As Russian troops continue their assault on Ukraine, Western countries persist in invoking international law, imposing crippling sanctions against Russian leaders and entities while publicly supporting Ukrainian armed resistance and opening their borders with open arms to refugees. However, we see such support utterly absent for people enduring Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as its blockade of Gaza. Why is there such blatant double standards in the mainstream support for people resisting apartheid colonial oppression and ongoing aggression? It’s very frustrating and infuriating for Palestinians as they have been constantly criminalized and told that they don’t have the right to resist and labelled as both terrorists and anti-semitic whenever they ask for their rights. Undoubtedly, it is such a glaring contradiction to many observers when evaluating these sorts of hypocrisies and double standards. Israeli occupation amounts to ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination as recognized by human rights organizations. In addition to attacks on religious sanctity and complete lack of respect for international law, we find no one holding Israel responsible for behaving as a state above the law.
Since Russian troops set foot in Ukraine on February 24th, Western mainstream media has been decrying Russia’s aggression and cheering the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resilience. On the contrary, we witness an entirely different picture to what’s going on in Zionist incursions into the holy sites of Palestine. The racist dimension is crystal clear: embracing freedom fighters who are white and having blonde hair and blue eyes, happily embracing them by Western pundits, and Palestinians raising the exact same slogans of peace, justice and equality being in the same situation a Ukrainians being labelled as terrorists. The role of the Western media has been appendage of the propaganda of their governments and they have been just as complicit in the propagation of how we think about “terrorism” and “freedom fighters,” derived openly from a racist framework. If the white-Christian, European lives are being attacked that warrants swift actions and accountability – but not for brown-Muslims living in the ostensibly ‘uncivilized regions’.
The applicability of human rights and international laws are supposed to be universal but Israel being considered the ‘beacon of light and democracy’ of the West is granted unequivocal impunity from its war crimes and crimes against humanity, not to mention its casual violation of a number of UN resolutions. Israel has been persecuting any and all dissident voices and has politicized the definition of anti-semitism in order to label any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic. Last year, the UN Human Rights Council accused Israel of being guilty of the crime of Apartheid under international law. Despite this damning indictment of the nature of the state of Israel, the Zionist state shamelessly ignored the ruling and had the audacity to vote to suspend Russia – even though Israel does not even believe in this body. The double standards, hypocrisy and selective outrage of the so-called Western human rights champions seems to never end. After four major Israeli wars in Gaza in just the past few years, it’s clear enough that fighting off a military violation or aggression(in the case, Zionist aggression) against your people is totally dependent on the identity of the aggressor and the victim.
Washington’s enthusiastic diplomatic and financial support of Ukraine’s right of self-defense and resistance against Russia’s invasion is shrouded in terms of human rights. But at the same time turning a blind eye and not paying heed to the brutal atrocities committed by colonial settler apartheid Israel against unarmed Palestinians is what we have seen time and again. This is the selective championing of the human rights mantra. If we dig deeper beyond the racist nature of this policy, we can discern its realpolitik, the maintenance of Western hegemony, shifting alliances and geopolitical aims of the region which compel Western states to act accordingly. Moreover, the racialization here involves the broader salient features of the ‘War on Terror’ where pundits claim Europe is civilized and the Middle East is uncivilized. So if Israel (and its backers) takes the position that it is the one civilized actor in this broader uncivilized region, it then essentially has the ability to police with impunity people the backward, barbarians – whether they are Palestinians, Syrians and Arabs at large while this is not the case with white European, ‘modernized’ Ukrainians.
The most heinous Zionist actions have included the recently circulated videos showing the barbarity of the Israeli occupation forces as they storm Al-Aqsa mosque, fire stun and tear gas grenades inside and beat up and arrest Palestinian worshipers. The scene brought shock to many of us who watched it. Such barbarity, which is never unexpected from the finest (and most merciless) soldiers in the Middle East, is taking place in broad daylight while the entire world is watching with vacuous condemnations that carry no significance. Even one of the holiest places for Muslims is violated with such barbarity, brutality and hatred while nothing is being done. Now the world has witnessed the suppression of freedom of worship and respect of holy sites in Israeli occupied Jerusalem and it is no surprise that these acts of terrorism against unarmed Palestinians happen every single year during Ramadan.
It seems that Israel is fully implementing the late Rabin policy of breaking the bones of the Palestinians in order to bring them to utter despair. It is not only about bones, but it is about torture, intimidation and breaking the heroic and powerful will of the Palestinian people. Reaffirming what Chomsky once said: terrorism works! Israel is the only country that gets away with such crimes. And it is crystal clear that they will get away with these latest crimes as it has for decades. Israel committed much worse in the past and without any consequences or deterrence, but rather has only increased more aid, especially from the United States. The concept of the rule of law is to deter violence, but Israel is clearly above the law.
In short, unless the victim is white, European, and Christian (US -and Israel- friendly) resistance is terrorism, international law doesn’t apply, vetoes apply, – refugees have no right to return (and are unwelcome), and the aggressor has the right to self-defense and to acquire territory by war.
Aqib Sattar is a lecturer of Politics and Research Officer at Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad.