The world is eyewitnessing yet another massacre perpetrated by Israel in Gaza. After Hamas’ surprise attack on the Israeli army’s posts on Oct. 7, killing nearly 1,500 soldiers and allegedly some civilians, the Tel Aviv government responded indiscriminately and disproportionally by attacking the Gaza Strip. Many buildings have been flattened by airstrikes, culminating in the murder of more than 6,500 Palestinians. Although it looks like a counter-offensive and targets Hamas, the Israeli military operation aims to kill civilians as well. Even Israeli President Isaac Herzog confessed that civilians in Gaza are legitimate targets.
Against the ongoing war crime, the world audience sided with Palestinians and conducted meetings to protest Israel’s attacks. People’s worldwide outrage and opposition indicate that Israel has lost information warfare against Palestine. However, this is not the case for Western politicians and media. For example, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen staunchly supported Israel and posted several consecutive tweets saying that they, the European Union, stand with Israel. Also, the commission she chairs tried to suspend the financial aid to Palestine but failed thanks to the opposition of some member states with a conscience.
Furthermore, while British Home Secretary Suella Braverman said that the flying of the Palestinian flag might not be legitimate, France’s Interior Ministry stated that those joining pro-Palestine protests would be arrested. Furthermore, German police beat protestors in Berlin. Currently, it is almost impossible to protest Israel’s war crimes in European streets.
Israel’s right to ‘defense’
The EU asserts in its founding documents the union adheres to cherished values such as human dignity, freedom, equality, rule of law and human rights. However, top officials of the EU and leaders of the member states, except for a few, seem that they ignored their values as they gave a carte blanche to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government when Israel began to kill civilians and cut water and electricity supply to the city. The majority of them stated that “Israel has to right to defend itself.”
Any country under attack certainly has the right to defend itself. However, in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the latest events, there is an asymmetric power distribution that is in favor of Israel. Moreover, Israeli authority uses it to occupy Palestinian territory, expel Palestinians, kill those resisting, blockade cities and so on. Israeli casualties are much lower than Palestinian casualties, and most of the victims are civilians, including babies.
When one affirms Israel’s right to defend itself, they should not hesitate to highlight that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves, too. Ignoring the other side of the coin shows that you are not neutral and are complacent about the rights of Palestinians. Indeed, it is hard to hear that the U.S. and the EU state Palestine’s right to defend themselves, proving that they support Israel regardless of it being in a defensive or offensive position.
Such a policy means that their well-documented and narrated values are not practiced when Israel is the attacker, proving that they are not neutral but on the side of Israel in the conflict. Values are abstract words unless put into practice. Even in the constitution of Bashar Assad’s Syria, it reads, “The Syrian Arab Republic considers international peace and security … and it works on achieving both of them under the International Law and the values of right and justice.” In this sense, Assad is a “human rights defender,” according to international law.
Actually, even being a supporter of the unjust side still should not prevent one from distinguishing innocent people from armed groups. Yet, for European leaders, Israel is always right and can kill anyone it deems a foe. Such an attitude is more than subjectivity, and perhaps a de facto subjection to Israel. Since the EU is not weaker than Israel, what makes EU leaders a partner in brutality is either the concern about their personal careers or having the same mindset.
The only silver lining with the EU and the U.S. is that their citizens are well aware of the situation in Palestine. The will of the people always prevails and drives countries in the right direction. European people’s stance is promising for the future, and we all hope that they will overhaul the union’s foreign policy as well as bureaucracy soon.
Source: Daily Sabah