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Double standard of the West laid bare in the Gaza Strip

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-19 06:31
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Ziad Mansour, a neighbour of the Abu Aweidah family, sits next to writing painted on a wall amid the rubble of the family's house, which was destroyed in a deadly Israeli strike amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Jan 9, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Both the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Palestine conflicts are tragedies, for they have claimed thousands of lives and caused massive destruction. Yet they have also exposed the double standard of Western politicians whose narratives on the two conflicts are wildly contradictory.

While sitting in the European Parliament's news briefing room in Strasbourg, France, on Tuesday morning and listening to the speeches of leaders of political groups, this contradiction became even more apparent.

Manfred Weber, president of the European People's Party, the largest political group in the European Parliament, repeatedly condemned Russia and voiced support for Ukraine while defending Israel's right to defend itself, without bothering to mention the alarmingly high number of Palestinian civilians' deaths.

More than 24,000 Palestinians, a majority of them children and women, have been killed since Oct 7 when Hamas militants launched a sudden, massive attack on Israel, killing about 1,200 Israeli citizens. Using data available in the public domain, Oxfam has said that on average 250 Palestinians have been killed every day — more than in any other conflict in the 21st century — since the beginning of the conflict.

Western leaders, from US President Joe Biden to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have ignored the high number of Palestinian casualties in their speeches, reflecting their utter disregard for Palestinian lives. Biden has even questioned the accuracy of the death toll in the Gaza Strip, numbers that have been accepted by UN agencies and aid groups.

Some Western politicians argue that the two conflicts are totally different in nature. They say Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine was unprovoked while Israel was attacked by Hamas on Oct 7. Yet the Western leaders and media never mention the fact that NATO's aggressive expansion since the 1990s and their arrogant reply letters to Russia in January 2022 are largely responsible for triggering the conflict.

As for Gaza, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that it's important to recognize that the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum as the Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation. Guterres was referring to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since 1967. In addition, Israel's treatment of the Palestinian people has been considered illegal and inhuman by many in the world.

Western leaders not only refuse to condemn the crimes committed by their so-called allies and partners, they also try to whitewash them, as evident in Germany's announcement that it will defend Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague against South Africa's charge that Israel has committed genocide in Gaza. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock notoriously said that "Israel does care about the people of Gaza, the Palestinians".Using the same logic, she should say that Russia cares about Ukrainians.

People like Baerbock don't hesitate to condemn Russia and use words such as war crimes and crimes against humanity whenever Russia launches an attack on Ukraine, but they have never used such words to describe Israel's indiscriminate bombings in Gaza, which have caused many more civilian deaths than in Ukraine.

The selective application of international laws, the UN Charter and rules-based system by the small group of self-proclaimed "international community" could not have been more appalling in the case of Gaza atrocities. No wonder some Western analysts have said the Gaza crisis has exposed the moral bankruptcy of the West. This is reflected in the growing public outrage against Western leaders for their stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

On Tuesday, the walkout protest by US federal employees from nearly two dozen agencies under the banner "Feds United for Peace "showed that many people are still ready to risk their jobs to protest against the government they work for. A poll conducted by The New York Times/Siena College last month showed that nearly 75 percent of the young voters, aged 18-29, disapprove of Biden's handling of the Gaza conflict.

Western leaders and politicians nowadays condemn and designate the people they dislike as terrorists, but their rhetoric has become so hollow that few people, especially the billions of people in the Global South, take them seriously anymore.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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