A View From Israel: Whither the protesters?

We must battle this centuries-old mentality and continue to demonstrate that Israel has the most compassionate military in the world.

By ISRAEL KASNETT
February 10, 2012 16:18
Syrian demonstrate against Assad

Syrian demonstrate against Assad 390 R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The so-called Arab Spring, a glimmer of hope for millions of citizens living under authoritarian rule in Arab countries, has become, over the past year, a fading opportunity as Egypt remains chaotic and others, including Libya and Tunisia, continue to be unstable.

But it is Syria which has dominated the headlines. The country’s president, Bashar Assad, appears determined to rule over his citizens with an iron fist and with no sign of relenting. His forces have murdered thousands over the course of the past year and, with the recent multiple attacks on civilians in Homs, some reports have placed the total number of fatalities at over 7,000.

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Such a number of innocent dead women and children would surely spark worldwide condemnation and protests in Western cities.

To place this in perspective, the worldwide protests against Israel in 2009 took place in response to a war in which, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza controlled by Hamas, 1,314 Palestinians died.

Multitudes of individuals and organizations concerned with the cause of human rights were quick to jump on the bandwagon and condemn Israel for this.

But, with regard to the absolute massacre taking place right now in Syria, these so-called human rights activists and groups are silent. Where are they? Why are they not lobbying their governments to isolate Syria and place its leaders on trial? The United Nations Security Council failed to pass a resolution this week against Syria, though it rarely has trouble doing so with regard to Israel.

Rather than focus its full attention on Syria, Amnesty International said on Tuesday that in light of fears that Khader Adnan, 33, could die following more than 50 days of a hunger strike, Israel must bring charges against the Palestinian or release him from administrative detention.

Ann Harrison, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East, criticized the practice of administrative detention, in which Palestinians arrested during military operations in the West Bank can be held without charges filed against them.

And Human Rights Watch also recently called on Israel to end Palestinian residency restrictions.

Why the focus on Israel? Syrian citizens are being massacred by their own government and these organizations have offered nothing more than a low-level response as compared to the way they malign Israel.

In 2009, during Israel’s defensive war in Gaza in which it sought to end indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians, the world was paying attention.

But they weren’t there to stand in solidarity with Israel. Their aim was to vilify Israel.

In January 2009, The Guardian reported that “tens of thousands” of protesters marched on the Israeli embassy in London.

The New York Times reported on a demonstration in New York that “stretched four blocks.”

Thousands of others demonstrated in, among others, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Belgium.

So after months of witnessing thousands of innocent Syrian civilians dying at the hands of Assad’s brutal military, and after the attack on Homs last week which reportedly claimed 300 lives, one would think the streets of London, Paris and New York would be filled with thousands of protesters crying out for the rights of the Syrian people.

Instead, as The Guardian reported, “About 150 demonstrators descended on the London embassy in Belgrave Square.” A few dozen protesters gathered outside the Syrian embassy in Washington. Elsewhere, small numbers of protesters demonstrated outside Syrian and Russian missions in Jordan, Kuwait, Britain and Germany among others.

Clearly, the world’s double standard against Israel has once again proved itself.

The lack of protests, by those who claim to stand for human rights, over the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in Syria is absolutely appalling.

Not surprisingly, it was former British MP George Galloway, now the head of an organization called Viva Palestina, who described the 2009 war in Gaza as a “savage assault on a captive people so ferocious that not since the Second World War have we seen anything like it.”

Tellingly, it was Galloway who once asked Assad for support in organizing a convoy to Gaza.

But now, Galloway, in completely hypocritical fashion, has decided that the Syrian massacre is not worthy of a mass protest.

WE ARE faced with an issue of blatant reverse discrimination against Israel, by which hypocritical organizations and activists have demonstrated unfair and biased attitudes toward the Jewish state.

They differentiate between terrorists and victims but, when it comes to Israel, have thoroughly confused the two, blaming Israel as the aggressor.

In the past, and even today, with regard to Africa, the West in general appears to have adopted a mentality of “let the black man fight the black man.”

And this has carried over to Syria. Compared to its vociferous reaction against Israel’s justified war in Gaza, the international community has remained relatively indifferent to the Syrian government’s massacre of unarmed civilians.

It appears that when Israel fights legitimate defensive wars against terrorists bent on its destruction, the world perceives such measures as “white man against black man” and seems unable to stomach such an “unfair” situation.

Israel is a light unto the nations with regard to human rights.

This has been proven in every war it has fought against its enemies when it sought to target only combatants and not civilians. And this continues to remain, for the Israel Defense Forces, the accepted doctrine in all cases.

It was none other than Israel that made preparations to absorb Syrian civilians in the event they sought asylum – and Syria is considered an enemy state.

It is Israel that sends emergency aid to any country in need, regardless of whether diplomatic relations exist between the two countries.

The international community is guilty, whether of anti-Semitism or philo-Semitism, of treating the Jews differently.

It is unfortunate but this will not change in the near future.

Regardless, we must battle this centuries-old mentality and continue to demonstrate that Israel has the most compassionate military in the world and strives to be a leader in human rights.


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