But scratching a little under the surface it's evident that's not the way Israel sees itself.
A couple of months ago, an Israeli soldier shot a handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian prisoner in the foot. A 16-year-old Palestinian girl filmed the incident and handed over the video to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, which released it at both the national and international levels. In an article translated by the Z-Word Blog, Israeli analyst Mario Wainstein reported:
[T]he B’Tselem organization, which brought the event to light and which gave the camera to the person who filmed it, did so because they had received numerous complaints that this sort of thing was happening but lack [sic] sufficient proof.
Already here we have a small but telling distortion: actually, the girl filmed the event with her own camera and on her own initiative, not with a camera provided by B'Tselem and in the context of a B'Tselem program. The Israelis are depicted as having at least as much merit as the Palestinians in exposing the incident.
Further on, Wainstein wrings his hands over the anti-Zionists' gloating about the incident and using it to bash Israel. In the critical section of the article, he notes:
It was to be expected that a Jewish soldier shooting a Palestinian with a rubber bullet in the foot and causing him an injury to his big toe would be more widely reported on and provoke more moral condemnation than the glorification of someone, not a Jew, who beat a four year old girl to death. It shares the same logic as the release of hundreds of Palestinian Arabs in exchange for a single Israeli prisoner.
I say it without any irony, I believe you are right. There is no question of a double standard. Quite simply, you know that we are morally superior and therefore demand from us what you don’t demand from others. I believe that this is how things are and that you are right. We are superior, so superior that the revelation of immoral conduct came from us, not from you, from an Israeli and Jewish NGO called and, and not by chance, B’Tselem, which means “in the image of” , a name taken from the Bible which says that all men were created in the image and likeness of God.
Instead of accepting that Israel is a State like any other, which in war situations does evil actions, Wainstein goes over the top to minimize the event and praise Israeli behavior. "A rubber bullet": wrong; it's a rubber-coated metal bullet, which mustn't be fired from less than 10 meters (it was fired 1 meter away from the prisoner). "The revelation of immoral conduct came from us, not from you": again wrong; the revelation came from a Palestinian girl, and if it was reported to B'Tselem it was because she knew that the affair would have been covered had she reported it to the police or the army -- the institutions that do represent the State.
Notice how Wainstein appropriates B'Tselem's work, which he passes off as representative of Israel's national values, when in fact it's a group of marginal members of the society, despised by the majority and with no political power whatsoever, who quixotically (but not heroically; the one hero was the girl who filmed it, as we'll see in an upcoming post) devote themselves to exposing what Israel would like to sweep under the rug.
In short, Israel doesn't mean to be the most moral country in the world, hence there's no particular reason for focusing on our war crimes. At the same time, Israel is the most moral country in the world, and this makes up for our shooting bound and blindfolded prisoners in the foot.
The polite thing to say is that one can't have it both ways. The impolite thing to say is that one can't be such a hypocrite.