Where are the demonstrations? The shocking disclosure that Syria’s civil war has claimed at least 60,000 lives has brought precious little reaction. To place this in context, President Bashar al-Assad’s murderous struggle to keep his stranglehold on power has now killed more people than any of the Arab-Israeli wars.
Not one of those conflicts, going back to and including 1948, was remotely as bloody as the conflagration in Syria. The nearest comparison is the Six Day War of 1967, which killed 23,500 Arabs and 1,000 Israelis – barely a third of the death toll in today’s Syria.
When Israel fought its last war in Lebanon in 2006, claiming 1,350 lives, there were daily demonstrations outside Israeli embassies across the world, particularly here in London. About 40 times as many people have died in Syria. So where are the protests? Syria still has an embassy in Belgrave Square, although admittedly its diplomats have been withdrawn. Why is there not a round-the-clock demonstration?
The people who tend to organise protests often voice their outrage about “Western double standards”. What about their own double standards? When Israel kills Arabs, they are easily stirred to outrage. When an Arab leader kills many more Arabs, they are less concerned. Meanwhile, the only round-the-clock political protest in London seems to be an ugly banner in Parliament Square protesting about Nato’s presence in Afghanistan. Wrong target, wrong place. What about protesting against Assad in Belgrave Square?