Tuesday 12 August 2014

This is called 'whataboutery'

I quite like that word. It sounds somewhat funny and it's relatively nice to say. It's also one I've only heard being used twice. Once by Mehdi Hasan and once by Owen Jones, both in reference to pro-Israel supporters attempting to deflect attention from Israel by highlighting other, worse, incidents in the world that somehow escape the world's attention. There is some truth to the idea that this is a cynical ploy and there is no question that the mere fact that IS is painting the Middle East red with the blood of Iraqis and Syrians, for example, does not render the Palestinian deaths in Gaza any less significant or tragic.

There are problems with this dismissing of 'whataboutery'.

Maybe I will concede that bringing up silence on IS in reference to Israel is not a great argument. However, when Owen Jones and others remain silent on Palestinians being oppressed and murdered in, say, Syria because Israel cannot be blamed, then I am perfectly within my rights to point this out. There is some weight to the claim that if you only care about 'human rights' when Israel is involved, then you are not pro-Human rights but just anti-Israel. There is absolutely no denying that if your moral compass only starts working when Palestinians are killed in Gaza but not when they are subject to the same fate in Syria or when they are supposedly oppressed in the West Bank but not when they are throughout the rest of the Arab world, then you have absolutely no concern whatsoever for the Palestinians, merely with bashing Israel. The Palestinian cause is a convenient cloak with which to hide your attacks on Israel and you flirt with anti-Semitism at best and are guilty of it in most cases.

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