We are all witnessing horrors and carnage going on in the tiny landmass called Gaza – a land squeezed between Egypt and Israel where 2.3 million people were living before the beginning of the butchery. As horrific as Hamas’s attack of October 7 on Israel was, nothing justifies the demolition of civilian city quarters from the air. Since 2005 when the Israeli army and settlers withdrew from the interior of Gaza, this is the sixth time that Israel has conducted direct military aggression into the territory. It has led Operation Summer Rains in 2006, Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, Operation Pillar Defense in 2012, Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and Operation Black Belt in 2019: every time declaring the total annihilation of Hamas as the objective. Will Israel succeed this time?
The US administration has already declared unqualified support for Israel’s war strategy against the advice of prominent intellectuals. Richard Haass, President Emeritus of the Council of Foreign Relations, has warned in a friendly advice in the Foreign Affairs that, “Hamas is as much a network, a movement, and an ideology as it is an organization. Its leadership can be killed, but the entity or something like it will survive.” In a separate article a week after the October 7 Hamas attack, Marc Lynch has cautioned that, “An Invasion of Gaza Would Be a Disaster for Israel.” Yet the Administration does not seem to have reflected on the overall situation. Why is this happening? Is this unprecedented in history?
The refusal of the ruling Likud Party in Israel to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians is not new. Consider the assassination of the Swedish diplomat and the Red Cross Chief Count Bernadotte. The newly created United Nations appointed him to negotiate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, but the Israeli paramilitary group Lehi, also known as Stern Gang, murdered him in Jerusalem on September 17, 1948. Lehi feared that his proposals for peace with the Arabs would be accepted. Bernadotte had the reputation of saving of more than 30,000 lives from Hitler’s concentration camps. The US condemned the assassination, demanded full investigation, and bring the perpetrators to justice. However, the whole issue died down slowly and one of Bernadotte’s assassins later became Israel’s prime minister. This disregard for international law and the need for compromise has frequently characterized Israeli policy in the aftermath.
We do not realize how much we have degenerated over the decades. Now we express our horror at the murder of a six year old Palestinian-American in the hands of an elderly bigot. American politicians, the mainstream media, a powerful segment of academia – all have marginalized the faculty of critical thinking. The paradox is that modern academic disciplines claim to follow Socratic Method of inquiry but in reality, they blatantly follow Sophistic relativistic philosophy and seem unable to confront the corrupting influence of money in American politics and culture.
The Gaza crisis has exposed bankruptcy of the American political elite. Secretary Blinken declared America’s ‘unconditional support for Israel following Hamas’ October 7 attack. It quickly became clear that what he really meant was that the US was all in with Israel’s massive attack on Gaza. Was he then surprised when he had to wait several hours for a simple meeting in Riyadh with the Saudi Crown Prince? He is now even facing a ‘revolt’ in the State Department. According to reports, the director of congressional and public affairs at the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which handles arms transfers, resigned, but he seems to have been more worried about “Some of our colleagues in the region, especially among our locally employed staff, have been directly affected by the violence, including by losing loved ones and friends.”
After retracting his claim of Hamas decapitating forty Israeli babies, President Biden has now claimed that, “American leadership is what holds the world together.” “American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with,” he insisted. Yet we have witnessed the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, and two decades of intensive US bombing during its occupation of Afghanistan. However, this is not the first time in history that we have seen a decaying power making hollow claims.
Israel has cut the civilian population of Gaza off from potable water, food, electricity, and fuel. The tiny number of aid trucks allowed in so far are a cruel joke. What will happen to more than two million Gazans when food, water and fuel completely run out? We have no idea what is happening to most families now, but most analysts are predicting the worse to come. If that happens, how will the rest of the world respond? President Biden is already claiming that America is holding the world together. But holding together for what? To force Gazans to starve A culture of fear and intimidation dominates the atmosphere today. Is the Gaza crisis a symbol of civilizational predicament? Along with the climate crisis, the current situation has become even more complex. Are we very close to witness our civilizational collapse?
My humble understanding of historical change does not endorse this pessimism. How is the current crisis different from earlier ones, however? Well, the main difference from past descents into decadence and decay is that we are witnessing a great awakening among the youth. They are pointing out to double standards of their leaders – not only leaders in the Western world, but in the Muslim world as well. The Gaza crisis has brought millions, not only Muslims but also many Jewish and other groups to streets opposing official positions of most countries.
Besides, there has been a revolutionary change in means of communication and therefore, now it would be impossible to isolate and subjugate any determined population in this age of information. In fact, latest polls are indicating fast and significant changes of opinion in the US. Even the corporate controlled social media outlets are failing to manipulate and suppress information. More people are inclined to subscribe to critical thinking. All these are indications of the triumph of Socratic moral values. For many, the Qur’anic verse “Surely with hardship comes ease (94:5),” offers hope. The faster the rest of the world wakes up to take care of the oppressed, the earlier that ease will come.