If the number of petitions and statements circulating on the various social networks are anything to go by, a lot of people appear to be happy that Glasgow City Council has decided to fly the Palestinian flag above the city chambers. Perhaps they see this as a principled display of solidarity with an oppressed people; others might see it as a tawdry example of gesture politics. A statement from Lord Provost Sadie Docherty said that the flag was raised ‘in solidarity’ with people who had been affected by the conflict in Gaza. She added that “We hope that peace can be found to ensure the human rights for the people of Palestine."
This concern for the fate of Palestine’s children is admirable and, no doubt, sincere. We should all be concerned about what is going on in Gaza. We should all be hoping, praying and, where possible, working towards a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is important for any civilised society to have a set of common values and principles that it is prepared to stand up for. We are right to feel frustration and horror at the suffering of innocent people and, wherever children are suffering, that frustration and horror should be all the more profound.
There have been a number of reports in the last few years of Hamas using child labour to construct the Gaza tunnels. The most commonly quoted figure is that at least 160 Palestinian children died during the construction of said tunnels. During this time, I don’t remember seeing a single facebook or twitter petition about it; nor can I recall any statement of condemnation or outrage from Glasgow City Council.
If we were that principled about preserving and protecting human rights, you’d think that multiple deaths through forced child labour might have registered on our radar at some point.