( Middle East Monitor ) – As we watch the events unfolding in the besieged Gaza Strip, where resistance fighters have been battling for the rights of their people which have been usurped from them for over 50 years, I couldn’t help but recall walking through London and coming across the Russian Embassy, where activists had painting the Ukrainian flag on the ground.
The UK has been at the forefront of condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, emphasising its solidarity with Kyiv and putting this support into action in a number of ways. When Moscow first invaded Ukraine, most European countries announced immediate support for Kyiv through military and financial aid. Within a few days, Russia was slapped with sanctions, and steps were taken to weaken its financial capabilities. The oppressor was left isolated and short of allies.
This courtesy is not one paid to those living under the world’s longest ongoing occupation; Israel’s control of the Palestinian people, their properties and their religious sites. Where Palestinians are concerned, the media looks the other way, failing to report on the 17-year blockade imposed on Gaza, or how the UN declared Gaza to be uninhabitable. The land of Palestine has been squeezed out of the hands of its owners and is being taken over – with the view to completely annex it – by the Israeli occupation. This can be seen clearly in the occupied West Bank, where the land under Palestinian control shrinks on a daily basis.
However, protests in support of these oppressed people do not receive the same welcome as those for Ukraine. In 2014, while Israel was pummeling the Gaza Strip with rockets that killed more than 2,250 people, England Cricket team’s all-rounder, Moeen Ali, wore a wristband which said ‘Free Palestine’, during a test match against India. Very quickly he was banned from wearing this ‘political display’ of solidarity. Similarly, in 2021, when Israel was bombing Gaza, Manchester United players, Paul Pogba and Amad Diallo, waved the Palestinian flag at the end of a game to showcase their support for the people of Gaza, calling for peace, the mainstream media advocated the narrative that sports should remain free from political influences and away from personal associations.
For Ukraine, however, things are different. From tennis to football to the Olympics, politics was been intermingled with sports. The Premier League was rebranded, depicting its full support for Ukraine. The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) went a step further and imposed an outright ban on all Russian and Belarusian players from competing at the prestigious Wimbledon Grand Slam in 2022.
The West, the self-proclaimed champions of freedom of expression, resort to a selective mechanism for exercising their support of narratives. Even now, with Hamas fighting back, global leaders, be it Biden or Sunak, took no time to extend a helping hand to their ally, Israel. With the ‘rock-solid and unwavering support’ of the US president, military support is headed towards the Middle East to support Israel. The media, following their state agenda, villainised Hamas and placed a blanket of innocence on Israel, completely ignoring its ongoing occupation an oppression of Palestinians which international rights groups have labelled apartheid.
The West is not alone in its hypocrisy, the Muslim World has had its share of shortcomings with regards the Palestinian struggle. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwar ul-Haq Kakar advocated for a two-state solution, but did not highlight the brutality inflicted on Palestinians by Israel. While the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called upon international bodies such as the United Nations to ensure the protection of Palestinian civilians.
Qatar, however, was quick to hold Israel responsible for the escalation in Gaza. Its Foreign Ministry further expressed concerns that Israel would use this incident as a reason to initiate a disproportionate war against civilians in Gaza.
The situation in Gaza is a reminder that decolonisation is not an abstract thought. It’s a reality beyond history books, research papers and panel talks. The recent attack by Hamas is a stand taken by the Palestinians. After years of genocide, land-grabbing and violation of basic human rights, there comes a time when oppression becomes unbearable, and revolt through an armed struggle is looked upon as the only way out. So while the world media labels this “terrorism”, we need to remember that the oppressed cannot continue to lie motionless on the ground as the occupation tramples all over them and the international community continues to give up the little rights they have remaining
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor or Informed Comment.
About the Author
Middle East Monitor is a not-for-profit press monitoring organization, founded on 1 July 2009, and based in London. Journalists who have written for it include Amelia Smith, Diana Alghoul, Ben White, Jehan Alfarra and Jessica Purkiss. The editorial line straddles the British left and the British Muslim religious Right.