The West enters full Complicity
In the middle of a genocide America and other nations leave the victims to die
I’ve found it hard to write about Palestine recently because of the magnitude of the tragedy and the brazenness with which Israel, the U.S., and a handful of other countries are committing and enabling the genocide of Palestinians. But just as the need to push for a ceasefire, for an end to apartheid, and for an end to the occupation has not diminished, neither has the need to discuss the slaughter and the political unraveling we’re seeing on the world stage. Specifically, the ruling from the International Court of Justice and its immediate aftermath demand our attention. Not just because the court “ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza” but because of what came next, and because of the historic and international ramifications of this ruling.
Before we get into the precedent that has been set, we need to look at what Israel and a coalition of Western nations have done in the last 24 hours. First, Israel accused 12 workers from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) of participating in the October 7th attacks. The country says that this information was obtained during interrogations of militants captured three and a half months ago; they just happened to confirm and release the information now. We of course can’t verify the accusations, and at the moment no one can, but we can confirm Israel’s history of torturing captives, which Amnesty International says has “dramatically increased” since 10/7. And yet, even if everything Israel says is true, which anyone who has witnessed the outright lies and shoddy propaganda put forward but the country over the last three and half months, let alone the last many years, should be immensely skeptical of, what came next is still an outrage.
After Israel released this “news” the U.S. promptly cut off funding for UNRWA. Then came Germany. Then the U.K., Finland, Australia, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands. The United States is the organization’s biggest donor, and Germany is the second biggest. And UNRWA is the single largest provider of aid in Gaza right now. According to NPR, “The agency estimates that up to 1.9 million people are sheltering in or near its facilities, which include schools and aid warehouses.” Gaza has 2.2 million people, so that means 90% of the population is displaced and sheltering in UN facilities, and tents. And that a coalition of Western nations is defunding this aid. UNRWA has also been coordinating convoys of food and medical supplies into Gaza.
At the same time as the West is denying aid to Gaza over unsubstantiated allegations that follow an all too familiar pattern of unlikely accusations, like Hamas being headquartered underneath one hospital, then another, Israelis have been protesting the entry of aid to Gaza and even obstructing trucks trying to enter the besieged territory. As the folks at Left Catholic pointed out to me, Israelis have been blockading one of the entry points in Gaza for multiple days, preventing aid trucks from entering with food, water, and other basic supplies. On one day these “protesters” stopped 42 out of 51 trucks from entering.
I don’t know what to call this other than genocidal. To prevent injured civilians from getting medicine, to stop starving civilians from getting food, to decide that hundreds of thousands of civilians are your enemy and must be wiped off the face of the Earth. That mentality is genocidal, and living out that belief in the form of blocking aid is to translate this mindset into deadly and material actions in the world.
The United States, Germany, and the handful of other Western countries cutting off aid to hundreds of thousands of people over the supposed actions of 12 people follows a similar logic. It's the logic of collective punishment, which is a war crime, but more importantly violates every tenant of morality. If you killed a relative of mine, and I responded by killing you and your entire family, that would be fully unjustifiable. It is the logic of barbarism. I say that not to degenerate some theoretical barbarians, but to say that the sham of international law, the sham of an international world order based on fairness and justice that the West has proclaimed since the end of the Second World War has crumbled.
In many ways the refusal of the U.S. and this coalition of Western nations to turn around and confront Israel appears to be a symptom of being too complicit, too deeply involved in abetting this genocide. The leaders of these countries are very well aware of their involvement in Israel’s genocide, and now the entire world is, too. As Francis Boyle, the American human rights lawyer who, among other things, prepared and filed the Bosnian genocide case with the ICJ said yesterday, it is, “no longer the case of these States aiding and abetting Israeli Genocide against the Palestinians in violation of Genocide Convention article 3 (e) criminalizing 'complicity' in genocide. These States are now also directly violating Genocide Convention article 2(c) by themselves.” The collective punishment of defunding UNRWA is just the latest example, particularly for America. Our leaders have voted against a ceasefire at the UN, armed Israel, and are even bombing Yemen rather than trying to stop Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
Even after the ICJ case White House spokesman John Kirby is still saying "it's hard to see" the ruling changing the U.S. approach to Israel's relentless attack on Gaza. There are many reasons for this refusal to change course, but fundamentally the axis of Western powers are unwilling to admit their wrongs of the past and their wrongs of the present. They know that the global South, and even much of their own populations, see through the weak facade of supposed freedoms and values that are meant to comprise our moral superiority and international leadership. The truth has been laid bare again and again over the last several months, but defunding aid to millions of Palestinians immediately after the International Court of Justice urges Israel to do everything it can to stop a genocide is the most cynical and transparent move of all.
In the meantime, Israel marches on. Civilians block aid and the government does nothing. The IDF forces hundreds of thousands into starvation. Tanks roll into so-called safe zones and force refugees to flee once more. The supposed virtue of the West crumbles before a genocide witnessed live by the entire world. It’s on us to stop this; it’s been on us this whole time. In the U.S., Europe, and Australia our governments have never shown compunction or remorse. Americans see stories of frustration from Biden, or other top officials, then more weapons are sent over. So we have no choice. We have to force a dramatic change of course. Gaza demands it, and the future of the world demands it. The barbarism of the current world systems, the barbarism of capitalism and colonialism, have been exposed. And the need for something radically different, radically more compassionate, a world motivated by the value of life rather than by the value of profit and death, has never been clearer. We must be the ones to build it and bring it to fruition.
If not us, who. If not now, when.
Thank you for reading. If you’re able to support my work it allows me to take more time to research and write for you - Josh