The tweet arrived last week from a respected journalist. It read: “18 Palestinians killed in #Syria chemical attack.”
I subsequently checked other mainstream news sources to see if there were comments on the story. One of the few was Ma’an, the Palestinian news agency, which put the number killed at 31.
How revealing, I thought. Had the tweet read “18 Palestinians killed in #Israeli chemical attack,” it would likely have been all over the news, and countless non-governmental groups would have rushed to the ramparts.
But if Israel isn’t involved, it seems, the killing of Palestinian civilians just doesn’t arouse interest, much less anger.
No, this is nothing new, but it is still noteworthy.
There have also been other Palestinian victims in the Syrian civil war, singled out for who they are and what side they’re on, and they’ve been made to pay a heavy price. The reaction from the pro-Palestinian camp? Silence.
Meanwhile, the new Egyptian government, opposed to Hamas rule, has made life difficult for Gaza residents by destroying tunnels between Egypt and Gaza and closing the border at Rafah for days at a time.
But here, too, there’s been no international outcry or protests. To the contrary, even as Israel continues to permit the daily flow of goods into Gaza, the pro-Palestinian lobby curses Israel, while remaining largely mum about Egypt.
Again, nothing new, perhaps, but still noteworthy.
Even Jordan, the one Arab country (out of 22) with the best record of offering citizenship and creating opportunities for Palestinians within its borders, has maintained a policy of rejecting Palestinian refugees from Syria.
Instead, most of the Palestinians fleeing Syria have had to seek shelter in Lebanon, where the existing Palestinian population cannot legally own property and are banned from literally dozens of professions.
Others offer crocodile tears, but, otherwise, barely lift a finger.
Look at who supports UNRWA, the UN agency created more than 60 years ago for the sole purpose of catering to Palestinian refugees and all their descendants, without any mandate to resettle them.
No, it’s not the cash-rich Arab countries, but Western nations that bear the brunt of this relief effort, even as we hear unconvincing expressions of solidarity from the Arab world about their Palestinian “brothers and sisters.”
And go back to 1991, shortly after Kuwait’s liberation from Iraqi occupation. Some 250,000 Palestinians were unceremoniously expelled from the country for having allegedly sided with Saddam Hussein against their host country. I repeat: 250,000 Palestinians were uprooted and kicked out in the blink of an eye.
Was there an international outcry?
Did the Arab League demand an emergency UN Security Council consultation in New York?
Did the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference press for a special session at the then-UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva?
Did the BDS crowd call for a global campaign against Kuwait?
Did British unions vote to cut ties with all things Kuwaiti?
Did Irish libraries seek to ban all books by Kuwaiti authors?
Did anti-Kuwait ads appear on Seattle buses and Metro North train stations?
Did pro-Palestinian groups call for flotillas and flytillas in response to the Kuwaiti action?
The answer, tellingly, was as obvious then as it is today, when Palestinians are killed in Syria, restricted in Lebanon, and quarantined by Egypt.
Unless Israel is brought into the story, then it’s just not interesting, upsetting, or newsworthy.
So, is this really all about love for the Palestinians, or is it about hatred for Israel?
The retort that I’ve heard more than once is that everything that has happened to Palestinians anywhere is ultimately Israel’s “fault,” since Israel allegedly “created” the problem.
But had the Palestinians accepted the UN’s proposed two-state partition in 1947, there would have been no war at Israel’s birth. And had the Arab states not opted to threaten Israel’s very existence in 1967, there would have been no war then, either.
How can one side be responsible for triggering wars, yet, together with its supporters, seek to wash its hands of the consequences of those wars? After all, what wars in history have not produced refugee flows, often by the millions?
Moreover, whatever one’s view of how the refugee population was created, where is the compassion and concern for Palestinians, if they’re being targeted by fellow Arabs?
And finally, much as some may conveniently choose to forget, the Palestinians are not the first, last, and only refugee population in the history of the world, far from it.
But they are the first, last, and only refugee population deliberately kept in limbo for as long as 65 years in order to nurture hatred and revanchism.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a bit more honesty, and less hypocrisy, coming from those who profess to care about the Palestinians’ well-being?
For them, is it really all about the Palestinians, or is it rather about Israel, pure and simple? And if the latter, what does it, in fact, tell us about their underlying motives?