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The paradox of humanitarian sympathy and political reality: Reassessing the world's response to Israel’s invasion

The paradox of humanitarian sympathy and political reality: Reassessing the world's response to Israel’s invasion

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Opinion Marginalized Groups Basic Rights

Sunday 29 October 202304:25 pm
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Anyone can speak about the Eastern world and Western world from a cultural perspective, in terms of interests or orientations, and can employ this geographical classification for writing articles and conducting research rooted in moral benchmarks and references or behavioral standards and codes of conduct. Furthermore, they can reinforce their statements through military alliances, economic agreements, development strategies, and trade policies.

All of the above is possible and has been evident, and it will remain apparent until the end of the world along with its wars and cultures. However, what has not been possible, at least since World War II, is dividing the world into East and West concerning international law, the principles of human rights, or the criminal regulations of collective or individual acts of warfare.

What I mean by this is that the post-World War II world has adopted the term "the international community," which is regulated by treaties that have been signed and mutually consented to by all participating entities. Nevertheless, any group, country, or party can evade or renounce these accords and act contrarily, based on three conditions or criteria:

We are the militarily weaker party in this equation, and we shouldn't be weaker in the legal equation as well. The powerful do not require laws when they attack or kill, while the militarily weaker party turns to these laws in the hope of being treated justly

The first criterion is that "might makes right," meaning that the militarily powerful, in particular, can disregard some or all of these international agreements and understandings if they feel they stand in the way of their expansion or the achievement of some, or all, of their illegitimate goals.

The second condition, or criterion, that enables any entity, be it a party or nation, to evade these agreements, lies in the power of its media influence and its capacity to manipulate facts. This manipulation ensures that the act of disengagement appears merely temporary or justified, due to temporary circumstances or overwhelming conditions that necessitated it.

The third condition is the threat to existence, whether justified or artificial. Such a threat demands the imposition of a state of emergency, often leading to a cascade of violations that often occur in the enemy's territory, and sometimes even in the ally's territory.

The three aforementioned points are always applicable to Israel, as it's the powerful entity that shows no restraint in expansion, widespread violence, killing, and, in many cases, even extermination. Besides its formidable military might, Israel possesses a significant media influence, deeply embedded in all aspects of global media. It consistently promotes the existential threat it perceives from its Palestinian and Arab neighbors.

Hence, international humanitarian law is one, and it applies to everyone. It doesn't favor the East over the West or one country over another. The violations of this law that we see does not mean that it doesn't exist, even if the international bodies responsible for its protection and enforcement are weak and lack the executive power to enforce it without assistance from the powerful themselves.

This is what justifies the perpetual complaint of the weaker party when their rights are blatantly violated and these international entities cannot do it justice. The absence of enforcement does not imply a call for its annulment, or holding it responsible for the harm inflicted upon the weaker party, or for attempting to create another law based on values or concepts belonging to another time and place.

This introduction is necessary for understanding our approach to dealing with the West and how the West deals with us. It helps comprehend the discrepancy between thousands rallying in support of us in the streets of London, while the UK government stands firmly aligned with our adversary.

It is possible to understand the consistent complaints and the rhetoric of victimization that prevails with the party subjected to injustice, which, in our specific case, is us, the Palestinian side. However, one cannot comprehend the attack on the law itself, or on the standards and agreements that govern the world as a whole, as the entire world is the West alone and no one else, even if the West contributes to their hindrance when it comes to us and our cause.


In this context, it's worth noting some clarifications:

The recourse to international law, the international community, human rights legislation, and international legitimacy must always be consistent, whether during times of calm or in times of adversity. We should not attack or dismiss these principles and laws when we are at peace or are in a winning position and then seek recourse in them when we are in distress and adversity. It's important to note that we should not act independently of these principles when we wish to, only to later invoke and appeal to them when our adversaries act in disregard and defiance of them.

We are the militarily weaker party in this equation, and we should not be the weaker side in the legal equation as well. It goes without saying that the strong do not need laws or codes or regulations when they intend to attack, kill, or even defend themselves. Conversely, the militarily weaker party seeks refuge in these laws, hoping they will do them justice. When justice is not served, they should not turn their backs on these laws. Instead, they should persist and persevere in their efforts, and never stop trying, despite the frustration and a sense of injustice and oppressiveness that may arise from it.

The second important observation is that we must differentiate between the solidarity of peoples with us as a humanitarian issue and their solidarity with us as a political and national cause. Any patriotic Palestinian who is committed to the wellbeing of his people and their national project would feel anger and sadness these days, as he witnesses the setback of this project back to square one. During the years of the Nakba and Naksa, the world used to sympathize with us as refugees or as victims who left their homes and were stranded. Then the Palestinian national movement and its allies succeeded in transforming this humanitarian sympathy into political solidarity.

It is true that this transformation occurred cumulatively and through trial and error, over a long period, and at a slow pace. But it did happen. While it is not enough to obtain our complete national rights, it did achieve global recognition of these rights at the very least.

Should we rejoice over these crowds in the Arab and Western world who stand in solidarity with our suffering, despite losing the support of the very countries that once rallied behind our national demands?

The brutal war on our people in Gaza, with the enormous number of casualties among civilians, the unprecedented destruction of infrastructure, and mass displacement, has brought human sympathy for us back to the forefront.

Should we rejoice over these crowds in the Arab and Western world who stand in solidarity with our suffering, despite losing the support of the very countries that once rallied behind our national demands? I don't have a convincing or definitive answer, and the truth is, I don't know if we have indeed lost this solidarity or if what is happening will ultimately end in our favor. As I write, all that fills my mind, both before and during this writing, are the terms emerging from the United Nations Security Council meeting (on Tuesday evening) and the use of new terminology in the field of our regional politics, such as the "creation" of a state for the Palestinians instead of the conventional term of "establishing" a Palestinian state.

Conversely, will Israel lose this war, and not just in military terms, but will it become a criminal, pariah state rejected by the international community, a place that expels Ashkenazis and the middle class, closing in on itself as a state of religious fundamentalists, and thus a state incompatible with the "international family" standards of values, principles, and international humanitarian law? No one has a definitive answer.


* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22


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