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Gaza and the shameless vacuum of Western morality

Israeli sources confirmed that troops opened fire at Palestinians rushing toward aid trucks in Gaza. (AFP)
Israeli sources confirmed that troops opened fire at Palestinians rushing toward aid trucks in Gaza. (AFP)
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02 Mar 2024 01:03:25 GMT9
02 Mar 2024 01:03:25 GMT9

I rarely write angry pieces. However, as I see and read about the carnage on Thursday, when Israeli troops turned their guns on starving Palestinians and 112 died, and I see the world’s hypocrisy, I have nothing to offer but my rage and disgust at the shameless loss of Western morality.

Israel called these victims “a mob” — starving women and children, reduced to “a mob.” Initially the Israelis did not even recognize the massacre. Then, as the appalling truth became evident, they were forced to admit that they had indeed opened fire — while simultaneously gaslighting the victims, as they usually do. The victims were shot because they “posed a threat.” It was nearly 12 hours before they admitted the obvious, while of course absolving themselves of any responsibility.

If this did not sufficiently disgust you, what came next must surely have done — the hypocritical reaction of the West, particularly the US. Joe Biden, president of the land of the free and the shining beacon of Western civility, could not even bring himself to issue a condemnation. All he said was that the “incident” would complicate the Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks. Palestinians are now beyond dehumanized — they are no more than a currency.

Actually, I did once hear an Israeli official calling Palestinians a “currency.” We know Palestinians don’t matter to them, and we Arabs don’t matter to them. But how can they face their own people? How can they convince them? What do they tell them? No matter how they try to whitewash the facts, it is all obvious. There is satellite imagery, testimonials by people present at the massacre. It is very clear. Yet Biden does not even dare to call it a massacre. If Syria, Iran or Russia did the same, what would have been the reaction? Would there be the slightest hesitation in calling it a massacre, or carnage? But the barbaric loss of 112 Palestinian lives is nothing but an “incident” that will complicate or delay the hostage deal.

While the US is so concerned about those poor Israelis who have been trapped for months in Gaza, no one talks about the Palestinian women and children festering in Israeli prisons; or the thousands jailed without either charge or conviction; or the women raped in Israeli prisons; or the children jailed for years for throwing a stone. This is because when you are a Palestinian you are no longer a woman or a child, not even a human being, just a currency — and in the eyes of Israel, a cheap one at that.

Western politicians lie to the Palestinians, they lie to us Arabs, and they lie to their own people

Dania Koleilat Khatib

The West’s mainstream media reporting has been timid. CBS, for example, said Israel was “accused of opening fire.” Seriously? Accused, as if this were not established fact? The Reuters headline was: “More than 100 killed while seeking aid.” Killed how? And by whom? Are we asked to believe they shot themselves?

The media does not even report the facts, always qualified by “according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health,” just to sow doubt in people’s minds. Even Biden expressed doubt about the number of deaths on Thursday, although the Gaza ministry has a track record that is far more credible than that of the Israeli army. US media even reported as fact claims by the notoriously unreliable ZAKA Jewish burial charity, which spread online lies about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The BBC continues to attribute the figure of 30,000 Palestinian dead in Gaza to Hamas. They appear not to have noticed that, according to US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Israel has killed 25,000 Palestinian women and children in Gaza since the war began. Israel itself also claims to have killed more then 8,000 Hamas fighters. Do the math, guys.

Western politicians lie to the Palestinians, they lie to us Arabs, and they lie to their own people, who no longer believe them. The anger is spreading. In the UK, the maverick politician George Galloway beat all the major parties to win a by-election in the north of England on Tuesday, with a campaign focused entirely on Gaza. Americans are upset. Their tax money is going to fund genocide, and in the name of civility: how ironic. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East trying to defend itself against those “barbaric terrorists.” Biden his and ilk can dehumanize Palestinians, but can they convince their own people? We saw the uncommitted vote in the Michigan presidential election primary. It tells you that people have had enough hypocrisy.

Last week, the young US airman Aaron Bushnell self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The shameless media tried to portray him as unstable, a lost soul. The Washington Post said he had an anarchist past. Have they no decency? His friend said Aaron was not contemplating suicide but wanted to use his life as a message for justice. US media reporting, and its official position, go beyond disrespecting Gazans and Palestinians; they are disrespecting their own citizens, who stand with Palestinians, who stand with justice —supposedly a concept engrained in Western principles. How cynical is that? They preach to the world about great Western values, but they are the first to trash them. They preach equality among humans but what we see is the veneration of inequality.

As I said at the start, I rarely write angry pieces. But sometimes there is simply no alternative.

• Dr. Dania Koleilat Khatib is a specialist in US-Arab relations with a focus on lobbying. She is co-founder of the Research Center for Cooperation and Peace Building, a Lebanese nongovernmental organization focused on Track II.

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