By Jeremy Havardi- author and journalist
Last weekend, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised a “National Demonstration for Gaza” in London.
Thousands of “pro-Palestinian” protesters marched through the capital to hear defiant speeches from such notables as Diane Abbott, Tariq Ali and George Galloway.
As with rallies elsewhere, this one produced an outpouring of hate, hypocrisy and double standards, although fortunately not the violence witnessed elsewhere.
In a fiery speech, veteran demagogue George Galloway compared the outrage over the shooting down of flight MH17 over Ukraine with the western indifference to deaths in Gaza. He asked: “Why is the blood in Ukraine more noteworthy than the blood in Gaza?”
For Tariq Ali, Israel was a “rogue state” that had been targeting children and was allowed to “get away with murder”.
Jenny Tonge declared that a country which “had lost its legitimacy” and was “no longer a democratic state” now “had to leave the international family of nations”.
The crowd was asked to denounce Zionism and many cheered calls for a one-state solution to the conflict. Placards were held up which denounced the Gazan “massacre” and some compared Israel with Nazi Germany.
For these speakers and their supporters, all Palestinians, including Hamas terrorists, are as innocent as plane travellers flying over Ukraine. All Israeli forms of self-defence, no matter how targeted and precise, are acts of mass killing and savagery.
These marches, with all their vituperative rhetoric, have become a forum for the worst kinds of hate and bigotry. Worse, as we have seen in Paris, they have resulted in violent attacks against the Jewish community. The worst thing about these protestors for “Palestinian rights” is their odious hypocrisy.
They refuse to condemn the rocket fire which precipitates the very Israeli responses they condemn. Indeed Hamas terror is usually seen as part of the glorious Palestinian “resistance”.
Yet it is a strange form of resistance when the leaders of Hamas hide underground while their people suffer, when those leaders force Palestinian civilians to act as human shields and when the same leaders enrich themselves at the expense of their population.
Hamas use Gazans as human fodder in their insane war against Israeli civilians. These “pro-Palestinian” protesters, by giving the Hamas leadership a free pass, do the same. Worse, we see no marches outside the embassies of Arab countries where Palestinians suffer in far greater numbers.
The most glaring example is Syria where more than 2,000 Palestinians have reportedly lost their lives in the civil war. For one year, the Yarmouk refugee camp has been under siege by government forces with all aid cut off. More than 100 Palestinians have starved to death, thousands have fled and today, the UNRWA talks of “a desperate situation”. Yet no one marches in solidarity with these innocent victims of war.
Only when Palestinians die at Israeli hands, and during a war of self-defence, are they suddenly worthy of attention. These peace activists who claim to be standing up for beleaguered Muslims are selective in their outrage. While civilian deaths in Gaza are undeniably tragic, there are vastly more Muslims being killed elsewhere.
Thousands of Iraqi civilians have been killed in recent months by the extremists of ISIS. Assad has used poison gas to exterminate Syrians with the total death toll in the civil war nearing 170,000. Vast numbers of Muslims have been displaced in these conflicts.
When anti-western tyrants slaughter Muslims, innocent or otherwise, there is scarcely a whimper. However, when a western power, particularly Israel, causes a fraction of such deaths in vastly different circumstances, there is hell to pay.
Western protestors are galvanised less by Muslim victims than by who is killing them. Israel is seen as the embodiment of many things that the liberal left abhor, including colonialism, national pride and democracy itself.
Hating Israel is a barometer of wider contemporary discontent. Yet for many Arab and Islamist protestors, it is a prime opportunity to vent a prejudice which is far more sordid and visceral. We all know what it’s called.