To restore humanity, stop the genocide and make Israel accountable

May 22, 2024
Rafah, Gaza. 23rd Dec, 2023. A Palestinian girl looks out the hole of a window of a building damaged by an Israeli strike in Rafah in southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, December. 24, 2023. UNRWA says it

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu

In Gaza, the echoes of violence have reverberated every single day for months. We are witnessing the erasure of an entire society in real-time, television cameras rolling, live-streamed, into living rooms across the planet, as children watch other children being killed.

Innocent Palestinian children and women continue to be slaughtered daily while the very foundations of society – hospitals, schools, power stations, factories, water supply infrastructure – are systematically destroyed by the most powerful military alliance in the world. This is a military alliance led by Israel and the USA, supported by other Europeans, mainly the UK, Germany and France. It is a modern military empire that has written itself into the history books with its moral vacuum. But it will have nowhere to hide when the truth is fully revealed, supported by thousands of pictures and videos documenting the destruction of Palestine and its inhabitants.

The repeated global calls for peace and a ceasefire have been ignored by the agents of this assault, hellbent on revenge, committing war crimes in the process. So how can a lasting peace be secured amid such a fraught situation?

It begins with a recognition of what so many have knowingly shied away from doing: classifying the premeditated slaughter of tens of thousands for what it really is – a genocide.

Through The Club of Rome – an institution that has prided itself on calling out inconvenient truths of grave magnitude – there is an opportunity to put this on the record. There is also the opportunity to bring attention to the fact that so many institutions and public figures – especially in the West – remain eerily silent for fear of being charged with the lame tag of being anti-semitic simply for standing up against a government that has oppressed Palestinians for decades and which is now engaged in systematic ethnic cleaning under the pretext of self-defence. The pursuit of an enemy in a war does not under international law permit a scorched earth policy. It is time to fight back on behalf of the thousands of innocent children killed and make sure we mean, “never again”.

And amidst the humanitarian disaster, a disquieting disparity has become apparent: while the suffering of the Palestinian people pierces the global consciousness, the response of Western governments to the architects of this slaughter remains woefully inadequate and often downright inhumane. There seems to be no Western-backed coalition of the willing to stop the slaughter of Palestinians, unlike the furious reaction to the war in Ukraine.

However, indignation in isolation cannot chart the course towards an enduring peace. The pressing question that demands the attention of all opponents of repression and crimes against humanity is this: How can the world cultivate a lasting resolution to this conflict in the Middle East and who should lead it going forward given the complicity of the West in the catastrophe? There are three aspects to consider.

Internationally recognise the truth of genocide

The first step towards a sustainable and lasting resolution necessitates a unified stance from the international community. This both means and requires the involvement of the global majority, not another disingenuous process led by the usual suspects from the West.

As mentioned, this begins with an honest acknowledgment, shared by all nations including the United States and its Western allies, of the gravity of the situation in Gaza and that this is nothing short of a genocide, perpetrated by the state of Israel.

The report by the UN Special Rapporteur provides a crucial foundation for such recognition. It concludes, based on the Israeli government’s intention to inflict collective punishment, the high civilian death toll, targeting of densely populated areas, and restrictions on humanitarian aid as well as forced starvation, that “reasonable grounds exist to believe the threshold indicating Israel’s commission of genocide is met.”

The statistics paint a chilling picture: Israel has unleashed 25,000 tons of explosives on Gaza, equivalent to the destructive power of two nuclear bombs. Over 30,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, including more than 13,000 children. An additional 12,000 are presumed dead, and 71,000 individuals have been wounded, many left with life-altering injuries. The assault has set records for the number of children, women, doctors, nurses, teachers and aid-workers killed in a short period. Residential areas have not been spared, with 70% of them lying in ruins. The conflict has uprooted 80% of the population, forcing them into displacement en mass.

Even typically pro-Western organisations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have raised strong concerns about Israel’s actions, suggesting potential genocidal elements or hallmarks.

South Africa, a country still bearing the deep wounds of apartheid and human rights violations, did the global community a service by bringing Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of genocide. Despite Israel’s attempts to dismiss the case, the ICJ’s panel of 17 judges chose not to do so. Instead, they issued a ruling that Israel must take measures to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, ensure the delivery of basic services and humanitarian aid and deter and penalise any incitement to commit genocide. Would the court have issued such a directive if there wasn’t substantial evidence of genocide to begin with?

Therefore, the assertion that Israel is committing genocide is now broadly accepted and is no longer dismissed as an unfounded allegation. The constant flood of deeply incriminating and painfully visual evidence has offered a burden of proof that will be hard to argue against in a court of international law. A significant portion of the global community already holds this belief. The ongoing catastrophe is visible to all, and the denial by the United States and its Western allies does not negate its occurrence, it only deepens the global resentment and loss of respect towards these Western powers.

The architects must face punitive action

Secondly, it is imperative that those within the Israeli government who have perpetrated this crime, along with their Western accomplices must be held accountable for its actions. Those responsible for this genocide must be subjected to the due process of international law. If not, the world will enter a new era in which international law lies irrelevant when it comes to crimes against humanity. Gaza would become the precedent that makes it very clear to the global majority that the West does not hold itself accountable to international law and dictates what is right and wrong, driven by its self-interests to maintain its global hegemony. This form of Western/white privilege in international rules-setting and enforcement must be buried in the ashes of Gaza once and for all.

This process will trigger a sequence of actions aimed at conclusively ending Israel’s illegal occupation and oppression of Palestine. It will crucially curtail the economic and military support it has received from its Western allies over the years, which has perverted its sense of its own painful history and stymied appreciation to co-exist with Palestinians and its Arab neighbours.

Such a process will divest Israel of its much-abused privileges and the impunity that has facilitated its acts of violence and prolonged occupation. A carefully designed and targeted sanctions package will have to be part of this process, focused on military assistance, preventing Israel from gaining access to arms and exporting its own military technology and equipment to others.

Naturally, in terms of safeguarding Israel, an international security umbrella led by the UN must be established to uphold the country’s security and ensure it is not threatened in any way as long-term peace is built, which will take a generation at least. The sanctions package should also impose restrictions on Israel’s ability to engage with the wider world, effectively instituting a boycott. This would include banning Israel from participating in international sports and cultural events including the Olympics and soccer World Cup – as was imposed on apartheid South Africa and Russia – reinforcing its status as a pariah state for its crimes against humanity.

However, it will be important to remember that the sanctions should not be imposed indiscriminately on the Israeli public, as has been the case with the U.S. and European approach to countries such as Iran, North Korea, Myanmar and Cuba. The sanctions should not target the welfare of citizens and should not escalate to extreme levels. The primary objective of these carefully curated and targeted sanctions is to encourage massive reforms in Israel, make it commit to a long-term peace agreement with the Palestinians as brokered by the UN, prevent its allies from emboldening it to further its destructive path and prevent the Israeli state from destabilising the entire region as it has begun to.

This is neither a novel nor a severe approach; it has been employed in the past. In periods when humanity has witnessed the ravages of war, the pursuit of justice has led to the prosecution of those responsible. This was evident in the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials following World War II, the ICC trials in Cambodia and Kosovo as well as in South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Indeed, there are positive outcomes to be found in this. Germany is a prime example. In the aftermath of World War II, the nation emerged as a beacon of how to acknowledge and respond appropriately after committing crimes against humanity. It became a symbol of how a nation should take responsibility for committing genocide against a group of people, the Jews.

Successive German governments took it upon themselves to educate future generations about their past wrongdoings to prevent history from repeating itself. Demilitarisation was also part of the international consensus for both Germany and Japan.

Likewise, future generations of Israelis must come to terms with a similar reality. The acknowledgment of genocide must lead to sincere repentance and reform. It is this model of restorative justice that we should strive to emulate. Once this is accomplished, the international community can devise a plan for peaceful coexistence and hold all parties accountable in the construction of a new framework for peace and prosperity.

The West has forfeited the right to lead peace-making

This leads to the third and critically important point about who leads the process. The United States is not in a position to oversee this process nor is it capable of finding a solution. The responsibility of establishing a framework for peace and prosperity is a collective global effort.

The U.S., through its historical support of the Israeli regime, including supplying weapons and funding this massacre, has forfeited its ability to participate in this process as it is technically complicit in this act of genocide.

Despite the West’s propensity to disregard international law, it is crucial the world does not allow it this time and works together to uphold it. Justice must be visibly served, as enduring peace can only be established once the current genocidal leadership in Israel and its various institutions – which have steered the country down a path of self-destruction – are disarmed. The blueprint for lasting peace must include all necessary guarantees for both Israel and the Palestinians, overseen by the UN or a specially established body. Once again, this cannot be led by the U.S. or the West.

A main reason why the U.S. cannot adjudicate this process is the blood on its hands thanks to the proliferation of the military-industrial complex (MIC) and its role in exacerbating the conflict in Gaza. The MIC is a significant component of the U.S. political economy, which stokes geopolitical tensions and enables nations and private entities to instigate and profit from conflict. The MIC blatantly finds the war in Gaza highly profitable.

The MIC is quite open about this as well. Executives from weapons companies have publicly expressed their enthusiasm for the profitable opportunities that war presents. One defence executive, attending the biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) conference at ExCel London in 2023, candidly told Reuters, “War is good for business.” Leaders from the private sector have been even more explicit. For instance, during a 2021 investor call highlighting the company’s robust growth, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes stated, “Peace is not going to break out in the Middle East anytime soon. I think it remains an area where
we’ll continue to see solid growth.”

Remarkably, the interest in the U.S. in safeguarding Israeli military interests is apolitical in nature. Despite being a deeply divided nation, the U.S. unites in its defence of Israel, a stance agreed upon by both Republicans and Democrats. The root of this support is the significantly large and powerful “evangelical lobby”, which exists on both sides of the political divide. The MIC requires an ideological base to politically support proxy wars, and that base is provided by Christian evangelicals. Because they exist on both sides, and all administrations and politicians must cater to this base, the support of Israel is unconditional.

Just take the Christians United For Israel (CUFI), America’s largest Christian Zionist organisation. They believe that as followers of Christ, they must ensure Washington’s commitment to Israel remains resolute. In 2023, CUFI lobbied for a dozen pro-Israel bills in the House and Senate.

It is untenable and unacceptable that global stability is so unduly influenced by a nation where internal political divisions and the quest for power, driven by amongst other things religious fanaticism, is allowed to exacerbate religious conflicts elsewhere, threatening world peace.

Another reason why the West cannot oversee the peace-building process is because there is a considerable likelihood that the U.S. and its allies may also be implicated alongside Israel. Over 600 legal professionals, academics and retired senior judges, including three former Supreme Court justices and former president Lady Hale, have cautioned that the UK government is violating international law by persisting in its arms supply to Israel.

As such, those who have fuelled the tensions in the past, such as the U.S., are naturally precluded from presiding over the matter. While they can participate in the process, they cannot be the arbiters. The decision must be rendered by an impartial entity composed of the international community, led by the UN and not solely Western nations.

In essence, the genocide must be halted, Israel must be held accountable on a global scale, and it must bear the consequences of this crime. Subsequently, peace must be constructed by the collective international community, not solely by the U.S. or the West, allowing both Israel and Palestine to thrive together. A key step toward this is for Palestine to be admitted as a full member of the United Nations and one can only hope that the U.S. does not veto its current application.

Indeed, many Israelis and Jews around the world who oppose Zionism could be motivated to initiate reform once the charge of genocide is internationally and legally recognised. The journey towards reform and redemption will be protracted, but it will establish the foundation for lasting peace. Such metamorphoses have been observed in the past, in Japan and Germany. Their economies have since ascended to remarkable heights. However, these transformations were not immediate. They were preceded by international acknowledgment, condemnation and punishment for wartime atrocities. Only then were the steps towards restoration embarked upon.

Despite the challenges, with unity and commitment to justice, we can achieve peaceful coexistence. This is our hope, our goal and our legacy.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” Dr Martin Luther King.

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