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Why Palestine And Not Tibet ?

by @ 5:35 pm on March 25, 2008. Filed under China, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Middle East, Tibet

I don’t usually agree with Dennis Prager but he hits the nail on the head when he asks the question — Why Do Palestinians Get More Attention Than Tibetans ?

Money quote:

Tibet, at least 1,400 years old, is one of the world’s oldest nations, has its own language, its own religion and even its own ethnicity. Over 1 million of its people have been killed by the Chinese, its culture has been systematically obliterated, 6,000 of its 6,200 monasteries have been looted and destroyed, and most of its monks have been tortured, murdered or exiled.

Palestinians have none of these characteristics. There has never been a Palestinian country, never been a Palestinian language, never been a Palestinian ethnicity, never been a Palestinian religion in any way distinct from Islam elsewhere. Indeed, “Palestinian” had always meant any individual living in the geographic area called Palestine. For most of the first half of the 20th century, “Palestinian” and “Palestine” almost always referred to the Jews of Palestine. The United Jewish Appeal, the worldwide Jewish charity that provided the nascent Jewish state with much of its money, was actually known as the United Palestine Appeal. Compared to Tibetans, few Palestinians have been killed, its culture has not been destroyed nor its mosques looted or plundered, and Palestinians have received billions of dollars from the international community. Unlike the dying Tibetan nation, there are far more Palestinians today than when Israel was created.

None of this means that a distinct Palestinian national identity does not now exist. Since Israel’s creation such an identity has arisen and does indeed exist. Nor does any of this deny that many Palestinians suffered as a result of the creation of the third Jewish state in the area, known — since the Romans renamed Judea — as “Palestine.”

But it does mean that of all the causes the world could have adopted, the Palestinians’ deserved to be near the bottom and the Tibetans’ near the top. This is especially so since the Palestinians could have had a state of their own from 1947 on, and they have caused great suffering in the world, while the far more persecuted Tibetans have been characterized by a morally rigorous doctrine of nonviolence.

The answer, Prager thinks, lies in the fact that (1) the Palestinians have drawn the world’s attention to themselves through brutal acts of terrorism, (2) the Palestinians have rich Arab friends, (3) because the Palestinians are opposed to the State of Israel, and (4) because the world excuses non-European brutality:

If Tibet had been crushed by a white European nation, the Tibetans would have elicited far more sympathy. But, alas, their near-genocidal oppressor is not white. And the world does not take mass murder committed by non-whites nearly as seriously as it takes anything done by Westerners against non-Westerners. Furthermore, China is far more powerful and frightening than Israel. Israel has a great army and nuclear weapons, but it is pro-West, it is a free and democratic society, and it has seven million people in a piece of land as small as Belize. China has nuclear weapons, has a trillion U.S. dollars, an increasingly mighty army and navy, is neither free nor democratic, is anti-Western, and has 1.2 billion people in a country that dominates the Asian continent.

Prager’s theory makes sense, but it ignores the fact that the Tibetans aren’t the only oppressed nationality whose fate has been ignored. When the Soviet Union was starving the Ukranian people to death, the world largely ignored it and, thanks to one New York Times reporter, denied that it was even happening.

And the State of Israel didn’t even exist back then.

I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something more to this and it involves a willful denial on the part of certain elements of the Left to admit to the brutality of nations like the Soviet Union and China.

One Response to “Why Palestine And Not Tibet ?”

  1. calebc says:

    The Left? Really? I always saw the “Free Tibet” campaign as a leftist cause. I realize I’m not adding much here, but I was surprised to see that at the end of your post.

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