While the Israeli Defense Force were storming into Gaza the streets of Europe were overrun with demonstrators. There were virtual riots outside of the Israeli embassy in London, tens of thousands of people marched there in support of Palestinians as they did in Paris, Madrid and elsewhere. With every march came cries that the IDF were perpetrating a massacre in Gaza. The pictures of dead Palestinian children filled Facebook feeds.
There was no massacre of Palestinians at the hands of the IDF last Summer. But in Syria there is. Right now as you read this. But you would be forgiven for being unaware of it. For this time there aren’t tens of thousands demonstrating on the streets. There are no demonstrations at all. There are no rallies. There are no screams of massacre. There are no demands on governments to take action.
There is simply a sad, deafening silence.
It’s not as if people don’t know what’s happening in the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria, Yarmouk. The story took pride of place on Sky News, it has been published by every major newspaper around the world. Yet there is no action. The heat, the friction, the activism of the Summer is nowhere to be found.
In the United Kingdom there is no shortage of organizations dedicated to the Palestinian cause. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, was the main organizer of the demonstrations and of a boycott campaign against Israel and yet the cause of Palestinian suffering in Syria is noticeable only for its absence from their website. There are no events planned, there are no calls for aid, there are no plans to lobby Members of Parliament to take action.
There is silence.
And I want to know how this is possible. How can it happen that when Israel defends herself thousands take to the streets, the activists with their megaphones go marching, the whole machinery of campaigning and letter writing and the demands for action from politicians swing into action but when a real massacre of Palestinians happening there is silence from the very organization which exists to campaign on behalf of Palestinians.
This is a bizarre state of affairs indeed. But then perhaps they are only following the example set by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestine Authority President. His words concerning Palestinians in Syria from 2013 are proving to be truly prophetic today;
It’s better they die in Syria than give up their right of return”
Perhaps the silence regarding Palestinians in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East comes from a belief that it is only worth demonstrating when a Palestinian is killed by an Israeli. Even if that means throwing around words like massacre when there isn’t one and ignoring a real one while it happens.
We’re constantly told that the Israel Palestine conflict is what radicalises young Muslims in the West. So what happens when those radicalised Muslims from the West start beheading Palestinians while wearing the uniform of the Islamic State?
Apparently nothing at all.