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A disney princess under the rubble of Gaza

A disney princess under the rubble of Gaza

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إقرأ باللغة العربية:

أميرة ديزني تحت أنقاض غزّة

We cannot predict the moment tears will make their way through a forest of sedatives and antidepressants, and break free. It's the moment when our walls of defense crack, much like the earth does above a spring or the top of a volcano full of molten lava does when it erupts.

For me, this didn't happen when I saw images of shredded bodies and videos of anguished and heart-wrenching screams. Rather, it happened when I saw a video of people pulling out the lifeless body of a little girl wearing a Disney princess dress from under the rubble in Gaza. Above the video, there was a comment saying she must have been someone's little princess.

Perhaps that was my moment, for I have a little princess of my own who also adores Disney princess outfits. She's at the age where she cannot yet understand the concept of time required for travel. Last month, she asked me to take her to Disneyland, with the condition that we return on the same day – to Egypt – so as not to miss school. A few days ago, she approached me to say that she no longer wanted to eat her favorite meal – the kids meal at McDonald's. Why? I ask. "Because they feed those who kill children," she said, but I hadn't told her anything, and I didn't want her to know yet that there was such a thing in the world called "killing children".

Yet the world had reached her in its own way, through school or perhaps through YouTube. She informed me of her decision in English since she's attending a language school, specifically one based on the American system. It's ironic, or perhaps paradoxical, that her father is experiencing the same contradictions as many who have believed in "Western values."

My strength didn't crack when I saw videos of shredded bodies and anguished screams. It broke when I saw the body of a little girl in a Disney princess dress being pulled out from under the rubble, and a comment saying she must have been someone's little princess

In his second interview with British journalist Piers Morgan, Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef mentioned that the recent weeks have damaged the moral image that the West has meticulously built around its values over a long period of time, and its call to adopt these values. It wasn't a coincidence that this topic was discussed with a Lebanese journalist friend of mine visiting Cairo on the same day.

Discussing our "shock" at the "Western values" as if it were a form of selfishness or intellectual luxury – given the ongoing genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza, and even Western protests that included a strong participation of Jewish activists, which seemed like a reconsideration of faith in humanity – turned out, despite their intensity, to be a voice of protest against the "mainstream", and against the Western alignment that not only united with the "pain of Israel" but also supported it with aid and weapons, along with an unprecedented rejection – perhaps never seen before in modern history – of any talk of a ceasefire. This shift took Israel from a phase of disavowing responsibility for bombing the Baptist Hospital in the dead of night, to a phase of open, daylight shelling of the Jabaliya refugee camp, claiming it housed "some Hamas leader", without even bothering to confirm whether the airstrike was successful. Then hours later, the camp was bombed again, and again.

Under the rubble of these destroyed camps and broken homes, the lifeless bodies of their inhabitants are not alone; the belief in the rights, freedoms, and values of human civilization – long championed by the West in the modern era – now lies with them

Under the rubble of these destroyed camps and broken homes, the lifeless bodies of their inhabitants are not alone; the belief in the rights, freedoms, and values of human civilization – long championed by the West in the modern era – now lies with them. This has provided an opportunity for those lurking in murky waters, those who reject these values, each for their own reasons, in principle. They are the ones who now declare that they won't accept another word from the West regarding freedom of speech, women's rights, democracy, or LGBTQ+ rights.

In the midst of the rubble of these camps, it's not just lifeless bodies that lie beneath but the enduring spirit of the values of human civilization, long championed by the West in the modern age. Paradoxically, this situation has created an opening for those lurking in the murky waters, individuals who, for various personal reasons, fundamentally oppose these values. They boldly assert that they won't entertain any more lectures from the West regarding free speech, feminism, democracy, or LGBTQ+ rights.

It's not difficult to deduce the identity of these people. They are the grinding millstones that have long crushed "the region" between them; the supporters of dictatorships, and the sons of religious fascism. They say, "here's your West – it does not believe in what it claims, or it simply excludes you from them". So, when Bassem spoke to Piers, his words seemed like an extension of their dialogue: "Believe me, Piers, it’s really not about that (i.e. Israel, Hamas, and the Palestinians); the West doesn't view us as equals."

Many commentators under the video wrote that they "felt those words" when Bassem uttered them. And when it appears that Bassem Youssef's words inadvertently resonate with the slogans of those who oppose freedoms, it's not being overly pessimistic to fear a future even darker. And it's not a luxury to start thinking now about how we can safeguard and protect our ideals and aspirations for our societies from the bombs of Israel and America, before they are harmed as well, much like the "Western civilization" has been.

* 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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