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The Left, Georgia and Double Standards By: Steven Plaut
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, August 21, 2008


Putin's Russia is, at this very moment, in the process of inventing a new "nation" that is in need of "self-determination" as a shrewd and brutal ploy to break up Georgia. It is has shrewdly coordinated moves by separatists inside Georgia to serve as a justification for its own invasion.

The Putin regime articulates outrage about the mistreatment of the Ossetians, while mysteriously being totally callous about its own human rights abuses inside Russia, especially in Chechnya. It is obvious that the  Russians are preaching human rights and self-determination as a weapon to engage in aggression. 

The story brings to mind two historical parallels. The first is the campaign by Nazi Germany on behalf of "self-determination" for the Sudeten Germans inside Czechoslovakia in the 1930s.  Germany also invented a "people" in need of self-determination inside the small state it had designs on. Thus, it invented claims of human rights abuses and then used the separatist activities of the Sudetens as an excuse to invade and demolish Czechoslovakia. It goes without saying that human rights were respected much more inside Czechoslovakia than inside Nazi Germany.  And ethnic Germans already had their own sovereign countries they could migrate to if they were unhappy in the Sudeten areas of Czechoslovakia.

The other historical parallel concerns the invention of a "Palestinian people."  The Arabs use the "Palestinian" separatist movement in a similar way to how Russia uses the Ossetian separatists.  The Arabs and their apologists invent tales of "human rights abuses" by Israel of "Palestinians" much like Russia invents stories about Georgian mistreatment of Ossetians. Never mind that the human rights of Arabs inside Israel are respected infinitely better than are those of Arabs inside Arab countries, and that non-Arabs inside Arab countries are treated even worse.  The world is up in arms about so-called Israeli "apartheid," while in reality Israel is the only Middle East regime that is not an apartheid regime.

Yes, the Georgians did sometimes mistreat the Ossetians and the Ossetians have a far stronger case for self-determination than the "Palestinians."  The Ossetians speak their own language unrelated to that of their neighbors and have their own culture.  In comparison, the "Palestinians" are far less different culturally and less distinct linguistically from the Arabs in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (whence most of them migrated into "Palestine" in the late 19th and early 20th century).

These phenomena beg a serious question: If the world is horrified at Russian aggression and behavior towards Georgians, where is its outrage at Arab aggression towards Israel and behavior identical to that of Russia?  Why are those who dismiss the claims of a right to self-determination by Ossetians not dismissing as a similar Sudeten-style ploy the demands for "Palestinian self-determination?" Why are Palestinians, who enjoy treatment far better than that of the Ossetians and the Chechens, the focus of countless media exposes about their imaginary mistreatment by Israel?

And where are all those solidarity protesters? Where are the "International Solidarity Movement" protesters who like to attack Israeli troops and police and to serve as "human shields" to protect the Palestinian "victims" of Israeli self-defense? Why are they not rushing to Ossetia and Georgia to stand up to the Russian troops, throwing rocks at them and singing Kun-Ba-Ya? 

Where are the leftist human shields blocking the path of Russian military vehicles the same way they block Israeli Defense Forces operations? Are they afraid they will not be served the same nice gourmet lattes they get when Israeli forces apprehend them for hooliganism in the West Bank?

Why are leftists not organizing ships to break the Russian blockade of the Georgia coast the same way they are trying to provide sea-borne aid to the Hamas in Gaza?  Where are the Rachel Corries and why are they not challenging Russian bulldozer crews?  Why are the Anarchists against the Wall not hopping planes to Tbilisi to challenge Russian construction crews erecting walls in Abkhazia and Ossetia?  Why are the Israeli leftist professors not holding pro-Ossetian poetry readings and solidarity rallies in Tbilisi?

Here we have the hypocrisy of the members of the political faith exposed for all to see.


Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his "blog" at www.stevenplaut.blogspot.com.


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