The recent flare-up of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has once again exposed Western double standards on human rights.
The West puts economic and political pressure on those regimes that are seen as violators of human rights while for decades Israel has committed war crimes against the Palestinians with impunity.
Excessive force against Palestinian protestors, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and discriminatory policies in the West Bank and Gaza are usually met with muted response from Western nations.
Now that the people of Gaza are being bombed and deprived of food, water, medical supplies and fuel, how credible is the human rights rhetoric? What about those organisations that champion human rights for political and economic ends?
It is as if the West denies the Palestinians any means to resist Israeli occupation. Even non-violent methods of resistance such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaigns are vilified, even criminalised. Even parties that show sympathy to Palestinian mistreatment are painted black.
In the world’s capitals, demonstrations have been held against the killing of innocent children to cover up the errors of politicians.
In recent weeks, ignoring human rights violations and war crimes undoubtedly undermines the credibility of the West as defenders of human rights and international law, which prohibits the targeting civilians or imposing collective punishment. According to international law, all parties must at all times distinguish between combatants and civilians. Non-combatants must never be targets — only target combatants and military objectives.
The West has been unwavering in its diplomatic and political support for Israel, thus compromising their position as neutral mediators in the conflict. This double standard is evident in their vetoing of United Nations resolutions that criticise Israel, coupled with pressure on international bodies to ignore Israeli violations.
US financial and military aid to Israel raises more concerns about neutrality. While the Palestinians continue to suffer from the consequences of occupation, Western support for Israel only fuels the asymmetric power dynamic in the region.
The failure of Western nations to hold Israel accountable for violating international law sets a dangerous precedent that other states can emulate to justify their own human rights abuses.
In short, the grievous situation in Gaza today puts human rights in jeopardy forever.