Why Europe sees Ukrainians as victims, but Palestinians as ‘the other’

Sven Kuhn von Burgsdorff, ambassador of the European Union in Palestine, speaks during a visit to Palestinian families after an Israeli settlers’ rampage in Huwara on 3 March 2023. (credit: Reuters)
Unlike Ukrainians, who are recognized as belonging to the European ‘self’, Palestinians remain subject to stigmatising representations despite what they suffer at the hands of the Israeli occupation.

By Elena Aoun & Jeremy Dieudonne | Middle East Eye | Mar 6, 2023

There is no questioning here of the legitimacy of the Ukrainian struggle or the relevance of the support given to this besieged country, but rather, a questioning of European attitudes towards the Palestinians.

The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied territories has been sliding back into a new cycle of heightened tension and violence in the last few months, and more so since the beginning of 2023.

Whereas this development hardly comes as a surprise to most observers, what is striking is the increasingly unbalanced attitude of Western states, and especially the usually more “equidistant” Europeans. Though many examples can be derived from recent events, one instance is particularly illustrative of this trend.

On 26 January, an Israeli military operation in the Jenin refugee camp resulted in the death of nine Palestinians and the injury of 20 more. The following evening, a Palestinian attacked Jewish Israelis leaving a synagogue, killing seven and injuring several more. On this second event, the reaction of the European Union (EU) came swiftly on 28 January. Through the voice of its high representative (HR), the EU said that it was “horrified” by these “frightening terrorist attacks” and strongly condemned these “senseless acts of violence and hatred”.

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