By Aijaz Zaka Syed – Dubai
Israeli hypocrisy would be comical, if its consequences weren’t so tragic. These days, Israeli media and Israel’s powerful friends in the US media have been tomtomming about the noble help and rescue mission Israelis have undertaken in the remote, quake-hit island of Haiti.
Doubtless, the catastrophe that has hit Haiti is truly mindboggling and terrifying. The all-round devastation the island has suffered is beyond words. This is perhaps how our world would look like when the End comes. And one hates to make a political point out of this terrible, terrible human tragedy. But you can’t help it when you come across the kind of hypocrisy that Israel displays in Haiti.
While the people it has locked away in their homes in Gaza and across the Palestinian territories live in most despicable conditions and crave for basics such as food, water, electricity and just about everything else, the magnanimous Israel is sending aid and medical teams to help the luckless people of Haiti.
Can there be a more stunning example of hypocrisy and double standards?
I am not even remotely suggesting that Israel shouldn’t act to help the calamity-hit people of Haiti. In fact, given the magnitude of the tragedy, every one of us should do his or her bit for the unfortunate people.
Lest the US media preoccupied with Israel have failed to notice, Arab and Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, Iran, Kuwait, Morocco and many others, too have reached out to Haiti, sending the much-needed aid soon after the earthquake last month. Despite its tiny size, the UAE has been quick to act through Red Crescent and even independently, just as it always has in the past.
But you don’t get to hear about them on Fox News or CNN because Arab countries are not crowing about their actions. Perhaps, it’s time they should. In any case, when it comes to fighting propaganda war and handling media, Arab and Muslim countries have never been a match to Israel and its many lobbies and think tanks.
Just Google and see how bloggers are praising Israel for its mission in Haiti even as they blast the oil-rich Arab and Muslim countries for not giving a damn or a dime for the needy in Haiti.
This despite the plane loads of relief and aid supplies Muslim countries have sent. This is just one instance how shockingly ill-equipped Arab and Muslim countries are for modern warfare of media and diplomatic battles of hearts and minds.
But this is not about what Arab and Muslim world is doing in Haiti. This is about the ludicrous double standards of the state that claims to be the only ‘democracy and civilized society’ in the Middle East.
If the Israelis have reached out to the Haiti tragedy by swiftly dispatching a medical team, it’s laudable. But why the gentile Jews who were moved by a tragedy on the other side of the world cannot see what’s been happening right under their noses for years beats me.
It’s indeed good to see that Israelis are after all human and can be moved by human suffering. But I wonder why the same Israeli hearts run dry of the milk of human kindness when it comes to Palestinians.
Help for the helpless Haitians is welcome but what about those languishing in Gaza? As Israeli writer Akiva Eldar argues in a courageous piece in Haaretz, “the remarkable identification with the victims of the terrible tragedy in distant Haiti only underscores the indifference to the ongoing suffering of the people of Gaza. Only a little more than an hour’s drive from the offices of Israel’s major newspapers, 1.5 million people have been besieged on a desert island for two and a half years. Who cares that 80 per cent of the men, women and children living in such proximity to us have fallen under the poverty line? How many Israelis know that half of all Gazans are dependent on charity, that Operation Cast Lead created hundreds of amputees, that raw sewage flows from the streets into the sea?”
Why aren’t there more voices like that of Akiva Eldar from within Israeli society against the victimization and persecution of Palestinians? Why don’t more Israeli journalists and commentators protest against the inhuman treatment of Palestinians, whose only crime is that they were born at a wrong time in a wrong country? They are as guilty as the Jews had been seven decades ago when the Nazis sent them to their death. Why can’t yesterday’s victims see the tragic irony and incongruity of their actions against today’s victims?
As Akiva Eldar has the moral courage to point out, if Haiti is a natural disaster, “the one in Gaza is the unproud handiwork of man. Our handiwork!”
Israeli media is full of heart-warming, feel-good stories about the brave IDF soldiers and medical teams saving lives and rescuing babies in the Caribbean island. But how many Israelis care about the babies and infants dying for lack of critical food and medicines in Palestinian territories under their occupation? How many care about pregnant women, critically injured men dying after endlessly waiting at Israeli checkpoints?
The Israeli concern for people in the devastated Haiti is very touching. But how many Israelis care two hoots about the thousands of Palestinian families living in open, in the ruins of their former homes?
Israel’s bombing blitz on Gaza last year destroyed 60,000 homes, 3,500 of them totally turned into rubble. More than 1500 people, nearly half of them women and children, were killed in the war that started the day after Christmas in the land that gave birth to Christ.
And much of the surviving population in the limbo that is Gaza cannot go back to living, nor can it rebuild its homes and demolished city. The Israeli blockade of the Strip means nothing, including construction material and the promised aid by the international community, can get into Gaza.
Isn’t this a mockery of humanity and the so-called international community that while this population languishes under a lockdown in the largest prison on the planet, Israel sends food and medicines to the people on the other side of the world? Can there be a more breathtaking example of injustice? As Akiva Eldar says, “the images of Israeli doctors (helping) in Haiti cannot blur Israel’s ugly face” in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine.
When will the world break its silence to end this charade in the Holy Land? When will the world act to stop Israel’s oppression? How long will the poor Palestinians have to carry this heavy cross that the West has forced on them? Any answers, Mr Obama? Any clue, Mr Ban-ki Moon?
– Aijaz Zaka Syed is a widely published Dubai-based commentator. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.