COMMENT

Unequal after death

By Pantelis Boukalas

The dead are dead and the slain are slain, whether they are Malaysian, Dutch, Palestinian or Israeli, whether they are the innocent victims of a civilian plane that is shot down (we still don’t know who is responsible for last week’s downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, but the perpetrators were definitely an amoral bunch) or the also innocent victims – mostly civilians and children – killed by bomber aircraft that support the task of gunboats and armored ground troops.

It seems however that in the eyes of so-called international diplomacy, those cruel players of the most brutal power game, the dead in Ukraine or Gaza are not even entitled to equality after death. There are always two types of dead people: “our” dead and “their” dead. They do not carry the same weight. They do not generate the same amount of sorrow or indignation. And they fail to invite a unified response from the world’s powerful, who do not seem to care whether their reaction is unified and unbiased, or whether their ethical standards are fixed and not fluctuating depending on the occasion and the nationality of the victims. The dead, of course, being citizens of the big nation of the dead, bear none of the citizenships and nationalities known to us. It speaks volumes about the darkest corners of the human psyche that we would use the death of one side, “our” side, as an opportunity to politically discredit or downgrade the death of those on the other.

Israel too tries to play down the tragedy in Gaza, albeit in a different way than its allies. So it warned foreign journalists that had chosen to remain on this tiny strip of land that this is indeed a war zone, and hence their lives are in danger and they’d better pack up and leave.

Of course such a warning is a thinly disguised threat. Because the mere presence of journalists there is a threat to the Israeli army. With their words and photographs they expose what is presented as a pinpoint operation aiming to minimize collateral damage as a blatant lie. That is unless one believes that a bunch of kids playing soccer next to the ruins are a group of terrorists-to-be that deserve no better than to be shot down.

But even if all foreign journalists leave Gaza, there will still be their Israeli colleagues whose honesty shuns the needs of national(ist) propaganda. Like Gideon Levy who on July 13 wrote an article in Haaretz titled “Israel’s real purpose in Gaza operation? To kill Arabs.”

Could such a method ever bring about peace? Or is peace the target, as understood by military men?

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