By Chen Weihua, originally published by China Daily.The catastrophic civilian casualties and sufferings on both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict have shocked the entire world. What is also appalling is the hypocrisy and double standard exhibited by many Western leaders and media outlets.
US officials have continued to advocate Israel’s right to defend itself regardless of the high civilian death toll in Gaza – it has crossed 6,500, including more than 2,300 children.
While Western leaders have condemned Hamas’s Oct 7 attacks on Israel, they have not condemned Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on Gaza. That the Israeli attacks have killed many United Nations aid workers and more than 20 journalists has not made any difference to the Western leaders.
Western politicians who didn’t throw away any opportunity to accuse other countries of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity suddenly don’t know how to describe the slaughtering of thousands of innocent civilians despite the tragedy being played out in front of media cameras.
After Israel announced a siege of the Gaza Strip, cutting off water, food, fuel and electricity supply to the enclave, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was reminded of her tweet on Oct 19, 2022, in which she wrote that “Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially electricity, are war crimes. Cutting off men, women, children of water, electricity and heating with winter coming, these are acts of pure terror”.
In a tweet on Oct 15, she claimed that civilians in Gaza are also victims of Hamas. But when I asked a European Commission spokesman whether Hamas should be held responsible for the deaths of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, he simply dodged the question.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock blatantly lied when she said on Oct 21 that “Israel does care about the people of Gaza, the Palestinians”. Besides the high death toll, more than 1.4 million Palestinians have been displaced thanks to the conflict since Oct 7 according to the United Nations. All this prompted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to tell the UN Security Council on Tuesday that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum, the Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation”.
The hypocrisy and double standard have infuriated people across the world. Some 850 European Union officials signed a letter to von der Leyen on Oct 21 to challenge her pledge of “unconditional” support to Israel and her failure to say that Israel must abide by international humanitarian law in its military operations.
The usually pro-EU Euronews cited Europeans as saying that “they are ashamed to be Europeans now” due to the indifference of their political leaders toward the Palestinians.
Most mainstream US and EU news outlets have failed to objectively report on the conflict. CNN has told numerous personal stories of Israeli civilians attacked by Hamas, sometimes with anchors weeping. But they have shown no interest in such stories among Palestinian victims in Gaza, a bid to dehumanize the Palestinians.
In a story last week, a BBC reporter said 1,400 Israelis were “massacred” and 4,000 Palestinians were “killed”, a bias reflected in her choice of words.
Manipulating information has long been a favorite task of Western politicians and news media. Such manipulation is reflected in their reckless smear campaigns against China. But they have failed miserably to fool people this time. Some Western pundits have even said the West has lost its credibility and global public opinion this time.
Some US and EU politicians and news outlets have tried to slightly modify their rhetoric and tactics over the past few days, but their bias is so deep-rooted and has indeed become an obstacle to finding a peaceful, two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine problem.
The US vetoing a UN Security Council resolution moved by Brazil last week calling for a cease-fire is an apt example of Western leaders’ doublespeak. It is akin to endorsing more killings of people on both sides, including women and children, and worsening the sufferings of the Palestinian people in Gaza. No amount of humanitarian aid by Washington can make up for the suffering of Palestinians caused by its veto.
The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.
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