POLITICIANS have a talent for putting their foot in it; some go as far as to put their whole leg in it, whatever ‘it’ is. Take for instance Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf’s recent statement in an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. According to the leader of the Scots, there is very little concern shown for the Gazans and ‘Palestinian blood is very cheap’. This, he opines, is because Gazans are Muslims and people place an inferior value on Muslim lives. Really?
In Britain that is not the case. There has very regrettably been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crime in Britain since the massacres of Jewish people on October 7. For the comparatively higher statistics for the spike in anti-Semitic hate crime, see here. However that behaviour is as I have just described: a crime. Muslim lives are as important as anyone else’s in Britain because the law and most people say so. Yes, Muslim lives do matter. Yousaf’s assertion is therefore preposterous.
In fact, one could argue that in some quarters of the political spectrum, Palestinian lives are worth more than any other. Since that fateful day in October, there have been more demonstrations of sympathy for the Gazans who are now suffering Israel’s military actions than for any other people-group in living memory. There have been street demonstrations and individual expressions of sorrow. Never has the alliance between middle-class Guardianistas, Corbynista MPs, masked anarcho-socialists, keffiyeh-clad Jihadis and virtue-signalling Gen Zs been so tight. It really is a seething, febrile and unholy alliance.
It is not only the megaphone-waving Hamas wannabes and their woke fellow travellers who are concerned with the Gazans’ plight. The British media regularly shows heart-rending coverage of bombed-out homes and Gazan casualties.
The problem with this level of attention on Gaza is that it overshadows other conflicts in which innocent people are suffering and dying. So why are the pro-Palestinian crowds not also taking to the street to chant against Russian aggression in Ukraine, the murder of Christians in Nigeria by Boko Haram and the killing of innocent bystanders caught up in Colombian gang warfare? There are only so many causes with which a person can be concerned but surely, they could occupy the streets occasionally on behalf of people other than those dwelling in the Strip?
What is noteworthy is that the pro-Palestinian demonstrators seem not at all moved by the plight of non-Palestinian Muslims. The Chinese are busy herding the Ughur people into concentration camps and forcibly sterilising their young adults and yet not a word comes from those chanting ‘from the River to the Sea’.
It is also a tragedy that other Muslims hold Muslim lives cheaply. It was the Saudis who bombed the hell out of the Yemenis in an attempt to restore to power their ally, the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. The civil war in Muslim Syria has been relentlessly bloody. Iranian women have been murdered by Ali Khamenei’s police for refusing to cover their hair; 61 female political prisoners are currently held in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
If Yousaf wants to point a finger at people who hold Muslim lives cheaply, it is at pro-Palestinian activists and violent Muslim regimes around the world that he should be pointing and not the British people.
But none of this explains the fixation on Gaza. Why, if the fate of the Ugurs, Yemenis, Syrians and Iranian dissidents perturbs the demonstrators not a jot, are they so concerned with the Palestinians? And are they really concerned for the Palestinians after all? Undoubtedly, some are, but for others is their motivation not so much their empathy for the Palestinians as their animus for Israel and for Jews? If the Taliban kills men for not growing a beard or for playing chess, that is okay, but if Israel dares to defend itself against an implacable enemy such as Hamas, which uses its own people as human shields, then out they come, the righteous ones, to block Oxford Street, desecrate statues and scream for Intifada. In their delirious, back-slapping support for Gaza, Hamas and now the ship-shelling Houthis, which they regard as a manifestation of their anti-racism, these zealots, knowingly or unknowingly, are guilty of the oldest prejudice of all. How blind they are. As blind as Humza Yousaf.