[...] She was supposed to embark on just such a good-will mission earlier this month, this time to an international conference in London, when she was informed by Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit that she was wanted for questioning regarding her service as foreign minister during Israel’s 2008-2009 war on Hamas in Gaza.
It wasn’t Livni’s first run-in with British law: In 2009, she was forced to cancel a visit to London after a local judge, consenting to an appeal by pro-Palestinian activists, issued a warrant for her arrest. The ensuing scandal drove the British government to apologize and promise to change the laws to prevent such unpleasantries from recurring. But the recent effort to seize Livni—by Scotland Yard, no less—proves British officialdom is still thick with civil servants bent on prosecuting a liberal Israeli politician who served as her nation’s top diplomat during a military conflict started by a terrorist organization.
How to respond to such folly? By now, it’s getting a bit exhausting to point out that representatives of Africa’s genocidal regimes, Asia’s tyrannies, and the Middle East’s murderous and repressive states can all visit London unharassed, while emissaries of the Jewish state are perpetually coming under attack. Similarly, enumerating the astonishing breadth of British assaults on the liberty, limbs, and lives of men and women from Rhodesia to Rishikesh would be too easy. But a glance at more recent violations committed under the banner of the Union Jack is more telling. Should Israel—or, for that matter, the United States—follow Scotland Yard’s lead and summon British officials for questioning concerning their role in, say, the execution of an unarmed and wounded Taliban fighter in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, by a Royal Marines sergeant in December of 2013? Should we seek to indict the Oxford-knotted dons of British diplomacy for that afternoon in September of 2003 in Basra, Iraq, when the men of the First Battalion of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment arrested a 26-year-old hotel receptionist named Baha Mousa, detained him, and tortured and beat him so badly that he died several days later with fractured ribs, a broken nose, and 93 other injuries? [...]
The officials who sought to indict Livni cared little for any distinction between a dovish diplomat and a hawkish ex-general, for the intricacies and complexities of the conflict, for the gray zones in which adults live and practice politics. To the self-appointed, stiff-upper-lipped agents of the Enlightenment, all Israelis are alike, and all culpable in crimes. There’s a name for such an attitude, but there’s hardly use in crying anti-Semitism. In making a mockery of the very values they are supposed to represent, Livni’s prosecutors, like too many educated people from the West End to the Upper West Side, have sentenced themselves to irrelevance.