IT is a sad commentary on the politics of the Middle East that even its most tragic human stories get defaced and buried under newspeak. And so it was that while the headlines on international wire services screamed ‘Islamic Jihad leader among 15 killed in Gaza strikes’, it was not until later in the story that we learnt that five-year-old Alaa Kaddum had been brutally murdered in the same missile strike; that she “had a pink bow in her hair and a wound on her forehead as her body was carried by her father at her funeral”.
The strike and the ‘collateral damage’ it caused were endorsed by the world’s most powerful nation, whose ambassador simply said, “The United States firmly believes that Israel has a right to protect itself” while urging “all sides for calm”.
History then repeated itself, with a new cycle of violence revisiting one of the most impoverished places in the world, likened by many to an open-air prison.
One fails to understand how the senseless killing of a child can be brushed so coldly under the carpet. Is it political expediency or a determined disregard for the suffering of the Palestinian people?
How does one reconcile it with the breathless reportage of Russian excesses in Ukraine (both perceived and actual) — where every act of aggression is dissected and put under the media’s microscope so the world can be told just how ‘morally depraved’ the Russians must be seen to be? Why does the same media falter and fail when expected to speak up about the excessive and brutal violence visited again and again on the people of Gaza? A people living in ghetto-like conditions without any means of self-defence?
In pictures: Israel-Gaza conflict escalates with airstrikes
There is surely no match between them and what is one of the most advanced militaries in the world. The comparatively ragtag outfits ‘fighting’ the Israeli military do not pose such a grave existential threat that the killing of so many Palestinians has to be justified as punishment for their existence.
Much ink has been spilt on the Middle East peace process and its failure to materialise tangible benefits for the people living in that region. However, the motivation to pursue peace is bound to remain low if the standards of good behaviour are set differently for both parties involved.
The least the world media can do is to maintain objectivity and hold transgressors on both sides to equal account.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022