A woman takes part in an installation featuring mock shrouded bodies of children in Palestine square in support of Palestinians, Tehran, Iran, Nov. 13, 2023. (AFP Photo)

Macron’s backtrack on Gaza: Manifestation of the West’s shame

The Israeli army continues to bomb hospitals in Gaza. With the Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals out of service, the northern parts of the Strip have turned into hell on Earth.

The Israeli army continues to bomb hospitals in Gaza. With the Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals out of service, the northern parts of the Strip have turned into hell on Earth.

Although the United Nations calls for urgent international action to halt attacks on Gazan hospitals, the United States and other Western countries continue to support Israel unconditionally.

Craig Mokhiber from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently tendered his resignation, arguing that what was happening in Gaza amounted to a “textbook case of genocide.” Yet the West does not even call for a cease-fire or humanitarian relief.

Over the weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israel to stop, noting that the bombardment was killing babies, women and the elderly – which, he said, was illegitimate. Although many observers welcomed that statement, the French opposition criticized Macron for being late.

Ironically, Macron ended up having to walk back those overdue comments due to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strong reaction, reiterating his unconditional commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself.

As the European Union made weak calls for a cease-fire, Germany assumed a firmly pro-Israel stance. The country actively supports the ongoing massacre in Gaza in a seeming attempt to repay the embarrassing debt of the Holocaust.

Despite the silence and intimidation of European leaders, pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the continent suggest that the people will remember Israel’s massacre in Gaza and hold their respective governments accountable.

The deliberate targeting of medical facilities and the murder of women and children, with the whole world watching, inflicted a deep wound on humanity’s conscience.

Occidentalism trap

Macron’s back-and-forth (read: his obvious wretchedness) essentially embodies the Western world’s shamelessness. Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin describes that sort of wretchedness as the “Occidentalism trap.” Arguing that the vast majority of the international community questions and isolates the West (together with Israel), he describes Occidentalism as the notion that the West, which ruled world politics for five centuries, could quietly keep meddling in everything.

This time around, the Occidentalist shame presents as active support for the killing of Palestinians. The Muslim world’s helplessness goes hand in hand with that shame.

The final communique of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Riyadh summit notably highlighted the importance of investigating Israel’s war crimes, stopping settler terrorism and breaking the blockade. Yet observers underscored the summit’s inability to end the massacre.

No statement shall be enough unless and until Israel stops bombing civilians to death and sufficient humanitarian aid reaches Gaza. What must be done is to deliver emergency supplies to Gaza via the Rafah crossing and even by sea.

The Muslim world’s fragmentation and disagreements among the Arab states regarding Hamas get in the way of more active and concrete steps against Israel. Nonetheless, the Riyadh declaration was enough to unsettle Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli prime minister – who, experts overwhelmingly argue won’t be able to keep his seat once the Gaza crisis ends – promptly threatened the Arab leaders, telling them to keep silent if they want to protect their interests and stay in power.

It remains to be seen whether any Arab leader will respond to Netanyahu’s impertinent remarks. One can reasonably assume, however, that they won’t act like Macron at the very least.

[Daily Sabah, November 14, 2023]

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