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The Gaza war: International selectivity and double standards

December 11, 2023 at 12:42 pm

Residents living in the area, examine search for their furniture under the rubbles of the destroyed buildings after Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on December 9, 2023 [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

With the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of US-led unipolarity, American philosopher Francis Fukuyama published his famous book, The End of History and the Last Man, highlighting the superiority of Western liberal values of freedom, democracy and human rights over Soviet fascism. However, Fukuyama himself began to retract his views following the Iraq War and subsequent conflicts that brought these Western ethics under serious scrutiny.

The Russian war on Ukraine and the Israeli war on Gaza on 7 October reignited the debate on Western values, human rights principles and double standards. The widespread use of social media has expanded this international debate, challenging the ethics adopted by the US administration and raising questions about the Western perspective on the Russian war in Ukraine compared to the Israeli war in Gaza, especially considering the immense human tragedy caused by these wars.

The Israeli war on Gaza and the US’ particular bias towards Israel, seeking justifications for the killing of thousands of children and women, exposes the blatant hypocrisy within the international ethical system. This analysis delves into this significant contradiction, challenging the integrity of international law and ethical standards while highlighting Western double standards and selective morality.

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Western double standards

Oleksandra Matviichuk, a Ukrainian human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize winner, states: “Instead of siding in the Gaza war, we should all root for humanity.” The divide in the Western approach, especially from the US and the European Union, towards the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Israeli aggression in Gaza is astonishing. The US has committed approximately $46 billion in military aid to Ukraineand a total of $113 billion in various forms of assistance to defend against “Russian occupation”. In stark contrast, these powers continuously support Israel, not only politically, but also through significant financial and military aid. The Israeli Ministry of Defense tweeted on 6 December: “The 200th plane of military aid has already arrived in Israel, with about 10,000 tons of military aid received since 7 October,” effectively funding military operations in Gaza.

Furthermore, Western leaders’ rhetoric, like President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, vividly demonstrates this double standard. While they strongly condemn Russia’s actions in Ukraine, their unabated, explicit support for Israel’s actions in Gaza, particularly the absolute adoption of the Israeli narrative, has repeatedly embarrassed the US administration since 7 October, as seen in cases involving: “Beheaded children, hostage treatment and doubts about the number of martyrs in Gaza.” This continuous support reveals a clear case of selective justice in international affairs.

The human cost in Gaza

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is not just numbers and statistics; it’s a story of unprecedented human suffering. In less than 60 days, Israeli forces killed nearly 16,000 Palestinian civilians, including over 6,600 children and 4,300 women, injuring more than 42,000 people. More than 8,000 people, including 4,700 children, are still missing, likely buried under rubble amidst the absence of civil defence equipment and its blockade by the Israeli army. The number of deaths caused by Israel in about a month is close to what Russia caused over two years, with the civilian death toll in Ukraine reaching 9,701 killed and 17,748 injured, leading the Western world to uproar against what they called: “The horror of the tragedy and the Russian fascism.” In contrast, the massive destruction caused by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, destroying over 300,000 homes, all hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip, dozens of mosques, schools, universities, infrastructure, water and electricity networks, sewage systems and the third oldest church in the world, serves as a painful reminder of the human cost of war, and an even more painful reminder of the double standards by which the Western world views the unprecedented humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

Israeli terrorism and leadership rhetoric

The narrative promoted by Israeli leaders exemplifies rampant aggression and blatant dehumanisation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s invocation of the Amalekites scriptures, commanding the killing of men, women, children and even animals to justify the war, the Defense Minister’s description of Palestinians as “human animals” and the call by the Minister of Heritage to bomb Gaza with a nuclear weapon are not mere words; they are a clear manifestation of a mindset that perpetuates and justifies state-sponsored terrorism. This aggressive rhetoric, alongside the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and infrastructure, is a classic example of state-led terrorism in Israel, supported and protected by the US and the West from legal accountability.

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Western complicity in the genocide in Gaza

The involvement of Western countries, especially regarding financial and military aid to Israel, makes them active participants in the unfolding genocide in Gaza. The US State Department’s statement on 4 December claiming: “We have not seen any evidence that Israel is intentionally killing civilians in its war on the Gaza Strip, and we have no information indicating that the Israeli government is targeting journalists in this conflict, and we expect civilian casualties as a result of military operations in Gaza, which unfortunately happens in all wars,” blatantly contradicts the facts on the ground. In the first 60 days of the Israeli war on Gaza, Israeli forces killed 72 journalists, exceeding the total number of journalists killed worldwide last year, which was 67. The intentional killing of journalists and the systematic eradication of civilian life and infrastructure under the guise of self-defence and with Western support reveals disturbing complicity in these horrific acts.

The end of international law and ethics?

What we witness in Gaza is not just a conflict; it’s genocide in its clearest form. The deliberate targeting of civilians, the comprehensive destruction of neighbourhoods, the catastrophic disruption of essential services and the restriction of the work of active international organisations like the United Nations and the Red Cross constitute a concerted effort to eradicate the population. This is genocide, not just in definition, but in its most brutal and criminal execution, too.

As the tragedy in Gaza unfolds alongside the West’s varying responses to it and Ukraine, a pressing question emerges: Have we reached a total collapse of the international ethical system and humanitarian law? And has the world indeed come to the brink after the Russian-Ukrainian war and the Israeli war on Gaza, such that rebuilding the international system is a matter of time? Especially as evidence points to a concerning erosion of international justice principles, human rights and equality under international law, endangered by the hypocrisy and selective morality of powerful world nations.

The situation in Gaza is not just a call for help; it’s a wake-up call for a profound re-evaluation of the international system and the moral compass guiding global politics.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.