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Gaza has sparked a meltdown in the West’s colonial mindset

Originally published by Middle East Eye , in Français, Deutsch, عربي

A father mourns as he carries the body of a child killed in Israeli air strikes from the morgue of Al-Aqsa Hospital to be buried as Israeli attacks continue in Rafah, Gaza on 15 October, 2023 (Reuters via Middle East Eye)

It is evident today in the West that one’s political affiliation makes little difference when it comes to Palestine and the Palestinian struggle. Leaders, politicians, pundits and media figures spanning the political spectrum, including the right, conservative, liberal, centre and left, have all lent their support to the Israeli settler-colonial and apartheid regime.

To truly understand this moral meltdown, it is essential to place this collective western response within a broader context.

In French: Gaza provoque un effondrement de la mentalité coloniale de l’Occident

The western world is grappling with a significant “mental breakdown” in the wake of the ongoing global redistribution of power, which is shifting away from the Euro-American sphere. This response is quite understandable because relinquishing centuries-old colonial privileges and licence to dominate non-European nations and the world is undeniably challenging.

Today, the western establishment and its mainstream media have returned to the Euro-colonial and racist foundations which underpinned the licence to invade, settle, and commit genocide in the Americas and elsewhere in the world since 1492.

They employ a disturbing array of racist and dehumanising language to vilify the Palestinians and delegitimise their struggle, labelling them as “beasts”, “animals”, “barbaric”, “terrorists”, “evil”, “savages”, who are committing a “second holocaust” and “another 9/11” and so on.

This discourse closely mirrors the same tropes and patterns that Europe’s celebrated liberal and Enlightenment philosophers, thinkers, founding figures and heroes used to justify the subjugation and colonisation of non-European nations worldwide over the past five centuries.

t is hardly surprising that the official western stance has wholeheartedly embraced the Israeli settler-colonial narrative, which is essentially an imitation of the original Euro-modern/colonial discourse.

Western colonial standard

Many rightly condemn the hypocrisy and bias expressed in mainstream western media and political discourse.

It is striking that the same western media and leaders who readily accuse Russia of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity have systematically abstained from doing the same when it comes to Israel.

They have ignored Israel’s crimes against Palestine since 1948, including the ongoing crimes of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, which has made about 80 percent of Palestinian people refugees or internally displaced.

Decade after decade of Israeli collective punishment of the Palestinians, such as bombing their civilian infrastructure, homes, hospitals, places of worship, schools and universities, as well as the abduction and burning of their children to death, cutting off electricity and water supply and many other crimes have hardly provoked the West’s concerns and outrage.

Even more disturbing, the same politicians and media figures who endorsed the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant against the Russian president have actively obstructed the ICC’s investigation into Israel’s crimes in order to deny Palestinian victims a modicum of justice.

Paradoxically, while this appears as hypocrisy and double standards, the official West and its media discourse and actions remain entirely consistent with the Euro-modern/colonial standards, which already determined that only Europeans are considered fully human and are therefore entitled to the right to freedom and dominion over others.

Dehumanisation

The ongoing dehumanisation of Palestinians, as well as other subjugated and racialised peoples worldwide, represents a continuation of the deeply entrenchedEuropean colonial standards and norms.

Accusing western governments and media of hypocrisy carries within it an underlying hope for redemption. While this hope is certainly genuine, it is, unfortunately, an unattainable one.

As the anti-colonialist and revolutionary Afro-Caribbean thinker, Frantz Fanon, astutely observed, victims of colonialism will never succeed in persuading their European colonisers of their suffering and their deep desire for freedom because, in the Euro-colonial mindset, only those identified as European are seen as capable of experiencing true suffering and yearning for freedom.

Even after a century of unwavering struggle for freedom, the western world remains unmoved by the Palestinians’ suffering from the Euro-enabled-and-backed Zionist settler-colonialism. Instead, they are asked by western leaders and media to condemn themselves and their quest for liberation.

The official West and media not only disregard the Palestinian suffering and pretend as if the conflict just started last week, but also, as Edward Said aptly observed nearly four decades ago, dismiss their very right to narrate and tell their own story.

They persist in portraying the Palestinians as the ultimate culprits, violators, and terrorists, despite abundant evidence of the contrary. Their suffering under an apartheid regime has been aired on live television and social media, and documented by numerous UN investigations and resolutions, reports, committees, statisticsinfographics, as well as the scholarly, evidence-based and archival research conducted by esteemed historians.

Collective punishment

Official western discourse is designed to engineer public opinion in favour of collective punishment and murdering of the Palestinians, not only by their immediate Israeli colonisers but also by the AmericanBritishGerman and other colonial powers that swiftly dispatched their aircraft carriers and weaponry to discipline and punish the victims in Gaza.

Today, we witness the same racist tropes from the European colonial discourse being deployed to dehumanise the Palestinians and deny them the right to struggle for decolonisation.

Their alleged crime lies not in their actions, but in their steadfast determination to exist on their land, resist and pursue freedom.

The crime of the Palestinians is that they keep reappearing, refusing to die in silence and eventually breaching the fence of besieged Gaza.

Whether this struggle takes a violent or non-violent form, both legitimate under international law, it is inevitably labelled as violent, for it challenges the established Euro-Israeli settler-colonial framework of justice and its essentially violent, unjust and immoral foundations.

From this colonial perspective, the mere existence of Palestinians is deemed an act of violence and a transgression. The official West has already embarked on criminalising and prohibiting peaceful actions such as protests and boycottsagainst the Israeli apartheid, settler-colonial aggression, ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, assaults on sacred Muslim and Christian sites, the transformation of Gaza into an open-air concentration camp for more than two million people (of whom 1.7 million are refugees), controlling their caloric intaketo mention only a few examples.

The mental breakdown of the western establishment has reached a point where even displaying the Palestinian flag or wearing the Palestinian keffiyehis considered an act of violence.

Like other colonised and enslaved populations throughout history, the Palestinians are fighting for a future free from colonial oppression. As the renowned abolitionist and former black slave of European settlers-cum-masters in America, Frederick Douglass, noted over a century and a half ago, progress is never achieved without struggle, for “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

The Palestinian people, like other colonised nations before them, will persist in their struggle for freedom, even when the weight of oppression makes them hardly able to breathe.

Cite as: Badarin, Emile (2023). Gaza has sparked a meltdown in the West's colonial mindset. Middle East Eye, 16 October. https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/israel-palestine-west-gaza-moral-meltdown-colonial-mindset