Where is the world’s conscience?

Where is the world’s conscience?

Where is the world’s conscience?
Protesters rally during a pro-Palestinian demonstration asking for a cease fire in Gaza, in Washington, Nov. 17, 2023. (AP)
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The world was surprised on Nov. 7 by the statement of former US president Barack Obama in an interview with the “Pod Save America” program about the war in Gaza, where he said: “We have to admit that no one’s hands are clean from what is happening (between Hamas and Israel), and that we are all complicit to some extent.”  

This coincided with another surprise: where a group of US Congress members addressed a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken — despite their support to the right of Israel in “self-defense” — stressing the importance of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the commitment of the Israeli government to follow international laws in its military operations to prevent further violence, and to pave the way for intensive diplomatic efforts to reach a sustainable peace.  

Good positions reflect hope, but when we consider what is happening on the ground, they remain just talk unaccompanied by action. The American saying “talk is cheap” is suitable for a temporary title for the unconventional crisis of violence we are living in.  

In reality, “actions speak louder than words.” The positions of the West and the US are resounding, and their absolute bias toward Israel is unashamed and unhesitating.  

One week following the Al-Aqsa Flood of Hamas on Oct. 7, the US sent two of the largest and most powerful aircraft carriers in the world, USS Gerald R. Ford and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, to provide assistance to its first ally, as Associated Press agency described it. They were joined on Nov. 6 by a nuclear-powered Ohio-class submarine capable of carrying nuclear warheads, as announced by US Central Command on social media.  

These steps were followed by unprecedented support from the West to Israel. Images from the video of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak arriving in Israel on a military plane carrying weapons and supporting equipment are still fresh in our mind.  

Forty days after the start of the Israeli-led genocide against the Palestinians, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed, during his recent visit to Tel Aviv on Tuesday, that his country “has only one place, during the hard times in which the Jewish state finds itself, and that is alongside Israel.”  

We have this war of duality, that we have never seen the likes of before. It even indicates the extent of the hidden fanaticism of some Westerners against Arabs and Muslims. It has become a traditional model for winning votes, and even an optional strategy in America that is employed by Donald Trump, Republican candidate Ron DeSantis and others. They threaten to prevent Arabs and Muslims from entering universities and banning them from entering the US.  

The security situation in Palestine will fail to stabilize as long as its people cannot live in dignity, independence and security.

Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor

As for Europeans, they are no less obstinate, as a number of Europeans football players of Arab origin face waves of persecution for their sympathy with the Palestinian people. The German team Mainz terminated the contract of its player Anwar El-Ghazi because of his support for the people of Gaza. Politicians in France called for Karim Benzema’s Ballon d’Or award and French citizenship to be stripped. Where is the freedom of expression that Europeans and Americans both call for? Does the West, which sanctifies this right, not believe that the actions of its governments are now disgusting double standards?  

The humanitarian catastrophe that we witness daily in Palestine adds more pain to these positions in the West. Moreover, many cities and capitals are witnessing distinguished electoral protests over the policies of their governments and their absolute support for the actions of the Israeli government. Does the “self-defense” argument that parties in the international community use to support Israel also apply here?  

The speech by Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, in which he said that a nuclear strike on Gaza was a “possibility,” was widely condemned by the world. However, Eliyahu would not have expressed these extremist and brutal statements if he lacked confidence in gigantic Western support for his country until this moment.  

What is the secret of Europe and the US’ “absolute support” for Israel? Have they become affected by historical guilt? The war that the Israeli government is leading against the Palestinian people in Gaza is arguably as brutal as that of the Nazi regime during the Second World War and it is happening under the gaze and strange silence of the West. Chancellor Scholz explained his country’s position by saying that “Germany’s history and the responsibility it had for the Holocaust requires us to help maintain the security and existence of Israel.” But should the Palestinians continue to pay the price for these sins?  

We realize that Israel is the first ally of the US and the West and the protector of its interests in the region, and we witness daily how the world rises to action against anything that threatens Israel’s security. But no one denies the existence of the Israeli state. Efforts are intensified daily to live with Israel’s existence in peace. As the biggest losers in this region, are the Palestinians forbidden from living in safety and stability in a state with an independent entity?  

In the UN, 139 out of 193 member states have recognized the Palestinian territories as a Palestinian state, while the US, France and UK have refused to recognize a peaceful state of Palestine until the conflict with Israel is resolved. Can we deal peacefully between the two entities with this huge difference in power?  

The security situation in Palestine will fail to stabilize as long as its people cannot live in dignity, independence and security, and while their decision-making power is taken away from them, and they are practically fighting a giant they cannot even force to listen to their requests.  

In the face of this imbalance between the parties, the US and the West are required to stop this bloodshed, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. They must supervise Palestinian elections that will result in a government of honest, patriotic men capable of negotiating with Israel and reaching sustainable peace.

• Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and chairman of the Al Habtoor Group and Dubai National Insurance and Reinsurance Company. He formerly held the posts of chairman of the Commercial Bank of Dubai,  vice chairman of Al Jalila Foundation Board of Trustees and was a member of the UAE’s Federal National Council, the Board of Directors of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was the only non-US member of The World Board of Governors of the American United Services Organisation (USO)  from 1994 – 1997.

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