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Gaza protests not driven primarily by human rights concerns

May 3, 2024 | Oved Lobel

Image: X/Twitter screenshot
Image: X/Twitter screenshot

The Algemeiner – 2 May 2024

 

There is no issue that brings out so many global protestors, week after week, as Israel’s war to defeat the Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza. But whatever is causing this unique display of passion and animosity against Israel, it is not humanitarian concern.

Hamas’ decision to start this war through a campaign of mass murder, rape, and kidnapping on October 7, and then fight it from beneath and behind Gaza’s civilians and civilian infrastructure, has led to heavy casualties and severe suffering for the Palestinian population. Their plight should move us all.

But contrary to pervasive and outrageous claims of “genocide,” the Palestinians’ plight is unfortunately an example of the horrors of urban warfare. It is strange, then, that only this war should generate such hysteria as to drown out every other conflict and atrocity.

No encampments were set up across the world to protest the wars in Syria and Sudan, where so many more innocent Arab civilians died. And no other conflict has aroused the rabid passion and hate displayed against Israel, including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Unlike Israel’s war to dismantle Hamas, Russia’s war against Ukraine, now in its second year, does arguably merit the use of the terms “genocide” and crimes against humanity.

Every Russian official from Vladimir Putin on down has made the intent of this campaign clear: to wipe out Ukrainians as a national group; indeed, Russia denies Ukrainians’ existence as an ethnic group in the first place.

While the genocidal nature of Russia’s imperial war does not involve total extermination like the Nazi Holocaust, it violates nearly every other section of the Genocide Convention. This includes the forcible transfer of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia. In fact, so proud is Russia of this forcible transfer that it puts the number at hundreds of thousands.

Torture, sexual violence, and rape are rampant and systematic. While the mass graves and murders uncovered at Bucha and other areas around Kyiv are well known, that process has been replicated across all the Ukrainian territory that Russia controls. The civilian death toll is unknown, but one analysis suggested as many as 75,000 people may have been killed in Mariupol alone.

There are approximately ten million Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons, and there is widespread intentional targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure across the country.

The outcome of the Russia-Ukraine war will also decide the future of the international order. Yet neither the humanitarian atrocities nor the existential element of Russia’s invasion seem to stir much concern in newsrooms, in the streets, or among politicians these days.

The latest civil war in Sudan, raging for just over one year, has also seen barbaric and genocidal violence and civilian displacement and suffering. In particular, the Arab Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have targeted the ethnic African Masalit tribe, reportedly killing as many as 15,000 in West Darfur’s provincial capital of El Geneina alone. This includes reports of the systematic murder of primarily male children and infants. Sexual violence and rape are also ubiquitous and methodical.

Edem Wosornu, director of operations at the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), recently asserted that “By all measures – the sheer scale of humanitarian needs, the numbers of people displaced and facing hunger – Sudan is one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent memory.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child warned that “24 million children are at risk of a generational catastrophe.”

In Myanmar, the civil war raging since the junta overthrew the democratic government in February 2021 has seen some of the worst barbarism imaginable. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, described the junta’s terror campaign against its opponents as “inhumanity in its vilest form,” including mass killings and “burning them alive, dismembering, raping, beheading, stabbing, bludgeoning, and using them as human shields against attacks and landmines.” Mutilated corpses and heads are displayed as warnings, including the bodies of defiled women with “foreign objects lodged in their bodies.”

Principled activists would be at least as vocal about these staggering atrocities, among many others, as they are about Israel. Instead, there is only widespread indifference and deafening silence. The vast majority of the people outraged by Israel’s supposed “genocide” in Gaza, it can be safely concluded, are not driven by principles at all.

Oved Lobel is a policy analyst at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC).

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