Bystander Effect and … Israel!

During the last week, I became familiar with a weird concept called "Bystander effect". It basically means that as the number of bystanders increases the likelihood of a bystander helping someone in distress decreases. Coincidently, during the same week, I witnessed two situations that proved such a concept to be true. Both are, in a way, related to Israel.

Many of us witnessed the unfortunate incidents in Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem last Friday. Somehow dozens of young Palestinians became the only defenders of a place that is considered a holy site for one and a half billion Muslims worldwide.

The huge number of Muslims in the world is working against the interests of Muslims. Everyone thinks "we are too many, and the cause can spare an individual effort", so a person allows himself to be passive about it. Everyone assumes that Israel will not dare to do anything to the holy mosque just because Muslims are too many. The truth couldn't be further from that.

The reality is, Israel deviously managed throughout its history to establish relations with certain Muslim and Arab countries. In some places, it even managed to tie the very existence of those regimes to the presence and even to the dominance of Israel in this region. But that's just the easy part. The real tricky one is that it has also managed to divide Palestine into two entities, and then divide Palestinians themselves into clashing fractions. Always managing to minimize the number of its 'active' enemies, Israel sorts out any other group that can be handled otherwise.

Call me insane, but I have to say that although I hate and despise pretty much everything that Israel is doing, I do admire it occasionally. I mean you got to give it to them, it is mean and low, but it's witty!

Some people might think that Israel is managing to do all that not solely because of its cleverness, but rather thanks to the support it manages to lure from super powers. I agree, but then that's exactly the deviousness I'm talking about.

It leads us to the second incident that also stresses the correctness of the "Bystander effect". This week also, 23 members of the US Congress' foreign affairs committee signed a bill that will consider as genocide the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in the beginning of 20th century. This action drove Turkish Prime Minister Rajab Tayeb Erdogan furious. The chairman of the committee, Howard Berman, who is an American Jew, urged the Congress to approve the bill. All the seven Jewish members of the committee voted for the bill.

Call me naive, but the timing of this bill, and the people who pushed it and signed it simply can't be a twist of fate, especially, after Turkey's position regarding the Israeli war on Gaza and the deterioration of relations between the two countries that followed it.

It might not necessarily be a conspiracy theory — these efforts don't have to be organized on a higher level, it can simply be attributed to team spirit. When Israel, or the Jews, or the Holocaust, or anti-Semitism is attacked by anyone, (or anything else related to the Jewish identity for that matter), every one of them does everything he can to confront it. They don't underestimate the impact of a single person's effort like we, the Muslims do.

As odd as it sounds, almost 15 million Jews are so far managing to occupy a land that is holy for 1.5 billion Muslims! The rate is one to a thousand! Being one of the smallest religious groups on this planet is not representing an obstacle for the Jews to stand their ground. The effect that is paralyzing us as Muslims and keeping us from jumping to help our Palestinian brothers, or even to stand for our holy sites, is not effecting them. Even those Jews who are against Israel's policies or even existence are vocal and active about it, sometimes even more than many of us! This is certainly something for us Muslims to learn from our cousins.

© Kuwait Times 2010

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