Opinion

Unveiling Western bias: Examining perceptions and policies towards Palestine

November 21, 2023
Jamil Aldandany
Jamil Aldandany

By Jamil Aldandany

Unlike previous conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, the current crisis is likely to shape the Middle East and the region’s relations with the West for many years to come. The remains of the fig leaf that the West has hidden behind regarding the issue of Palestine has been blown away.

For most Western diplomats and the majority of media, the long suffering of Palestinians is not sufficient to awaken their moral outrage. This is in spite of the fact this is the longest occupation in modern history, and has involved outright theft of land, expansion of settlements, hundreds of prisoners in administrative detention (including women and children), and the imposition of a de facto apartheid regime in the occupied territories.

Western politicians need to be reminded of the litany of Israel’s policies, as for many of them the whole tragic conflict began on Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel. They queued up to show their support for Israel without the slightest pretense of showing sympathy of the victims of the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of civilians and seem to completely accept Tel Aviv’s narrative of the conflict.

Equally indicative, they have also chosen to remain silent to the Israeli president’s declaration that “There are no innocents in the Gaza Strip,” or the statement of Israel’s minister of defense who described Palestinians as “human animals,” or the minister of heritage who said that he is open to the nuclear option in Gaza. These racist statements went without even a timid condemnation from Western leaders or policymakers.

By and large, the Western media is no less complicit. Interviews with Arab spokespeople are more of an interrogation session than an attempt to understand their perspective. Repeatedly, interviews begin with asking the interviewee if he or she is ready to condemn the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

Never is an Israeli spokesperson asked to condemn attacks on civilians in Gaza or justify the legitimacy of occupation and the rest of Israel’s behavior in occupied territory. Where Israel is involved, the tenets of the press to inform, be objective and seek the truth are suspended.

Even literary circles share the complicity in what amounts to taking Israel’s side and condoning its policies toward the Palestinians. An award for Palestinian writer Adania Shibli was withdrawn at the Frankfurt book fair and the appearance of Viet Thanh Nguyen in New York was canceled over his criticism of Israel. It appears that there are limits to free speech when Israel is involved.

Another shocking development is for the first time — at least in public — religious symbols are being invoked. Here we find the new US Speaker of the House declaring that “God will bless nations that support Israel,” Netanyahu’s invocation that “we are the sons of light and they are sons of darkness,” and the US Secretary of State invoking his Jewish faith during his visit to Israel. But unfortunately, this may be what the conflict is all about.

The latent desire of Europeans to absolve themselves from the sins and crimes committed against the Jewish people on their continent have convinced themselves that they are standing on moral grounds. Europe’s own colonial past has normalized the cruelty and destruction perpetrated against the Palestinians. Decades of demonizing Arabs and Muslims is responsible for tolerating violence inflicted on hem.

Arab countries have twice made concrete peace proposals, first in 1981 (before the creation of Hamas) and again in 2002; both were rejected by Israel. By contrast, Israel has never presented a peace proposal. On the contrary, as late as last September, the Israeli prime minister exhibited a map of Israel that included the whole of the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights!

Western countries pay lip service from time to time to a two-state solution, but remain unwilling or fail to show serious intent in advancing the only viable option to resolve the conflict. Now, the West has a moral responsibility to intervene constructively as it is responsible for creating and sustaining this human tragedy.


November 21, 2023
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