Earlier today I received a phone call from a state-owned Russian TV station asking me to comment on the anniversary of the American bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan. Last year, on 3 October, the Medecins Sans Frontieres Trauma Centre in Kunduz, Afghanistan sustained an hour long air attack by the US. Forty-two people were killed, including 24 patients, 14 medical staff and four caretakers.
How did I respond to the request? “Only if I could talk about the bombing of Syrian hospitals in Aleppo,” I said. “The shelling of Palestinian hospitals in the Gaza Strip and the missile strikes on hospitals in Yemen.” I will not hold my breath waiting for a call back.
This call highlights not only Russian hypocrisy but also the double standards of the US, Saudi and Israel and so many other nations whose actions have actually normalised the bombing of civilian areas, hospitals, schools and places of worship. They are all swimming around in a universal mire of their own making as human rights are trashed around the globe.
As the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba approaches in 2018, Palestinians know only too well that the superpowers regard their lives as worthless; this is something that ordinary Syrians are also beginning to understand as they attempt to flee Assad’s barrel bombs, Russia’s deadly missiles and Iran’s mercenary weapons, along with the rest of the bunker-busting arsenal fired by US, British, Turkish, French and German war planes and helicopters. In all honesty, how can I criticise America for war crimes while ignoring a whole host of other countries violating international laws with apparent impunity?
What all this serves to highlight is that the descent into the mire began nearly 70 years ago, when three-quarters of a million innocent Palestinians were uprooted and kicked out of their homes by brutal Zionist militias and terror gangs. Because the world looked the other way in 1948 – in part through guilt about the Holocaust and in part through an anti-Semitic lens – human rights took a beating from which they have never really recovered.
Seven decades on and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has become a worthless charter which makes a mockery of what the UN should stand for.
Heroic doctors and other equally brave nursing staff who are sliding around on hospital floors awash with the blood of innocents must wonder at man’s inhumanity to man as an endless trail of civilian men, women and children are brought to their door. Not only do they have to contend with patching up the wounded with limited equipment and medicines but their work is also further hampered by the illegal bombing of hospitals.
Several years ago, besieged Palestinian hospitals were being bombarded by Israeli jets and Apache attack helicopters and the world stood by silently, looking the other way, as the Zionist State unleashed one of its many wars on Gaza. Today, it’s the same story in Syria’s Aleppo and numerous cities in Yemen.
It is the right of every human being to receive impartial medical care whether during a war or peace time. So when there’s anger, outrage and condemnation from the White House, Downing Street, the Kremlin, Tehran, Damascus, Riyadh or Tel Aviv it becomes meaningless as far as the victims of their wars are concerned.
The reality is that human rights began to be eroded the day that Israel came into being at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people. Now all that is left of the UN’s Universal Declaration is an empty shell filled with the rotting corpses of oh so many empty promises.
So please forgive me if I don’t want to comment solely on the bombing of Kunduz hospital. It’s not that I don’t care – I do, very much so – but at the moment the very notion of human rights seems to have become almost worthless.
* Following the publication of this article, RT contacted Yvonne Ridley and invited her to discuss all attacks on hospitals, regardless of the perpetrators. Although her comments will probably be subject to the editing process, she felt that it was important to let readers have an update.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.