by Bruce S. Thornton
The surreal moral idiocy that characterizes hatred of Israel is illustrated daily by states whose actions are shrugged away by the international media. Consider the recent Turkish invasion of northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish militants who killed 24 soldiers at military posts near the border. Turkish special forces crossed the border, and the air force bombed targets in Iraq. Some speculate a ground invasion in force is in the works. Since the US supplies much of the military hardware used in the attack, along with intelligence gathered by drones, unsurprisingly the White House “strongly condemn[ed]” the “outrageous terrorist attack against Turkey,” and promised to “continue our strong cooperation” to help Turkey defeat the Kurdish militant separatists.
Apologists for Turkey would argue that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is a terrorist organization, as designated by both the EU and the US, one that since the beginning of its armed struggle in 1984 has killed 12,000 Turks. Thus Turkey is within its rights under international law to cross into another sovereign nation in order to punish and deter further attacks. Leaving aside the accuracy of deeming Kurdish separatists to be terrorists, the behavior of the Turks raises a more interesting question: why isn’t this same consideration given to Turkey afforded to Israel?
Comparison with Israel’s struggle against Arab terrorism reveals the extent of the malignant double standards applied to Israel. In fact, the Kurdish people have a much stronger case for independence than do the Arabs called Palestinians. The 30 million Kurds in the Middle East have a documented 2400-year presence in their homeland, a region that now includes parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. They also have a distinct language and customs. The only thing they lack to be a formal nation is their own country, a consequence of the way the British carved up the Ottoman Empire after World War I, a process that served England’s imperial interests rather than the historically justified claims of peoples to national self-determination.
The less than 2 million Palestinians in the so-called West Bank, on the other hand, are ethnically, linguistically, and culturally similar to the Arabs of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. There is no historical record of a distinct Palestinian people, nor was Palestine ever an Arab “homeland.” This is why in 1948 and 1967, Arab armies attacked Israel not to establish an independent Palestinian state, but to destroy Israel and divide its territory among the victors. Arabs ended up in Palestine by the same process that brought them to North Africa, Egypt, and Iraq — as the descendants of conquerors, occupiers, colonists, and immigrants. Palestinian “national aspirations” insofar as they are sincere are a result of military failure, institutionalized victimization, and betrayal by their fellow Arabs, who have found in the displaced Palestinian “refugees” a useful public relations weapon for marginalizing Israel and questioning her legitimacy.
Given the weaker foundations for Palestinian statehood, not to mention the ghoulish carnage wreaked worldwide by decades of Palestinian terrorism, one would think that when it comes to international support for “national aspirations,” the Kurds would be near the top of the list while the Palestinians wouldn’t even qualify. Yet global support for the Palestinians, and its attendant hatred of Israel, dwarfs any sympathy for the national aspirations of the Kurds. The West has sent billions in aid to the Palestinians, has anxiously brokered summits, conferences, and other negotiations in an attempt to solve the crisis; the UN has demonized, ostracized, and criticized Israel, and her own allies have demanded more and more suicidal concessions. Meanwhile the PKK is condemned as a villainous terrorist organization, and the legitimate complaints of the Kurds — including the suppression of their culture and language, the serial violation of their human rights, the destruction by some estimates of 8,000 Kurdish villages, the deaths of over 30,000 Kurds, and the creation of 3-4 million refugees — are ignored by the same international media and institutions that vilify Israel’s legitimate attempts to defend her citizens.
Just look at the difference between Israel’s incursion into Gaza in 2009 and the Turkish attack on northern Iraq. The PKK attacked military targets, whereas Hamas and its minions had been raining hundreds of rockets onto Israeli civilians. The PKK is fighting for Kurdish autonomy within the regions of Turkey where large numbers of Kurds live. Hamas has been autonomous in Gaza since Israel pulled out in 2005 and dismantled settlements housing 8,500 Israelis. The Kurds want coexistence with Turkey on the basis of recognition of Kurdish culture and language. Hamas wants to destroy Israel, despite being given autonomy over Gaza. Yet the Palestinians in Gaza are recipients of international aid and sympathy, all the while Israel is condemned for its “brutal assault on Hamas” and its unleashing of “its latest wave of desolation against Gaza,” as the London Observer wrote in 2009. As for the Kurds, they are noticed only when there is a PKK attack, and then only to be condemned. Meanwhile, the US forgets the support the Kurds gave us during the invasion of Iraq, even as our NATO ally Turkey refused our troops transit into northern Iraq.
This double standard is particularly galling when Turkey is involved. Under the Islamist regime of Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has sought greater legitimacy among the Muslim umma by turning viciously on Israel, most grievously in the support given to the 2010 “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” that attempted to run the legal Israeli blockade of Gaza. The resulting battle on the ship Mavi Marmara, which started when militants attacked Israeli commandos, resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish citizens. Eight of them were affiliated with various Islamist organizations, including the Turkish Felicity Party, which advocates war against Zionism and the West. The incident, of course, generated the usual international outcry over Israel’s “disproportionate response” against “humanitarians” merely attempting to deliver aid to Gaza, even though Israel offered to let the ship dock in Ashdod and let any legitimate aid be transported from there.
Now imagine if Israel had supported a convoy attempting to cross into Turkey to deliver “aid” to PKK encampments, and a similar fight had erupted when the Turks interdicted the convoy. How much sympathy would there have been for any Israelis killed in the fight? How much condemnation of Turkey’s “disproportionate response” would we have heard from the anti-Zionist media or the UN? About as much as the recent incursion into northern Iraq has aroused.
As for the grievous sin of “occupation” continually laid at Israel’s feet, why don’t we ever hear about the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus since 1974? Northern Cyprus was 80% Greek when the Turks invaded. A third were forced from their homes by the Turks, and replaced with Turkish Cypriots from southern Cyprus. Turks from Anatolia have also been sent to Cyprus to occupy the homes of the ethnically cleansed Greeks. Hundreds of churches have been vandalized and destroyed, Greek clergy assaulted, icons stolen, and mosaics and frescoes removed. Yet even as the world frets over Israeli “settlements” in their ancient homelands of Judea and Samaria — all the while Muslim holy sites are protected by Israel and allowed to be managed by Muslims — Turkish invasion, ethnic cleansing, occupation, and destruction of Greek Cyprus’s cultural and religious heritage are met with an international yawn.
Whatever the reasons for this double standard — national self-interest, proximity to Arab-controlled oil, fear of terrorism, or old-fashioned anti-Semitism — it is a stain on the international community, and a damning indictment of its moral legitimacy.
©2011 Bruce S. Thornton