In their support for Israel’s brutal bombardment in Gaza, Western powers and media have shown their true colours of hypocrisy and racism. The reverberations will be felt across the Arab and Muslim world, writes Khaled Al Hroub.
“I have become ashamed before my students whom I have taught, over decades, the enlightenment and modern Western philosophies … [supposedly] glorifying concepts like truth, rationalism, humanism, values, ethics, progress, justice, equality, human rights, liberty and criticism. I apologise to you my students because I was complicit in deceiving you. The West is the biggest lie history has known.”
These angry words were posted by the Mauritanian professor of philosophy, Al-Mustafa ould Klaib, of the University of Nouakchott and went viral across Arab social media in the first week of the current genocidal war on Gaza.
Many saw them a true reflection of sheer sense of distrust and shock because of the immediacy, depth and scale of Western support to Israel against the Palestinians.
Of course, initially concerns were raised about the killing of civilians on the Israeli side, but the magnitude of the Israeli response that was encouraged by the US and European powers has since moved the debate somewhere else.
People were stunned when Anthony Blinken told journalists in Tel Aviv that he was there, offering “America’s unequivocable support of Israel”, “not just as secretary of state, but also Jew.”
"For years to come, volumes will be written about this shameless performance of Western media, and how it worked to manufacture consent for a genocide"
Mike Johnson, the new US House Representative speaker said that “I believe that God will bless nations that support Israel” while pledging Congress’ support. Brian Mast, a republican representative of Florida, arrived on Capitol Hill wearing an Israeli military uniform.
From across the Western world, statements pledging absolute support for Israel’s onslaught on Gaza while deploying a mix of white supremacy and provocative religious overtones have bewildered Arabs and Muslims.
Even the Saudi press, which is tentative at the moment because of its government’s mild position and muted diplomacy regarding the war, couldn’t but publish frustrated comments.
An Op-ed by Dr Mashari Al-Na’im published in the Al Riyadh semi-official daily paper under the title “The Ziono-Crusader War” sums up these feelings:
“The Western mind is a racist mind that believes in the supremacy of the West only, even if it claims to embrace morals and principles. They have the readiness to eradicate the other in cold blood … Has the West been exposed in the last three weeks of war against Gaza?”
"In the last few weeks, with an Israeli bombardment of Gaza unprecedented in scale, anti-Muslim propaganda and attacks have suddenly and forcefully returned."@ArunKundnani on why Islamophobia in the US is rooted in its unconditional support for Israel: https://t.co/ZFipCF6WPF — The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 5, 2023
Fiery speeches across the Arab and Muslim world, and beyond, that accuse the West of double standards and being partners in Israeli war crimes against Gaza are too many to keep track of, from Pakistan and Indonesia all the way to Jordan and Morocco.
The rhetoric of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan perhaps captures, and exploits, the explosion of anger of millions in the streets of Istanbul and capitals across the regions, when he wondered, “Do you want to start a Crescent-Crusader conflict again?”
Such anger transcends Arab and Muslim countries as has been expressed in mass demonstrations of protest by millions around the world.
This anger feeds from the unconditional and blind support in military, diplomacy and media that has been afforded to Israel’s genocidal war and plans to ethnically cleanse 2.3 million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
American, British, and French warships and aircrafts were swiftly sent to Israel. Politicians spared no lexicon in the dictionary reflecting unwavering support to basically any action Israel will and is doing.
This includes the execution of the ultimate Zionist plan that has been years in the making: the expulsion of more Palestinians out of Palestine, this time the Gazans to the Sinai desert in northern Egypt.
Instead of condemning these blatant violations of international law, the Biden administration has asked Congress for an additional $14.5 billion to assist Israel’s bombardment campaign and forced displacement of Palestinians.
The US also led Western powers in blocking any UN Security Council resolutions asking for an immediate ceasefire, another shocking move to allow more time and space for Israel to continue its carpet bombardment of all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.
So far, Israel has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza, more than 4,000 of which are children, and continues to bomb residential areas, hospitals, mosques, churches, bakeries, water tanks, electricity stations, and even roads. In parallel, it has cut off water, electricity, food and medical supplies to Gaza.
In the first hours of the 7 October Hamas attack, mainstream Western media outlets rushed to parrot the narrative fed to them by the Israeli and American propaganda machine.
"In times of crisis, as the ongoing genocide in Gaza attests, Western values of humanism, reason, justice, liberty and equality for all individuals and nations quickly ring hollow and hypocritical"
The basic principles of journalism, those taught in any Journalism 101 course that students take – covering all sides of the story, bringing in the relevant context, and verifying information delivered by hegemonic powers – all got thrown out of the window.
Major media corporations insulted the reputation of their own institutions by a de facto standing by the Israeli war. After a month of continuous and indiscriminate Israeli bombardment, the narrative remains fixated on the 7 October attacks.
The ensuing genocide has been belittled, the 16 year siege and blockade of Gaza ignored, and the decades of colonisation and occupation brushed aside in hasty coverage, while Israel’s aggression enjoyed support and justification.
The details of Israel’s war crimes and the human cost of its war have been footnoted in the shadow of the centrality of Israel’s security and its so-called right to defend itself, which has apparently been expanded to its right to construct the media narrative.
For years to come, volumes will be written about this shameless performance of Western media, and how it worked to manufacture consent for a genocide.
The abundance of racist statements made by Israeli and American officials, that echoed the mediaeval age and religious wars, were hardly criticised or challenged. A collective discourse describing their war as one between civilisation and evil has been adopted.
The Israeli defence minister described the Palestinians as “human animals.” Israeli and American politicians are bidding each other on who is more extreme, resorting to language of barbarism. Vivek Ramaswamy, a Republican presidential candidate, advised Israel to kill the top one hundred Hamas leaders and hang their heads on sticks on Gaza’s borders.
The unchecked military, political and media support for Israel by the West is seen by many to have exposed the hypocrisy of Western values.
This will certainly lead to radicalisation of the current and perhaps future generations of Arab and Muslim youth. All balanced, human, rational and critical perspectives were eliminated and replaced by one analytical argument that could explain the current scene: racism and Western white supremacy.
Since the earliest writings of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, Israel’s self-perception has stressed that it belonged to Western civilization.
Today, this talk about civilization versus evil, where Israel and the West represent the former and the Palestinians represent the latter, has become an official Israeli and American line: a page straight out of the 19th century racist colonialism playbook.
In times of crisis, as the ongoing genocide in Gaza attests, Western values of humanism, reason, justice, liberty and equality for all individuals and nations quickly ring hollow and hypocritical.