The Sad Politics of Killing Children
When the United States began condemning Russia for downing the Malaysian Airline and killing 298 civilians on June 17, the first argument they used was to highlight the fact that 80 children were among the dead.
Samantha Powers, the American Ambassador to the United Nations, delivered an emotional denunciation of the apparent rebel downing of Malaysian Flight 17.
Powers' voice broke as she said, "Yesterday, we were all shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. All 298 people aboard — 283 passengers and 15 crew — were killed. As we stared at the passenger list yesterday, we saw next to three of the passengers names a capital 'I.' As we now know, the letter 'I' stands for infant."
As it turns out, the issue of dead babies is a political one and has nothing to do with humanity, outrage or ethics.
Powers has made no mention of the fact that of more than 125 Palestinian children killed by Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip that at least two dozen were infants, too.
The difference, of course, is that in the case of the battling the Russians, American politicians are carefully documenting the names and backgrounds of each of the deceased airline passengers, but are not wasting their time to document information about the Palestinians Israel has killed.
That personalization and impersonalization of victims of conflicts is what swings public opinion in America. Ambassador Powers knows that if she wants to keep her job, she had better make sure that when she denounces the murder of babies that she doesn't mention Israel in the same breath.
Yet, Israel is murdering babies. And those dead babies are a powerful indictment of Israel's true actions in this replay of several past horrific wars that Israel has started but has used clever public relations spin and media bias to blame all on Hamas.
The images of the dead babies, young children and teenagers are circulating on the Internet and are even making it to the social media of many Americans who are normally sheltered from these gruesome images.
That's not to say Hamas is any better. Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities and, although they can't control where they land the way Israel can control its sophisticated missiles, Hamas doesn't care if Israeli civilians or soldiers are killed.
Hamas is a terrorist organization. But that's no excuse for Israel, a government, to act like a terrorist organization, too.
And it is.
How does Israel justify it?
By offering excuses that are unchallenged by American officials like U.N. Ambassador Samantha Powers.
When the Russians denied being behind the downing of the Malaysian Airliner, Powers and nearly every American elected official scoffed.
It's so easy when the foreign power committing the war crimes is a foreign country we don't like. But Israel is a foreign country we do like. And Russia's public relations strategy in the United States doesn't even come close to Israel's sophisticated media manipulation.
If the Russians claimed that the enemy was hiding behind civilians, the world would laugh. But that's exactly what Israel has convinced the world to believe in order to justify the outrageous level of civilian casualties taking place in Gaza.
Israel claims Hamas is hiding behind civilians and they have no choice but to fire. But they do have a choice. You don't fire at civilians even when alleged militants are hiding among them. You go in and fight the militants.
But Israel doesn't care about the civilians at all, demonstrated clearly by the increasingly rising civilian death count.
And it is not like Israel is surprised the civilians are in the buildings they are blowing up. More than 5,000 civilians have been made homeless by Israel's shelling and missiles.
In fact, believing it was a defense, Israel announced it was sending text messages and calling cell phones of Palestinian civilians warning them to leave and threatening that they would begin bombing their homes in minutes.
What that means is Israel is bombing homes that it knows has civilians in them. And that's murder. As outrageous and as disgusting as was the killing of the infants on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17.
There is no difference between the killings of airline passengers or Palestinian civilians, except in the politics of the people making the arguments and the absence of any moral conscience.
Although Israel has once again gotten away with killing Palestinian civilians, the American people are starting to see that Israel is nothing more than a brutal foreign country with no conscience of its own or moral line that it won't cross to achieve its goals.
Those photos of dead babies killed by Israel could be Israel's undoing.
Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist managing editor of The Arab Daily News at www.TheArabDailyNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @RayHanania. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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