Genocide or conflict? Israel vs. Ukraine

Kyle Mathy, Opinion Columnist

Israel violates nearly every single one of the 149 articles of the Geneva Convention in its actions against Palestine and falls into most definitions of genocide. Still, the United States has doubled down on its stance of being unequivocally pro-Israel so vigorously that Israel is the largest recipient of United States aid, despite its status as one of the highest-income and strongly- armed countries in the world.

Ukraine was invaded by Russia in late Feb. 2022; Biden labeled the war a ‘genocide’ in early April. The U.S. calls the Palestine situation a conflict, while in Ukraine, the U.S. sides with the oppressed.

The United States reacted immediately to Ukrainian’s plight; awareness quickly spread all over the internet and aid was sent with fervor (even to neo-Nazis). Meanwhile, with the illegal genocidal occupation of Palestine, it is clear that the United States supports the oppressor—Israel. In fact, we have only ever labeled it a ‘conflict’, refusing to acknowledge the human rights violations that Israel commits. This problematic dichotomy furthered by the United States is a damning reflection of our overall stance on foreign policy.

The difference between Palestine and Israel isn’t hard to discern. Palestine is Brown, Muslim, left-wing, Middle Eastern and part of the East. Ukraine is largely White, European, right-wing and part of what is commonly known as the West. An added bonus for the United States foreign policy goals: we hate Russia. Thus the United States supports Israel, a white, right-wing and Western nation. This classification and related national support show the United States’ willingness to give higher value and priority to certain lives over others as part of its foreign policy agenda. The United States does not actually care about lives lost or rights stripped unless they serve this agenda; if we did, we would support both Palestine and Ukraine.

The United States consistently tries to pretend that it uses reasons other than Islamophobia and racism to justify support of Israel. In doing so, they use classic tropes to justify violence. When we label Palestine a terrorist state, we ignore the reality that Israel is playing offense. Palestine is never allowed to defend itself and resist their oppressor. Ukraine, however, gets the opposite treatment, even when they are funding actual terrorists of the Azov battalion—the aforementioned neo-Nazis. The United States ignores this with the broad justification of helping ‘defend’ Ukraine.

Again and again, we see the same dynamic playing out: Brown and Muslim equals terror, White and Western equals self-defense.

The rhetoric the United States uses permeates throughout college campuses too. People on campus who publicly support Palestine whether in class or in public are quickly ostracized and canceled because it isn’t considered a valid opinion to have. There is a whole national organization dedicated to this action: the Canary Mission.

When war broke out in Ukraine, colleges rushed to action—releasing statements publicly condoning the actions and providing support for students affected. Whitman held a special teach-in for Ukraine, and the war was mentioned in all of my classes despite the unrelated class topics. Palestine, on the other hand, enjoys little support on campus from administration and faculty in spheres outside and inside of the classroom (other than a few specific classes that cover it). Almost all actions come from students who constantly put their reputations at risk to force the issue.

United States foreign policy should be focused solely on liberation for all—with no attached agenda. Our current policy relies on a clear racial line that is exacerbated by Islamophobia, politics and the desire for a united West.

The U.S. will promote its agenda with zero ethical justification to further whatever they want. This policy is upheld even when a journalist is assassinated, kids are killed and genocide and apartheid occur. The United States jumps to help free people in Ukraine, but only because it aligns with our agenda. Unfortunately for Palestine, they are too problematic—too non-Western—thus Palestine will continue to suffer until the United States values all life over political gains.