Humanity’s Greatest Failure: Turning Genocide in Gaza into a Spectator Sport

An astonishing photo by Ali Jadallah. As he wrote, “Flames and smoke rise in Tel al-Hawa neighborhood as Israeli attacks continue on the 26th day in Gaza City”, November 1, 2023.

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In Gaza, the world is watching a genocide play out in real time, like a vast public spectacle, or, to provide a more current analogy, like the most gruesome reality show.

Over the last month, as the State of Israel has relentlessly bombed the 2.3 million civilians trapped in the “open air prison” of the Gaza Strip, killing over 10,000 people, including over 4,000 children, the world has watched as, via its mainstream media, neighbourhood after neighbourhood has been destroyed and the dead bodies of children and adults are dragged out of the wreckage, with barely a whisper of official dissent.

Political leaders in the west openly support it, news readers talk blandly of those who have died, as though it was some sort of unfortunate but natural occurrence, generally refusing to acknowledge that they have actually been killed, and almost always refusing to name the perpetrators, while armchair genocide supporters, in significant numbers, cheer it on via social media.

Rarely reported are the additional uncomfortable truths that, although voices from within Gaza regularly state that “nowhere in Gaza is safe”, they are unable to leave, even if they wanted to, because Israel has controlled all entry to and exit from the Gaza Strip since 2007, and they are also subjected to a “complete siege”, as promised by the defence minister Yoav Gallant on October 8, whereby supplies of water, food, fuel and medical supplies have been cut off.

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How Many Children Must Die? As the Death Toll of Palestinian Children in Gaza Surpasses 1,000, A Ceasefire Is Urgently Required

A Palestinian child stands amidst the ruins of bombed buildings in the Gaza Strip.

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For the last ten days, like all sensitive people everywhere, I’ve been aware that a rift has opened up in the world — a dangerous tear in the very fabric of human decency, of fundamental morality, through which supposed justifications are loudly being made to excuse the killing, in the Gaza Strip, of children, of women, of the elderly and the ill, and of unarmed men “of military age” who have not engaged in any kind of military conflict at all.

It’s an age-old story, sadly. Throughout human history, men — it’s almost always only men — have slaughtered civilians in their quest, or their leaders’ quest for land, power and control. You could be forgiven for thinking that what drives most wars is actually an excuse to unleash these darkest impulses, and that everything else is secondary.

Gideon Levy’s ‘A Brief History of Killing Children’

It’s nearly two years since the great Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote an article for Haaretz, Israel’s oldest newspaper, entitled ‘A Brief History of Killing Children’, in which he chronicled the moral decline of the Israeli government from the 1990s to the time of writing through the ways in which Palestinian children have been treated.

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My Shame at the West’s Uncritical Support for Israeli War Crimes in Gaza

The aftermath of an Israeli attack on Gaza City, October 7, 2023 (Photo: Ashraf Amra/Reuters).

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What a disgrace it was on Sunday to see the UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, tweeting a photo of a huge Israeli flag projected onto 10 Downing Street, accompanied by the message, “We stand with Israel.” It followed an earlier tweet in which he declared, “Israel has an absolute right to defend itself.”

The exact same message was repeated across the West. “Israel has a right to defend itself — full stop”, President Biden tweeted, while Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission, tweeted, “Israel has the right to defend itself — today and in the days to come”, and also declared — unilaterally, apparently, speaking for the whole of the EU — “The European Union stands with Israel.”

My disappointment with these official Western positions doesn’t stem from any kind of endorsement of Hamas’s actions on Saturday morning; or, rather, endorsing any actions undertaken by Hamas that specifically targeted civilians. As a lifelong pacifist, war disgusts me. I know that violence always begets more violence, that civilians always suffer, and that women and children are always killed, and I cannot support the killing of civilians under any circumstances.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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