Losing faith in humanity

Azza Radwan Sedky
Tuesday 24 Oct 2023

The failure of the world to intervene to halt the carnage Israel is inflicting on Gaza is totally unacceptable, writes Azza Radwan Sedky


My faith in humanity has been shaken to its core. Blindness is a physical impairment, but when you intentionally opt not to see, you become a guilty participant and a person who permits others to embark on a dangerous route only to inflict pain on them. As an unaware partaker, you make yourself senseless to the core and callous to the suffering that is being wreaked.

It has been only a matter of days since  Hamas’ attack where 1400 were killed, more were wounded, and others were taken hostage. The attack left the world demoralised and unnerved but also bewildered. How could Hamas in Gaza, an area that has been under siege with no contact with the outside world except through Israel’s actions, manage to inflict such damage?

The Palestinians have the right to refresh the memory of Israel and the world at large of the Palestinian cause and remind them that millions of people in Gaza are living in an open-air prison.

Leaders across the world have hailed Israel’s right to defend itself and retaliate against the Hamas attacks, condemning the group and decrying its tactics as barbaric, demonic, or pure savagery, among other epithets.

Canadian politicians have supported Israel’s right to defend itself, though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau added that this should take place “under international law,” which protects people who are not taking part in the fighting including civilians, medical and religious personnel, and Red Cross/Red Crescent workers.

US President Joe Biden stated clearly and without any doubt that Israel has the full support of the US. France banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations. Britain threatened to crack down on pro-Palestine activists and protesters. The governments of France, Germany, Italy, Britain, and the US issued a joint statement on the Hamas attacks. The Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany announced that it was cancelling a ceremony in which Palestinian author Adania Shibli should have received the LiBeraturpreis Award for her novel “Minor Details.”

The support for Israel was overwhelming, and this support has continued even as Israel has retaliated with a vengeance. The world now awaits Israel’s fully-fledged ground attack on Gaza to begin, with no intention of preventing it.

However, Israel’s retaliation has not been in self-defence. Instead, it is the collective punishment of innocent civilians. It is, as some Israelis call it, “mowing the lawn,” meaning eradicating everything and everyone in its way. One Israeli official has said that all civilians in Gaza are “partners of Hamas,” justifying, in his eyes, the present carnage, while another has called them “human animals.”

Meanwhile, the world has stood still as if thunderstruck, but it has nevertheless accepted Israel’s retaliatory measures. The reprisals had to happen. They are a done deal, so to speak. The world has watched as thousands of Palestinians have died, as members of whole families have perished, as neighbourhoods have been demolished, and as hundreds have been buried under the rubble.

There can be no justification for an air strike on a hospital killing 500 civilians. The world has also watched as over a million Gazans have been asked to evacuate northern Gaza only to cram in among another million in the south of the Strip.

After days of bombardment, Gaza still has no access to fuel, power, water, medications, or other goods, and the Gazans are starving. Gaza has run out of body bags and graveyards, and the dead are now being buried in empty lots and under pavements.

For days on end, the Gazan people have endured as no other people have. Gaza has become a “hell hole” on the brink of collapse, as a UN commissioner called it after 3,500 people had already been killed in the Israeli bombardments. Let’s call a spade a spade: what the Gazans are living through today is another version of barbarism and savagery.

The failure of the world to intervene to stop the carnage is totally unacceptable. No one seems ready or willing to ask Israel to stop attacking innocent citizens in an area made up largely of children. No country has asked Israel to stop the invasion or demanded a ceasefire. The world is merely asking for a humanitarian corridor whereby the Gazans can leave, which translates to yet more displacement. A ceasefire is not in the works. The acceptance of all this is mindboggling.

One only has to watch the US network CNN to see one-sided coverage of the Israeli bombardments. The drums of war are being beaten as CNN announces that the Middle East is on the cusp of war. Programme after programme titled “Israel at War” are being aired. Hours of footage shows reservists heading to Israel to fight Hamas. CNN even boarded an El Al flight to Israel with young men about to join the war. Endless footage of the families of those who are missing has been repeatedly broadcast.

I have continued to watch to see if any empathy will be shown towards the millions in Gaza who are facing the Israeli retaliation. There has been almost none. I have awaited a reference or a photograph of the million civilians evacuating northern Gaza. Again, there has been none. When the reporter spoke of a convoy that Israel had attacked killing 70 fleeing civilians, it was mentioned in a matter-of-fact way with no empathy for the fallen and no condemnation of the attacker.

The mystery is that no one has gone back to the origins of the problem: why the Palestinians snap every now and then and why they will continue to snap again and again. The current status quo is not sustainable, and even if Israel manages to annihilate all the Gazans, Palestinians around the world will continue to seek justice.

* The writer is former professor of communication based in Vancouver, Canada.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 26 October, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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