As pacifists and nonviolent people, we would have liked to go to the Palestinian embassy these days to protest, but we couldn’t because there is no Palestinian embassy to protest in front of. And this should make us reflect on the causes and responsibilities of this tremendous conflict.
The recent Hamas attack on Israel is a deplorable act, and just as any act of violence, from any side, is to be condemned. There is no political or historical justification for the indiscriminate use of violence in any form, wherever it may originate.
It is also unacceptable to talk in terms of the injustices suffered by the Palestinian people in recent decades. While acknowledging these profound injustices and the unspeakable hypocrisy of those who support them, the use of violence is never justifiable.
Even when used to support a just cause, the practice of violence is unacceptable and will never lead to the resolution of a conflict and will only aggravate the situation.
We therefore join the international chorus of denunciation and condemnation of this act of violence by Hamas.
But our voice, unfortunately, remains isolated when we denounce the causes of this event and the very heavy and undeniable responsibilities of the Israeli government. It would seem that the right-thinking Western society has become hopelessly allergic to discussing the causes of the problems, demonstrating a certain horror of history.
As with the war in Ukraine, the position of Western countries on the conflict is once again proving to be hypocritical, violent and at times vaguely ridiculous, showing the true predatory side of our so-called democracies, which apply their pretended principles only when they gain an advantage. Just as for eight long years nobody noticed the massacre carried out by Kiev against the Russian-majority regions, today we are witnessing a tragicomic farce: the leaders of Western countries declare that “Israel has the right to defend itself”, forgetting that we are talking about a nuclear giant that has been occupying the territories of another people for decades.
They forget that for decades Israel has been invading, humiliating, demolishing, murdering, torturing and violating a people whose territories it illegally occupies.
But this matters little, because Westerners are good and Israel is a great democracy. And being a “great democracy” with great economic clout and powerful friends obviously gives you the right to massacre other peoples and openly violate the most basic human rights.
While in Ukraine the West condemns those who invade the territories, in Israel, on the contrary, it condemns those who resist the invasion. Thus, paradoxically, the right of the Israeli nuclear Goliath to defend itself is affirmed, but the Palestinian David is denied the right to be, not even recognised as existing.
Where are the same choruses of indignation when Israeli planes bomb and tear apart Palestinian men, women and children guilty only of being in their own homes? Why do no Western politicians express their own indignation when Israeli tanks destroy the homes of the poor wretches in the Palestinian territories?
Because the Palestinians do not exist. And, consequently, their rights, their history, their pain and their hopes do not exist either.
Perhaps because the Palestinians “are human animals”, as the Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant has just declared. Perhaps this view, although not expressed in these tones, is also shared by our politicians, who remind us that Israel “has the right to defend itself”, demonstrating the most disgusting practice of moral genuflection imaginable in the face of power.
If we want to have the moral right to condemn violence, we must condemn it on every occasion and not only when it suits us.
Any politician who today declares his own solidarity with Israel without openly expressing his own indignation at its criminal and murderous behaviour and without officially requesting its withdrawal from the occupied territories is considered an accomplice to the massacre.
On their hands lies the blood of the Palestinian and Israeli victims of this conflict and the tears of the parents who will bury their own children.
Today the voice of Western governments should be raised loud and clear to request an immediate ceasefire from both sides. As well as requesting Israel to withdraw immediately from all occupied territories and to respect UN resolutions and recommendations, with serious sanctions packages if it refuses. Hamas should be called on to cease any offensive activity and to discourage Israel from any retaliation.
But this will sadly not happen and, following an already seen squalid script, the solidarity of Western powers is expressed in recognising “Israel’s right to defend itself”, which is like giving them the right to spill the blood of the insubordinate servant who has dared to rebel. Whoever dares to challenge the status quo of power deserves not solidarity but only punishment.
In the Roman Empire there was a terrible law: when a slave killed a Roman citizen, all slaves owned by him were to be punished with death, even if they were not at fault. This was to give a clear signal to all the other slaves in the city and to make it clear what would happen to anyone who dared to rebel against the power.
And it is this same logic of domination using violence as a methodology of action that has created a profound crisis worldwide.
The Argentinean thinker Mario Rodríguez Cobos, known as Silo, the inspiration for universalist humanism, in a public speech in 2005, speaking about the collapse of the Soviet Union, said: “Half the world, half the system that was supposed to be monolithic collapsed. But that world that collapsed did so without violence… And there was no apocalypse.” And he concluded by asking ‘How will the fall of the other half of the world come about?’
Today, in the light of recent events, this discourse seems less sibylline and mysterious than it did twenty years ago. The war in Ukraine, the worsening situation in the Middle East, the risk of a conflict over Taiwan, the incredible number of coups in Africa and the many other events destabilising the world today are a very clear sign: the West is creaking under the weight of its own actions.
Today, the West must reckon with the fact that it will reap what it has sown and that a large number of countries that were compelled in the past to suffer its indignities are no longer willing to do so. And these countries are not only beginning to claim their own rights, but are also beginning to have the resources and means at their disposal for it to make them respected.
Unfortunately, the risk facing humanity at this point in history is unprecedented.
Our fate and that of our grandchildren will depend to a large extent on how the West and in particular the United States come to terms with the fact that they no longer have a role as masters of the planet. It will be necessary to learn to relate on an equal footing with other countries, understanding that one’s own culture, values and organisational model are not infallible and are not the only ones possible. It will have to be understood that it is possible to cooperate and not just command, and that a model based on the wellbeing of the few is no longer sustainable.
It will finally be realised that we are not the centre of the universe but one of many possible universes. This is the next evolutionary step for the human species, a step that can no longer be postponed.
It is not easy for this to happen, because it is a very complex operation… but this attempt is already underway in society and above all in the interiority of the consciousness of millions of human beings.
To accompany and encourage this attempt should be the mission of all people who wholeheartedly want peace and the survival of our species.
Today we feel close to the hearts of our Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters who are paying with unspeakable pain for the stupidity of power.
Let us not be misled by the propaganda of so-called pacifism with which we are bombarded by the media.
We call for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the release of the hostages, the withdrawal from the occupied territories and the respect of the UN resolutions.
Europe for Peace