The body count in Yemen and Saudi Arabia is much higher than all the violence in Gaza over the years put together, and the physical destruction more extensive.
Aden, Yemen, September 3 – The proxy war raging on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula between American allies and Iranian-backed insurgents has claimed tens of thousands of lives and numerous noncombatant casualties, but human rights activists and organizations have faced an uphill battle generating significant international uproar because nether side in the war is Israel.
Civil war in Yemen has raged in various forms since 2004, with Shiite Iran backing the militant Houthi movement, with Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and the US, among others, supporting predominantly Sunni forces that once ruled the country but have been ousted from the the capital. Aid workers, parties to the conflict, local witnesses, and journalists have documented possible war crimes perpetrated by various combatant forces, but admit they remain powerless to generate enough international attention to address the atrocities absent accusations that Israel had committed said atrocities.
“It’s frustrating,” lamented Sarah Leah Whitsend of Human Rights Watch. “Part of the difficulty lies in verifying what really happened when reports are conflicting, confusing, and distorted by prejudice, of course, but that doesn’t fully explain the problems, since that never stopped us and our buddies in the UN Human Rights Council from full-throated condemnation of Israel for lesser alleged crimes in Gaza. I don’t see any BDS efforts aimed at anyone in or around Yemen.”
“The New York Times Opinion page ran a piece on civilian deaths and suffering in Yemen just over the weekend,” observed Amnesty International Middle East coordinator Ann T. Semitt. “It’s not being ignored. People simply not knowing about what’s going on there doesn’t explain the disparity in attention between there and when Israel is involved. The body count in Yemen and Saudi Arabia is certainly much higher than all the violence in Gaza over the years put together, and the physical destruction more extensive – not to mention the hundreds of thousands of Yemenis displaced by the conflict. If only there were some way to explain the tremendous difference in levels of global activist outrage between this and when Israel defends itself.”
Analysts note that the parties to the conflict are attempting to combat the low intensity of international outrage by invoking Jews. “The Iran-backed Houthis have as part of their motto, emblazoned on their flag, ‘Damn the Jews,’ and of course everyone accuses the enemy of siding with Israel,” pointed out Jacob Burns of Amnesty. “I see this as a commendable effort to induce the world to act, and we should encourage more such behavior.”
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