After Israel launched its military attack on Hamas military installations in Gaza in response to repeated attacks on Israeli civilians, the Arab street wasted no time in demonstrating with passion against Israel. In Europe, many Westerners also took part in the protests.
As an Egyptian Muslim now living in America, I ask myself why the Arab street and its supporters in the West never show similarly strong response against Islamic terrorists who target innocents worldwide and explode markets full of predominantly Muslim civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Turkey, etc. When you consider that the Israeli attack killed some 400 mostly Hamas militant in the first four days, the passive attitude of the Muslim world against the terrorists represents extreme hypocrisy. If it truly cared for Muslims’ lives, it should have demonstrated in the same numbers and with equal vehemence against the Islamists who murder hundreds of thousands of their fellow Muslims, not to mention the Hamas slaughter of rival Fatah members – women and children included.
Another question is why we have not seen a similarly strong reaction against the terrorists who conducted the latest attack in Mumbai. Many Indians, Westerners and Jews were killed. Yet there was no spontaneous eruption of outrage and demonstrations in Europe to denounce the attacks as in the case of Gaza. Are these lesser lives than those of the Palestinians? Where is the organized public fury for the wanton killing of Indians and Jews?
We have witnessed the burning of churches in Iraq at the hands of jihadists. We also know that thousands of Christian Iraqis have fled because the Islamists imposed on them the traditional Shari’a choice for non-Muslims: Convert to Islam, pay a humiliating tax (jizzia), or be killed. Yet, we have not heard any thing from the Arab street or its supporters. Only stone silence. Are Palestinian lives worth more than those of Christians in Iraq?
An insular tribal mentality still governs the Muslim world, and there is no willingness to demonstrate against fellow Muslims, even against those who have committed great crimes against other Muslims. And Europe is too eviscerated to come to the aid of Christian victims of anti-“infidelism.”
Then there is plain old anti-Semitism. It is so easy to demonstrate against the Jews or Israel and extremely rare to see demonstrations in support of Jewish victims, such as the altruistic rabbi and his wife who were singled out for special torture in Mumbai by the Islamists. It does the bloodstained European conscience good to be able to point a finger at supposed Israeli “aggression” to help alleviate some of its own lingering guilt.
The Muslim world and the Europeans who support the demonstrations against Israel must stop the biased reaction that blindly and reflexively supports the Palestinians and villifies Israel. Those who demonstrate against the military campaign on Gaza must realize that if Hamas had stopped pounding Israel with its rockets, Israel would not have launched its attack. If the Palestinians focused on building their society rather than destroying those of others, the whole region would enjoy peace and flourish. Should Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist, end terrorism against Jews and nurture a sincere desire to live in peace, they would end their suffering.
The solution now is simply in the hands of the Palestinians – not the Israelis.
* Tawfik Hamid, The writer, a medical doctor and Muslim reformer, is the author of Inside Jihad.
1. Article originally published in the Jerusalem Post – 01/01/09