From Tunisia to Indonesia, millions of people from all across the Muslim world have poured into the streets to protest against Israel’s military operation in Gaza. Anti-Israel protests usually consist of setting its flag on fire, calling back ambassadors, and wildly chanting ‘death to Israel’. Arab leaders encourage the phenomena by appearing regularly in the news condemning Israel for its actions and calling for its destruction.
Judging from these demonstrations it is easy to conclude that Israel is the greatest enemy of the Muslim world. Furthermore, one might get the impression that the Arab-Israeli conflict is among the most costly in terms of human lives.
A quick look at the facts will reveal that the Arab-Israeli conflict should be the least of the Muslim’s world concerns. In the past 60 years, since Israel’s formation in 1948, the conflict between Israel and the Arab world has consumed the lives of approximately 25,000 Israelis and 60,000 Arabs, of which only 15% are Palestinians. On the contrary, during that same period over 10 million Muslims have been violently killed in other conflicts around the globe, a vast majority (approximately 90 percent) at the hands of fellow Muslims.
These figures include, but are not limited to, tens of thousands of Iranians who were killed in the events following the 1979 revolution followed by another million in the Iran-Iraq war. Another million Muslims were killed in Afghanistan during the civil war following the Soviet defeat. The killings would have continued at a rate of 100,000 a year if it weren’t for the US invasion that cost the lives of 10,000. Meanwhile in the Far East, Indonesia has competed with Pakistan for the title “Greatest genocide conducted since WW2.” The former has been responsible for anywhere between half a million and 2 million killed in an Indonesian attempt to oppress a communist rebellion, whereas the latter has been responsible for the killing of 1.2 million in Bangladesh. In Africa, civil wars and acts of genocide by the ruling Arab and Muslim regime in Sudan have cost 2 million lives.
The Near East has had an equally bloody history—from 150,000 killed in the Lebanese civil war to the 20,000 Palestinians who were murdered at the hands of the Jordanians in 1970. Almost two times as many Palestinians died in a period of one year at the hands of the Hashemite regime in Jordan than in a period of 60 years at the hands of Israel.
Fast forward into the 21st century, and this trend continues. Muslims are killing Muslims in the thousands in Iraq, Sudan, Pakistan and other countries. Even in the Palestinian territories, Hamas and Fatah, the opposing Palestinian parties, are engaged in such horrific acts against each other that they often flee to Israeli soldiers in hope for salvation.
So why is it that the Muslim world, and the rest of the world for that matter, is so blind to the violence committed by Muslims against Muslims, but cries out in horror whenever the perpetrator is Israel? The answer is complicated and multifaceted. However, there is no doubt that internal politics of the Muslim world are a major contributor to this double standard. After all, it is much easier to blame an outsider for your problems than to take a deep look at yourself in the mirror. Moreover, in the Orwellian reality of the Muslim world, in which few or no countries have a democratically elected government, it is beneficial for the ruling party to divert the anger and frustration of its subjects somewhere else. The absence of a free press in most of these states is yet another factor that incites undue hatred against Israel. Another relevant idea to keep in mind is summed up by the adage, “my enemies’ enemy is my friend.” With Israel as a common enemy, suddenly different warring sects, such as Shiites and Sunnis, who have been clashing ever since the death of Muhammad, can now join hands and work together towards a common goal: the destruction of the state of Israel.