Mitchell Bard

Who Really Cares About the Palestinians?

For decades there has been an international drumbeat of concern for the Palestinians, their victimhood, their welfare and their human rights. But how much does the world really care about the Palestinians? We are learning now they don’t care at all as Assad slaughters them in Syria.

Where are the front-page headlines? Where are the UN condemnations? Where is the U.S. State Department? Where are the sponsors of flotillas to bring aid to the refugees? Where are the campus protests? Where are the Christian organizations? Where are the peace groups? Where are the pro-Palestinian organizations?

The answer is they are all silent.

Just two months ago, 180 countries voted in favor of Palestinian statehood at the UN, but they have not adopted a resolution condemning the brutal slaughter of Palestinians by Syria. Imagine if Israel were responsible for what is happening to the Palestinians. The UN would have acted immediately and all the groups mentioned above would be in an uproar.

How do we explain the difference?

The answer lies in a simple but inconvenient truth — no one really cares about the Palestinians – unless Jews are involved.

This is not new; you can go back to the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. The popular misconception is that the Arab states invaded to help the Palestinians. Actually, they intended to carve up Palestine for themselves, not to create a Palestinian state.

From 1949 until 1967, Egypt could have given Gaza to the Palestinians for a state, just as the Jordanians could have created a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Neither did, but no one in the world cared because the Palestinians were not interested in a state and the occupiers were Arabs.

The lack of concern for the Palestinians was also evident after the 1967 War when the UN adopted Resolution 242, which has been the basis for all peace negotiations, yet does not mention the Palestinians.

When the PLO tried to overthrow Jordan’s King Hussein in 1970, the world did not show concern for the thousands of Palestinians who were killed by the king’s forces. The exact figure is unknown, but the number may be greater than the total for all of the conflicts with Israel put together.

Yet another example of the disinterest toward the Palestinians occurred when Kuwait expelled 300,000 Palestinians for supporting Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. This made no headlines and generated no UN resolutions.

The world was only concerned with the killing of Palestinian refugees in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon because Jews were in the vicinity. The murderers were Lebanese Christians; nevertheless, it was Israel that was blamed.

After more than 700 Palestinians have been killed in Syria, survivors are fleeing the country. Have you heard any concern for them or for how the Palestinian refugees have been treated for decades in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan?

Israel offered to allow some of the refugees from Syria to go the West Bank, but Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the idea.

Of course the Palestinians have controlled all the refugee camps in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for almost 20 years and done nothing to move the people into permanent housing and close the camps. They prefer to keep the camps as breeding grounds for terrorists and as examples of victimhood.

The Arab states are full of bluster on the Palestinian issue, but, besides rhetoric, the Arab states provide only token amounts of money so they can say they are contributing to the cause. They have repeatedly pledged aid to the PA, but not made the payments. And, given the wealth of the Gulf states, the amount of these pledges is embarrassing. On January 14, 2013, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said his government might not meet its obligations to its people because of the failure of Arab League members to deliver the $100 million they promised.

Another inconvenient truth is that the world is indifferent to Arabs slaughtering Arabs. We continue to see this in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and other Arab countries. The usual explanation is essentially a racist one; that is, Arabs are expected to behave in this way whereas Jews are held to a higher standard and that is why their involvement merits worldwide attention.

The irony is that the people who care the most for the Palestinians are probably American and Israeli Jews. In the United States, Jews are among the most vociferous supporters of the Palestinians. The Jewish establishment organizations are also pro-Palestinian, advocating a two-state solution that would give Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the same freedoms Israelis enjoy, but are currently denied to them by their own leaders. In Israel, many Jews advocate for the Palestinians: Israelis represent them in the courts, join them in protests and speak out on their behalf in the press and the Knesset. The many Arab-Jewish coexistence projects are nearly always initiated by Israeli Jews.

With the slaughter in Syria, Palestinians can see who their real friends are, and most are not the ones they expect.

About the Author
Dr Mitchell Bard is the Executive Director of the nonprofit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE) and a foreign policy analyst who lectures frequently on U.S.-Middle East policy. Dr. Bard is the director of the Jewish Virtual Library, the world's most comprehensive online encyclopedia of Jewish history and culture. He is also the author/editor of 24 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.