The Gaza Obsession and Pakistan’s Misery

This is a guest post by AKUS

For a couple of years, before the Guardian saw fit to ban me for reasons never explained, I, like many others,  spent quite some time on CiF pointing out the enormous disparity between the Guardian’s obsession with the Palestinians  and its almost total silence regarding far greater tragedies elsewhere.  This, of course, is dismissed by the faithful as “whataboutery”, no matter how true and how disastrous for needier causes that could do with the publicity. One of the consequences of the obsession with Gaza by the Guardian and other media has been the diversion of aid in almost unimaginable amounts to the Palestinians that could usefully have been deployed elsewhere.

Recently things have changed somewhat with the emergence of a growing number of well-publicized luxury facilities in Gaza and the West Bank. The unintended consequence of the recent appearances of publicity videos showing world-class water parks, swimming pools, hotels and restaurants has been a number of articles in mainstream media like this one rethinking the received version of the Palestinians as the world’s worst-off people.

Information is pouring out of Gaza and the West Bank in the media and on the Internet showing that the image that the Guardian tries to project more than any other paper is simply and, I believe, deliberately wrong. A Mövenpick Hotel Ramallah to open in third quarter of this year is one of the latest examples. Frankly, this is a good thing – people enjoying themselves at water parks or slurping down a sundae at Mövenpick  are less likely to want to sign up for a course in Suicide Belt Making 101.

How does this relate to Pakistan? Well, the flooding there, which has reached biblical proportions, has produced a refugee community that far exceeds the 700,000 Arabs who fled Israel 60 years ago who originally claimed refugee status, and even those descendents who, three generations later, still claim it. The estimate now runs to about 14 million Pakistanis displaced and entire communities simply washed away, as can be seen in these horrific pictures. Pakistan has immediately turned to the US for assistance – to the country that only a few days ago it was bitterly complaining about as a result of the wikileaks saga.  The Washington Post estimates that billions of dollars will be needed for reconstruction.

One might think that this immense disaster would sweep aside the focus on Gaza and articles about the deaths of nine terrorists aboard the Mavi Maramara from the Guardian.  After all, this was a paper that devoted tens of articles to the death of a single Hamas terrorist in Dubai, and similar numbers of articles to the interception of the Mavi Maramara (mislabeled by the Guardian as a “raid”) and deaths of nine IHH terrorists on that ship. There is no way to count the number of ferociously condemnatory and contextless articles that have appeared in the Guardian as the result of the deaths of some 1,400 Arabs in Gaza during Cast Lead.  How many articles should 14 million refugees and, at this time, 1,500 deaths in Pakistan deserve? But the obsession continues, with the two issues essentially accorded equal weight on the “World News” page of the Guardian’s blog (in fact, there are three stories about Netanyahu’s testimony, including a video clip):

The desperately poor people of Pakistan who have been washed out of their homes face a disastrous future in which they will be cared for far less than those in Gaza. Yet we can look forward to ever more articles at the Guardian website about “flotillas”, and “prison camps”, and “power outages” in Gaza (caused by squabbling between Hamas and the PA). There will be no CiF article by Victoria Brittain about the flooding or blue babies in Pakistan unless she can find a way to blame it on Israel as she did for Gaza. In fact, it appears there has only been one article on CiF so far – Pakistan’s floods are not just a natural disasterThe article points out that the impact of greed and incompetence in Pakistan has worsened the situation.

Pakistan itself rushed to condemn Israel over the Mavi Marmara interception, and, of course, Cast Lead, toeing the Moslem line over a conflict in which it has no discernible interest. Now Pakistan’s people will pay the price as they struggle for a share of the world’s aid beneficence. The obsession of countries like Pakistan and media like the Guardian and its cohort of Israel bashers with Gaza will continue to suck the air out of greater needs elsewhere – specifically now the needs of those in Pakistan as they get in line behind Haiti.

The death toll in Pakistan will rise, and the poverty and suffering will increase. So will the extremism and instability of the most dangerous and fragile nuclear-armed country in the world while the Guardian and others cheer on ships of fools from Lebanon or elsewhere. Gaza will still come first despite the loaded food stalls, the shopping mall, the smuggled goods, the UNRWA handouts.

UN workers and “activists” will continue to stay at the Gaza Grand Palace Hotel and enjoy their meals at Roots Club. Meanwhile, people in Pakistan will wonder why they get so little of the world’s attention. Like the people in all those barely remembered “whatabout” places – Congo, Darfur, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and on and on – while the Guardian and others focus on anything that they feel can be used to delegitimize Israel.

12 replies »

  1. “Pakistan immediately turned to the US for assistance”

    It’s strange that they did not turn to their wealthy Muslim brothers,like Saudi Arabia,Iran, the wealthy Arab Emirates (UAE),or to the rich Pakistanis that are living all around the world.Or turn to their neighbor India.

    They turned to the US instead.

    Israel will offer to help,and the offer will be rejected.

  2. To wean these “refugees” off the UNRWA tit,UNRWA needs to be abolished.

    Playing Shesh Besh (Backgammon) and smoking the the Hookah all day in Gaza’s coffee shops,and then receiving hand outs from UNRWA an organization of parasites,that feeds on the generosity of kind hearts.

    It’s about time that these people got off their fat asses and started looking for and after themselves.

  3. There are natural disasters and man-made disasters.

    For Israel to claim to be an outpost of liberal democracy it must clearly demonstrate that it adheres to the standards of other liberal democracies.

  4. Richard Tebboth
    August 11, 2010 at 2:30 am

    During WWII, certain of our own democratic rights were suspended for a while. There was restriction on press, state of emergency and much more that directly impacted on freedoms and liberty of that generation.

    Similarly, Israel is under a constant state of war. And yet, the fact that its people have any freedoms let alone enjoy a functioning democracy and a judiciary is a wonder in itself.

    To people like me Israel is already a shining example of a liberal democracy, in fact sometimes, I almost feel that it wasn’t so bloody liberal.

  5. And yet the one country that can make a huge difference in this Pakistani disaster, like it did in Haiti, Israel, will not be welcome there. Oh, and India, of course.

  6. Richard Tebboth,

    “For Israel to claim to be an outpost of liberal democracy it must clearly demonstrate that it adheres to the standards of other liberal democracies.”

    Do you think it is fair to compare the adherence of Israel to the standards of liberal democracies while Israel faces conditions incomparable to those of the liberal democracies which I think you mean?

    Oh, BTW, just two cases which show that liberal democracies confronted with a LOT LESS than Israel also committ occasional fuck-ups:



    These are two cases which came to my mind. You know damn well that there are a lot more.

    I wonder how those liberal democracies would deal with what Israel deals with.

  7. al-gharqad:

    My thoughts exactly.

    In spite of near-constant military, economic and political attacks over the last 60 years Israelis have remained stoical and good humoured and treated their enemies with compassion.

    Israel IS a liberal democracy – free press, independent judiciary and a freely elected parliament.

    If people must judge Israel, I would suggest that rather than comparing her with countries at peace, it would be fairer to compare her to other sovereign nations in a state of internal conflict. Some examples spring to mind:

    India / Pakistan (Kashmir)
    Sri Lanka (LTTE)
    Serbia (Bosnia)
    Yemen (Houthis)

    More to the point, how would we Brits react to a sizeable minority group rising up against us and demanding their own state? And then having been given their own state, proceeded to attack us from it?

    What says Richard Tebboth?

  8. benorr, Israel’s help has been accepted before by Pakistan’s neighbour, India.

    richard tebboth, the rubbish you pontificate doesn’t improve does it? It still meaningless and ill-informed verbiage.

    @ Matt: “More to the point, how would we Brits react to a sizeable minority group rising up against us and demanding their own state? And then having been given their own state, proceeded to attack us from it?”

    I honestly don’t know, Matt, but I have a feeling my children and their children are going to find out.

    And the tebboths of this country would do one of two things – either flee and leave the rest of their countrymen to it or crank up the hatred which would be the inevitable result.

  9. Akus, good post but you miss the real “need” on the part of many in both Christendom and Islamdom to bash Israel. It may not be a material need like that of the people caught in the floods in Pakistan. But it is a real psychological need. Yes, it may be atavistic and medieval. But if one wants to stir up a pogrom mentality then the atavism just has to be accepted. Which is what the Guardian does. Of course flooded Pakistanis and southern Sudanese and jungle dwellers in Venezuela are living on a much lower material standard of living than the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. But in the metaphysical, cosmic and metahistorical eschatology of the major media, the main “human rights” NGOs, and the EU foreign affairs commission and inside its commissioner’s little head, I daresay, the greater weight of suffering discerned by a rational mind in southern Sudan, etc. compared to Gaza is of little weight or concern.

    What motivates them is the metaphysical Jewish threat. The Paki flood victims and the southern Sudanese and a long list of other sufferers, etc do not matter. Those Arabs now fashionably called “palestinians” are a kind of collective Jesus repeatedly crucified by you know whom. So, since the Guardian and other MSM outlets are motivated by passion more than reason, this unconcern over human suffering is only to be expected.

    As an afterthought, in the Muslim world too, there is an eschatology of the End of Days when the Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind rocks and trees. The rocks and trees will cry out: O Muslim, O slave of Allah [= abdallah], a Jew is hiding behind me. Come kill him. I am sure that Gharqad Tree knows a good deal about this medieval Muslim fable. Who would dare say that the Middle Ages are dead? By the way, Prof Richard Landes is writing a book to be called: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century.

  10. Eliyahu, you are right to point up the antisemitism of Islam and Christianity in the I/P conflict. This is promulgated by Naim Ateek and his fellow haters at Sabeel, who, interestingly, use your analogy that the Jews (ie the Israelis) are crucifying Jesus again in their treatment of the Palestinians. He even went so far as to try to explain away the blame for Palestinian suicide terror by arguing that Samson in the Old Testament was the first suicide bomber! Ateek and other members of Sabeel lecture all over the world and their agenda is to delegitimise the Jewish people’s right to Israel. Ateek also argues that Jesus was a Palestinian and not a Jew.

    His conduct seems typical of the dhimmi and of the Stockholm Syndrome, but one cannot partial out the influence on him of deep seam of Jew-hatred in the Christian Arab world which existed even before Israel was brought into being.

    And as for the Muslim view of the end of days, the more I think about this the more I am inclined to believe that they themselves are trying to bring this about. They see the end of days as the last battle and devout Muslims are encouraged to focus not on this world but on preparing themselves for the next. Prof Moshe Sharon, the Israeli scholar of Islam puts it excellently at He writes that there is no fundamentlist Islam:

    “…”Fundamentalism” is a word that came from the heart of the Christian religion. It means faith that goes by the word of the Bible. Fundamental Christianity, or going with the Bible, does not mean going around and killing people. There is no fundamental Islam. There is only Islam full stop. The question is how the Koran is interpreted.

    “All of a sudden we see that the greatest interpreters of Islam are politicians in the western world. They know better than all the speakers in the mosques, all those who deliver terrible sermons against anything that is either Christian or Jewish. These western politicians know that there is good Islam and bad Islam. They know even how to differentiate between the two, except that none of them know how to read a word of Arabic.”

    Note what he says then about the language of Islam

    “… You see, so much is covered by politically correct language that, in fact, the truth has been lost. For example, when we speak about Islam in the west, we try to use our own language and terminology. We speak about Islam in terms of democracy and fundamentalism, in terms of parliamentarism (sic) and all kinds of terms, which we take from our own dictionary. One of my professors and one of the greatest orientalists in the world says that doing this is like a cricket reporter describing a cricket game in baseball terms. We cannot use for one culture or civilization the language of another. For Islam, you’ve got to use the language of Islam…”

    I have long believed that the west makes a great mistake, and one potentially fatal to its future, by apprehending Islam and Islamism from a western perspective. We need to understand it properly, and we can do that only by seeing the world through its eyes and learning its language.

    Sharon is particularly interesting, and anxiety-provoking, about how Islam sees the end of days:

    “..End of Days
    It is highly important to understand how a civilization sees the end of days. In Christianity and in Judaism, we know exactly what is the vision of the end of days.

    “In Judaism, it is going to be as in Isaiah – peace between nations, not just one nation, but between all nations. People will not have any more need for weapons and nature will be changed – a beautiful end of days and the kingdom of God on earth.

    “Christianity goes as far as Revelation to see a day that Satan himself is obliterated. There are no more powers of evil. That’s the vision.

    “I’m speaking now as a historian. I try to understand how Islam sees the end of days. In the end of days, Islam sees a world that is totally Moslem, completely Moslem under the rule of Islam. Complete and final victory.

    “Christians will not exist, because according to many Islamic traditions, the Moslems who are in hell will have to be replaced by somebody and they’ll be replaced by the Christians.

    “The Jews will no longer exist, because before the coming of the end of days, there is going to be a war against the Jews where all Jews should be killed. I’m quoting now from the heart of Islamic tradition, from the books that are read by every child in school. The Jews will all be killed…. Without this, the end of days cannot come. This is a fundamental of Islam….”

    The wish to murder Jews is very evident in the Islamist doctrine and Christians and other religions are relentlessly persecuted in Muslim countries.

    If we are indeed faced with an implacable enemy which is hell-bent upon bringing about the end of days in the way in which its prophet foresaw, then we really are up against it, aren’t we?

  11. Serendipity

    I agree with everything you said.

    On a more personal note, I consider myself extremely lucky: I had the honor and pleasure to study at one of Prof. Sharon’s lectures at the Hebrew University. He is an amazing person. As opposed to many professors who are apologists for Islam – nobodies in comparison to him in terms of their academic level – he frequently speaks to students over a cup of coffee.

    Also, he is the total opposite of the above mentioned nobodies. Those Ilan Pappe style idiots (although not as extremists as him) try to convince students about their political views, although a leading figure among them, who considers himself a serious researcher, barely knows Arabic!

    Professor Sharon never even tried to involve politics. Instead, he told us of his experiences, which included living with Bedouins for months and advising Begin at Camp David. A nice little story he told us for example, is the following:
    Sadat tried to repeat one of the tricks employed by Amr ibn Al-Aas, the mediator in the conflict between Ali and Muawiya, contenders for the caliphate in 657. Ali and Muawiya agreed that both would renounce their claim and elect someone else. But, when speaking about the compromise they reached in front of the crowd at the medieval “news conference”, Amr and Muawiya convinced Ali to speak first , “as a gesture of courtesy”. Ali renounced his claim for the caliphate, but when it was Muawiya’s turn to speak, he never mentioned that he himself has renounced the claim for the caliphate as well, instead saying vague things which could be understood as if Ali agreed to Muawiya’s claim.
    When the Egyptians insisted that Begin speak first at the news conference following the Camp David Accords, Professor Sharon advised Begin that if there was no choice but to speak first, he should pause after each point he made, and ask Sadat “Right, Mr. President?”, in order to avoid the kind of medieval tactics which he suspected that Sadat wanted to use.

    I warmly recommed reading anything written by this great man.

  12. “will continue to suck the air out of greater needs elsewhere”

    Way back from when I began my involvement in Darfur activism when the genocide was at its height, I used to try and convey my outrage to a then good friend, a member of Jewish Socialists Group and Jews for Justice. Her eyes used to just blank over when I invited her to take a break from the anti Iraq war marches and join me on a Darfur demo.
    I tried to confront her and anyone else of her colleagues whose sleeve I could grab, in terms of ecology as concepts they (like me) are keen on: That there was an ecology of compassion and public attention, and that they were being greedy self indulgent gas guzzlers who were draining this finite resource to the detriment of all causes other than Palestine.

    It didn’t cut any (melting polar ) ice with them.