On October 24, a statement by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres caused a sharp reaction by Israel. He had condemned in the strongest terms the massacre committed by Hamas on October 7, but also reminded the world that it did not take place in a vacuum. He explained that one cannot dissociate 56 years of occupation from our engagement with the tragedy that unfolded on that day. Israeli officials demanded Guterres’s resignation, claiming that he supported Hamas and justified the massacre it carried out. The Israeli media also jumped on the bandwagon, asserting among other things that the UN chief had demonstrated a stunning degree of “moral bankruptcy”. The Israeli position has been that the definition of anti-Semitism be expanded to include criticism of the Israeli state and questioning the moral basis of Zionism.
From October 7th, the West – the United States, United Kingdom, France and some other countries in the European Union came out strongly to try to force the world to talk only about October 7 and to stop talking about what had been happening before and after that date. For weeks, their media organs spoke only of the barbarism of October 7, the killing of 1400 people and the abduction of 240 hostages. Citizens of the United States, United Kingdom and France were told that they could not march to express their displeasure at the killing of over 4,000 Palestinian children and their mothers. The Western media whose reputation has been built on protection of “universal” human rights refused to criticize the bombing of hospitals, schools and United Nations shelters. A few bold ones that did it were summarily sacked from their jobs. Rights that were supposed to have been entrenched in the constitution disappeared completely.
The countries also boldly and openly refused to allow significant entry of humanitarian support to those in dire need. Diplomats with long track records of warning the world on the imperative of strict compliance with international humanitarian law brazenly changed their language and started arguing that nothing can be done about “collateral” damage in situations of war. They then extended the argument by refusing to support a ceasefire to allow for help to reach over two million Palestinians in desperate need. In essence, they have come out to clearly support Israel’s use of October 7th as a pretext to pursue ethnic cleansing and genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip. The world has been watching and understanding clearly what is going on.
The world is also being reminded that the process of ethnic cleansing of Palestine had been on-going since 1948 including the forceful expulsion of Palestinians into the Gaza Strip from villages on whose ruins some of the Israeli settlements attacked on October 7 were built. These uprooted Palestinians were part of the 750,000 Palestinians who lost their homes and became refugees. The key issue today is the interrogation by the world on why this ethnic cleansing was noted but not condemned by those who claim to occupy the moral high ground. As the world recalls the expulsion of 300,000 Palestinians during and in the aftermath of the 1967 war, and the expulsion of more than 600,000 from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip ever since, it has become clear that understanding is deepening. Would the world allow the remaining 2.3 million Palestinians to be killed and expelled from their land? Since the election of the present fundamentalist messianic Israeli government in November 2022, the attacks on Palestinians have escalated with no words of caution to the perpetrators.
I condemn the killings and abductions of Israelis that occurred on October 7 but is that an excuse to massacre over 10,000 Palestinians in revenge killings and collective punishment in which almost half the victims are children. The world needs to learn to tell Israel and their supporters that the Palestinians will not disappear and will continue their struggle for liberation from settler colonialism and apartheid. Israel is currently reducing Gaza into rubble and hoping to send the entire population out of the territory. That cannot happen as there are other forces in the world today.
The unfolding crisis in Israel is a formal announcement that the world now knows there is no rules based international order because the rules do not apply to Israel and the United States. There are also no values underlining international humanitarian law because the values that were evoked over Ukraine were revoked for the Palestinians, when the world asked questions why the West will not even criticize killing of children in Gaza or bombing babies in hospitals. The West by its actions has seriously undermined its credibility as an interlocutor in international conflicts. Its absolute commitment to escalating conflicts has been sobering. Increasingly, it sabres rattling of taking the war to Iran and China, having done so on Russia through Ukraine is awakening the world to the dangers they pose to humanity. Its refusal to accept that its centuries of hegemony over the world is finally coming to an end is astounding. The G7 was initially set up half a century ago to discuss global economic problems, but its scope has since broadened to represent the collective voice of major industrialized countries on political and security issues. When it came out to oppose Russia, thinking it could cripple the country, it was biting more than it could chew. By thinking it can now add China, it is telling the world that it has lost touch with reality.