Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Aug 9...Jihadist slaughters expose deep hypocrisy over Israel

Jihadist slaughters expose deep hypocrisy over Israel

HOMEGROWN jihadists parading the severed heads of their fellow Muslim conquests in Syria and Iraq should have triggered robust public condemnation from the Grand Mufti and other Muslim community leaders in Australia. Instead, we have heard little until now, when proposed new anti-terror laws have prompted loud objections from Muslim leaders. This is deeply disappointing for a nation eager to tackle terrorism at the same time it fosters an open and tolerant approach to national unity. The double standards at play in this domestic terror debate and the reactions to the Middle East conflict need to be confronted.
This weekend 40,000 Iraqis from minority groups, including Christians, are cowering on a mountain in the north of their country besieged by the barbarous jihadists of the Islamic State. The adherents of this new caliphate have been executing and beheading so-called “unbelievers”. Aside from those hiding, and dying, in the mountains the UN estimates another 200,000 people have fled the region in the face of the jihadist onslaught. Yet the focus for most of the world’s attention for the past week has been not on their plight, or even that of the 170,000 people killed so far in Syria in what is one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes of the post-WWII era, but on the death and destruction in Gaza and, invariably, Israel’s perceived responsibility for it. Thus on a weekend when there was international uproar over a strike on a UN-run school in Gaza that killed 10 people, three of them members of Islamic Jihad, there was little mention of the fact that, at the same time, 1800 people were killed in Syria, 130 of them, including seven children and 10 women, dying in one day alone at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship.
Outrage such as that expressed over the UN school strike is justified (UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon termed it “a moral outrage and criminal act”). This newspaper’s consistent view is that Israel should be no more immune to criticism than Hamas and the jihadists when it is responsible for such civilian carnage. But the latest rerun of the Gaza conflict and the response to it shows rank hypocrisy in the Islamic world and much of the Western media. As a prominent Egyptian commentator has noted; “Muslim killing Muslim or Arab killing Arab seems more acceptable than Israel killing Arabs.” The consequence of this is seen not just in the preoccupation with Gaza and attempts to haul Israel before the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes. Such moves come at a time when 1600 people were killed in Iraq in July alone, 1800 people died in Syria in the space of a few days, and 3000 victims have been killed in attacks by Boko Haram jihadists in Nigeria. Yet such atrocities elicit none of the outrage directed at Israel. No matter how much grief and horror we feel over the civilian casualties of Gaza, we also know Israel has the right and obligation to protect its citizens from persistent and indiscriminate Hamas rocket attacks. Yet Israel is the fashionable villain, not Hamas and not even Islamic State.
To his credit, Barack Obama has now intervened to help the hapless Iraqis besieged on the mountain, with food drops and air strikes. But where, through all the horrors of Syria, Iraq and Boko Haram’s murderous rampage in Nigeria in the name of Islam, has there been anything like the outrage that has been seen around the world over Israel’s action against Hamas in Gaza? The vituperation of those like the former Fairfax Media columnist Mike Carlton has, as always, been directed at the perceived iniquities of Israel, never those of Hamas or the egregious acts of inhumanity being committed across the Arab world. In Pakistan, a leading Islamic state, an army offensive against terrorists in its tribal districts began in mid-June. More than 1500 civilians have been killed, many of them women and children. Yet there is no international uproar.
Demonstrators regularly take to our streets to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza, yet fall silent on atrocities committed in Iraq, even when our own citizens take part. The threat posed by the 150 homegrown jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria, like Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar, is appallingly real. But it is Jewish schoolchildren who are disgracefully targeted for racial vilification and Nazi-style abuse on a bus in Sydney.
The Jewish state is a Western-style liberal democracy, so we are right to expect more of it, and impose the highest standards. And because of its openness it is vulnerable to strident criticism from abroad and from its own citizens. This should be seen as a strength rather than a weakness. But increasingly Israel’s critics are allowing themselves to be led down a dangerous path to a familiar version of anti-semitism, where the root of all the world’s ills, and certainly those in the Arab world, is seen to be Zionism. In doing so, they allow themselves to be aligned with outfits such as Hamas, whose despicable tactics show less regard than Israel for the lives of Palestinian children. We should have no truck with Israel’s worst enemies.

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