Ranking Sufferings


Walter Russell Mead is disturbed that we pay so much attention to Palestinian suffering. He alleges that "disproportionate reactions to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians constitutes a genuine scandal and pretty much proves that anti-Semitism did not die when Hitler shot himself underneath Berlin":

Whatever the wrongs of Israel’s occupation policy and I agree that there are some the Palestinians, especially in the West Bank but even in Gaza, live much better than many people in the world whose suffering attracts far less world attention and whose oppressors get far less criticism. I would much rather be a Palestinian, even in Gaza, than a member of a minority tribe in the hills of Myanmar, or almost anyone in the Eastern Congo or Darfur.

Millions of children in Pakistan and Indonesia have less food security, less educational opportunity and less access to health services than Palestinians who benefit from UN services (to which the United States is historically the largest single contributor) that poor people in other countries can only dream of.

I think there's a very important distinction here that Mead skips right over: by virtue of its aid and diplomatic support, the U.S. is implicated in Israel's behavior in a way that it simply is not with other countries. So one can agree with Mead, as I do, that Israel's treatment of the Palestinians does not rise to the world-historical level and nonetheless still argue that American policy toward Israel needs to be considered on the basis of that treatment (or more accurately, the ramification that that treatment has for American security).

Agreed. Americans finance this mistreatment with $3 billion a year. And American security interests in a global war with Islamism would be served by a peace agreement, which this president has a unique chance to accomplish, in a manner that could transform our relations with the Muslim world and help move the moderate middle of global Muslims away from Islamism.

(Photo: a Gazan child buried under the rubble of an Israeli military attack during the Gaza war a year and a bit ago. By Thair Hasani/Getty.)