Outraged about Gaza? Fine. Now worry about Syria

The lack of action over the fate of Palestinians in Syria suggests the death and suffering of Palestinians is not enough to get people onto the streets.

The lack of action over the fate of Palestinians in Syria suggests the death and suffering of Palestinians alone is not enough to get people onto the streets

The demonstrations that have been glaringly absent from Britain’s streets during the Syrian civil war reappeared this weekend to protest against the latest round of fighting began between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The Stop The War Coalition, who months ago told the Guardian that protesting over Syria isn’t their job as they only focus on “what Britain and the US are doing”, made their usual exception for Israel by helping to organising Friday’s demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London.

As for Syria, STWC was only interested when it looked like Britain and the US might intervene military to stop President Assad using chemical weapons against his own people.

Their co-organisers included War on Want, whose website advertises just one past event for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and nothing about the situation in Syria itself; and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose website contains nothing at all about Syria.

It is perfectly understandable that people who care about human rights and the suffering of others should care about Gaza. The images emerging from there in the past week would stir anyone who cares for the plight of civilians caught up in conflict. The question of whether or not Israel’s actions are justifiable or proportionate is not the subject of this article.

Rather, it is the contrast between the demonstrations against Israel and the lack of anything comparable over the brutal slaughter in Syria that justifies some pointed questions.

By current reports, over 160 people have been killed in Gaza during the current fighting. Sources differ over how many are civilians. As a comparison, according to the Violations Documentation Center in Syria, 2,207 people were killed by regime forces in Syria last month, of whom two-thirds were civilians. Estimates of the overall total of deaths in the Syrian civil war range from 115,000 to 170,000.

Comparing reactions to events in Gaza to the non-response to much worse events in Syria is not a case of ‘whataboutery’, because the Syrian conflict directly affect Palestinians; and in this respect the lack of solidarity is most glaring. By February 2014, over 2,000 Palestinians were reported to have died in the Syrian civil war, most of whom were killed in Palestinian refugee camps in the country.

Those campaigners who talk about a siege on Gaza should look at Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus to see what a siege actually involves. Since July 2013, Yarmouk has been cut off by Syrian government forces. Barely any food or medicine has made it in. There are no goods trucks entering Yarmouk every day as Israeli trucks do in Gaza. In March 2014, Amnesty International identified 128 people who had starved to death in Yarmouk as a result.

Yet the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s 2013 Annual Report makes no mention of Syria or of Yarmouk. PSC passed a resolution at its AGM in January 1014 deploring the situation in Yarmouk, but according to its website there have been no demonstrations outside the Syrian embassy, no letter writing campaigns, no mass lobbying of MPs on behalf of Palestinians in Syria.

It wasn’t always this way. In 1976 it was Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon that were under siege from Syrian forces. Palestine News, a UK-based monthly newspaper that was politically aligned to Fatah and financially supported by the Arab League, planned to devote several pages of coverage to the fighting.

Its editor at the time, a young Liberal with a passion for Palestine called Louis Eaks, thought it prudent to warn the Syrian Ambassador in London, Adnan Omran, that the newspaper would be heavily critical of Syria’s conduct. Omran was outraged and threatened to withdraw the Arab League’s monthly stipend of £1,000 unless the edition was pulped. Eaks refused and published anyway: he lost his funding but kept his principles.

Nowadays in Eaks’ place we have the shameless George Galloway, who collects his pay check from Russia Today and presents programmes on Iran’s Press TV while both countries provide arms for Assad’s slaughter.

Galloway compounds his hypocrisy by using the platform given to him by the Holocaust deniers of Tehran to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto.

Then there is the grotesque situation of anti-Israel campaigners who misattribute victim photos from Syria in their haste to find gory images from Gaza to put on social media. Thus the Syrian dead are denied solidarity twice over.

The enthusiasm with which some people demonstrate about Israel while having no interest in doing the same for Syria makes it hard to believe that they are motivated by an objective concern for human rights. The lack of action over the fate of Palestinians in Syria suggests that the death and suffering of Palestinians per se is not enough to get people out on the streets.

It seems that if you are a Palestinian in Gaza whose safety is endangered by Israeli soldiers wielding American weapons, you are guaranteed the solidarity and support of the British anti-imperialist Left. But if you are a Palestinian (or anyone else) in Syria, under attack from Syrian government or Hizbollah troops armed by Russia and Iran, then you serve no purpose and consequently are of no interest.

Those protestors in London at the weekend presumably believe they were standing up for morality and basic humanity. In fact, all their selectivity demonstrates is just how easily those values can be abused.

Dave Rich is deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust (CST)

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54 Responses to “Outraged about Gaza? Fine. Now worry about Syria”

  1. Peem Birrell

    Pure mental

  2. brad

    Zionist body count piece. Land thieves rationalise killing those they stole land from.

  3. longfellow_2

    I hope you are not american. the whole fucking american story was created to rationalize the murder and killing of the native americans who lived on the continent.. and now live in ghettos

  4. Schtev

    Wow! Finally someone writes the blatant hypocracy of the “peace” organizations. And it has not gone unnoticed. Over 200k slaughtered in Syria and barely a demonstration…any where. In fact it’s what many now call ‘racism of lower expectations’ – Ie. Muslims are expected to slaughter each other. Clearly those who say they are merely “anti-Zionist” have been exposed. The out right Jew hatred at so many of these “peace” rally’s is disturbing and the “peace” message is lost. When muslims rampaging in Paris, attaching Jews in a Synagogue is plastered all over the news and internet, these groups have lost any moral footing. Worst yet are the various christian church organizations. They are quick to pounce on the Gaza issue but dead silent as Christians are slaughtered all over the Middle East. Even hamas rockets launched at Jerusalem, the holiest of city’s is met with silence by Christians – but a soda stream pop machine will summon the largest of outcrys by the clergy. If this is not pure old school Jew hatred, I don’t know what is.

  5. Dave Roberts

    In 1948 Israel accepted the borders proposed by the UN which would have given the Palestinians the bulk of the land and left the Israelis with a massively fragmented state.
    The Palestinian and all of the surrounding Arab states refused to accept the proposals and attacked the new Jewish state with the declared aim of exterminating it and killing every Jew they could lay hands on.

    Is there anything about that you do not understand?

  6. Steve

    Errh Dave, Unite the Union Policy Conference passed a motion concerning the plight of civilians in the Yarmouk refugee camp. However the motion blamed Israel for the refugees being there in the first place, and the solution to the deaths was for the right of return to be enacted. Viola, end of problem.

  7. swatnan

    I think we’ve all given up on the israelis and Palestinians, and left them to sort things out between themselves. And its probably better that way.

  8. Devilworshipper

    This reads like many of the Zionist arguments. It is wrong to protest against Israel because people are hardly protesting against Syria? There is far more protest against Israel because there is so much more dialogue between Western powers and Israel. Her diplomats are much more accessible, as she is regarded as one of our close allies and has many connections with Jewish communities in Britain and other European countries.
    And of course there is the usual accusation of anti-Semitism which is a diversion from the basic argument over whether one defends or criticises Israel’s conduct.

  9. Devilworshipper

    The 1948 UN proposal offered about 40% of the land(not ‘the bulk’ of it) to the Palestinians who outnumbered the Jews more than 2:1. Ben Gurion’s forces had already for 3 months been adopting a very efficient policy of ethnic cleansing, before a disorganised set of Arab armies finally got themselves to retaliate.

  10. Liam Fairley

    Does your argument on anti-Semitism apply to the term ‘Islamophobia’. I’m guessing not.

  11. Guest

    Ah, free access for terrorists, purge the Jews and solve it all.
    Yea, it’s them.

  12. Guest

    Yes, I’m sure you do. Keep talking about how you want to kill British Jews.

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    Well, remember most of the Mandate actually went to Jordan….

  14. Guest

    Ah, the myths start up again I see….chant away. Keep excusing invasions and attempted genocide…no surprise you’re also a fan of Russia, of course.

  15. Leon Wolfeson

    No, it just makes people hypocrites.

    And the fact is, most of those raging against “Israel” *are* anti-Semitic. Not all, certainly, but it’s the fashion to cloak hate under a guise these days. People like brad/J&K/whatever username he’s using today give it away when they made it plain their target’s British Jews.

    Moreover, do you want to be held responsible for ATOS’s actions as a British person? A government is not a country.

  16. brad

    Outrageous slander! TROLL

  17. Devilworshipper

    Sorry, I honestly don’t understand your point here. You’ll have to bear with me and try it a different way if you want a response,

  18. Devilworshipper

    What on earth are you talking about? What’s Russia got to do with it?

  19. Devilworshipper

    No, it doesn’t make them hypocrites, in my opinion. And you are persisting with this conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. What are your views, Mr Wolfeson, on he growing number of Jewish critics of Israeli policy, like Ilan Pappe, Noam Chomsky, Uri Avnery, Avi Schlaim ,Miko Peled, etc.? And please don’t say they’re ‘self-hating Jews’!

  20. elchepe

    look whos talking

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, of course hypocracy is not hypocracy when it matches your views. as you – who by your own logic support ATOS and it’s actions – try and protest too much and keep conflating Israel and the Israeli Government.

    The Jewish critics of Oisralie policy don’t do that conflation.

    Why do you hate the disabled so much, incidentally? Why is ATOS such a beacon?

  22. Guest

    Same policies, same thoughts. Keep chanting…
    And yes, I’m on Earth, not your dreamland.

  23. Guest

    No, it’s based on what you typed. Very very clearly.

  24. Devilworshipper

    To suggest that it’s not hypocrisy ‘when it matches your beliefs’ is simply an opinion on your part. We could painstakingly deal with the logic of he whole argument if you wish, but that would be tedious and I’ll simply have to say I disagree.
    I also take issue with your reference to Pappe s an extremist, or the ridiculous statement that he would be ‘dead set on ethnically cleansing the area of Jews’.
    But perhaps our views have more in common than I thought, if you are a follower of Amos Oz.

  25. Devilworshipper

    Oh, I’m sorry, I’d like to engage in a discussion with you on this subject, but it’d have to be in English, not the meaningless gobbledegook you are using.

  26. Leon Wolfeson

    I have every reason to think, frankly, that you simply don’t understand Amos Oz’s views. And it’s more correct to say that I, like Amos Oz, support Peace Now.

    (**** the settlers, to be clear.)

    Pappe is an extremist – who publishes mostly in the JPS, which is basically a propaganda rag. He still supports Katz’s discredited massacre thesis and he’s stood together with some really, really nasty figures on the Palestinian side.

    And need I mention Israel Shahak, who most certainly *was* self-hating?

  27. Kad

    This is a daft article. The reason why people in the UK protest against Israeli abuses is because the British government strongly supports Israel and has military exports to Israel worth some $12 billion. http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/david-cronin/britain-admits-selling-12-billion-weapons-israel Israel is strongly dependent on US/European support for it crimes, without which it could not afford to continue it occupations and wars. So it makes perfect sense if you oppose what Israel’s doing to protest here and try to influence the government to stop supporting Israel.

    The Syrian regime on the other hand has almost no relations with the UK and doesn’t get any of its arms from here. Thus protesting against its crimes here doesn’t really make much sense and there’s not really anything that can be done about it. It’d make as much difference as protesting against the crimes of Atilla the Hun.

  28. Devilworshipper

    Katz’s massacre theories presumably refer to his account on Tantura? He was not ‘discredited’ at all. It was simply that he described atrocities that the university preferred to ignore.
    I have to confess that I don’t even know what the JPS is, so I cannot comment there. I am only aware of Pappe’s views through his writing, which is thoroughly resourced with all the credits, just like any professional historian. To complete the picture, I am reading Benny Morris at the moment.
    What happened with your second paragraph, by the way?

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    The University administration uncritically and strongly backed him for several years, in fact, before a change in the leadership lead to their taking as fresh look at the data.. You’re making oligopolies for outright lies, and ones which lead to violent riots and are a new staple of the far right. So…that you claim to know his writings but not through the JPS….well, which extremist website then?

    Pappe is not a historian, he’s a political anti-Israel activist, there’s a line which he stepped over years ago.

    Benny Morris, incidentally, renounced the New Historical view. And he’s certainly one of the prominent historians.

    (And the paragraph’s fine…got a problem with pushing for peace by reigning in Israeli extremists?)

  30. Guest

    Of course you need to make frantic apologia for Syria – no, it’s far simpler; Your morals are far closer to Assad’s than to those of the British or Isralie people.

  31. Guest

    Ah yes, anything but Jewhate is “gobbledegook”. What a surprise, given your username.

  32. Leon Wolfeson

    I assume he’s talking about himself, really.

  33. Devilworshipper

    I know Pappe’s writing’s through reading his books.. It seems that you are the one who subscribes to ‘extremist websites’. You seem to have occasional problems expressing yourself. ‘Making oligopolies for outright lies’??? The paragraph’s fine?? Well, perhaps I’m beginning to suffer from dementia, because I can’t make any sense out of a completely detached phrase that has no syntax.
    When I can understand your sentences, it seems that you simply make ad hominem attacks on different commentators with no attempt at quoting evidence. So I have to say I’m giving up. Much as I’d like to engage in discussion, I simply don’t understand much of your English. Don’t bother replying now.

  34. Leon Wolfeson

    I see, so you’re now calling LFF an extremist website or somesuch nonsense. I’m sure you view people like Peace Now as extremists – you maintain there is a problem with condemning the Isralie extremists, because it’s …er…pro-peace.

    (And eh, spellcheck fail in the next post…fixed. Happens)

    You of course hate people who think different, and you demand I be silent, as you despise open discussion. That you calling looking at your views an “ad hominem”, indeed, shows your outright fear of it.

  35. Guest

    Sure, I’ll help Liam out.

    Are you also an apologist for hate against Muslims?

  36. Devilworshipper

    . You’re as bad. What the hell are you talking about?
    I’m not an apologist for hate against any general group of people.

  37. Jonathan

    Thousands of those grotesquely murdered in Syria were Palestinians. Go Google for the Yarmouk refugee camp where Assad slaughtered them and then starved the remaining 18,000 or so.



  38. Guest

    Not hating is as bad as hate in your world? Yeano.
    And I’m not talking about your hell, which you’re obsessed with.

    And are you are claiming your posts don’t exist now, or are you saying you are openly a Jewhater?

  39. Devilworshipper

    I repeat – I haven’t a clue what you are talking about, so I’ll not waste any more time trying to decipher your posts. Whatever syndrome it is you’re suffering from, which causes you to mumble absolute nonsense, I hope you can get some treatment for it.

  40. Devilworshipper

    Are you the same person as this ‘Guest’ below, perhaps using a different machine? I ask this because I find it remarkable that there could be more than one of you suffering from the same syndrome which prevents you from posting anything comprehensible.
    I did say I was giving up with you. I must now heed my own advice.

  41. Leon Wolfeson

    Ah yes, “there can only be one”. And fake medical syndromes. Social darwinist, far right, totalitarian…you do love hitting the low points, but no surprise given your faith.

    As you once more whine that other views must be dismissed in a variety of ways. But no, you can’t convince me to become your type of extremist, run along to your two-minute hate now.

  42. Mort

    If you’re going to open your mouth, get it right.


  43. Marc Letford

    When I see a mob I tend to try and determine who is the victim – its the nature of mobs. The mob is pro-israel, and given most of those in the mob are well known for deception, ruthless abuse and exploitation and imperialist attitudes… kinda leads me to defend even those I disagree with on many levels. Their right to be is exactly the same as mine and I will defend it.

    Nearly every main media outlet and western government are denouncing Syrian government abuses, they don’t need my voice to get more attention – its being worked into the story already. Israel alludes to being like us in the west and is an active partner and integral in the attempts to portray surrounding governments as below them and not worthy of being trusted/listened too (and thus killed without comment)

  44. Bobbloggerstein

    Perhaps antisemitism has something to do with it.

  45. Gary

    Brilliant article

  46. Gary

    Why is there nothing that can be done? If british left wingers genuinely cared they would pressure the government and UN to send peace keeping troops to Syria to stop the open murders. The fact that they do not, but vigorously oppose Israel is striking

  47. Odumba100

    Why is it ok for people to cry for Gaza but they don’t do anything when it comes to Syria? Unbelievable. Assad is 1,00000 times worse than Israel.

  48. Wo Shi Xiong Mao

    that’s because jews and christians are evil and believe the wrong religion

    muslims are pure and kindhearted and can do no wrong. those people who died in syria were not killed by syrians.

    evil zionist jews used evil jewish magic to make the bullets fly all over the place killing kind hearted holy,peaceful,peaceloving,pious,chaste, handsome , hijab wearing, motherly,voluptuous, god fearing, honest, just, five legged , beautiful muslims

    so it’s the evil jews fault don’t let the muslims brainwash you with their propaganda.

  49. Guest

    Killed without comment? Are you mental? What about the notice given before bombardment, or the field hospitals set up to cater for Gazan civilians, or the materials/food sent in every day (most of which gets misappropriated). In the west people are taught that Jews are pernicious or just plain bad. It’s so endemic in western culture that lots of people can be easily radicalised. Killing people is awful, but to continually point the finger is not the solution.

  50. mls31286

    So because Syria doesn’t have dialogue with the Western powers they should have a free reign to kill people…Also, the US and Britain have much worse civilian to militant kill ratio. Further, no civilians die in Britain and the US when they went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq but no one spoke of the dis-proportionality of the fighting to the extent it does against Israel.

    The point is Israel is surrounding by countries like Syria that don’t respect the rules of war and have genocidal intentions against Israel. The US and Britain are surrounded by Western nations that live in peace with it. It’s completely unfair to expect Israel to hold up to the same standards of Western armies, but as General Kemp from Britain and any other Western army commander will tell you, no one puts in as much effort to avoid civilian casualties as Israel.

    You mention the “usual accusation of anti-Antisemitism”, given the recent protests, are you serious? Turkey asked all of it’s Jews to apologize on behalf of Israel and compared said Israel has surpassed Hitler in brutality – this is anti-Antisemitism. In Europe, 6 Synagogues were firebombed along with Jewish businesses. Protests like these are happening around the world and Jews are being assaulted everywhere. Not every pro-Palestinian activist or Anti-Zionist are Antisemetic but you can’t deny that there are enough to call it an issue.

    It’s like people want Israel to allow their people to be massacred before they can retaliate instead of preventing it from happening. Israel is very serious about “Never Again”.

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