They are estimating that as many as 1,000 Gazans (unverified) may have been killed and many more wounded by Israel's counterattack against Hamas, whose missiles have rained down on southern Israel's schools, homes, and businesses for several years. Many of those killed by the Israel Defense Forces were Hamas operatives. (Israel turns out to have excellent intelligence about their locations, and in several instances the IDF phoned its target before attacking, giving him an opportunity to save his family by leaving the house.) But many were not terrorists, because Hamas has perfected a kind of camera-ready human sacrifice—placing its launchers in playgrounds, hospitals, and neighborhoods crowded with mothers and children.
Every innocent life lost is a tragedy and a horror. But if you watch the news in Brussels or Boston and certainly in Islamabad or Caracas, you will get the distorted impression that the Palestinian plight is the worst on earth—an impression that is reinforced almost daily by the United Nations. We in the United States pay almost no attention to the resolutions, findings, and advocacy of the U.N., regarding it as a font of gasbaggery, stinking hypocrisy, and cant. But the rest of the world does pay attention. According to Eye on the U.N., in 2008, 68 percent of General Assembly resolutions regarding violations of human rights targeted Israel. Afghanistan was cited in 4 percent of the resolutions, along with Azerbaijan, Georgia, the United States, and a few others. Russia, Sudan, China, and Saudi Arabia, to name just a few, were not cited at all. In 2007, 32 countries were mentioned for human-rights violations, though most just barely. Israel once again topped the list with 121 actions taken against it. Sudan came in second with 61, Myanmar third with 41. The U.S. was No. 4, with 39 actions, tied with the Democratic Republic of the Congo!
Regarding the plight of Gaza, remember this: Between 1948, when Israel was created, and 1967, when Israel captured Gaza in a defensive war, the Gaza Strip was administered by Egypt. During those 19 years, the Egyptians never offered citizenship to the Palestinians living in Gaza, nor did they permit them free transit from the Strip into Egypt proper. They did nothing to encourage the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. In fact, in 1958, Egypt's President Nasser formally annulled the "All Palestine Government"—a remnant of the Palestinian state the Arabs had rejected in 1948. Egypt, like all of the other Arab states and, importantly, the U.N., chose to keep the Palestinians bereft and stateless—a permanent and growing dagger aimed at Israel.
Even more instructive is this: When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, Gaza's residents had a golden opportunity to begin to build the sort of state they had claimed to desire. The Israelis even left behind the infrastructure to give the Palestinians a start: roads, houses, swimming pools, fish farms, nurseries, orchards, and factories. The Palestinians chose to kill one another (see Jonathan Schanzer's new book, Hamas vs. Fatah) and to fire missiles across the border at Israel instead. Apologists like Columbia's Rashid Khalidi protest that Israel continued to control sea lanes, borders, and air space around Gaza and cut off aid after the Palestinians elected Hamas. Well, Hamas didn't seem to have any trouble importing longer- and longer-range Iranian missiles despite Israel's blockade. And in any case, despite the advice of some hardliners in Israel, the Israeli government continued to permit humanitarian supplies to come through.
Since the start of 2007, 16,000 civilians have been killed in fighting. Not in Gaza, so you may have missed it. It was in Somalia, where an Islamist movement is fighting Ethiopian troops. This is the 18th year of civil strife in that country.
In Sri Lanka, some 70,000 people have perished in a civil war that has flared on and off since 1983. The regime in Burma has killed thousands and forced an estimated 800,000 into involuntary servitude.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), 45,000 people are dying every month. Nearly 5.5 million have died since 1998 in a conflict that grew out of the violence in Rwanda and spread. Half of those deaths were of children under the age of five, according to the International Rescue Committee. The violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has caused more human devastation than any conflict since World War II.
In Darfur, Sudan, more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made homeless by violence.
To cite these sad data is not to suggest that suffering is tolerable in any particular case—but merely to observe that the world is strangely blinkered in choosing the tragedies to which it responds.
— Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.