Wednesday, July 24, 2024 | 18:30 WIB

The Gaza war calls into question the moral rectitude of Western democracies


To be fair, Israeli democracy is likely to ensure that Mr. Netanyahu’s political days are numbered once the guns fall silent. 

Lack of moral rectitude is equally true for Hamas leaders, although they make no pretence to adhere to democratic and humanitarian norms. 

Hamas, even if it survives the war with a political victory of kinds, wantonly sacrificed innocent Gazan lives and made no provisions for a modicum of security for the civilian population in times of war. 

Like Israel, Hamas discarded alternatives at its disposal in the way it fights its battles. 

To be sure, failure to distinguish between national and domestic political interests pervades national security discussions far beyond the Gaza war. 

There may be no immediate or obvious formula for introducing a mechanism capable of making the distinction without taking domestic political interests into account. 

Moreover, in a world of extreme polarization, fear, and rage, the survival of a leader, even if he or she lacks the moral rectitude to make preservation of life an imperative, may be perceived as a national interest. 

Leaving aside whether President Joe Biden’s support for Israel enhances or damages his election prospects, the choice between Mr. Biden and Donald J. Trump, who many perceive as authoritarian or a potentate, is a case in point in the run-up to next year’s US presidential election. 

Even so, the question remains whether Gaza’s population that does not vote in the United States should be required to pay the price of US domestic politics. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s role in undermining the moral backbone and pillars of democracy goes far beyond Western support for Israel in Gaza. 

The war has magnified the successful, years-long Israeli campaign to prevent unfettered debate about the conflict by equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. 

To put the campaign in perspective, one equivalent would be to assert that criticism of sub-Saharan nations amounts to anti-Black racism. 

To be sure, the lines separating anti-Israel and anti-Zionist attitudes and anti-Semitism are often blurred. Critics of Israel and anti-Zionists have frequently failed to distance themselves from anti-Semitic expressions that, for example, surface at times on the margins of pro-Palestinian protests. 


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