Commentary: How weighing the dead is a dead-end – A Showcase of Arab Hypocrisy

Since the latest outbreak of Palestinian-Israeli violence twelve days ago, it was startling to witness the one-sided support and commentary, both online and in the streets of various Western cities, that de facto serve as proxy sites for the seemingly intractable conflict. The growing anti-Semitic sentiment that was laid bare in the course of this debate is shocking. Furthermore, the absence of a so far greater number of Israeli victims, compared to the dead on the Palestinian side, increasingly seems to serve as a simple justification in deciding on who plays the good and the evil part in this conflict. 

By Tina Bellon

Doesn’t the shier fact of a bare minimum of Israeli victims, compared to the outpouring of Palestinian suffering, already say enough about the realities of the current conflict?”– it was this Facebook post by a friend, that, in combination with many like-minded outbursts of opinion over these last days, prompted me to finally have my own say in this infamous debate.

I was wondering to which degree increased suffering on the Israeli side would change anything regarding the sad status quo of the current situation. Would more Israeli victims make up for the lost Palestinian lives or make their suffering any more worthy? Would it be more bearable to see Arab men, women and children die if there was an equal amount of Jews being killed by Hamas’ rockets? Considering the sickening logic of this weighing of death counts I am left startled and repulsed by this outcry for justice. In my opinion, every single additional life being wasted on this messy conflict is one too many.


«Would it be more bearable to see Arab men, women and children die if there was an equal amount of Jews being killed by Hamas’ rockets?»


However, it is precisely this humanitarian principle that seems to be cast off so quickly and willingly in order to prove the inferior side’s demand for justice. The truth is, that every person in this debate, no matter on which side they claim to be, should be grateful for a defense system like Iron Dome. There is nothing to be gained by additional blood shedding in this conflict, nor any other conflict in this world for that matter.

The Separation Wall. Jerusalem, 2011. By Clara FIgueras

The Separation Wall. Jerusalem, 2011. By Clara FIgueras

Accusations of inadequate Israeli retaliation might be valid to some degree, but it remains a simple matter of fact that no country on this planet would tolerate constant and continuous attacks (no matter how low in impact they might be) by an aggressive regime demanding its total destruction. Consequently, the debate over Israel’s right to self-defense is not even worth having.

The last days have instead revealed something else: that in moments of crisis, all means of the victim seem to justify the cause. It even seems as if video footage of demolished houses and the killing of innocent children is enough to glorify the suffering in the Gaza Strip as a symbol of Palestinian resistance – a Hamas marketing campaign dream come true. In reality, however, it is precisely this organization and its questionable methods that should be at the very core of scrutiny.


«The last days have instead revealed something else: that in moments of crisis, all means of the victim seem to justify the cause.»


It is this very same organization that claims to defend its people while at the same time knowingly and willingly compromising their lives and rejecting truce offers. It are the leaders of this movement that pretend to share the common peoples’ suffering, while in reality nepotism prevails and infrastructure and development are sacrificed for arms purchases. With high Hamas officials reportedly being the owners of multi-million-dollar real estate agencies in the Gulf, it becomes questionable who to blame for the disastrous humanitarian situation in poverty-drenched Gaza.

As little justification as this provides for Israeli policies both towards Gaza and the West Bank, it is time to finally turn one’s eyes towards the fundamental challenges that this situation reveals: Israeli actions are only a second-place matter. At the core of this dilemma, however, are the profound shortcomings of Arab states all over the Middle East. With devastating economic evaluations and little hope for a promising future, the region seems to be trapped in a deadly mix of nepotism, dictatorship, the neglect of fundamental human rights and political participation and a shockingly misogynic reality. With fundamentalists conquering Islam in their name and turning religion into warfare, there hardly seems to be a counter balance to turn these pessimistic prospects around. Moreover, the sad truth is that there is no such thing as Arab unity. Pan-Arabic solidarity remains an illusion with oil-rich Gulf States seizing their opportunities for proxy wars to strengthen their own stand, regardless of the suffering of their Arab brothers and sisters.

Presumably it is the people of Palestine that had to witness this Arab hypocrisy in the most gruesome way through their own suffering in the past. Precisely because of this, however, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also has to be regarded as an inner-Arab one, magnifying the region’s struggles and exposing its deficits.


«Israeli actions are only a second-place matter. At the core of this dilemma, however, are the profound shortcomings of Arab states all over the Middle East.»


How come that a renewed violent outbreak in Gaza seems to be sufficient to cover up the fact that human, and particularly women’s rights, are systematically being trampled on, that undesirable individuals are being executed without hesitation and that personal and cultural freedoms are being cut without compromise?

The actual outcry in this current situation should not be focused around the blaming of an Israeli scapegoat, as this will never bring peace and development to any Arab nation. The true scandal in this depressing scenario are leaderships that enrich themselves at the expense of their own citizens, are hypocritical spokesmen that claim unity under the pretext of religion where in reality there only is the greed for profit and power.

Overcoming these internal monstrosities is what Arab and Muslim communities around the world should demand. To instead call for a boycott of Jewish and Israeli fast food chains in the face of these actual obstacles to development is laughable and merely helps to distract from the true challenges by providing the illusion of a common enemy. As sad and unheroic as this may seem: if Arab and Palestinian interests shall ever be taken seriously, it is up to their people to demand their share, say and rights against their own leadership. Toppling extremism both on the Israeli and Palestinian side in order to stop the spiral of hatred can thus only succeed if embedded within a context of human and economic development – and no person in his right mind anywhere in this world will deny the Palestinian people their right to control their own fate on the path to personal, political and economic liberty.

Tina Bellon

Chocolate and Indian food-addicted, Tina enjoys controversial discussions as much as a hike up into the mountains. She started her degree at Sciences Po after having walked down a few unusual trails across the globe and is now trying to bring LeZadig into the world by optimizing its Search Engine performance.
Tina Bellon

5 Comments

  • Avatar T says:

    Hi Tina and thank you for sharing your opinion with us. It is always interesting to be faced to a different opinion, but before I challenge it, I’d like to say that we both agree on the necessity to preserve human life, whatever its ethnicity. Use of social media is a way for us to palliate what we see lacking in mainstream medias. As an example, it allow us to express our indignation when ABC’s (mis)reports only talked about Israeli victims of rockets while showing images of Gazan buildings and Gazan injured population. This is a way to counter warfare journalism that is present on both sides of the conflict. This being said, not all social media users are taking sides with the palestinians, it obviously depends on who’s posting on your newsfeed, their upringing, openness and sense of justice. I don’t know if you read french but here’s a right-wing israeli politician that I follow from times to times https://www.facebook.com/meir.benhayoun?fref=ts . His posts were quiet fascinating not to say disturbing, statuses such as “When Shalit was exchanged for arab prisoners, the ratio that the arabs themselves established was over 1000 for 1 jewish life. 3000-260= 2740 more to go”. In another very long status he cites the Torah chapter 31 of Badimbar’s book, the fight of the Israelites against Maidan ordered by god, and in which Moise says “what? you spared women lives? The same that lured the sons of Israel to betray god for Baal-Peor? Now kill all young males; and every woman that has known a man, kill them”. It is fascinating because I did not think that such a process of deshumanization could reemerge in the 21st century, especially after humanity experienced the Shoah. I am starting to think-hoping to be wrong- that the Israeli government with its current extreme right-wing-religious coalition in the Knesset is following Carl Schmitt’s teachings on “Raison d’Etat” : Accumulating power and land through military occupation is justified for the biggest interest of the nation; Whenever an “enemy” is nominated, government should deploy every means at its disposal to eliminate this “threat”. When one sees bombings of hospitals and children on the beach, he can only be very skeptical of whether it is Hamas as a political faction or the Palestinian people as an “enemy nation” that Israel is targeting with its bombings. You assessed that the debate over Israel’s right to self-defense is not even worth having”. There are international laws that regulate that right to self-defense, laws that prohibit use of non-conventional weapons such as white phosphorus. Laws such as the Geneva convention that impose on all “respectable” members of the international community to protect civilians and refugees. Laws that prohibit the occupation and the blocus of a piece of land. Laws that have not been enforced as most UN resolutions condemning Israel have been vetoed. The UN chart actually allows -in contrast- an occupied population to resort to military struggle and achieve self-determination and independence. Now I don’t believe the latter is the right solution in our era to end this conflict, as it only yields more deaths on both sides. Yet from my position as a privileged kid, decency imposes on me not to ask from the Gazan kid that just lost his entire family to turn down diapers or support offered by Hamas the “terrorist” organization. It is just indecent given that the israeli government is showing no intention to achieve a long-lasting peace : When Hamas and the PLO were fighting each other, Israel declared that it needed a unified palestinian representative to talk to. Then Hamas and the PLO succeeded to form a unified governement in which the PLO had all sovereign ministries. Abbas and Shimon Peres agreed on a resolution supported by the US, we reached it, we were there, but then Netanyahu rejected it and kept on building “illegal” settlements. These developments are sufficient proof for me to see who’s side is muck more keen on denying the other’s right to exist. I might be wrong, maybe that was a hypocrit move from Hamas, maybe their leaders that wished to negotiate peace with Israel were liers. Who knows, Netanyahu, in my opinion, never gave the peace-process a chance . Now for your argumentation about corrupt arab states and lack of solidarity, I believe they are indeed corrupt, but that fact is irrelevant in this article. We are witnessing a case of occupation, neglect for international laws and human rights. On which ground should “arab” states intervene as “arab” states? I quote “Moreover, the sad truth is that there is no such thing as Arab unity. Pan-Arabic solidarity remains an illusion with oil-rich Gulf States seizing their opportunities for proxy wars to strengthen their own stand, regardless of the suffering of their Arab brothers and sisters”. Why are you expecting something from pan-arabism? Are you blaming arab leaders not to unify to support palestinians? You’re blaming arab states on their shortcomings, it is like you are asking them to develop technologically advanced military means to counter Israel. Do you think that is a solution to the conflict? I don’t think so .I wouldn’t talk about Arab states’ corruption in such an article not more than I’d talk about corruption in Vietnam and Liberia. The international community as a whole is to be blamed, as palestinians are not brothers in arabness but brothers in humanity. It happens that I am tunisian and I have access to some sources of information that make me much more able to discuss the Israeli-palestinian issue rather than the massacre ocurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The only issue for this conflict is that civil societies in both sides mobilize to stop their leaders from escalation. Only that both societies have been nurtured with hate speeches since birth. In the end, I am just more demanding from the Israeli society than from the Palestinian one, as the former is much more educated, wealthier, controls water supplies etc, and is objectively much more capable of stopping religious zealouts from accessing power, while the latter has been living under decaded of occupation and wars that impede them from satisfying their most basic needs.

  • Avatar J says:

    An incredibly insightful article Tina, well written and well argued. A refreshing outlook, intelligent logic throughout.

  • Avatar David says:

    I honestly don’t understand this article. What is it trying to prove? There are plenty of claims, and virtually no argumentation. Two examples to illustrate my point:
    1. “How come that [sic] a renewed violent outbreak in Gaza seems to be sufficient to cover up the fact that human, and particularly women’s rights, are systematically being trampled on [throughout the ME, presumably]?” Uhm, what? Who exactly is ‘covering up’ anything? I haven’t heard anyone crying “there’s a war in Gaza, screw women’s rights!”
    2. “[…] it is time to finally turn one’s eyes towards the fundamental challenges that this situation reveals: Israeli actions are only a second-place matter.” Again, uhm, what? There surely is a place to talk about the ‘profound short-comings’ of the Arab states – but how do they exactly fit into the IDF’s disproportionate retaliation against Gazan civilians?
    It’s a bit like telling an American abolitionist, during the 1840s, “the crux of the Negro problem is that they are not educated, hard-working or developed enough – slavery is secondary. Once they develop humanly and economically, then we can talk about how bad slavery is!”
    In sum, I am left quite flabbergasted. What is the author trying to say?

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