The strident defense of Israel’s recent military onslaught on the Gaza Strip from members of Congress, the Biden administration, and various pundits sound remarkably similar to those put forward to defend the Assad regime in Syria during their bloody attacks on Aleppo, Idlib, and other rebel-held areas in recent years. 

Indeed, the talking points are so similar, I’ve written up a summary — based on real articles, interviews, and statements — in which apologists for war crimes can insert the appropriate words at the appropriate spot, depending on which government’s atrocities they are defending.

“Self-Defense and “Human Shields”

The bombing of Gaza/Aleppo is a legitimate act of self-defense by the government of ​Israel/Syria against foreign-backed Islamist terrorists. Reports by groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that accuse ​Israel/Syria of violating international humanitarian law are based on hearsay by terrorist supporters and should not be taken seriously.

Indeed, both Amnesty and HRW have repeatedly shown themselves to be anti-Israel/anti-Syrian, part of their overall anti-/pro-Western bias. The schools, hospitals, and media centers bombed by Syrian/​Israeli forces have been used by the terrorists for launching rockets into Israel/government-held areas and are therefore legitimate targets. By having fighters and officials in civilian neighborhoods, they are using human shields and the Israeli government/Syrian government has no choice but to bomb them.

False Flags and “Bias”

The Palestinian Red Crescent/White Helmets are not legitimate rescuers but are actually terrorists themselves. The scenes of them removing bodies from collapsed buildings are often staged. The loss of civilian life is tragic, of course, but the responsibility rests solely with Hamas/the rebels. Remember that Netanyahu/Assad wants peace, but he has a responsibility to defend his people from terrorism.

Similarly, as demonstrated by their earlier reports blaming Israel/Syria for the vast majority of civilian deaths, the UN Human Rights Council has shown itself to be irredeemably biased, effectively denying Israel’s/Syria’s right to self-defense. Indeed, the United Nations has a history of unfairly singling out the Jewish state/Arab state, therefore requiring ​the United States/Russia to exercise its veto power to block international efforts to delegitimize Israel/the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, the news media — including shows like Democracy Now! and networks like Al-Jazeera — have simply repeated anti-Israel/anti-Syria propaganda through their one-sided reporting on the conflict, though at least there are networks like ​Fox News/RT to set the record straight.

Those who demonize Israel/Syria for defending itself against Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas/Al-Nusra don’t really care about human rights or international law. Indeed, those who complain about alleged ​“war crimes” by Israel/Syria completely ignore the very real war crimes by Syria/Israel. Such supposed ​“human rights” activists are backing the agenda of ​Iran and Syria/the United States and Israel and are motivated by anti-Semitism/imperialism.

“Extremists and Terrorists”

There are no moderate Palestinian/anti-Assad groups — they are Islamist extremists and terrorists or sympathizers with such groups. And the claim that there has ever been a nonviolent Palestinian/anti-Assad movement is simply a myth.

Hamas/the Syrian rebels would not even exist were it not for support by ​Iran and Syria/the U.S. and Israel, who use them to carry out their agenda to destroy Israel/Syria. This is why the United States/Russia must continue to defend the people of Israel/Syria, reject calls for suspending military assistance, and work with their ally to defeat the threat from terrorism.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco.