The price of ignored suffering

Imperialism

United States

Yemen

Many, many others have been making the point, but Ishaan Tharoor, here quoting Laurent Bonnefoy, drives it home:

[The Houthis] are gaining what they want, which is to appear as the boldest regional player when it comes to confronting the international coalition, which is largely in favor of Israel and does not care for people in Gaza.[1]

Truth is, “we” don’t care much about Yemenis either, or, to put it more correctly, people with darker skins or lesser means anywhere on the globe. We argue about genitals and gender instead. We ignore people’s suffering. Their problems are not our problems. We have enough problems of our own. We can’t deal with more problems. And so we keep on ignoring their suffering, keep on being complicit with oppressors, keep on being complicit with even genocidal oppressors.

It’s okay, after all. It’s their problem, not ours.

And then we are shocked, shocked I tell you, when they make it our problem and we’re not only dealing with all the problems we still have, but the problems they’ve made for us because we ignored their problems.

Justice has to be for everybody. Ultimately, revenge can only create more problems. But we insist on retribution and we insist on domination and, my god, we absolutely love our xenophobia.

But this is where I think Tharoor errs. In his article he notes that the Houthis are engaging militarily while Yemen’s population starves.[2] What I think he may not fully grasp is that ordinary Yemenis may identify much more with Gazans, who also endure deprivation, than they do privileged journalists.

Oren Liebermann and Haley Britzky, “Houthi ballistic missile strikes US-owned and operated cargo ship, US Central Command says,” Cable News Network, January 15, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/01/15/politics/houthi-missile-strikes-us-owned-ship/index.html

Ishaan Tharoor, “What Yemen’s Houthis gain through their Red Sea strikes,” Washington Post, January 16, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/16/houthi-yemen-red-sea-strikes-what-gained-won/

Israel

Palestine

07_09:10:47-2
Fig. 1. The ruins of a terminal at the Gaza airport. Image by Said Khatib (Agence France-Presse) on September 9, 2018, via the Times of Israel,[3] fair use.

I have previously commented on this situation. But Binyamin Netanyahu’s dilemma is even worse than I had surmised because Israel’s promise to Jews is that it will go to any length to protect their lives.[4] Now, “public polls even last month showing that more than 57 per cent of Israelis place the hostages’ return as more important than toppling Hamas in Gaza.” This is political pressure explicitly for a ceasefire; it could, if I’m not being excessively optimistic, force an end to the war.

And that, also explicitly, is what Netanyahu fears.[5] He claims an end to the war would seal the hostages’ fate.[6] He might be right about that, but what we know is that it would seal his fate.[7]

Neri Zilber, “Benjamin Netanyahu faces political backlash over Israel’s hostage strategy,” Financial Times, January 16, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/2d5258d5-aabb-4c54-80e8-ec28fd4e21b0


  1. [1]Laurent Bonnefoy, quoted in Ishaan Tharoor, “What Yemen’s Houthis gain through their Red Sea strikes,” Washington Post, January 16, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/16/houthi-yemen-red-sea-strikes-what-gained-won/
  2. [2]Ishaan Tharoor, “What Yemen’s Houthis gain through their Red Sea strikes,” Washington Post, January 16, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/01/16/houthi-yemen-red-sea-strikes-what-gained-won/
  3. [3]Agence France-Presse and Times of Israel, “20 years after its opening, destroyed Gaza airport embodies grounded peace hopes,” Times of Israel, September 12, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/20-years-after-its-opening-destroyed-gaza-airport-embodies-grounded-peace-hopes/
  4. [4]David Remnick, “The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition,” New Yorker, January 14, 2024, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2024/01/22/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-gaza-hamas-war-hostages
  5. [5]David Remnick, “The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition,” New Yorker, January 14, 2024, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2024/01/22/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-gaza-hamas-war-hostages; Neri Zilber, “Benjamin Netanyahu faces political backlash over Israel’s hostage strategy,” Financial Times, January 16, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/2d5258d5-aabb-4c54-80e8-ec28fd4e21b0
  6. [6]Neri Zilber, “Benjamin Netanyahu faces political backlash over Israel’s hostage strategy,” Financial Times, January 16, 2024, https://www.ft.com/content/2d5258d5-aabb-4c54-80e8-ec28fd4e21b0
  7. [7]David Remnick, “The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition,” New Yorker, January 14, 2024, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2024/01/22/benjamin-netanyahu-israel-gaza-hamas-war-hostages

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