It is worse than double standards, there is little justice and no balance

Sunday October 22 2023

An aerial photo showing heavily damaged buildings following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City on October 10, 2023. PHOTO | AFP


It can be interesting to revisit what people said or did a short while ago regarding situations that are akin to what one is going through now. Sometimes it is hilarious, sometimes it is sad, and sometimes it’s plain old stupid.

Amidst the war on Gaza, few recorders of history’s first draft have been serving up a selection of what the sanctimonious preachers of good behaviour in every situation you can think of, find themselves shown to be jokers, or worse, when their actions or words, which they might have forgotten or hoped the world had forgotten, are brought back to them.

Such was the case this past week regarding Israel’s war on Gaza when a couple of recorders of history brought back to us what some western grandees were saying exactly one year ago about the war in Ukraine. I chose only two, although I could have taken a dozen apt quotes.

Read: ULIMWENGU: Animals? This kind of language caused Holocaust

The first one is by Frau Ursula von Der Leyen, head of the European Union (EU) who exactly a year ago this week was commenting on Russia’s actions in Ukraine, saying: “.. We saw again Russian targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure, and this is making a news chapter in an already very cruel war…. International order is very clear. These are war crimes. Targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure with a clear aim to cut men, women, children off water, electricity and heating, with winter coming… these are acts of pure terror…”

At about the same time, the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, "Over the past few weeks Russia has bombed more then one-third of Ukraine’s energy systems, plunging millions into darkness as frigid temperatures set in… heat, water, electricity for children, the elderly, the sick, hese are President Putin’s new targets, and he’s hitting them hard…. This brutalisation of the Ukrainian people is barbaric….”


Sure, winter was setting in last year at the time these two ‘civilised’ envoys were saying these words, and there is nothing to suggest that the seasons have changed. Middle Eastern winters can sometimes be more biting because the winds are drier and more piercing; so what has changed to make von Der Leyen and Biden blind to the fact that what is cold for the Ukrainians has to be cold for the Palestinians.

A lot of tomes commentators point out what they call “double standards” to describe measures applied to two categories of people or circumstances inequitably. Such situations exist, I agree, but this particular “double standard” is way beyond that.

Read: ULIMWENGU: We’re paying dearly for failure to talk

A proper “double standard” would apply-- for instance, in soccer parlance—when a player in team A handles the ball in the box and the referee awards a penalty, but when an opposing team’s player commits the same infraction the referee pretends not to see what everyone sees. That is “double standard”.

But in the Middle East it is not like that all. In ‘soccerspeak’, again, what has happened in the Israel-Palestine conflict is that the visiting team arrives on the pitch accompanied by the referee and the linesmen; then the visiting team chooses which side it will play from , the elevated side of the pitch and chooses the size of its goal, which is half the size of the home team’s goal; and for every regular foul it commits, the home team draws a red card, and for every foul committed by the visiting team, a penalty is awarded against the home team.

Now, let us suppose the first soccer match of this kind was organised in 1948 and there were periodic tournaments every few years, and every time the tournament was held the referees and linesmen kept arriving on the pitch with the visiting team and the procedures were the same, what would happen to this soccer tournament?

In 1956 attempts would be made to rectify the tournament’s rules, and again in 1967, and then in 1973, all to no avail. And in between, sporadic soccer tournaments would be played on minor fields, but the referees and linesmen would still show unabashed favour for the team from out of town. How would an honest judge decide in a conflict arising from such a situation?

Read: ULIMWENGU: Great confab, useful encounter with our ‘re-humanised’ leaders

Now, for the sake of argument, we may decide to reverse the basic facts about the character of the tournament. Let us now assume the favour of the referees and linesmen is with the home team and it is the one allowed to get away with murder, in soccer terms. In either hypothetical situation, would anyone in the neighbourhood dare talk to any of the teams about the necessity of observing the 16 Laws of Football? Who would listen?

This is why the situation I see in the Middle East cannot be called one of “double standards”. The whole thing is being orchestrated, supervised and directed by the United States, which never tires to declare that it “has Israel’s back”. Now a whole parade of Western powers flocking to Israel to have photo ops — so-called bear hug diplomacy – with BB Netanyahu, each one with promises -- if not shiploads already—of more arms to enable Israel, as they say, to “defend” herself.

There is very little sense of justice, nor any sense of balance.