I took to Twitter before writing this article and put into the search engine “Gaza children killed”. I was quickly confronted by a grim portfolio of infants. Many of them had their heads blown into pieces. Some photos had the eerie look of a slumber party, with rows of children interlinked- their eyes shut in a morbid scene that equated to something bizarrely peaceful in the frozen 2D it was viewed, in a stark contrast to the horror it presented. These are the dead of Gaza, and I chose to look upon them because to turn your eyes away from what is happening right now in that part of world, is to close your eyes to the very worst of mankind. People are more comfortable looking upon historical atrocities such as the Holocaust, Somalia and Yugoslavia because the photo captures something that is long gone and cannot be prevented any longer. What is happening in Gaza right now can be prevented, there is just minimal effort to do anything approaching that from the global community.
I haven’t so far seen any images of the dead from flight MH17, nor have I actively sook them out. The tales of body parts hanging from phone lines and of scorched spinal columns in fields communicates the horror strongly enough. I don’t have to search out this horror as it is openly played out on every major media outlet from the minute it occurred. Gaza, frankly, is not.
The apparent lack of condemnation of the Israeli operation in Gaza (aside from when the likes of John Kerry think a microphone is off), is as deafening as that coming from the western world towards Putin and his merry band of men in Donetsk. Herein lies the issue for the west. Putin has watched as the west and the UN stand idly by as women and children are massacred in the likes of Syria and now Palestine and he sees little appetite to do anything about it. Why then, should someone such as him have much regard for the collateral damage of him arming his chess pieces in his longer game to take back as much (or indeed all of) the Ukraine?
Men like Putin are, to break it into small pieces, simply spoiling for a fight. Quite often, they like the idea of looking tough rather than getting a bloodied nose and so, when the likes of the US blink, as they so often have with regards to Russia, the chance to further flex muscles and bully the other children in the playground becomes irresistible.
Quite sanely, there is little appetite for war against Russia anywhere in the world except for the Ukraine, yet the promise of sanctions that so far seem to be having little effect and the obvious avoidance of World War Three leave Russia’s critics with very little cards to play. As with the likes of Saddam Hussein in the past, sanctions rarely unsettle the likes of Putin as he would quite happily let the majority of his country starve before he caves in. That means the West must have the credibility to condemn the murder of its civilians in the skies above a war zone whose flames have been openly stoked by Moscow.
Unfortunately, that is something that the Kremlin clearly believes is lacking right now. The defiance of the UN Security Council in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, with zero consequence for the US and the UK, is quite obviously fresh in the mind of Putin even now, many years later. A starting point, especially for the US, must be to have the same firm stance regarding the humans being blown to pieces in other places in the world other than a field in far away Donetsk.
The situation in Israel and Palestine is complicated, to make the understatement of history but it cannot be beyond the intellect of all sides within and outside of the conflict, that killing children on the beach and blowing up hospitals will only breed more people willing to fire rockets into Israel and kill their soldiers. It cannot also be beyond the intellect of most world leaders that you cannot stand and condemn the deaths of innocent people in Eastern Europe whilst ignoring the rockets used to wipe out children playing in the sun.
The lack of access to the crash site in Donetsk draws parallels with the people being shot at by snipers as they try to help the injured and retrieve the dead in Gaza. The lack of dignity shown to the bodies in bags in the Ukraine is offset, much like a field of poppies many years ago, by sunflowers nearby. It’s a picture card framed reminder of man’s inability to learn from the horrors of war.
There are no flowers swaying in the breeze nearby in Palestine. Just rubble and the site of a small body being carried in the agonised arms of a parent, a hole where their small skull once was. One of the founding principles of western democracy is that all civilian lives are as indispensable as the next, especially in the case of children. Right now, the UN should keep this at the forefront of their mind if they hope to stop the deaths of any further westerners and convince Putin there is no justifiable collateral damage in his conflict as he pulls his strings- you cannot stem the bloodshed of an explosion at a nick on the thumb, you must apply pressure everywhere until the flow is stopped at the wound.
Paul Featherstone is 32 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on http://twitter.com/FevTheRevoff