Sin of omission in Syria
Dagbladet, Sunday 12.08.2012, Editorial
Last week a Finnish ship was in Oslo in order to raise support to the now annual campaign «Ship to Gaza» in the attempt of revoking the Israeli blockade of the small, poor Palestinian enclave at the Mediterranean coast. Norwegian sympathisers are playing an important role in this campaign. Just some days before the Norwegian department of Medicines Sans Frontiers was strongly criticizing the domestic media for not covering a number of humanitarian crises and wars, particularly in Africa, resulting in aid organizations having problems in raising funds for the suffering people in the areas concerned.
These two examples show that a number of Norwegians are preoccupied with international solidarity, but that this solidarity is limited only to some of the innumerable suffering in the world. It is also showing double standards.
Today two million people in a Syria struck with civil war are in need of humanitarian aid. TV images from temporary hospitals inside Syria are closely resembling the situation of the hospitals in Gaza during the Israeli invasion end 2008-beginning 2009. Back then Norwegian Palestine activists were the first in line to aid the victims, and the sympathy among the Norwegian public was great. The Norwegian media’s coverage of the human suffering was also comprehensive.
Where are the Norwegian activists now? Why do no Norwegian health workers want to do an effort in parts of Syria controlled by the insurgents? And even if MFA, in cooperation with the Red Cross, has allocated 120 million NOK to Syrian refugees and Norwegian aid organizations are canalizing some humanitarian aid, it seems to be an obvious lack of real involvement. Where are the big fund raising events? Where is the «Ship to Syria» campaign?
Medicines Sans Frontiers can not blame the media for not writing about the Syria conflict, but media is in fact more preoccupied with war than with the victims. This should be something that us here in Dagbladet also should be concerned about. But largely we can probably just conclude that this is an internal Arab conflict, where one can not bash Israel. Thus Israeli authorities has a point when they criticize the world for neglecting the Syrian population. And we will rather ignore then, that there are political and not humanitarian reasons for the Israeli criticism.