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Einstein’s Smile: A Tale of Two Pictures

By DAVID TOPPER In my previous story in the Jewish Post & News, “Einstein & Johanna: A True Tale of Tragic Comedy,’’ I began by saying that I first heard the name “Einstein” when I was around the age of 10.

Picture 1 Class picture with Albert Einstein (front row, 3rd fr. r.) during his time at the Luitpold-Gymnasium in Munich, Germany. 1890.


So let me begin this story when Albert himself was about that same age, and he had his class photo taken on the steps of his school. This picture is one of the earliest pictures we have of him – and it’s one of my favourites. It shows his all-boys class of 52 students lined-up in five rows. Einstein is in the front row, the third from the right, and clearly one of the smallest in the group.
The unique and utterly fascinating thing about this picture is this simple fact: all the other boys are looking grimly at the camera, while little Albert is the only one with a smile on his face. Look closely: all 51 others, with hands at their sides, appear stern, anxious, intimidated, sulky, or scared; Einstein, with hands behind his back, has a cute, little, slightly impish smirk on his face – unquestionably, a look that any parent would love. Just compare the detailed picture of him with the boys to his immediate sides : the contrast, indeed, is at once stunning and amusing.
Right here, in this astounding image (a mere class photo) is the visual manifestation of the laid-back contrarian that he would become throughout his life. In this one picture, knowing what I know about him, his whole life almost flashes forward before me. So, here, I wish to share a piece of this story with you.
As reported by those who knew him, Einstein was modest and unpretentious, without an iota of conceit or arrogance, treating all people in the same manner, independently of class or rank. He spoke the same way to a president as to a janitor. He also had a hearty laugh, with a child-like twinkle in his eye. OK, all this may be a bit of an exaggeration (sounding more like Santa Claus), but variations of these traits are persistently repeated among those who knew him and reminisce about his personality. He really was a down-to-earth guy. For example, he refused to travel first-class. Even when sent first-class tickets, he sat in third-class, driving the fastidious ticket-takers crazy.
I have a second picture to talk about. But before that, I want to see what else there is about his life that I can read into his class picture. What do we know about his early life that might help us? Best to begin at birth.
Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was born in a small town (Ulm) on the Danube River in south-western Germany to unobservant Jewish parents. Although the town today boasts of his birth, he was still an infant when the family moved to Munich, where he spent his formative years. His mother, Pauline, had a deep commitment to music, and she tried to instill that affection in her young son by forcing violin lessons on him. A love of music eventually sunk into his psyche around his transition to the teenage years, and Albert carried that commitment throughout his life. He exhibited his love of music by packing his violin on trips. Serious music, to him, was confined to the works of the “classical” period of what is called classical music, especially that of Mozart and Haydn, although he would happily dip back into the Baroque and J. S. Bach.
His father, Hermann, was a businessman who could have made a lot of money at the time because he was in the electrical business (motors and dynamos, for example), which was to the late-19th century what computer high-tech paraphernalia was to the late-20th century. But, just as the “dot.com” boom and bust resulted in some winners and many losers, most who made the effort in the electrical business did not achieve success. Hermann’s business went bust.
Albert’s sister, Marie (called Maja), was born when he was age two, and she was his only sibling. Maja, in a short memoir written in the early-1920s, is a crucial source of information about her brother’s childhood; this is important because there are many myths circulating through the media and beyond about Einstein’s youth. Today, many special interest groups wish to embrace Einstein as the poster boy for their various causes. Nonetheless, Einstein was not a slow learner, a vegetarian, left-handed, nor any of a range of idiosyncrasies that you will find in special-group websites on the Internet testifying that Einstein was one-of-them. Although his parents tutored him for his first year of school, he also was not “home schooled,” for he continued through the German school system until the age of 15, when he dropped out before graduating in his final year. Yes, Einstein was a high-school dropout, but I must confess that I have not yet come across a website of “High-School Dropouts” claiming Einstein as one-of-them.
Contrary to another myth, Maja reports that her brother was not a slow learner but was “a precocious young man” who had a “remarkable power of concentration,” such that he could “lose himself…completely in a problem.” Later, for Einstein the scientist, this youthful behavior was clearly repeated – like a leitmotif, throughout his scientific life.
It’s true that Albert detested the rigidity of the German way of teaching, but he still got good grades. Yet, he did not hide his feelings about the oppressive atmosphere of the classroom, so that one teacher went so far as to tell Albert’s parents that their son set a poor example for the other students by his overt hostility. This may cast some light on the special smile on his face in our photo, for it surely reveals the contrarian attitude on social mores that he displayed throughout his life. One obvious example: think of his lack of decorum in the grooming of his hair, which began in the 1930s.
An example of nonconformity of a different kind took place in his pre-teen years when he became extremely religious and admonished his anti-religious parents for not following the rules of Orthodox Judaism. This personal obsession lasted for a few years, to the consternation of Hermann and Pauline, only to disappear right before he would have been Bar Mitzvah. (It never happened.) In his very brief autobiography, written in 1947, he says that the reason for this quick change was his discovery of science and math, and for him the accompanying realization that the Bible was untrue. The result was an intellectual and emotional transformation. He viewed the religious outlook as subjective and solipsistic, whereas the scientific viewpoint was a route to objectivity and a liberation from what he called “the merely personal” – or subjectivity. He put it this way: “Beyond the self there is the vast world, which exists independently of human beings, and that stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking.” This statement acted as a maxim for his scientific endeavours to the end of his life.
But this is not the full story of his transformation: he added a socio-political element that is rather startling and remarkable for someone around age 12 or 13. He said he came to realize that “youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies” and that therefore a “mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience.” These are profound and troubling views for someone at an age where most boys are more obsessed with sports and girls. Does this give us a hint at a deeper meaning of the smile in Photo 1? Maybe not, he was but 9 or 10 when the picture was taken. Nevertheless, it does give us a sense of continuity from here to the unconventional citizen we know later in life.
As we continue to pursue the question of the roots of his maverick ways, we find two episodes of interest at age 15 or 16. Both were triggered by the collapse of his father’s business, and the need for the family to move from Munich to the town of Pavia in northern Italy just south of Milan, where his father’s brother had a more successful business. Since Albert was in his last year of high school, he was placed in a boarding house in Munich while his parents and sister went on to Italy without him. Alone and feeling abandoned, he sank into a deep depression and had to leave school. But he had the wherewithal to obtain a letter from his math teacher saying that he completed that part of the curriculum. This was the first episode.
The other episode, however, might not have seemed very level-headed at the time. After crossing the German border, he applied to the government to renounce his German citizenship, making him a stateless person thereafter. Some scholars believe that in order to trigger such a desperate act, something almost elemental about German society had deeply troubled Einstein. We know he had major misgivings about the militaristic features of German society as expressed in the educational system. Or was it a reaction to his father’s loss of his livelihood, and the need to leave the country? His sister, Maja, however, had a simple answer: he was avoiding being drafted into the military.
Accordingly, as a high school dropout, Albert arrived at his parents’ residence in Italy, much to their surprise and surely their chagrin. We have no documentation about the inevitable confrontation between him and his parents, but we can be sure that there was a dispute around the question of what he was going to do with the rest of his life. We, of course, know the answer, in the long run. But even in the short run, there was some hope.
Let’s return to that letter in Albert’s pocket when he left Munich, and back up a few years to the non-Bar Mitzvah around age 12 or 13. The unperformed religious transformative rite was replaced by a different revelation – as mentioned, he developed a zeal for science and in particular the logical rigor of mathematical reasoning. Specifically, he was given a primer on geometry, and he devoured it – even trying to prove some theorems before he read the proofs in the book. The logical way that mathematical reasoning produced eternal proofs had a deep psychological impact on this young man, so much so that even when writing his autobiography around the age of 68, he referred to this early textbook as the “holy geometry book.” How revealing this metaphor is: especially when we realize that he was reading Euclid, instead of Torah, the original “holy” book. He went on to teach himself calculus and other higher mathematics, so that by the time he dropped out of school, he was well-grounded in the mathematics required for graduation and beyond. Hence, the letter in his pocket, mentioned above.
Albert’s father had plans for his son to be an engineer. This is no surprise, since he was in the electrical business, which he (correctly) believed was the wave of the future. In particular, he wanted his son to enroll in the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zürich, one of the best schools in Europe. As luck (fate?) would have it, a completed high school diploma was not necessarily required for enrollment in the Poly; instead, there were a series of rigorous exams administered by the Institute. It seems that the letter from the math teacher was a factor in placing him in the special category.
So, in the fall of 1895 he took the entrance exams – but flunked them. There was, however, a silver lining to this incident. He did so well on the science and math parts (no shock here) that the Institute’s director recommended that he spend a year doing some remedial studying. After all, he was applying to the Institute a year or two early for his age, since the regular age of admission was about 18 years old.
Einstein spent the next year at the Kanton Schule in the town of Aarau, just west of Zürich. The curriculum was based on the ideas of the great Swiss educator, J. H. Pestalozzi, who (among other things) emphasized using visual materials as well as written texts as educational tools, and especially stressed direct student-teacher interaction. For Einstein, it was a delightful and memorable year: he enjoyed learning in a formal setting for the first time in his life.
Indeed, it was sometime during that year of motivated learning that he came up with what would be his first great experiment in his head, what we call a “thought experiment.” This idea involved moving in space at the speed of light; essentially it was based on this question: What would the world look like if we rode on a beam of light? Perhaps the Pestalozzi emphasis on visualizing played a role here? Listen to the following remark about the school in Aarau that Einstein wrote 60 years later: “It made an unforgettable impression on me, thanks to its liberal spirit and the simple earnestness of the teachers who based themselves on no external authority.”
Ah ha, “no external authority”: such progressive and open-minded thinking was guaranteed to have an impact on Einstein who, as quoted, believed that “youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies” and that therefore a “mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience.” This Swiss Kanton Schule was obviously nothing like the German schooling he had previously experienced. No wonder he graduated in the fall of 1896 with good grades.
The year at Aarau proved fruitful. Einstein’s admittance to the Swiss Polytechnic was based on his grades at Aarau, and although his father wanted him to study to become an engineer, he enrolled in physics and mathematics – and we know where it went from there.
One more thing about the Aarau year. There is a class photo of that small graduating class of 10 students. It’s not reproduced here, for no one is smiling. They all look relaxed, but serious too as they ponder their future. Einstein may be a bit more relaxed than the others, and he may be staring off into space much further than his fellow students – but I hesitate in reading anything more into it. Nonetheless, I do know this: once, when reminiscing about that key year in his life, he said that, while the other students at Aarau filled their spare-time by swigging copious quantities of beer, he drank from a different trough – diligently reading The Critique of Pure Reason, by Immanuel Kant. And that surely was nothing to smile about. (Incidentally, Einstein was a teetotaller all his life.)

Photo 2 “…from 1931, over four decades later. Here Einstein, now the celebrity, is at a reception in the German Chancellery in Berlin. From the left they are: Max Planck (the famous physicist), Ramsay MacDonald (British Prime Minister), Einstein, Hermann Schmitz (on Einstein’s immediate left), and Hermann Dietrich (German Finance Minister)”.

My key argument here is essentially about the role of pictures and what we can (or cannot) read into them. And this brings me to Photo 2 from 1931, over four decades later. Here Einstein, now the celebrity, is at a reception in the German Chancellery in Berlin. From the left they are: Max Planck (the famous physicist), Ramsay MacDonald (British Prime Minister), Einstein, Hermann Schmitz (on Einstein’s immediate left), and Hermann Dietrich (German Finance Minister).
I have no idea why these five men were seated together or what they were talking about. There are several extant pictures of this table-talk scene, which were taken by the pioneering photojournalist, Erich Salomon. I have chosen this one because it captures an animated Einstein speaking to the British Prime Minister. Notice the gesture with his cupped right-hand. It is a captivating image clearly displaying Einstein’s alert and smiling face, all in stark contrast to the serious, stern, and solemn visages of the other four. “Come on, guys – lighten up!” – I want to say with Einstein. Or, put differently: what’s there not to like about this Einstein fellow trying to cheer-up a much too formal table? Is it not clear why I am juxtaposing this 1931 picture with the smiling boy in school? And so, it seems that a story that began with a smile appears to end with a smile.
But not so fast.
The second picture is from 1931, and two years later Hitler will control the country. Serious looking Hermann Schmitz was from I.G. Farben, the chemical company that would become notorious for its role in developing Zyklon B used in the gas chambers in the Extermination Camps, and for this Herr Schmitz spent time in prison after World War II for Nazi war crimes.
Planck’s son, Erwin – who was also present at this formal affair but is not in this picture – was later executed by the Nazis as part of the plot to assassinate Hitler on July 20, 1944.
And then there’s the photographer Erich Salomon (b.1886). He died in 1944 in Auschwitz, which was supplied with chemicals from I.G. Farben.
The result is that Photo 2 is deeply laden with painful meaning, and I can never again see this picture with that initial innocence I had the first time I smiled along with Einstein as he made a point to the British Prime Minister. Such is the nature of images and the interaction and interdependence of our eyes and minds. To use an analogy: pictures are as much read they are as seen. And so, knowing what we know about Photo 2, there is nothing

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How Live Casino Dealers Enhance Your Gaming Experience

In the booming online gaming world, live casino dealers stand out as the bridge between the virtual and the real. They bring the physical casino’s authenticity and excitement to your screen, creating a more immersive and engaging experience. But how exactly do live casino dealers enhance your gaming experience?

From fostering a social atmosphere to increasing trust in online games, these professionals make gaming sessions more enjoyable and genuine.

Real-time Interaction

Real-time interaction revolutionizes the online gaming industry, particularly in live casinos. By leveraging advanced streaming technology, live casino dealers can engage with players just as they would in a traditional casino environment.

This dynamic interaction enhances the gaming experience by fostering a sense of presence and camaraderie. Through chat features and live video feeds, players can communicate with the dealer and even with other participants, creating an immersive and social atmosphere.

The role of the live dealer is crucial, as their real-time responses and professional demeanour elevate the authenticity and enjoyment of the game. This interactive experience makes the games more exciting. It instills greater trust and transparency, replicating the feel of a brick-and-mortar casino from the comfort of home.

Enhanced Trust and Transparency

Trust is essential in online casinos as it dramatically impacts players’ peace of mind. Gamblers look for confidence that their selected platform is dependable, safe, and runs transparently and fairly.

Online casinos build trust and transparency by acquiring proper licensing, offering secure transactions, ensuring fair play, and providing high-quality customer service. Moreover, other online casinos introduce live casino games with live dealers to enhance trust and transparency.

In addition to real-time interactions, live dealers can interact with the players like in brick-and-mortar casinos. Players can ask questions, make comments, and receive immediate responses, fostering a sense of community and reliability.

This interaction mimics the social aspects of land-based casinos, where players can gauge the dealer’s demeanour and professionalism, thus bolstering their confidence in the game’s integrity.

Additionally, live dealer games are often overseen by regulatory bodies and broadcast from high-quality, secured studios, adding another level of accountability. Multiple camera angles and advanced streaming technology ensure every action is visible and transparent, diminishing potential fraud concerns.

Professional and Entertaining Conduct

Professional conduct is the backbone of any successful live casino. Dealers who are well-trained in the game’s rules, adept at handling cards or other gaming equipment, and capable of managing the game flow efficiently create a seamless gaming experience.

They also uphold the principles of fairness and transparency, providing players with peace of mind that the game is being conducted properly.

Beyond professionalism, a dealer’s entertainment ability sets a live casino apart from its online counterparts. Engaging dealers who interact with players, share witty banter, and maintain a lively atmosphere can transform a simple game into a memorable event.

Their charisma and energy help to foster a social environment, encouraging interaction between players and setting the stage for a more immersive experience.

The best live casino dealers master the delicate balance between professionalism and entertainment. They effortlessly shift from explaining complex game rules to keeping the mood light and engaging. This balance ensures players feel respected and entertained, enhancing their satisfaction and encouraging repeat visits.

Varied Game Options

The success of online casinos heavily depends on the calibre and diversity of their game offerings. In the fiercely competitive online gambling industry, casinos must provide a wide range of top-notch games to draw in and keep their players engaged.

One essential reason online casinos need a diverse game selection is to keep players interested and entertained. Another advantage of offering a wide range of games is that it meets players’ diverse preferences. Gamblers have unique tastes, motivations, and gaming styles.

That said, live casino dealers are trained to handle multiple game types, ensuring players enjoy various gaming options.

Their professionalism and capability allow seamless transitions between games, keeping the gaming environment dynamic and engaging. This variety caters to seasoned gamblers seeking depth and strategy and welcomes newcomers eager to explore and learn.

Moreover, live dealers often introduce unique game variants and themed events that you might not find in a traditional online casino. These unique offerings can include everything from high-stakes poker tournaments to themed game nights featuring popular TV shows or movie franchises, enhancing the gaming experience.

Personalized Gaming Experience

Another key benefit of having live casino dealers is the personalized gaming experience they provide. Dealers are trained to cater to each player’s unique preferences and behaviours, making adjustments and offering insights that make each session feel exclusive.

Their friendly demeanour and professional approach ensure that the games run smoothly and that players feel valued and entertained.

Moreover, the live casino setup often includes multiple camera angles and high-definition streaming, ensuring players don’t miss a moment of the action. This level of engagement and transparency boosts player confidence and trust in the game’s fairness, further enriching the overall experience.

Conclusion

Live casino dealers significantly enhance the online gaming experience by bringing authenticity, interaction, trust, and entertainment. With varied game options and the ability for personalization, players can enjoy a casino experience that closely mirrors the excitement of playing in a physical casino.

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Is There Enough Time Before Summer to Get a Summer Body?

Do you think there’s enough time to get a summer body before the height of summer? Of course! If you start right now, you still have two months before August, which we’d class as the height of summer. Two months is enough time to make good progress and see some changes that’d make you look and feel incredible.

Read on to find out more.

Lean Diet and Lifting Weights

It’s the part that nobody likes to think about – the hard work. Yes, if you want to get a summer body before summer, you must be ultra-strict with your lean diet and lifting weights, with a sprinkle of cardio. Combining a lean diet with weight training forms the basis for your summer body.

If you’re ultra-strict with your diet and training four or five times a week, there’s a massive difference you can make, especially if you get your training plan spot on. You can also speed up the process with supplements – supplements will be your best friend! Check out Canadian Made Labs (canadianmadelabs.com) for example, to find the best supplement for you.

Stick to eating whole, unprocessed foods like lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Reducing refined sugars and unhealthy fats will help you lose fat and build muscle. Swap your sweet snack for 0% low-fat Greek yogurt, granola, honey, and mixed fruits, and you’ve already made a massive difference to your diet and outcomes. And it tastes good!

Weight training is equally essential for muscle development, metabolism, and how quickly your physique changes. Focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscles for maximum results.

Hybrid Training

Hybrid training works well. If you’ve got some fat to trim, cardio is essential. Don’t worry, you don’t need to run. A moderate-paced walk on a steeper incline can burn more calories than running, is more enjoyable for most people, and won’t leave you gasping for breath. The stair master is another good cardio machine for a quick blast that will leave you gasping for breath but feeling good.

If you really want to make quick changes, do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT workouts consist of short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by brief periods of low-intensity exercise or rest.

This form of workout can help you lose body fat within a short period compared to steady-state cardio exercise, for example – a 20-minute session doing these intervals may benefit you more than one hour of slow walking. Apparently, you can burn 40% more body fat with HIIT. And what’s 20 minutes of sweating and suffering if you want quick gains?

Psychological Resilience and Self-Control

It doesn’t only involve physical fitness; mental strength and willpower also play a huge role in achieving a perfect summer body. Discipline and a positive mindset are necessary for maintaining focus on one’s goals. Set achievable targets, and understand that progress takes time. If you’re ever lacking motivation, pick the body you want and imagine it in your mind. Tell yourself, over and over, that you need that body. In times of low motivation, reminding yourself repetitively of the body you want can make a big difference.

Consistency in the eating plan and daily training will encourage habits that can become part of you. And, don’t only measure your progress through weight or inches alone but also how good you feel physically and mentally.

It’s time to think about your summer body…because you’re running out of time. Start today and see what difference you can make by August!

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Want to know about a Muslim Arab state that’s been “occupied” by another Muslim Arab state? Read about Western Sahara

Contributed by DOMINIC MARTIN Did you know that a mere four hour flight from London lies a self-proclaimed Arab state chafing under a decades-long occupation? And that their haughty overlords, motivated in part by dubious historical claims to the land, partly by naked territorial aggrandizement, annually encourages thousands of its settlers to move in and tilt the demographic balance in its favour? And all this with the tacit support of its Western allies, and in blatant violation of numerous UN resolutions? Meanwhile the indigenous inhabitants of this land are left to eke out a threadbare existence in the arid scraps left to them, whilst many more languish in refugee camps in neighbouring states. And yet, undaunted, this oppressed people fight on, standing proudly under their red, green, white and black flag. Their occupiers, in a move equal parts desperation and exasperation, have resorted to constructing an enormous barrier across the entirety of the territory, de facto annexing the choicest areas to the ‘motherland’.

I talk of course of Western Sahara, or the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic if you prefer (Morocco, which has occupied the bulk of this former Spanish colony in north-west Africa since 1975, prefers the term ‘Southern Provinces’). Never heard of it? You’re not alone. Despite lying just 60 miles east of the Canary Islands, this Britain-sized slab of rock and desert occupies a position in the average Westerner’s imagination somewhere between East Timor and Ambazonia. There are no weekly protests in support of the oppressed Sahrawi people, no calls to boycott Moroccan goods, no ICC court case against Morocco, and no ceaseless stream of hand-wringing pity pieces for the Sahrawis in the left-leaning media.

Why not? Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, right? Those on the progressive left endlessly tell us that their support for the Palestinian cause is due solely for their compassion for an oppressed people – ‘you don’t have to be Muslim/Arab to support Palestine, just human’, as the phrase de jour goes. Yet Western Sahara? Crickets. This is perplexing – after all, it has all the right ingredients; if anything, it offers a far more clear-cut case than Palestine, given that the Polisario Front (Western Sahara’s answer to the PLO) has refrained from terrorist attacks on civilians and focuses its armed struggle solely against Moroccan military targets, and therefore doesn’t require the kind of awkward moral hedging demanded by supporters of the Palestinians.

And yet Western Sahara is comprehensively ignored. Its flag emoji has failed to take its place next to the EU, Ukraine and trans flags in the Twitter and Instagram bios of the right-on set. Could it be that this intra-Arab dispute between two Muslim peoples who look the same and speak the same language simply lacks the gravitas and high-stakes excitement of the Arab-Israeli imbroglio? That this dispute over a remote desert fastness, whose main exports are fish and a bit of phosphate, is simply not sexy enough? (Even Lonely Planet, usually a-gush with fawning admiration for the most dangerous and dusty ‘up and coming’ developing world destinations, calls it “featureless, arid, inhospitable and uninviting.”) Is it possible that despite the evident wrongs committed against the long-suffering Sahrawi people, that the slacktivist set simply don’t care? It certainly seems that way, which would suggest to this author at least that their support for Palestine represents for the most part less a genuine outpouring of righteous fury against injustice, than a performative display of allegiance to ‘the current thing’. Having long since grown bored of the grim trench warfare in Ukraine, this is now the sole foreign policy issue on which our progressive panjandrums absolutely insist that one must take a stand. The only other similar dispute which even comes close is the moribund ‘Free Tibet’ movement, which has long since fizzled out as its supporters realised the futility of protesting the regime in Beijing.

We are often told that the world doesn’t care about Palestine, that “Palestinian blood is very cheap” as former Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf put it. Yet the complete opposite is in fact the case. No other foreign policy issue attracts as much international attention as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and no other ‘national liberation’ struggle attracts as much foreign support as that of the Palestinians. Would a major flare up of fighting in Western Sahara be capable of swinging a British by-election, as happened recently in Rochdale? Hardly.

So, that’s the progressives. Meanwhile the vociferous rage of their erstwhile allies in the Islamic ‘ummah’ is perhaps at first glance more understandable, their religious sensibilities understandably inflamed at seeing Muslims dying by the score, and at the hands of the infidel no less. Yet even here we see a similar double standard at play. Where has been the outrage at other violent oppression committed against Muslims, such as China’s brutal suppression of the Uighurs, Burma’s genocidal attacks against the Rohingya, or the Alawite Assad regime’s brutal bloodbath in Syria? To say nothing of the tens of thousands of deaths caused by intra-Muslim civil wars in Yemen, Sudan or Iraq? It’s hard not to notice that Muslims generally ignore those issues and reserve especial ire for Israel and Israel alone. Ad for Western Sahara – it doesn’t even get a look in. It would seem that Laayoune, Dakhla or Boujdour simply lack the heady religious allure of Jerusalem, Jenin or Jericho. It would seem that some Muslim lives are worth more than others.

At some point the brutal fighting in Gaza will come to an end. The rent-a-protestors will find a new trend to get excited about. It is quite likely that we will see yet another international push to reanimate the interminable Arab-Israeli ‘peace process’. Forget potential nuclear war in Korea or Kashmir, or the slow-motion implosion of Myanmar – the entire weight of the world’s efforts and attention will once again be bought to bear on the great, grand cause of creating a corrupt, authoritarian (if not outright Islamist) Palestinian statelet in the Middle East. And when that happens, spare a thought if you will for the Sahrawis, as they waste away in their desert shantytowns. After all, no one else will.

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