Western narcissism and support for genocidal Israel go hand in hand The Israeli war on Gaza
For more than four months, the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western countries have been strongly supporting the Israeli war on Gaza. To date, the Israeli army has killed more than 28,000 Palestinians, including more than 12,000 children.
On January 26, the International Court of Justice ruled that “at least some of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the (Genocide) Convention.” South Africa’s claim that Israel is committing genocide is “plausible.” However, the West continued to side with Israel.
Then when Israel claimed that staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) were linked to Hamas, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and more than a dozen other countries suspended their funding, as did the Palestinians. In Gaza they faced starvation.
Despite Western complicity in acts recognized by the world’s highest court as genocide, the West still ascribes to itself all kinds of superiority in civilized societal behavior. Western countries still honor themselves as “the good guys.”
“I’ve gotten into trouble many times when I’ve said that you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, and I am a Zionist. I make no apologies for that. That’s a fact,” President Joe Biden said. Speech at a special campaign reception In Massachusetts in early December, when the death toll in Gaza had already reached 16,200. “We (Americans) never thought anything was beyond our power, from curing cancer this time to everything we’ve ever done,” he added. “I really mean that.”
It takes a special kind of narcissism for a world leader to declare himself committed for 50 years to a white supremacist ideology that justifies apartheid, settler colonialism and genocide, and then to appeal to the greatness of the United States and everything in it. “Possibilities,” as if the United States were merely sprinkling ephemeral dust around the world and it wasn’t Intervene with brutal military and economic force Over the past 130 years.
But the American president is not alone in deceiving himself. At a meeting of the Conservative Friends of Israel in London last month, the British Prime Minister spoke Rishi Sunak has shown unwavering support Israeli attacks on Gaza and the West Bank. “There is a terrible irony in Israel, where all countries are accused of committing genocide,” Sunak said, describing South Africa’s case against Israel as “completely unjustified.”
The “horrific irony” is that Israel, as an ally of the West, cannot be accused of committing genocide because it is one of the “good guys.” The “bad guys” can only be non-Western (indeed, non-white) countries, such as South Africa.
Biden, Sunak and others still believe that, as leaders of the developed world, they make understandable, rational choices when they fight wars and kill people in the name of self-defense or under the guise of fighting “terrorism.”
Despite the protests of tens of millions of people around the world and the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians, the destruction of Gaza and other crimes against humanity, and ignoring the ongoing war in Gaza, Sudan And the conflict is in Democratic Republic of the CongoWestern leaders still believe Western capitalism and democratic institutions He will save the world.
In his book Clash of Civilizations (1996)The late political scientist Samuel Huntington warned of the dangers of the Western illusion that the rest of the world should adopt its so-called values. “The survival of the West depends on Americans reasserting their Western identity and Westerners accepting their civilization as unique rather than universal,” he wrote.
But what Huntington does not understand about the West’s quest to build a one-global civilization is that today’s resentment toward the West did not begin in the post-Cold War era of the 1990s. It is a response to the effects of death, destruction and resource eating that Westerners have left behind since then Christopher Columbus made its way to the western hemisphere and Vasco da Gama It found a route around Africa to South Asia, both in the 1590s.
The rest of the world was the source of the West’s plunder, first through the plunder of gold, silver, and precious stones from newly conquered lands, then through the enslavement of millions of indigenous, African, and Asian peoples, and finally through the conquest of conquered territories. Ancient Eastern Empires.
This belief that Western civilization is superior and fair because of its whiteness is so ingrained in its culture that young people in the West grow up without anyone ever questioning it in their lives. That is, until someone like me comes along as a history professor and confronts this basic belief.
During my many years of teaching history, my students have often gotten into trouble with me over my assumption that “Western civilization” is an oxymoron.
“But the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice!” “It’s unfortunate that atrocities happened to indigenous people, but it’s insulting to compare what the Spanish did to what happened to Rome,” one student shouted, while a calmer student said with his hand raised.
This was the strong response I received from a few students in one of my world history courses a few years ago when I talked about The barbarism of the Spanish invasions The Aztecs and Incas in the 16th century and the similarities between those invasions and the Vandals and Visigoths who helped end the Western Roman Empire.
I referred to the achievements of the destroyed civilizations, the conquistadors, and the Spanish priests Burning almost all Maya writingsDesecrating the temples of Mexico, the Mayans and the Incas, and forcing the population into slavery and Christianity.
I have also endured harsh criticism from students unwilling to even consider the possibility that the United States and the West, having engaged in barbaric behavior with their own people and around the world, might do so in the near future.
“This is not possible, because…no civilized society wants this to happen to them,” one student said years ago. “Americans will never take up arms against the government, especially with our military, that is not rational. We will not be stupid enough to make that mistake again. Our military will crush any rebellion,” another student said last year, despite evidence Contrast that with the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Some students were so ingrained in the West’s belief as a positive force that they did not think about the apocalypse it brought upon 60 million indigenous people. Eliminating up to 90% of the population within 100 years From Columbus’s first contact.
We couldn’t even discuss other genocides committed in the name of empire, colonialism and capitalism: 165 million South Asians Britons starved, were killed, or worked to death between 1880 and 1920; Or the An estimated 10 million Congolese Those who were exterminated by the Belgians; Or genocide Up to 100,000 Herero and Nama By German forces in Namibia between 1904 and 1908.
My students’ faith in Western rationality remained strong even as the carnage of World Wars I and World War II arose. And in those conflicts Up to 90 million civilians and service members They were killed – including more than 200,000 people killed in the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Western narcissism is precisely why my students find it difficult to accept the fact that Western civilization contradicts itself at every turn. As the late postcolonial scholar Edward Said wrote in his book Orientalism (1978), “It can be said that the key element of European culture is precisely what has made (Western civilization) dominant inside and outside Europe: the idea of European identity as culture. Superior compared to all non-European peoples and cultures.
This belief in Western superiority means always remaining on the right side of history, despite many examples of Western irrationality, barbarism, and brutality in its interventions in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Western narcissism means that the United States and the West will not lift a finger to support the Palestinians unless the world and their citizens force them to do so.
Nearly half of Americans ages 18 to 29 believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza This is encouraging, but in itself it is not enough to put an end to the complicity of the United States and the West in Israel’s crimes.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.
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