License to kill in Gaza

Members of Code Pink hold a vigil of civil disobedience and conduct a "die-in" in front of the Israeli Embassy July 30, 2014, protesting the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza. Several protesters were arrested during the protest condemning the the shelling of a UN-run school in Gaza where displaced Palestinians were sheltering from an assault by Israeli forces on Hamas militants. (AFP PHOTO / Paul J. Richards)

The U.S. and the EU have taken firm action against Russia over the Malaysia Airlines tragedy in Ukraine, with sanctions that are designed to inflict pain on Moscow’s finance, energy and arms sectors.

Problems at the crash site have prevented a full investigation, but the deaths of nearly 300 civilians who were in the wrong place at the wrong time were sufficient to spur action, and not just condemnation.

In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people have found themselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the country that is murdering them – Israel – is receiving rhetorical and material support from the same countries that are so adept at citing the need to act when it comes to human rights and international law.

In these countries, thousands of people have made their views known, by speaking out or marching in protest at Israel’s actions, while their governments stick blindly to policies of supporting Tel Aviv.

When they look at this part of the world, politicians in Washington and its western allies often wring their hands and wonder, “Why do they hate us?”

The word “us” is deceptive – people in the Arab and Muslim world certainly don’t hate the people who have been protesting against Israel’s Gaza offensive, through either hard work in the media or marching in the streets.

What they hate is the flagrant and criminal double standard of responding to the murder of civilians with sanctions, if Russia is involved, and tripping over themselves to offer support, if it’s Israel.

With Russia, it’s a case of guilty until proven innocent. With Israel, it’s a case of always innocent, and no question of ever being at fault.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 31, 2014, on page 7.




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