How the Russia-Ukraine war exposed European hypocrisy over Palestine
Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I was asked during several conversations with European policymakers: "What can Europeans do to address the injustice in Palestine?" But when I suggested a list of desired interventions, I got in return fake smiles, rolled eyes, or suggestions that these were unrealistic demands.
or example, when I suggested that Europeans should support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, the answer was: "No, no, that belongs to another era". When I recommended a quick, unified European response to Israeli atrocities, I was told: "That does not exist; we are fragmented and very different, and the process of establishing a consensus is unfeasible." On resistance, it "is not a word we like to hear in our policy domains. That is inherently aggressive, and most likely violent."
How about solidarity, I asked? "Well, we prefer diplomacy. That is more modern and less activist." Liberation? "That is unattainable. What about self-governing?"
Read the text and think of Palestine. Read it again and think of Ukraine.
Welcome to European hypocrisy.
I often wonder, once the war in Ukraine is over, whether I will give the same list of demands, now that the bar is higher and we know better what Europe can do when there is a political will.
A moment of reflection
It is awful to compare tragedies, especially when civilian casualties and refugees are involved.
As a refugee myself, I know very well what that status entails. But the moments and processes of tragedies are also, sadly, moments of reflection and reassessment.
They are moments that expose complicit actors, reveal hypocrisies, and unmask realities. We have seen this for the past 100 years in Palestine, and also in the past two weeks in Ukraine.
It has been astonishing to witness the swift European response, the outpouring of statements condemning the Russian aggression, the unconditional welcoming of European refugees, the imposition of sanctions, the ability to mobilise quickly and collectively when the political will exists, the celebration of resistance when it is "white, blond and blue-eyed" - and the list goes on.
I am not envious of my Ukrainian fellows getting all the support they need. But I find myself compelled, in light of the "Ukraine moment" the world is going through, to ask my fellow Europeans, individuals and institutions: will you rethink your hypocritical attitudes and long-standing double standards?