Last week, 150,000 people didn’t march through London to condemn the actions of Islamist militants in Iraq. Scores of protesters didn’t speak out against the conflict in Ukraine. The streets of the capital weren’t flooded with demonstrators denouncing the violence in Syria. However, anyone walking through central London on the 9th August would have been hard pressed to miss the flood of pro-Palestinian supporters who turned out in force to oppose the actions of Israel.
People are marching because they do not want our nation to be complicit in the crimes of Israel
This has left some people confused. While they accept that the war in Gaza is terrible, they cannot understand why there is not similar indignation regarding all of the other terrible events going on in the world today. As one article documenting the persecution of the minority Yazidi sect in Iraq recently put it, “…why aren’t thousands of people demanding action in the streets about this, but they are about Gaza?” If people are enraged by the war crimes of Israel, then they should also be equally angered by the actions of ISIS, or Putin, or both sides in the Syrian conflict, right?
Well, yes. But there is a difference between being incensed by something, and demanding action over it. Although disproportionate news coverage may ensure that people might not be as aware of atrocities being committed in other parts of the world, by and large the protestors are not marching because they feel more aggrieved at the deaths of Palestinians than of Iraqi minorities; they are marching because they do not want our nation to be complicit in the crimes of Israel.
David Cameron has not declared his “staunch support” for ISIS militants. He has not publicly encouraged President Assad’s regime’s “right to defend itself”. But not only has the leader of our government failed to condemn the actions of Israel as they commit atrocities in Gaza, but he also continues to sell £6.3 million worth of arms to them annually.
We can take tangible diplomatic steps to speed up the resolution of the war in Gaza
This sets the war between Israel and Hamas apart from all of the other major international conflicts. We may not be able to end the war in Gaza, but we can take tangible diplomatic steps to speed up its resolution, as well as absolve ourselves from any complicity in the deaths of Gazan civilians.
Short of full military intervention, there is little we can do in Iraq or Syria to help bring an end to the bloodshed, and, as the last decade or so in the Middle East has taught us, military intervention does not always lead to speedy and peaceful conclusions. One might believe that with the atrocities being committed in Iraq or Syria, it is nevertheless our duty to send forces to try and bring the violence to an end: This would perhaps be a reasonable argument, but one cannot blame people for not marching in their thousands demanding we send troops back to Iraq (especially after the last time).
Events in Gaza are unique, in that we as a nation have an opportunity to speak out and condemn the actions of an oppressive regime, and implement sanctions, while remaining pacifistic. Accusations of inconsistency should not stop us from doing what is right.
Adam is a second year PPE student at Univ. He regularly writes for the Oxford Student as well as Oxide Radio online. Find him on twitter @Adamweisz
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