The ruins of Gaza and the horror of humanity



All the great “genocides” of modernity were only identified, recognized and condemned by the owners of world power, after they were committed.

The legal discussion and ethical judgment of the new “Palestine War” – which began with the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023 – are very important but are not sufficient to explain the specificity and extreme violence and inhumanity of this conflict. And even less, to speculate on the future developments of this humanitarian catastrophe that is in full swing.

From a strictly legal point of view, International Law recognizes the legitimacy of self-defense wars of all peoples and, therefore, also of the people of Israel; but it also recognizes the right of all peoples to rebellion and war against their invaders and oppressors and, therefore, also of the Palestinian people.

Therefore, from a legal point of view, there is definitely no way to arbitrate this conflict, because it is an exclusionary or “zero-sum” dispute, in which there are no external arbitrators who have competence and power, and who are recognized and accepted. by the two parties directly involved. The United Nations itself has already completely lost its capacity for interference and its power of international arbitration, especially after it was demoralized by the decision of the United States and England to invade and destroy Iraq in 2003, without having the approval of its Security Council. , and based solely on accusations that they themselves invented and that they later recognized to be false.

On the other hand, from an ethical and conceptual point of view, all the great “genocides” of modernity were only identified, recognized and condemned by the owners of world power, after they were committed. As happened, for example, with the genocide of the Jews themselves by the German government, during the Second World War, which was only “seen” and condemned by the “victorious powers” ​​after the war, in 1945. It took many years or decades more, to recognize the complicity of other European countries, which also persecuted the Jews, and which collaborated with the Nazis, sending “their national Jews” to be exterminated by the German gas chambers.1

This impotence became transparent in the case of the recent decision of the UN General Assembly, approved on October 13, 2023, condemning the war between Israel and the Palestinians and demanding an immediate ceasefire. A decision that was approved by 120 votes in favor, and only 14 votes against, with 45 abstentions, but which was completely unknown and disregarded by the United States and Israel. Despite the fact that it was this same General Assembly that approved Resolution no. 181, of November 29, 1947, which is considered by the United States and Israel as a true “stone clause”, almost a divine revelation, of the Jewish right to install their new State of Israel within the territory of Palestine.

At the time, the United Nations only had 56 member states, and the decision to create Israel was taken by only 33 countries that voted in favor, against 13 that voted against (including all Arab countries present) and 10 others that abstained, without there having been any type of consultation with the people who lived in the territory that was handed over to the Jews. This is, without a doubt, the ultimate cause of this conflict that has been going on for 75 years, and which continues without the slightest prospect of any type of negotiation and conciliation that is acceptable to the Palestinian people.

Even so, there is no doubt that this conflict has been aggravated more recently by the policies of siege, harassment and invasion of new Palestinian lands – especially in the West Bank – practiced by the successive governments of Benjamin Netanyahu, which have followed each other since 2009, and in a very particular way, by its current government formed in coalition with the most fundamentalist and far-right religious forces in Israel.

Benjamin Netahyahu was sworn in as prime minister for the first time almost two months after the first major Israeli aerial and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which lasted 21 days and killed 1.400 Palestinians and 15 Israelis in early 2009. Benjamin Netanyahu was also ahead of the new bombing and territorial invasion of Gaza in 2014, which lasted 51 days and left 2.205 Palestinians and 71 Israelis dead; and once again, he led Israel during the May 2021 conflict, which lasted 11 days and killed 232 Palestinians and 27 Israelis.

And now again, he has been the main instigator of the massacre of Palestinian civilians, in this new war with Hamas, which has already caused the death of 12.300 Palestinians, with 25.400 injured, and more than 1 million people expelled from their homes, counting 1.300 Israeli deaths and 5.500 injuries have been reported so far. One could even imagine that Benjamin Netahyahu and Hamas were a kind of “Siamese enemies”, who needed each other and fed each other back.

In any case, this conflict would not have reached its current level of violence if Israel had not had the unconditional military support of the United States, from the moment the Americans decided to transform their small territory – the size of Belize – into a head of state. de-bridge its interests within the Middle East, especially after the “Suez Canal Crisis” in 1956, and the Yom Kippur War, in 1973, but especially after the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran, in 1979, when the The United States has lost one of the fundamental pillars of its “geopolitical guardianship” of the Middle East, forcing it to regroup its forces, relying basically on Israel and Saudi Arabia.

But even this new arrangement had to be radically changed after the attacks on the New York towers in September 2001, and after the start of the United States' “endless wars” against “Islamic terrorism” in the Middle East. And, in particular, after the military defeats or political and diplomatic failures of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, which eroded the military credibility of the United States and affected its leadership in a region where it is increasingly growing plus the close influence of Iran and the distant influence of China and Russia, evidently supporting the increasingly frequent “disobedience” of Arab countries in relation to the designs of the United States.

When you keep this background in mind, you can better understand why Hamas' surprise attack against Israel, on October 7, 2023, fell like a bomb on the Pentagon, where it was perceived as yet another humiliation, by establishment American military. And it was exactly the size of this shock that explains the American president's immediate and unconditional support for the violence and inclemency of Israel's fundamentalist extreme right, within the Gaza Strip. In fact, this new Gaza War is not just Israel's revenge, it is also America's revenge.

Therefore, at this moment, the prognoses regarding this war are very bad. Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared that he will continue bombing Gaza until Hamas is completely eliminated. But he knows perfectly well that this elimination is unlikely or impossible and, therefore, his statement only covers up his decision – already taken – to continue the bombings, with the complete destruction of the physical infrastructure essential for the survival of the Palestinian population. It is worth remembering that the same Benjamin Netanyahu has already compared himself with President Bush and recalled the American response to the 2001 attacks, which killed around 3.500 people, through two wars that killed 150.000 Afghans and 600.000 Iraqis.

A comparison and a reference that acquire even greater gravity when we know that this Gaza War is an absolutely asymmetrical war, between a State that is an atomic power, which counts on annual military aid from the United States, of 3,8 billion dollars; and on the other, a “Palestinian State” that can only survive thanks to international philanthropic aid, essential for the functioning of the Palestinian Authority bureaucracy in the West Bank, and the Hamas government itself, in the Gaza Strip.

At this moment, the only one who could suspend this massacre would be the United States, overthrowing the government of Benjamin Netanahyu. But it is very difficult for this to happen, precisely because Joe Biden's American government is involved to the core in this war, betting on its own re-election in 2024, and trying to recover its strategic and military prestige after its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan, its likely defeat in Ukraine, and even more so, after the failure of its intelligence services, which were unable to anticipate Hamas' attack on Israel.

From this point of view, it could be said that the United States is almost “condemned” to move forward, becoming increasingly isolated, alongside Israel, increasing the stakes of its establishment military in an “infinite war” and increasingly violent, in the Gaza Strip and throughout the Middle East, if applicable. With the danger that these two peoples who consider themselves “chosen by God” end up becoming two isolated peoples “repudiated by humanity”.2 In a kind of inversion of the myth of Babel.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor Emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of The Myth of Babel and the Struggle for Global Power (Vozes). []

Originally published in the magazine XNUMXst Century Observatory, November 2023 edition.


1. See the research and recent report on Jewish persecution and collaboration with the Nazis, from France, Italy and several other European countries, in the work of Geraldine Schwarz, Amnesiacs. Story of a European family (Belo Horizonte: Editora Âyiné, 2022).

2. It is important to note, in this sense, the result of the recent vote by the United Nations General Assembly, on November 2, 2023, condemning for the thirtieth time the economic blockade of Cuba, imposed by the United States, which was approved by 197 votes in favor and only 2 votes against, exactly from the United States and Israel.

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