An article in the Wall Street Journal this week questioned why Israel is seemingly reviled the world over for mistreating the Palestinians, while Russian seemingly enjoys impunity in regards to its treatment of Chenens.
In ‘Our Selective Moral Outrage,’ Bret Stephens writes:
Of course, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict inflames the Muslim world in a way the Chechen one does not. But why is that, when so many more Muslims are being victimized by Russia?
A very good question, and one I’ve been asking for a few years. Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we?
Remember 2002? The Second Intifada was raging on in Israel. Then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was beginning to contemplate the West Bank security fence and withdrawal from Gaza, ideas that had originated within the Labor party. Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in the spring to purge the West Bank of terrorists responsible for a rash of suicide bombings. And a standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where several Palestinian gunmen had holed up made headlines everywhere. The terrorists had taken the priests and others in the church hostage and remained in the church for more than a month. In the end, negotiating teams reached an agreement for the hostages to be released and the terrorists to be exiled to Gaza or as-yet-to-be-determined countries. A quick refresher.
Then in the fall, another hostage situation unfolded. This time in a Moscow theater where Chechen rebels took 800 people hostage. In the end, Russian security forces used an anesthetic to put the rebels to sleep and then stormed the theater; 115 hostages died. A quick refresher.
Condemnations rained down on Israel for its actions during Defensive Shield. As the year progressed, talk of the brutality of the Israeli war machine and allegations of a massacre in Jenin continued, while the world quickly forgot about what had happened in Moscow.
Shortly after the Moscow incident, I had the opportunity to pose a question to Ali Abunimah, editor of Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Website. I asked him (during a question-and-answer session on CSPAN) why the world is quick to lay harsh condemnation upon Israel but remains silent in the face of atrocities committed by other countries, such as the 115 hostages who died during the Moscow theater siege. If memory serves – and I’ll check the tape later – he responded about the just nationalist goals of the Palestinians and the brutality of Israel. Not very surprising.
Stephens and I asked essentially the same question and each after Israel faced a large battle against terrorism – Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and the Gaza War just a few months ago. The question continues to be relevant today as the Durban II conference concludes this week in Geneva. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before the assembly earlier this week and blasted Israel as a racist regime that should be eliminated. Meanwhile, countries such as Libya, Syria, and Saudi Arabia continue to target Israel in the United Nations, when their own human rights records are far, far worse.
Now my question to you is: Why do we continue to allow this to happen? We can and should thank our leaders for standing by Israel but more must be done to prevent these other countries from continuing to hijack events such as the Durban conference and organizations such as the UN Human Rights Council. We need to get the message across to our leaders that we are tired of seeing the bad guys deflect attention from their misdeeds.