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.
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.