The Ultimate Double Standard

The Organization of the Islamic Conference is a joint enterprise of 57 member states dedicated to pursuing "the interests of all Muslims in the world." Each member proudly identifies itself as an Islamic nation. The Muslim list ranges across the alphabet -- from Afghanistan to Yemen. And nobody questions their professed adherence to Islam.

Yet, when it comes to Israel, there is unceasing debate and controversy about classifying it as a Jewish state. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been absolutely emphatic in ruling out recognition of Israel as a Jewish state as part of any peace agreement. In fact, Abbas has gone one better, vowing that a Palestinian state will be cleansed of all Jews. Even though the United Nations, in its 1947 partition plan, explicitly called for the division of mandatory Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state -- a position also espoused by Secretary of State John Kerry in his reported framework for a two-state solution. The latest manifestation of Abbas's unbending stance against any Jewish presence in "Palestine" popped up in connection with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's insistence that Israel, as a basic security measure, must have boots on the ground --Jewish soldiers -- in the Jordan Valley.

Otherwise, Israel would be highly vulnerable and exposed to attacks on its eastern flank. Again, Abbas remains absolutely intransigent against any Jews in the entire West Bank, including the Jordan Valley. Yet, this same Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority have no problem and see no inconsistency about being card-carrying Islamic members of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference. The OIC lists one of its Islamic member states as the "proposed Palestinian state."

So, it's okay for there to be 57 countries, including a proposed one, proudly identifying themselves as Islamic. But it's not okay for Israel to be recognized as the only Jewish nation in the entire world.

A glaring double standard, if there ever was one.

And it's not only Palestinian leaders who want their cake (Islamic identification) and eat it too (all Jews out of Palestine). Mainstream media, in reporting on negotiating disagreements about the Jordan Valley, are starting to bend against Israel's position, while accepting or tolerating a peace deal more in line with Palestinian demands for total removal of Jews from the West Bank.

Witness a Washington Post article in the Sunday edition of Jan. 26, titled: "Looking across the Jordan, peace talks must cross a divide -- Valley becomes a sticking point as Israel sees presence there as essential to security, while Palestinians insist on withdrawal to pave way for a future state" by William Booth and Ruth Eglash, page A14).

The headline twins "sticking point" and "Israel," suggesting Israel needs to compromise more than the Palestinians.

Even more telling is the actual Booth-Eglash article, which refers to "the Israeli-occupied Jordan Valley" and to the "Israeli-occupied West Bank." In each instance, use of "occupied" suggests that Israel doesn't belong in the Jordan Valley or in any part of the West Bank -- but inferentially, the Palestinians do. Will readers figure out that the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, is not "Israeli-occupied" but disputed land in search of sovereign status? I doubt it, after getting hit with two "occupied" poison pills.

Israel is being stripped of its sovereign claims even before the advent of a negotiated two-nation peace. The media are in a hurry to put their own stamp on the outcome. In the meantime, 57 Islamic nations don't evoke questions or challenges of their religious identity. Only Israel's religious identity remains in play.

A double standard to ponder.

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers