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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bret Stephens nails it again

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens wrote a fantastic opinion piece yesterday asking (and answering) a fair question:  Why do Palestinian deaths garner such disproportionate outrage and sympathy from the world as compared to other conflicts around the world between Muslim and non-Muslim entities.

Here's a taste:

"Few places on earth have been as systematically brutalized over the past decade as Chechnya. So you might have thought that the Russian government's decision last week to declare an end to its "counterterrorism" operations in the territory would have been an occasion for somber reflection in the Western media. Forget it. It's a 600-word news item at best."

"Here's a contrast to ponder. Since the beginning of the second intifada in the autumn of 2000, roughly 6,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. That figure includes combatants, as well as those [civilians] killed in January's fighting in Gaza."

"As for Chechnya, there are no solid figures for the number of civilians killed since the second war began in late 1999; estimates range anywhere between 25,000 and 200,000. Chechnya's population, at a little over one million, is about one-third or one-fourth that of the Palestinians. That works out to between 25 to 200 Chechen deaths per 1,000, as against 1.5 to 2 Palestinian deaths per 1,000."


"I have a hypothesis. Maybe the world attends to Palestinian grievances but not Chechen ones for the sole reason that Palestinians are, uniquely, the perceived victims of the Jewish state. That is, when they are not being victimized by other Palestinians. Or being expelled en masse from Kuwait. Or being excluded from the labor force in Lebanon. Things you probably didn't know about, either. As for the Chechens, too bad for their cause that no Jew will ever likely become president of Russia."

You can read the whole thing here.

[Warning:  His essay contains a particularly gruesome description of an incident of Russian brutality against a female Chechan combatant... so you might want to finish your breakfast before reading.]

Posted by David Bogner on April 22, 2009 | Permalink


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I have argued for years that the Russians get off scot-free compared to Israel. A few years ago they had an incident in which terrorists took control of a theater.

They "defused" the situation by pumping gas into the theater, killed the terrorists and a number of the hostages. They can be quite blood thirsty, but you never hear the UN bad mouthing them.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 22, 2009 5:33:20 PM

Sadly reminds me of the Rwandan genocide...par contre a "realist" Harvard professor engages in a thought experiment. - besides the point, but goes to show how far a modern day "thinker" will go to prove a point.

Posted by: Rami | Apr 22, 2009 6:07:10 PM

Thanks for sharing this.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Apr 23, 2009 1:03:14 AM

The Russians have gotten away with murder for close to a century. The history books have plenty to say about the Germans (and rightfully so), but they usually ignore all the mass murder committed by the Soviets. When Ronald Reagan referred to them as an "Evil Empire" he was right.

Posted by: Karl Newman | Apr 23, 2009 2:43:59 AM

I had no idea. Thanks

Posted by: Seattle | Apr 25, 2009 7:51:59 AM

The Palestinians did not invent terror, but they certainly brought it's political use to new lows. Interestingly enough, the suicide bomber was an invention of the Chechnian rebels.
This column could be written with a number of names, like Darfur, substituting for Russia. And ask the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankans how things are going. Or the Tibetans and Chinese.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Apr 26, 2009 6:56:59 PM

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