Suddenly, certain people are interested in the Sri Lankan conflict. That’s not because they’re generally interested in highlighting human rights abuses by the SL government or the LTTE’s brutality, but because it offers a cheap shot as a comparison with the outrage the Gaza invasion to the relative silence over SL. Apparently it illustrates how evil the “anti-imperialist left” is.
This is the point made by David T on Harry’s Place, who usually hates making comparisons because it implies “moral equivalence” but has made an exception here for the required cheap shot.
So why might the outrage in Britain over Gaza be higher profile than the conflict in Sri Lanka?
How about this?
1) Israel is a closer ally of Britain than Sri Lanka is? Israel also receives far more military aid from the USA (our biggest ally) and money from British taxpayers that directly funds militant groups there.
2) That while Sri Lanka/LTTE conflict is a localised problem that only involved India when it decided to stick its oar in, the Israel / Palestine conflict involves far more countries and make the entire Middle East unstable. It also affects oil prices – another big news angle.
3) Given there are several countries involved in the I/P conflict, of which Israel has nuclear weapons and its enemies are trying to develop them, the issue could rapidly spiral out of control into something much bigger. Sri Lanka in contrast isn’t that militarily sophisticated and the LTTE have little hi-tech weaponry to make it a wider conflict. Neither is the LTTE funded by other countries.
4) That there are more Palestinians who are in a more dire situation than Tamils. Sri Lanka hasn’t blockaded its Tamil population and put them in a massive open-air prison, and the Tamils weren’t (until recently) dependent on aid and starving from a breakdown of infrastructure.
5) There are plenty more supporters of the Israeli or Palestinian positions in the mainstream media who keep the issue alive in the national conversation (as is the case in the United States) than on Sri Lanka. How many mainstream political commentators do you know who are Tamil or Singhalese? Britain is also involved by virtue of the fact that we do have Muslim fanatics in the UK who use Gaza as an excuse for their terrorism.
6) It’s also amusing that David T is singling out media (Pickled Politics and the Guardian) as guilty of not paying enough attention to the SL conflict. But prior to the recent Gaza attack we had more posts on SL than we did on Gaza.
Furthermore, you can hardly accuse others of not paying enough attention to Sri Lanka, when Harry’s Place bloggers themselves are obsessed with the minutae of Muslim fundamentalism and Muslim groups worldwide. And this is despite the fact that the LTTE has killed far more people over recent decades and pioneered suicide terrorist missions and child soldiers. David T has the audacity to accuse others of paying too much attention to Muslims… while doing it himself.
And it isn’t just the Harry’s Place – if you read major parts of of the media then Muslim fundamentalists threaten the very foundation of western civilisation and are apparently they’re gaining on us as Britain Descends Into Dhimmification. These lot are obsessed by what Muslims do. That makes the Israel/Palestine conflict, linked with Muslim groups here or internationally, a much higher profile issue. Even if PP or the Guardian ignored it entirely, most of the media wouldn’t because they’d be telling us how Israelis were facing IslamofascistsTM.
7) Lastly, and this is the most important point, there is no moral clarity in the Sri Lankan conflict. The LTTE is as brutal in its aims as the SL government is. Similarly, there is no moral clarity over Israel/Palestine either – as I said here.
But those who make these fatuous and self-serving comparisons do so not because they care for Sri Lankans, but because they want to insinuate that focusing on Israel/Palestine is spurred by anti-semitism rather than reasons mentioned above.
They are also the ones who support Israel unequivocally. Take one example: during the recent conflict Israel “rained fire” with White Phosphorus over Gaza. The usage of white phosphorus in crowded civilian areas such as Gaza is not legally allowed under Geneva Conventions because it burns people’s skins.
Was there any major outcry over this blatant flouting of international law and usage of chemical weapons among Israel’s “friendly critics”. Well, I did a search on Harry’s Place and this is what I found.
Hmmm, that’s a bit odd. I thought the writers on Harry’s Place were really concerned about human rights.
Even the Times newspaper covered the White Phosphorus attacks, as did its cartoonist, hardly a paper criticised for being pro-Palestinian.
You know what they say, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Comparing the Sri Lankan conflict with Israel/Palestine isn’t just fatuous, it’s actually dishonest to do so in such a way.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Media,Middle East,Sri Lanka