The sheer outpouring of support for Ukraine has left me with a chip on my shoulder.
It’s clear that the biggest losers in this war are the innocent. Any group of photos sadly shows that.
I hate admitting this. I know in my mind that these people are innocent victims of war, but the usual upset that I feel when seeing such images—as I see from Yemen and Syria for example—it isn’t there. And I feel guilty for this.
I’m guessing a lot of you can relate.
The clearer hypocrisy that’s bubbled up from this conflict we can identify almost automatically. The US’s constant antagonizing of Russia, for example—as if they have never done harm (how about bombing civilians a few months ago) or had bad intentions (how about invading and terrorizing Iraq for years) or intervened in another country’s elections (they even did it in Russia)—is laughable at this point.
Of course, it’s not like Russia is innocent. We need not forget the harm Russia caused and continues to cause in Syria. Although the scale of the bombing in Syria has been greater (at least by the picture shown here), their crimes there seem to have given them time to test weapons, technology, and methods that have helped them in Ukraine.
Eastern Europe has typically been unwilling to take in refugees from Syria. This time though, they have opened up to refugees and seem sensitive to the tragedies of war.
Other aspects of the hypocrisy reactions to this war have been discussed on this site. Unfortunately though, the hypocrisy and myopic reactions of so many keep coming, and I do blame them in part for my own inability to focus on the victims of the war.
Israel is also allowing around 20,000 Jewish Ukrainians to seek refuge in Israel. In addition, it will allow up to 5,000 non-Jewish migrants to seek refuge—a cap they’ve met. These 5,000 refugees will neither have the right to work, nor access to the school system for their children, nor access to the health care system.
This isn’t much of a surprise (although at least one of Israel’s own finds it grossly hypocritical), but just imagine if the US, Israel’s lifeline that loves to talk about how it is the only democracy in the Middle East, also imposed a religion-based cap.
Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ made the democrats and many upset (with good reason), but when Israel does that, we don’t hear much at all.
On Sunday the UK’s foreign minister supported President Zelenskiy’s call for people to go to fight Russia in Ukraine. Reuter’s points out, however, that the UK advised against traveling to help fight against al-Asad (whom they also oppose) in Syria, warning citizens “that they could be arrested on their return, saying they may pose a security risk to the UK.”
Meanwhile, the UK has also streamlined the visa process for Ukrainians seeking to join relatives in the UK. Now, the whole process can be done online (no going to a facility to give biometric data, etc.).
While the UK did take in refugees from Syria, the process has been anything but streamlined. What’s perhaps even more shameful, the UK rejected around 75 percent of refugee applicants from Iraq and Afghanistan, applicants fleeing wars in which the UK played a part.
There is also a growing concern that Biden is working to get the Saudis to lower oil prices in response to the war in Ukraine and that the Saudis will only do that if the US increases support for the ongoing was in Yemen. The war in Yemen has destroyed the lives of countless Yemenis. It has starved children to death, and it continues to do so to this day.
It’s simply hard to put aside all the double standards and hypocrisy.
Helping Kith and Kin
Others are making a different, fair point: the Europeans are just helping their own now; why didn’t Arab countries help their Syrian brothers and sisters? This was put well by this Syrian man, now displaced and living in a camp in his country:
“‘We do not blame European countries, we blame Arab countries’…‘European countries welcome those from their people. We blame our Arab brethren, not the rest.’”
For those of us in the West, we see his point and certainly understand that this is an Ummah-wide problem. It’s certainly an important reminder. But we’re also here, watching on as the actions of Russia—as terrible as they are—are vilified in a way that makes them seem unique to Russia, while the long list of crimes of NATO countries are forgotten or dismissed. It’s Putin who’s evil. No one else.
Maybe the challenge here is being compassionate to those who seem foreign to us, regardless of all the hypocrisy that surrounds this conflict. Maybe we won’t feel the surge of emotion like with our own, but we can certainly imagine the horror of invasion. After all, we’ve seen it happen to our own. That’s what we can bring to this conversation, this common thread of destruction and personal-interest-above-all that all the current major powers share and the threat they continue to impose on civilians near and far.