The Putin regime articulates outrage about the mistreatment of the Ossetians while being totally callous about its own human rights abuses, especially in Chechnya. It is obvious the Russians are preaching human rights and self-determination as a weapon to engage in aggression.
The story brings to mind two historical parallels. The first is the campaign by Nazi Germany on behalf of “self-determination” for the Sudeten Germans inside Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. Germany also invented a “people in need of self-determination inside the small state on which it had designs. Thus, it invented claims of human rights abuses and then used the separatist activities of the Sudetens as an excuse to invade and demolish Czechoslovakia.
It goes without saying that human rights were respected much more in Czechoslovakia than in Nazi Germany. And ethnic Germans already had their own sovereign countries they could migrate to if they were unhappy in the Sudeten areas of Czechoslovakia.
The other historical parallel concerns the invention of a “Palestinian people. The Arabs use the Palestinian separatist movement in a manner similar to how Russia uses the Ossetian separatists. The Arabs and their apologists invent tales of human rights abuses of Palestinians by Israel, much like Russia invents stories about Georgian mistreatment of Ossetians.
Never mind that the human rights of Arabs in Israel are respected to an infinitely higher degree than are those of Arabs in Arab countries, and that non-Arabs in Arab countries are treated even worse. The world is up in arms about so-called Israeli apartheid, while in reality Israel is the only Middle East state that is not an apartheid regime.
Yes, the Georgians did sometimes mistreat the Ossetians, who have a far stronger case for self-determination than the Palestinians. The Ossetians speak their own language unrelated to that of their neighbors and have their own culture. By comparison, the Palestinians are far less different culturally and less distinct linguistically from the Arabs in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (from where most of them migrated to Palestine in the late 19th and early 20th century).
These phenomena raise a serious question: If the world is horrified at Russian aggression and behavior toward Georgians, where is its outrage at Arab aggression toward Israel and behavior identical to that of Russia? Why are those who dismiss the claims of a right to self-determination by Ossetians not dismissing as a similar Sudeten-style ploy the demands for “Palestinian self-determination?
Why are Palestinians – who are treated far better than the Ossetians and the Chechens – the focus of countless media exposes about their imaginary mistreatment by Israel?
And where are all those left-wing humanitarians? Where are the International Solidarity Movement protesters who like to attack Israeli troops and police and serve as human shields to protect the Palestinian “victims of Israeli self-defense? Why are they not rushing to Ossetia and Georgia to stand up to the Russian troops, throwing rocks at them and singing folk songs?
Where are the leftist human shields blocking the path of Russian military vehicles the same way they block Israel Defense Forces operations? Are they afraid they will not be served the same nice gourmet lattes they get when Israeli forces apprehend them for hooliganism in the West Bank?
Why are leftists not organizing ships to break the Russian blockade of the Georgia coast the same way they are trying to provide sea-borne aid to Hamas in Gaza? Where are the Rachel Corries and why are they not challenging Russian bulldozer crews? Why are the Anarchists against the Wall not hopping planes to Tbilisi to challenge Russian construction crews erecting walls in Abkhazia and Ossetia?
Why are Israeli leftist professors not holding pro-Ossetian poetry readings and solidarity rallies in Tbilisi?
Here we have leftist hypocrisy exposed for all to see.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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