The Dartmouth Observer

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Friday, February 07, 2003
Kurds and Palestinians: Double Standard?

I went to the lecture yesterday by Dr. Huseiyn Aktas, a member of the Board of Directors for the American Kurdish Information Network, and I was a little surprised by the low turnout at the event. After all, events bringing speakers on the Israel-Palestinian conflict usually have packed audiences with impassioned students on both sides of the debate. It struck me that this is not a peculiar phenomenon at just Dartmouth. Americans and people around the world seem to hardly care at all about the plight of the Kurds, a civilization which has existed for thousands of years, with between 30-50 million people today, living in various countries including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. Not only are there far more Kurds than Palestinians, but they live in a much larger territory, and they are often subjected to a kind of oppression and even genocide that is hardly comparable to what the Palestinians suffer. And yet the Kurds, unlike the Palestinians, have no representative in the United Nations, we don’t see divestment petitions against countries oppressing Kurds, we don’t see campus protests, and we also don’t see planes, cruise ships, and buses being hijacked or exploded around the world by Kurdish militants very often. So why the selective moral outrage? Why don't we see campus protests and divestment campaigns against our NATO ally Turkey? I have a few of my own theories for why this double standard exists, but I’d be curious to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.