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Enough about Palestine!

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

While activists accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" in Palestine, actual genocides and ethnic cleansings worldwide go largely ignored.

As many as six million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to war and related disease. But you may not have heard much about this because PALESTINE!

Enough about Palestine!

For decades, the issue of Palestine has sucked the oxygen out of every other humanitarian crisis on earth, paralyzed the United Nations General Assembly and received massively disproportionate coverage in media. What are the kids on campus protesting about? Palestine. Ask the average Western progressive what the foremost global justice issue is? Palestine. What international issue burns up social media with more passion and energy than any other? Palestine.

There must be an evidence-based explanation for this. To almost entirely monopolize the global discourse, Palestine must empirically have more people dying, injured, starving, destitute, endangered or otherwise living in inhumane conditions than anyone else on the planet, right?

Not even close.

The historian Walter Laqueur analyzed global conflicts and compared numbers of victims. Israel-Palestine must be near the top, right?

At least in the top 10?

No. It barely made the top 50.

In his book The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to the Present Day,

Laqueur explained:

“There is a great deal of evil in the world and millions have perished within the last decade or two as the result of civil wars, repression, racial and social persecution, and tribal conflicts, from Cambodia to much of Africa (Congo, Rwanda, and Darfur). More than two billion people live in repressive dictatorships, but there is persecution too in countries that are free or partly free. National and religious minority groups have been systematically persecuted, abused, raped, burned, shot, gassed, and their property demolished, from Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, to Central Asia and beyond. In fact, it would be difficult to think of countries outside of Europe and North America that have been entirely free of such suffering; and even Europe has had such incidents on a massive scale, as in the Balkans. But there have been no protest demonstrations concerning the fate of the Dalets (Untouchables) in India even though there are more than 100 million of them. The fate of the Uighur in China, the Copts in Egypt, or the Bahai in Iran (to name but a few persecuted peoples) has not generated much indignation in the streets of Europe and America … According to peace researchers, 25 million people were killed in internal conflicts since World War Two, of them, 8,000 in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict [on both sides], which ranks forty-sixth in the list of victims. But Israel has been more often condemned by the United Nations and other international organizations than all other nations taken together.”

Laqueur wrote this in 2006. And given the panorama of humanitarian crises, civil wars, conflicts and terror in the dozen years since his analysis was published, it may be safe to say that Israel-Palestine has now been pushed out of even the top 50.

There is no qualitative or quantitative measure that could justify the extent of attention the world devotes to Palestine, Palestinians and their issues.

Yet in 2017, the United Nations General Assembly passed 20 resolutions condemning Israel. The human rights abuses and humanitarian concerns of every other country in the rest of the world combined received six resolutions. In the history of the UN, Israel has received more condemnatory resolutions than every other nation put together. Imagine the multitudes of humanitarian catastrophes in the world right now. And consider that the "world's parliament" is almost entirely monopolized by Israel and Palestine.

If this elicits accusations of “whataboutism” - the idea that defenders of a position deflect criticism (in this case, of Israel) by pointing out other cases that are worse - it presents a superb opportunity. Because Palestine is where whataboutism meets its match.

Pointing out that people in scores of other places in the world are much worse off than Palestinians is not a deflection. On the contrary; there is a direct cause and effect.

It's no coincidence. People in countries around the world experience human rights abuses, suffering, starvation and death, in part, because of Palestine. Governments that are responsible for the worst atrocities in the world today get a free pass because every relevant body on the entire planet - the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies, the constellation of non-governmental organizations, campus activists, EU foreign ministers and the global progressive movement - are distracted by Palestine. Untold humanitarian disasters continue to unfold largely under the radar not coincident to the Palestinian situation, but because of it.

This is not to deflect criticism of Israel. This is to rightly point out that millions of people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere continue to suffer, or the quality of their situation is worsened, because the limited global supply of compassion, activism, foreign aid and political capital is pissed away on Palestine.

Whether you believe that the Palestinians are faultless victims of circumstance or whether you believe that their condition is a result of the refusal by their leaders and the larger Arab world to live in peaceful coexistence with Israel is irrelevant. The point here is not to argue whether Palestinian human rights are being infringed or whether injustices towards them are serious. The point is to make the necessary case that the massively disproportionate attention the world devotes to Palestine is harming countless victims worldwide whose voices and experiences are drowned out, obliterated, eclipsed by a massively irrational obsession with Palestine.

On average, more than 6,500 Syrians were displaced by violence every day in 2017. There are 6.6 million displaced people inside Syria and another 5.6 million refugees outside the country. Sure, you've heard about this on the news. But have you seen social justice activists marching in the streets about it? No. They’re marching for Palestine.

In the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the world's worst displacement crisis has been taking place, with more than 1.7 million people in 2017 fleeing violence, joining the nearly one million people who fled in 2016. More than 13 million people require humanitarian assistance or protection and over three million face severe food insecurity. Did you hear about this? Were there "emergency meetings" organized by concerned citizens in your community? No. They are too busy with Palestine.

In Yemen, with a population of about 30 million people, 22 million are in severe need and 8.4 million are on the verge of starvation. There are 400,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition — the most dangerous, terminal stage of malnutrition — and every 10 minutes a child under five dies of preventable causes. Are your friends on social media posting about this? No. They’re sharing memes about Palestine.

In South Sudan, 2.4 million people have been displaced by violence. About two-thirds of the population requires humanitarian assistance. The economy has collapsed. Hunger already threatens countless lives. A renewed famine could wipe out millions. Were there information displays about this crisis in your student union building? No. Students for Justice in Palestine booked that space.

More than 700,000 Rohingya people have been forced out of Myanmar. Perhaps 1,000,000 African migrants are stuck in Libya in a horrific purgatory where women are raped and men are sold as slaves for $400. Thousands of people have been killed in what Human Rights Watch describes as "summary executions" by police and vigilantes since President Rodrigo Duterte took power in the Philippines - a number proximate to the entire death toll of Palestinians and Israelis over 70 years of conflict. Did you hear about these awful situations? No. Because Palestine, Palestine, Palestine.

Palestinians receive more humanitarian aid per capita than any other people on the planet – and yet all we hear is how destitute and forsaken they are. This is money that could save the lives of tens or hundreds of thousands of Africans, Asians, Syrians or others, but instead it funds terror tunnels, lines the pockets of Palestinian kleptocrats, provides pensions to terrorists and their families in pay-for-slay schemes, and is otherwise misappropriated so that Palestinians remain destitute even as their leaders amass billions (yes, billions) in fortunes.

While European and North American activists accuse Israel of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" in Palestine, actual genocides and ethnic cleansings go largely unchallenged because the hyperbole of Palestinian activists diminishes the very terms while their relentless noise obliterates genuine humanitarian catastrophes.

The Palestinian movement's inescapable wall of white noise ensures the death whimpers of untold millions of people go unheard.

If you are silent in the face of oppression, Palestinian activists love to say, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Yet must there not be a special place in hell for those whose refusal to ever be silent monopolizes the world’s attention with a comparatively minor conflict, thereby allowing the degradation of millions of others to go unnoticed, the oppression of millions of others to go uncontested, and the deaths of millions of others to go unmourned?

Enough about Palestine.


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