Palestinian flags waving in West Bank 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The complicated conflicts in the Middle East have drawn thousands of Western activists’ attention to the region. However, this attention has generated a trendy kind of attraction in this field.
I recently attended an event organized by some Norwegian “experts” discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the main focus on civilians, especially children. Soon the atmosphere was embellished with the watery eyes of this young European expert explaining the conflict in a simplified non-factual way; at one point, she reports her statistics in regard to the number of affected Palestinian families in the area that she accumulated her expertise, saying there were “many, many families.” If a presentation concerning an international matter of such deep complication is held and the speaker is actually an independent observer, it should be easy to add a pinch of facts to the emotionally poignant storytelling.
This event was small, however, such scrawny occurrences are countless in the western and northern Europe. I have been to a few and they are all very similar to each other. It went on and on with no sign talking about the Israeli civilians and kids suffering from the horror that they deal with. The horror of being killed by an Iranian missile fired by notorious terrorist groups such as Hamas; the rocket sirens that often replace a lullaby for Israeli children, or a spontaneous knife diving deep in the body of an Israeli civilian.
Let’s take a look at the statistics of the violence against the Israeli civilians as well. Since September 2015, there have been 198 stabbing attacks, 213 shooting attacks, 68 vehicular (ramming) attacks, and one car bombing. The result is that 70 innocent people have been killed (including one Palestinian), and 1,057 have been wounded. In addition, since 2015, a total of 772 rockets and mortars have been launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli territory. This part of the conflict as well deserves a few sentences in any presentation that claims to be unbiased, impartial and independent.
Right now that I am writing this piece, hundreds of thousands of children, men, and women on the Israeli side of the border are not sure whether they will make it through the night or if the Iranian missiles will hit them. I don’t see any such activists talking about the 300 rockets being launched at Israelis during the course of 24 hours.
Often, the image given in such presentations in the West is pretty similar to literally a hell set ablaze with endless flames by merely one side of the conflict. Moreover, such presentations try to simplify any conflict into two sides: good and evil. Then, the good side is praised blindly and the bad side’s character is destroyed fully.
On the one hand, we rarely see a European activist in Middle East who speaks the language, understands the culture, is aware of its history, or can fathom the political, economic, social, and religious dimensions of the conflict. On the other hand, we basically never see a Middle Eastern activist who is allowed to be on European soil to work on European human rights issues. The Middle Eastern one must have the advanced level of language proficiency, a valid visa, which can take months to be granted, and sponsors just to arrive in Europe; while all the European one needs to do is to lay the privileged fingers on the keyboard and fill out an application to participate in a volunteering project, and buy an airplane ticket in less than an hour.
This colonial way of thinking that “Western folks know better than the others and must educate them” in the post-colonial era is frustratingly taking place in different shapes and forms by the Western peace promoters. The young Westerners have a different attitude from their ancestors. Although the white man’s burden theory in its classic way does not happen, the white folks tend to implement the same old theory in different ways. They do not line up non-Europeans and define them into new ethnic groups which would prompt conflicts and even civil wars anymore. However, by God almighty the Western people and the Western tribune seems to be more credible. Today, the European youth can easily secure a good career in Western organizations taking advantage of their biased incoherent knowledge that they call “expertise” on their CVs.
Let’s be clear. I’m not saying that all Western activists lack knowledge and expertise regarding Middle East. I know many Western people who do understand the Middle East and are experts in this field. However, they are not the majority.
How come a European activist who grew up in Norway, a country that the child protection might take away a kid from the parents basically for verbal violence, cannot see the suffering of the Israeli children? How come she can be so intentionally ignorant? What if a Palestinian and an Israeli had attended that presentation too? How this biased, intentionally ignorant peace activist would fuel a violence seen between the two.
Achieving peace is an impossible task as far as our so-called independent observers and experts keep taking one side, and ignore the horror that civilians on the other side are living through. In fact, such so-called experts and activists fuel the conflict.The writer has worked as a human rights observer and journalist in Colombia, Iraq and Greece. Born in Iranian Kurdistan, he was exiled and now lives in Norway. You can follow him on Twitter at @RamyarHassani or email him at Ramyar.email@example.com.
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