in 2004. Yassin was directly responsible for suicide bombings and many other lethal attacks on Israeli civilians.

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Then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, for instance, said, “I do condemn the targeted assassination of Sheikh Yassin and the others who died with him. Such actions are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution.” In the Security Council, the US had to use its veto to prevent condemnation of Israel.

After Sheikh Yassin’s death, the French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hervé Ladsous said, “France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extrajudicial execution as contrary to international law.”

The killing of Sheikh Yassin by Israel was called by then-British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw “unacceptable” and “unjustified.” The official spokesman of then-Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair condemned the “unlawful attack” and observed: “We have repeatedly made clear our opposition to Israel’s use of targeted killings and assassinations.”

The clearest demonstration of anti-Israel double standards, however, can be seen by comparing the reactions to Israel’s killing of Sheikh Yassin and that of the US’ killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011.

After bin Laden was killed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “The death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism.”

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed bin Laden’s killing as a coup in the fight against terrorism. He personally called President Obama, and praised his determination and courage. Sarkozy added that the two heads of state had agreed to continue the just and necessary fight against terrorist barbarity and those who support it.

Then-British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated President Obama on the success of the assassination of bin Laden. He considered it a massive step forward in the fight against extremist terrorism. Former Prime Minister Blair also welcomed bin Laden’s execution.

Like the French, the British Cameron government had also committed extrajudicial killings. In 2015, Cameron confirmed that Great Britain carried out two extrajudicial executions against British citizens fighting for ISIS in Syria. They were specifically targeted by a British drone. A third British jihadist was killed, according to Cameron, by a separate US airstrike.

Besides the double standards concerning Israel, there is another important distinction: Israel extra-legally executed a Palestinian enemy. On some occasions, the French and British executed their own citizens. But to the Israel-haters, that probably won’t make a difference.

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