Israel-Palestine War Wars

Hypocrisy and Double Standards: The Selective Justice of Western Leaders

Zafir Malik, UK

If today Vladimir Putin stops the war in Ukraine and opts for a ceasefire, there will be celebrations all across the western world and the allies of Ukraine. Yet after two months of relentless bombing of the Gaza strip and more than 17,000 civilians dead, Israel continues the bombardment. In fact, the United States have been actively discouraging a ceasefire and have just vetoed a draft resolution proposed by the UN Security Council which called for an immediate ceasefire in Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel. Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General described this vetoed vote perfectly:

‘By vetoing this resolution, the US has displayed a callous disregard for civilian suffering in the face of a staggering death toll…’[1]

When it comes to Ukraine, the western leaders are unified in supporting the nation under attack, so why is it that when it comes to Palestine, they indiscriminately support the attacker and block calls for a ceasefire? 

Here it should be known that it is the duty of a Muslim to speak against injustice wherever it may be. The Holy Prophet Muhammad said: ‘Whosoever of you sees an act of evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.’[2] Islam has stressed about acting with justice, to such an extent that if there is mutual enmity with another nation, even then a Muslim nation cannot let that hatred cloud their judgement and let them waiver in dispensing justice.[3]

So for the record, I am not comparing the plight of any nation. We must stand up against injustices whether they are being committed in the North, South, East or West. Furthermore, as Muslims we condemn the killing of innocent civilians, whoever they may be. The Qur’an categorically says that the killing of one human is like the killing of all of humanity.[4] These two wars are happening now, but the reaction of world leaders contradicts the stances they previously held. Their models of justice are dependent on who is involved. While they cry for justice for one nation, they ‘forget’ to raise the same cry for the other.

These seven quotes gives a flavour of these double standards:

US President, Joe Biden

April 2022 – Speaking about Russia

‘Civilians executed in cold blood. Bodies dumped into mass graves…A sense of brutality and inhumanity left for all of the world to see, unapologetically. There is nothing less happening than major war crimes. Responsible nations have to come together to hold these perpetrators accountable.’[5]

October 2023 – Speaking about Palestine

‘I have no notion that Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed… I’m sure innocents have been killed. And that’s the price of waging a war.’[6]

US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication, John Kirby 

April 2022 – Speaking about Putin and attacks on Ukrainians 

‘It’s hard to look, at what he’s [Putin] is doing in Ukraine, what his forces are doing Ukraine, and think that any ethical moral individual could justify that. It’s difficult to look at the – [pause as he chokes up] – sorry. It’s difficult to look at some of the images and imagine that any well-thinking, serious, mature leader would do that.’[7]

October 2023 – Speaking about civilian casualties in Gaza

‘Being honest about the fact that there have been civilian casualties and that there likely will be more is being honest, because that’s what war is, it’s brutal, it’s ugly, it’s messy. I’ve said that before, the President [Biden] also said that yesterday, doesn’t mean we have to like it.’[8]

German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz

May 2022 – Speaking about Russia

‘The war and the brutal attacks against the civilian population in Ukraine shows us how unrestrained Russia has been in violating the fundamental principles of the UN Charter.’[9]

October 2023 – Speaking about Israel-Hamas war

‘At this moment, there is only one place for Germany: alongside Israel. Germany’s history and the responsibility arising from the Holocaust made it Germany’s perpetual duty to stand up for the existence and security of Israel.’[10]

Prime Minister of UK, Rishi Sunak 

November 2022 – Speaking to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenski

‘I am here today to say the UK and our allies will continue to stand with Ukraine, as it fights to end this barbarous war and deliver a just peace… While Ukraine’s armed forces succeed in pushing back Russian forces on the ground, civilians are being brutally bombarded from the air.’[11]

October 2023 – Speaking about Israel-Hamas war

‘To the people of Israel, I say: Britain is with you. What took place was an act of pure evil and Israel has every right to defend itself. We will do everything we can to support Israel in restoring the security it deserves.’[12]

Labour Party Leader (UK), Sir Kier Starmer

February 2023 – Speaking about Russia-Ukraine War

‘Nobody who sees the evidence that I have seen today can be in any doubt whatsoever as to the nature of the atrocities…These are war crimes, these are absolutely appalling crimes and of course we need to see Russia pushed back and defeated, but we also need to see justice, the people of Ukraine need justice for what has happened to them. Everything I’ve seen today reinforces in me the need for that justice.’[13]

October 2023 – Speaking about Israel’s bombing of Gaza 

‘Israel has to act in accordance with the law. I think it’s unwise for politicians to stand on stages like this or to sit in television studios and pronounce day by day which acts may or may not be lawful under international law.’[14]

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau

October 2022 – Speaking about Ukraine

‘Canada and Ukraine are united – not just by the strong ties between our peoples, but also by our fundamental belief in freedom, in democracy, in justice, and in the triumph of light over darkness. As Russia continues its illegal and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine, Canada will continue to support the Ukrainian government and people. In standing up for themselves, Ukrainians are standing up for democracy everywhere.’[15]

October 2023 – Speaking on Israel-Hamas war

‘Canada strongly condemns the current terrorist attacks against Israel. These acts of violence are completely unacceptable. We stand with Israel and fully support its right to defend itself. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by this. Civilian life must be protected.’[16]

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen

October 2022 – Speaking about Russia cutting off electricity and water supply to Ukrainian citizens

‘Russia’s attacks against civilian infrastructure, especially electricity, are war crimes. Cutting off men, women, children of water, electricity and heating with winter coming – these are acts of pure terror. And we have to call it as such.’[17]

October 2023 – When Israel cut off electricity, food and water supply to Gaza, she refused to ‘call it as such’, and not only remained silent, but instead re-tweeted unwavering support for Israel:

‘At the dawn of Shabbat, last Saturday, the whole world woke up in horror. The terrorist attack by Hamas is an act of war. And we fully support Israel’s right to defend itself. Europe stands with Israel in this tragedy.’[18]

If these are the standards which our leaders stand for, then realistically how can we ever expect peace and justice to be upheld? 

But there is one leader who has been travelling the world advocating for peace and justice for over two decades. Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has repeatedly stated that there is a clear double standard in how different countries are treated. 

Whilst addressing congressmen and congresswomen at Capitol Hill in 2012, he said:

‘At the United Nations, it should not be that certain countries wield undue power and influence, or that the permanent members of the Security Council care only for their own interests and utilise their veto power even where it is in conflict with the interests of the majority.’[19]

More recently, speaking about the need for justice in order to establish peace, he said: 

‘In the case of worldly affairs, if there is no justice, there is no peace. If you have double standards, as we can see in today’s world shown by the big powers, they cannot maintain peace in the world. This is what happened when the League of Nations was formed. The League of Nations was formed to maintain justice and give equal rights to each and every nation, but it failed. As a result thereafter, the Second World War began. And the same is happening with the UN – they are not maintaining justice, they have double standards for poor countries and for the rich countries, for Western countries and African and Asian countries. This is why you can see there is disturbance in the world today. So, if there is no justice, there is no peace.’

If we wish to really see peace in the world, we need to promote absolute justice which is free from any vested interests. That is what the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam taught, and it is the same principles that Ahmadiyya Muslim Community stand for today.

About the AuthorZafir Malik serves as the Associate Editor of The Review of Religions, having graduated from Jamia Ahmadiyya UK – Institute of Modern Languages and Theology. He is also an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and regularly appears as a panellist on MTA International and Voice of Islam radio station answering questions on Islam.



[2] Jami al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Fitan, Hadith no. 2172 (Also found in Sahih Muslim and Sunan al-Nisai)

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 5:9

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 5:33




[8] ibid