Palestinians in central and northern parts of the Gaza migrate to the southern parts of Gaza, passing through Israeli soldiers and tanks as the Israeli attacks continue in Gaza City, Gaza on November 19, 2023. (Photo credit: Mustafa Hassona / AA)

Habermas and Others | The West’s Intellectual World and Blindness Toward Palestine

What was the post-Oct. 7 stance of Western thinkers and intellectuals? Why does the Western intellectual world ignore Palestine? Why have thinkers, who believe the Palestinians are right and support them, become targets of ‘lynching’?

Philosophy’s ability to identify, make visible, debate and aim to solve problems with the present has made it important and indispensable for centuries. Such pursuits, regardless of their ability to yield solutions, triggered historic shifts at different points in time. Those ruptures were powerful enough to mark the end of a given age and the beginning of the next. The Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were among the most significant ruptures to date. In this sense, it is crucial for philosophy to respond to the needs, problems and crises of the present to remain important and functional. That is why thinkers and philosophers have a great responsibility.

Israel’s ongoing massacre in Palestine remains the single greatest humanitarian and moral crisis that humanity faces today. Israel has doubled down on its war crimes and crimes against humanity, which it has been committing for years in Palestine, since October 7, 2023. It would seem, however, that the West’s values and supposed moral superiority, which it derived from its material superiority and has imposed on the world by building on it, revealed their true face in the form of its response to what is happening in Gaza today. After all, Western thinkers and intellectuals appear to have very little to say about the massacre unfolding in front of the world’s eyes.

Although the Western intellectual world was overwhelmingly silent on Palestine, a group of intellectuals, including Slavoj Žižek, Judith Butler and Jürgen Habermas, took it upon themselves to end that silence. Yet some of their statements were impartial and passive whereas the rest completely supported Israel. This piece analyzes how the West’s leading thinkers and intellectuals react…

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