Many claim that Israel's nuclear weapons pose as serious a threat as any weapons of mass destruction in the Iraqi arsenal. They question the American "double standard," wondering why we veto condemnations of Israeli atrocities while targeting Sadaam Hussein: some of the most heated claim that Sharon - and George W. Bush - are "as bad as Hussein." For their part the Israelis claim that, with the exception of the US and a few of its allies, UN members have a strongly anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic bias. Israel regularly charges its critics with anti-Semitism - but in this case they may be on to something.
The Syrians, who have regularly screamed about Israel's violation of UN resolutions, are themselves in violation of UN Resolution 520: there are still thousands of Syrian soldiers in Lebanon despite this resolution's order that all foreign troops leave the area, and for all intents and purposes Lebanon is a vassal state of the Syrian government. Despite this, despite overwhelming evidence that Syria has been sending some 100,000 barrels of Iraqi oil through its pipeline every day in clear violation of UN sanctions, and despite its dismal human rights record, Syria was appointed to the UN Security Council. Turkey, which has ignored UN calls to withdraw from "Turkish Cyprus" or to compensate Greek Cypriots who lost their homes in the 1974 Turkish takeover, remains a member of NATO in good standing and has not been subject to a UN invasion. Violating UN resolutions is not necessarily a Good Thing … but one must go above and beyond the call of duty even to get slapped on the wrist for doing so.
The UN, and many of its members, have been quick to apply their own double standards to Israel. There have been no UN condemnations of human rights abuses against Palestinians living in Syria; the massive reprisals against pro-Iraqi Palestinians in Kuwait after Operation Desert Storm were met with stony international silence. Despite their excesses in the Occupied Territories, the Israelis have a better record at protecting Palestinian human rights than most of the surrounding countries. The UN has paid far less attention to Egypt's repression of its Christian Coptic minority, or to the plight of Roma (Gypsies) throughout Eastern Europe, just to name a couple of equally bad examples - and examples for which there is far less justification. (There are no Coptic leaders screaming that Egyptian Moslems should be "driven into the sea," nor do Gypsies regularly commit suicide bombings in crowded Balkan cafes). Even the notorious Sabra and Shatilla massacres, which are frequently blamed on the Israelis, were the consequence of Israeli inaction and complicity rather than a direct massacre. Far more attention has been paid to the Israelis than the Phalangist guerrilas who actually carried out the killings.
Israel has nuclear weapons: to date, they have not used these weapons. Iraq has used chemical weapons on numerous occasions. In the Iran-Iraq war Iraqi forces used nerve gas and mustard gas against Iranian troops; during "Operation Anfal" entire Kurdish villages were hit with chemical attacks. If Hussein were in Ariel Sharon's place, the entire West Bank would likely be a glowing slagheap by now. Hussein has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to use weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, one could argue that the only reason he has not fired chemical weapons at Tel Aviv is his fear of nuclear retaliation from Israel: he was dissuaded from using them during Desert Storm by a thinly-veiled U.S. threat to respond to chemical weapons with atomic bombs.
The Israelis have long supported Hussein's overthrow, and indeed were disappointed when the U.S. left Hussein in power. Some have taken this as a sign that Israel is "controlling Washington" - a variant of the old "Elders of Zion" canard. The fact is that Israel and the United States (and any oil-importing nation in the world) have an interest in keeping this region stable. Hussein has done more than any other leader in the Arab world to destabilize the Persian Gulf. While his ties to Al-Qaeda are thinly documented at best, his support of terrorism in the West Bank is unquestioned: to this day he provides money to the families of suicide bombers and Palestinian militiamen killed in combat with Israeli soldiers. His Baath party seeks a "unified Arab state" - presumably under Mr. Hussein's rulership. Even in the Arab world there are few who would shed tears at Hussein's departure: his support of Palestinian terrorists is largely an effort to improve his dismal reputation among his fellows.
If you can easily separate the Good Guys from the Bad Guys, you are probably watching an old Western. In warfare things are rarely that clear-cut … and there is no question that the U.S. has been quick to condemn human rights abuses among its enemies while ignoring the same behavior from friendly nations. That being said, comparsions between Sharon & Bush and Sadaam Hussein are up there with Zsa Zsa Gabor's claim that the traffic officer who ticketed her was "worse than Stalin and Hitler."