The West is using a tried and tested catchphrase for the Israel-Palestine conflict
Since Hamas’ surprise attack on the Israeli people on Saturday, the world has been painfully divided. While there is no question that terrorism and deaths of innocent civilians are never an acceptable means of attaining political goals, when it comes to the context, there are two wildly divergent takes.
The majority of the Global South (minus India) see that the latest escalation in the Israel-Palestine conflict proliferated over decades. This is reminiscent of a relevant quote by Noam Chomsky in which he noted that it was Israel’s policies, beginning in the 1970s, of prioritizing expansion over security that would lead to a degradation of Israeli national security and isolate the country.
On the other hand, every major political figure in the West has joined in a chorus of condemning Hamas terrorists, even going as far as to revive an overused slogan: “unprovoked,” as in, the supposedly ”unprovoked” attack on Israel. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky even brought the analogy full circle on Monday when he compared Hamas to Russia during a NATO parliamentary session in Copenhagen.
However, not only is such a point of view completely out of touch with reality, but it is extremely dangerous. This black-and-white thinking, which lacks any serious moral integrity, is a familiar prelude to all-out war. And this has the potential to be a regional conflict given the Wall Street Journal’s latest scoop, which has many basic problems (and was written by a reporter with a history of inventing stories), that ties Iran, Israel’s mortal enemy, to the military incursion. Meanwhile, the US is sending a carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to defend Israel.
We’ve been here before and we know this is how consent is manufactured to deliver societies to the threshold of war. It should be noted that, of the most important US strategic installations that would warrant an immediate declaration of war, some of these are in Israel. It means that Washington has a fundamental interest in ensuring the continuity of Israeli sovereignty and would essentially defend it like its own territory. The growing escalations in the region, coupled with the delusion of moral purity, are inching the world closer to even more conflict at a time when Europe is already engulfed in war in Ukraine.
Speaking to Red, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis pointed out that primary responsibility for the antecedent conditions that most of the world recognize as having led to this latest escalation – namely, the apartheid regime imposed on Palestinians – lies principally with the West, and the US and the EU most of all. It’s here that the silent death of countless Arabs goes unnoticed while the well-publicized atrocities against Israelis are found deserving of invariable condemnation.
Both morally and practically, such hypocrisy no longer makes sense. As I pointed out last year, the fact that major Western human rights organizations began to turn on Israel speaks to the fact that the status quo is no longer tenable. The injustice against the Palestinian nation has become so obvious that public opinion in the West is moving against Israel, even if leaders remain blind to this fact. The reality, however, is that, as Chomsky pointed out, anyone who genuinely supports Israel would steer it in a direction where it ends its pursuit of foolhardy policies that both make itself less safe and shatter its public image. Friends tell friends the truth, after all, even if it hurts.
The West also lacks the capability to defend Israel. It is no coincidence that Hamas launched its assault now, at a time when the military stocks of Western countries are depleted thanks to their collective support for the Ukrainian war effort. Politically, diplomatically, and militarily the West is stretched too thin – yet, apparently, it is content with opening up its proxy wars to another new (and probably costly) theater.
Consider, for example, that in the US alone, $24 billion in Covid-19-related funding for childcare centers around the country expired last week. According to an estimate last month by the Century Foundation, this loss of funding will affect 3.2 million kids and slash $10.6 billion in revenue from lost worker productivity as parents reduce hours or leave jobs in the scramble to find new care. All told, some 70,000 care centers are in danger of closing.
Why is Washington entering into another conflict when this is happening? Moreover, while the majority of the planet supports a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine, why doesn’t the West? The status quo is killing Arabs – and it’s also harmful to Israelis, too. It should be noted that even some Israeli media, including the editorial board of Haaretz, have the good sense to state the obvious: Benjamin Netanyahu’s government bears responsibility for this war.
At the same time, no one should celebrate the death of innocents. Civilians dying, whether Jews or Muslims, is a tragedy. But just because one is able to understand something at an analytical level and see past the most extreme interpretations does not imply that they endorse such behavior. That is to say that just because one has the courage to say that, yes, in fact, the current Israel-Gaza war was provoked does not mean that one endorses human suffering. Identifying the causes of conflict and stating them openly are, on the contrary, the first steps in resolving the problem.
October 13, 2023 at 01:28AM