What is the position of the Palestinians on the war in Ukraine? | Russia-Ukraine War

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of the Ukraine in February, many Palestinians felt that this war concerned them directly. Over the past nine months, they have seen direct parallels between their own experience of occupation and military violence and that of the Ukrainians.

Whether it is civil housing, schools, religious buildings, etc.; the destruction of the electrical grid as a form of collective punishment; accusations of using civilians as “living shields” when the death toll mounts; or the occupying power denies the nationality and status of the occupied, the similarities are evident.

But not for the Ukrainian government. In fact, shortly after the start of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made it clear that he identified Ukraine’s plight with Israel’s. “The threat is the same: both for us and for you: the total destruction of the people, the state, the culture,” he said.

Kyiv’s Western allies, the media and international organizations have also taken the same position. They have wholeheartedly supported Ukraine and have claimed that there is no equivalence with the situation in Palestine.

Palestinians have publicly expressed outrage at this double standard, and their reactions have been interpreted as support for Russia. But the Palestinians are not really taking a stand here. They are just tired of Western hypocrisy that knows no bounds.

Russia ‘brutalizes’, Israel ‘defends’

When Russia invaded the Ukraine, there was hardly any question in the West about what to do. He immediately condemned Moscow as the aggressor and accepted Ukraine as the victim. The haste and outright moral clarity with which this trial was delivered shocked Palestinians, who have been hearing the same Western refrain about Israeli aggression for decades: “Israel has the right to defend itself.”

The West has unequivocally supported the Ukrainian resistance and has not hesitated to call it that. However, it is hard to ignore the fact that people resisting the Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine have been called “partisans”, while Palestinians doing the same in Palestine, armed or unarmed, have always been labeled as “partisans”. “terrorists”.

Western politicians appear to have been on 24-hour alert, ready to immediately condemn any Russian bombing that causes civilian casualties. Indeed, such condemnations are justified and should be made, but they have been conspicuously absent when Israel engages in its routine wars in Gaza and massacres Palestinian men, women and children.

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Western leaders such as French President Emmanuel Macron have declared that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, without even waiting for official UN or other investigations to conclude. The EU has called for a special court to prosecute war crimes in Ukraine and has supported an ICC investigation into the matter. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned “Russian brutality against Ukraine” and said it should not be “normalized”.

But the US government does not seem to care about the violence committed against Palestinian civilians, be it through shelling or extrajudicial executions by the Israeli army. These crimes have not been named or convicted. Worse yet, Blinken and his predecessors have openly opposed an ICC investigation into Israeli war crimes in Palestine and have even threatened the court.

The United States, along with other Western powers, has also routinely ignored Palestinian calls to implement the hundreds of resolutions passed by the UN in favor of their rights. Furthermore, Israel’s violation of international law has generally not been sanctioned by the West. Instead, it seems to be rewarded with ever-closer ties, military aid, and extensive trade.

For decades, Western powers have also covered up Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian land. However, in September they quickly rejected Moscow’s annexation of four regions in eastern Ukraine. Most ridiculously, Israel joined them in condemning the move, despite its own illegal annexation practices.

Later, Washington thought it necessary to publicly reject any comparison between Israel and Russia, when a UN report was released claiming the “de facto” annexation of the West Bank.

One side in Ukraine, both sides in Palestine

The Western double standards regarding Ukraine and Palestine have, of course, spilled over into the Western media. The mainstream media have readily adopted the language their politicians have chosen to use for the war in Ukraine, just as they have with Palestine.

All these years, Western TV channels and newspapers have hidden behind the ideas of “balance” and “objectivity”, to avoid calling things what they are in Palestine: occupation, intentional attacks on civilians, collective punishment, cleansing ethnicity, war crimes, etc. .

They have spoken of “both sides” even when Israel has massacred Palestinian civilians or gone into the passive voice to hide the perpetrator, as if the Palestinians died a violent death themselves. Western media coverage of Ukraine has not suffered from the same vocabulary challenges.

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Palestinians have rarely (if ever) appeared on Western television screens to explain what is happening on the ground; airtime has been reserved almost exclusively for Israeli spokespersons and pro-Israel analysts. And even on social media, which purports to offer platforms for free expression, Palestinian voices have been silenced by tech giants like Facebook and Twitter.

On the other hand, Ukrainian politicians, analysts and civilians have been a regular feature of Western broadcasts; absent, of course, are the Russian government or pro-government voices. Russian state media have also been blocked on major social media platforms.

The Western media have not abandoned their double standards even when the safety and lives of their fellow journalists in Palestine have been in jeopardy. One only has to look at how the murder of Palestinian journalist Shereen Abu Akleh was reported. Shereen was “killed while she was covering a raid”, a report says and follows with a quote from an Israeli spokesperson, saying that she and her colleagues “were armed with cameras.”

The murders of journalists in Ukraine have been rightfully condemned by the Western media. However, no quotes from Russian officials claiming they deserved their death have been attached.

Boycott Russia, embrace Israel

In the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia faced an unprecedented Western-led campaign of sanctions and boycotts. Russian companies and individuals were placed on sanctions lists, various financial services for Russians were blocked, and even Russian oil and gas imports were restricted.

Many multinationals withdrew from the Russian market and divested from its economy, as governments sought to minimize trade with Moscow.

For years, Palestinians have dreamed of this type of action in defense of their rights. They have been calling for sanctions on Israel in response to its occupation of Palestinian land and its apartheid regime, but to no avail. The most the EU has done, for example, is to impose mandatory labeling for products that come from illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.

The boycott campaign against Russia has also been remarkably broad and fast. Russian citizens, whether or not they support the war in Ukraine, have been prohibited from participating in international events and participating in the fields of education, culture and sports. The Russian soccer team, which qualified for the World Cup play-offs and could have reached Qatar 2022, was even banned from playing in the FIFA tournament.

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To the contrary, not only have Palestinian calls to boycott their Israeli assailant fallen on deaf ears, but athletes who have chosen to participate in individual acts of boycotting Israel have also been threatened and punished.

In the rare moments when solidarity with the Palestinians has had a sizeable and visible presence at an international sporting event, it has come under attack. More recently, the Moroccan team, which celebrated its World Cup victories by hoisting the Palestinian flag, faced accusations of anti-Semitism in the German media. Of course, raising the Ukrainian flag has never been a matter of concern to the German or other Western media.

Boycotting Russia has also been free of sanctions. Palestinians and their supporters, on the other hand, have had to pay a heavy price for building and leading the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as they have faced not only smear and smear campaigns, but also open government hostility in places like Germany, France, the US and the UK.

In fact, for the past nine months, Western hypocrisy has been on endless display. The Palestinians did not need the war in Ukraine to know that they are treated differently, that their lives do not matter and that international law does not apply to them. But this conflict was perhaps the final act that brought down the facade that the West used to cover its duplicity.

The Palestinians do not blame the Ukrainians for this state of affairs, although their government should know better than to curry favor with Israel. That has already proven fruitless, diplomatically and militarily.

The Palestinians, who have long suffered from Israeli wars and occupation, want the war in Ukraine to end, Ukraine to be free. They stand in solidarity with the victims.

However, they cannot hide their resentment for the unfair treatment they have received. The lives of the Palestinians should matter to the rest of the world as much as the lives of the Ukrainians. War crimes and occupation must be condemned in Ukraine, but also in Palestine.

The West must understand that the biased and selective application of international law and action against war only further encourage aggressors to commit violations.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.