Speaking of states that want independence but are currently being invaded, the Tamils are finally losing their decades long struggle for a state with little fanfare. The Sri Lankan government is moving to close down their last bases for armed resistance, of course at the cost of great hardship for the Tamil people. Indeed, the Tamil Tigers liberation army seems to be trapped and finally approaching complete defeat. As was expected, there was a huge outcry for a ceasefire and negotiation, as most nations of the world admit the need for an eventual two-state solution to the Tamil crisis. Oh wait, no, no there’s not. In fact, there is no such sentiment being expressed by anyone. I am not about to defend the Tamil Tigers, or even necessarily call for complete Tamil independence, but I fail to see how this conflict is substantially different from the one that has been raging in Israel. In fact, they have many similarities. Both involve religious differences, intervention by European colonialism, showdowns between terrorism and oppressive military force, thousands of deaths, etc. But no one, it seems, cares to speak up on behalf of the Tamil people despite the fact that by most of the justifications used for a Palestinian state, the Tamils are just as deserving.
I can see merits both for having these nations become independent states or in having them join the states they are part of under some sort of compromise. But I don’t see any reason for two different treatment of the two. That is, unless you count the Palestinian´s sympathy among important Muslim nations a reason. And if one considers that the only reason we support the independence of one and not the other, then we should really stop the show of empathy for oppressed peoples and admit that we will continue to support the oppressed when it suits our needs, and turn the other way when it doesn’t. Anything else is disingenuous, transparent, and therefore a waste of breath.
There is of course another option: one can admit that public support for Palestine is largely due to international efforts to appease important Muslim nations (much as others have argued that support for Israel comes down to a desire to appease important Jewish minorities), but that it should rest on something a bit deeper, that is, a genuine concern for human dignity, a recognition that people should be allowed independence rather than having to submit to a different culture, etc. Adoption of this viewpoint would be admirable, but it requires more than supporting Palestine; it requires a coherent international policy philosophy that does not hold self interest as the highest goal; it requires really asking why Kosovo and Palestine, instead of Kurdistan, Tamil Eelam, or South Ossetia. Creating a system where international policy decisions are based primarily on soem defined sort of justice, not self interest, is an admirable goal. Sadly, it is contrary to almost every international policy decision or action undertaken in the last….ever.