In the first days of 2009, the forces of civilization won a decisive and perhaps even definitive victory against one of the world's most fanatical and bloodthirsty terrorist organizations.
While media outlets focused on the far less brutal and costly conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Army of Sri Lanka finally overran Kilinochchi, the long-time base of operations for the "Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam" – the implacable guerillas whose depredations produced as many as 500,000 internal refugees. According to official government and UN figures, the fighting in Sri Lanka since 1983 claimed at least 70,000 lives among fighters and civilians on both sides.
By contrast, the battles between Israelis and Palestinians in the same period (1983-2009) killed at the very most some 15,000 -- including civilian and military who fell in direct combat together with all victims of various terror operations.
Why, then, should the world give so much more attention to the Israeli-Palestinian struggle than to a cruel, seemingly endless fight between Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus that produced nearly five times the number of casualties?
The Palestinians' own figures claim 2,162 dead in the First Intifada (1987-93) and another 5,837 in the Second Intifada (2000-2005), with Palestinian-on-Palestinian savagery responsible for at least one-fourth of those who perished. In the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and the Shiite terrorists of Hezbollah (not strictly speaking a clash between Israelis and Palestinians), the Lebanese government identified 700 Hezbollah fighters and 1,191 civilians who lost their lives.
In the first week of Israel's current military operation to stop Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, the U.N. reported that 500 died, at most 125 of them civilians.
At precisely the same time, Ugandan rebels slaughtered an estimated 400 civilians in the Eastern Congo (according to the Catholic aid agency Caritas) and piled at least 150 of their horribly mutilated bodies like cord wood in a church sanctuary on Christmas day. "The scene at the church was unbelievable," Captain Chris Magezi of the Ugandan Army told the Associated Press. "It was horrendous. On the floor were dead bodies of mostly women and children cut in pieces."
Why should the suffering and martyrdom of these African villagers count for less than the simultaneous, vastly more publicized misfortunes of Palestinians in Gaza?