Thursday, January 8, 2009

Australian libertarians make two great points about the Gaza situation...

... which deserve broader discussion even if they come out of a post with which I otherwise disagree.

Thoughts on Freedom points out that, ironically, there is more condemnation of Hamas being heard in the Muslim world than there is in the West, and that much of the hand-wringing over Gaza is an example of selective outrage:

In a carbon copy of the 2006 conflict with Hizbollah, Israel is once again losing the media war. The Hamas cheer squad of CNN, the BBC (funded by all British taxpayers), the New York Times and the Guardian is raining propoganda bombs on Israel as surely as the 6,000 Qassam rockets that have hit its southern borders from Gaza.

Despite a clear cut case of self-defence that even the Muslim countries of Egypt (‘Hamas are more interested in having the injured serve as pawns in their propaganda war on Western TV networks‘), Saudi Arabia (‘Arab states should call a spade a spade…let Hamas accept responsibility for once..‘) and the Palestinian Authority (‘we talked to them and we told them ‘please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop’ so that we could have avoided what happened”) accept is of Hamas’ own making, the Western media continue to hold Israel to impossibly high standards.

There are no street protests over the ongoing civilian deaths in Sri Lanka, no marches against Russia as it threatens to cut off gas supplies to Central Europe in the midst of a freezing winter, no petitions demanding ceasefires in the war-torn corners of Africa, no hysterical over-the-hill pop stars crying over the children of Afghanistan. But whenever Israel sheds blood, the world demands its pound of flesh.


OK, I've been quite clear that I believe the Israeli response is disproportionate, and that IDF tactics are verging on genocidal.

But ToF is absolutely correct that there has been little if any American coverage of the developing anti-Hamas sentiments in various Arab capitals.

And it is also spot on that this is something of a boutique event, in the sense that we've picked it out of a whole world of, frankly, equally horrible current events to wring our hands over.

Take the two points in reverse order.

Given the close ties between the US and Israel, I'm not surprised that events there get greater media play than slaughters in Zimbabwe, Zaire, Myanmar, or Georgia, particulary since--no matter how politically incorrect this may be to say--the Israel Lobby and PR machines revs up its hard drives at virtually the same moment the IDF revs up its tanks and bombers....

As for the other observation, it's one that I hope Barack Obama will make when he speaks on the issue after 20 January. I don't want him to speak on it to absolve Israel, but to make the point that we recognize the nuances and distinctions between different Arab and/or Muslim regimes.

[In my fantasy world, Barack even finally acknowledges what most Americans obviously don't know: that Iran is a Muslim country, but not an Arab one. Nah, never happen.]

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