On October 20, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, stood on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and besieged Gaza.
Guterres was not the only international figure to travel to the Gaza border, hoping to mobilize the international community in the face of an ongoing genocide in an already impoverished and besieged Strip.
“Behind these walls, we have two million people that is suffering (sic) enormously,” Guterres said.
These efforts, however, paid little dividends.
The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, Ashraf al-Qudra, said in a statement on October 24 that the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza is “too slow (for it to) change the reality” on the ground.
This means that the seemingly endless UN Security Council debates, General Assembly resolutions and calls for action did little to alter the tragic situation in Gaza in any meaningful way.
This begs the question, what is the use of the elaborate international political, humanitarian and legal systems if they are unable to stop or even slow down a genocide that is being aired live on TV screens all across the world?
In previous genocides, whether those accompanying the Great Wars or that of Rwanda in 1994, various justifications were offered to explain the lack of immediate action. In some cases, no Geneva Conventions existed, and, as in Rwanda, many pleaded ignorance.
But, in Gaza, no excuse is acceptable. Every international news company has correspondents or some presence in the Strip. Hundreds of journalists, reporters, bloggers, photographers and cameramen are documenting and counting every event, every massacre and every bomb dropped on civilian homes. It is important here to note that scores of journalists have already been killed in Israeli attacks.
Scientific approximations are telling us, for example, that nearly 25,000 tons of explosives have been dropped on Gaza by Israel in the first 27 days of war. It is equivalent to two atomic bombs, like those dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
When U.S. President Joe Biden callously tried to question the number of Palestinians dead, the Gaza medical staff, who are forced to perform life-saving surgeries on the dirty grounds of hospitals, took the time to prove him wrong. On October 26, they produced a list containing the names of 6,747 Palestinian casualties who were killed in the first 19 days of war.
Thousands have been killed and wounded since then, yet Washington and its Western allies insist that “Israel has the right to defend itself” even if this comes at the expense of a whole nation.
The Israelis are not masking their language in any way. The New York Times reported on October 30 that “in private conversations with American counterparts, Israeli officials referred to how the United States and other allied powers resorted to devastating bombings in Germany and Japan during World War II … to try to defeat those countries.” A few days later, Israeli Minister Amichai openly declared that nuking Gaza was an option in his country’s genocidal war on the Palestinian people.
On the day the NYT report appeared, Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), arrived at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border.
He still used the same guarded language, as if not to offend the sensibilities of Israel and its Western allies. “Crimes allegedly committed in both places have to be looked into,” he said, referring to both Israel and Gaza.
One could excuse Khan by arguing that legal jargon must be restrained until a thorough investigation is conducted. But thorough investigations are rarely undertaken when it comes to Israeli crimes in Gaza or anywhere else in Palestine.
When an investigation is carried out, international judges frequently find themselves accused by the U.S. and Israel of bias or, worse, anti-Semitism. In the case of the investigation spearheaded by a respected South African judge, Richard Goldstone, in 2009, the man was forced to retract part of his report.
Khan knows this too well because he is currently sitting on a large and growing file of Israeli war crimes in Palestine, insisting on delaying the procedure under various excuses. The U.S. does not favorably view ICC judges who advance war crime cases against Israel. The anti-ICC sanctions imposed by the Trump Administration in 2020 are an example.
Many officials in Western institutions are becoming aware of this hypocrisy. On October 28, Craig Mokhiber resigned from his position as the Director of the New York office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights in protest of the UN’s failure to stop “a genocide unfolding before our eyes in Gaza.”
On October 20, around 850 members of the EU staff signed a letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, criticizing her “unconditional support” for Israel.
The letter was polite and diplomatic, considering the horrendous moral failure of Von der Leyen, especially when her gung-ho approach to the Russian war in Ukraine is compared to her blind support of Israeli crimes in Gaza. “Only if we acknowledge Israel’s pain and its right to defend itself will we have the credibility to say that Israel should react… in line with international humanitarian law,” she said.
The International Olympic Committee, which insists on separating politics and sports, has no problem meddling in politics when the enemy is a Palestinian.
The IOC stated on November 1, warning any participant in the Paris Olympics, scheduled for 2024, from engaging in any “discriminatory behavior” against Israeli athletes because “athletes cannot be held responsible for the actions of their governments.”
The word ‘hypocrisy’ here does not even begin to describe what is taking place, and the repercussions of this moral failure will be felt around the world for years to come. Never again should the West be allowed to play the role of the mediator, the impartial politician, the judge or even the self-serving humanitarian.
This is not a difficult conclusion to reach. Gaza has been turned into a Hiroshima as a result of Western bombs and the blank political check handed to Israel by Western governments and leaders from the onset of the war, in fact, 75 years prior.
Nothing will ever alter this fact, and no ‘strongly worded’ future statements will ever help the West redeem its collective moral failure.
Feature photo | Smoke and fire engulf Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on the densely populated urban area. Hatem Moussa | AP
Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is ‘Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out.’ His other books include ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter’ and ‘The Last Earth’. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net