Tuesday, August 5, 2014
B.Stephens: Palestine and Double Standards; The world is outraged by Israeli self-defense but only 'concerned' when Muslims kill Muslims.
What follows are excerpts from a June 30, 2014, news account by Tim Craig, the Washington Post's bureau chief in Pakistan:
"Pakistan's military launched a major ground offensive in the northwestern part of the country Monday, beginning what army commanders say will be a 'house-to-house search' for terrorist leaders and other militants.
"The offensive began after two weeks of airstrikes in North Waziristan. . . .
"In a statement, Pakistan's military said its soldiers discovered 'underground tunnels' and 'preparation factories' for explosives during the initial hours of the ground assault. . . .
"Backed by artillery and tanks, troops killed 17 terrorists Monday, the army said. Combined with the toll from airstrikes that began June 16, a total of 376 terrorists have died in the offensive, the army said. . . .
"More than a half-million residents fled North Waziristan ahead of the ground offensive. The mass evacuation of the area, which has a population of about 600,000, was intended to limit civilian casualties during the operation. The military also set up checkpoints in the area to trap militants."
Underground tunnels, explosives factories, weeks of airstrikes, artillery bombardment, mass displacement of civilians—leaving aside the probability that this is the first that you've heard of any of this, does it ring a familiar bell? If so, maybe the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the various self-described antiwar groups that marched near the White House on Saturday to protest Israel's military campaign in Gaza can organize another big rally outside the Pakistani embassy. No more U.S. aid to Islamabad! Boycott Pakistani products! Divest from Pakistani companies!
I'm dreaming. Over the weekend there was saturation coverage of an Israeli strike near a U.N.-run school that killed 10 people, three of them members of Islamic Jihad. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the hit "a moral outrage and a criminal act" that had to be "swiftly investigated." The State Department pronounced itself "appalled." If the Secretary-General, the Secretary of State and other arbiters of international decency have expressed themselves similarly with respect to the conduct of Pakistan's army—take a look at the picture accompanying this column to see how that one looks—I must have missed it. More than 1,500 Pakistani civilians have been reported killed since the government's offensive began in mid June.
Here's what else one might have missed in the midst of the media's saturation coverage of Gaza.
In Iraq, some 1,600 people were killed in the month of July. "I am concerned about the rising number of casualties in Iraq, particularly among the civilian population," U.N. envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the AFP. "Children and women are most vulnerable."
Note the verb. Not outraged or appalled, merely concerned.
In Syria, more than 1,800 people have been killed in just the last 10 days. On Monday, the London-based Syrian Network for Human Rights reported the deaths of "at least 130 people, including seven children and 10 women," at the hands of forces loyal to Bashar Assad.
As for the State Department, its only Syria-related press release from Monday was an announcement that it was funding a project to "document the current condition of cultural heritage sites in Syria and assess the future restoration, preservation, and protection needs for those sites."
In Libya, roughly 200 people were killed last month in artillery and rocket clashes between rival militias. Another 22 were killed over the weekend as Islamist groups attacked Tripoli's airport.
A joint statement by the governments of France, Italy, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. noted only that "we strongly condemn the ongoing violence across the country . . . which jeopardizes the continuation of a peaceful transition and severely affects the life of the Libyan people."
In Nigeria, Boko Haram has turned its fury on Muslims who try to fight back against the jihadist group. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed so far this year, and another 500,000 have been made refugees. A spokesperson for the U.N.'s Mr. Ban issued a statement in his name, condemning Boko's attacks.
Since the war in Gaza began nearly a month ago, I have been bombarded with indignant letters and tweets calling me a "racist" for my views and asking whether I would like to live in Gaza.
My answer to the second point is that I would no more want to live under Hamas than I would under any other fanatical dictatorship that starts gratuitous wars, uses civilians as human shields, punishes political opposition with death, and sends others to die while its leaders hide beneath hospital sheets.
As for racism, people often point out how peculiar it is that the Jewish state seems to arouse a level of condemnation that never seems to apply equally elsewhere. But perhaps the real racism is the indifference to Muslim suffering around the world when the person dropping the bomb or pulling the trigger is another Muslim. A world that makes a fetish of the alleged guilt of Israel is also a world that holds too much Muslim life cheap.