West Fears ‘Atrocity Upsurge’ While Ignoring Gaza

The problem isn’t “global inaction” to prevent mass atrocities, as The Guardian claims, writes Jonathan Cook. It’s intense U.S. and U.K. support for atrocities so long as they bolster their global power.

Gaza, Oct. 17. (Saleh Najm and Anas Sharif/Fars News/Wikimedia Commons)

By Jonathan Cook
Declassified UK

How do politicians, diplomats, the media and even the human rights community keep us politically ignorant, docile and passive – a collective mindset that prevents us from challenging their power as well as the status quo they benefit from?

The answer: By constantly misrepresenting reality to us and their own role in shaping it. And they do it so successfully because, at the same time, they gaslight us by flaunting the pretence that they crave to make the world a better place — a better place where, in truth, the unspoken danger is that, were it to be realised, their own power would be severely diminished.

A perfect illustration of how this grand deception works was provided in a report at the weekend in the supposedly progressive Guardian newspaper, headlined, “World faces ‘heightened risk’ of mass atrocities due to global inaction.”

The opening paragraph reports that human rights activists fear the “international community has given up on intervention efforts to stop mass atrocities, leading to fears that such occurrences may become the norm around the world.”

In practice, this “failure,” according to the report, has manifested in an abandonment by Western states of the principle of R2P — or “responsibility to protect.” This principle and related “humanitarian” pretexts were used to justify the U.S. and its allies meddling since the 1990s variously in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, with disastrous consequences.

Millions were killed as a result of R2P-type interventions and tens of millions displaced, leading to mass movements of people that are seen today by Western states in terms of an “illegal immigration threat.”

Sustained Massacre

The context for the human rights community’s concerns, we are told, are growing abuses of the Genocide Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both were adopted in the immediate wake of the Second World War to prevent a repeat of the Nazi holocaust and widespread atrocities committed against civilians on both sides of the fighting.

One might have assumed, at this point, that such fears have been heightened — resulting in their being raised at the United Nations — by the most egregious genocide of modern times: the sustained massacre over two months of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the wanton destruction of the vast majority of their homes to drive the survivors out of Gaza and into Egypt.

At least 17,000 Palestinians are known to have been killed by Israel so far, most of them women and children. More than 100,000 homes have been made uninhabitable. Some 2.3 million Palestinians have been herded into a tiny, ever shrinking space, close to the border with Egypt, denied water, food and fuel.

This combined act of genocide and ethnic cleansing is the most intense, visible and industrial — using the very latest and most powerful weaponry available — in living memory.

But extraordinarily, that does not appear to be the central concern of the “international community.” According to The Guardian, the following are the global crises primarily driving a steep rise in atrocities:

“The mass killing of civilians in Syria and Ukraine, and the internment of over a million Uyghurs and other Muslims in China, have been followed by war crimes in Ethiopia, and a resumption of ethnic cleansing in Sudan’s Darfur province, 20 years after the start of the genocide there.”

Notice anything significant about this list? It comprises only mass atrocities being committed by those not firmly within the U.S. imperial sphere of subservience.

The mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza, which has been in the headlines for many weeks, cannot be credibly overlooked. So it is mentioned — but notice how the spotlight is sharply directed away from the present, highly pertinent events in Israel and Palestine. The genocide in Gaza, which has driven many millions of protesters on to the streets across Europe and North America, becomes an afterthought:

“The 7 October Hamas killing of 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, and the consequent Israeli invasion of Gaza, in which women and children have accounted for most of the estimated 16,000 dead, have added to the bloody chaos.”

Manifold Deceptions

Medic carries an injured Palestinian child into Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike on Oct. 11. (Atia Darwish, Palestinian News & Information Agency — Wafa — for APAimages, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The deception here is manifold, and not just because Gaza ought to be top of the list of concerns, not at the bottom.

The formulaic framing in this paragraph is designed — as ever in Western reporting — to create a false equivalence between Hamas’ actions and Israel’s, and engender a sense that Israel’s mass slaughter of Palestinians is caused, and excused, by Hamas’ preceding mass slaughter of Israelis.

It should hardly need restating that Hamas’ breakout of the prison that is Gaza — and its predictably dire consequences — was preceded by decades of Israeli military abuses of Palestinians under military occupation and an illegal 16-year siege of their territory depriving more than 2 million people of their freedom, basic rights and dignity.

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There has been a constant, slow-motion atrocity in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem for decades — long before the human rights community, the U.N. and The Guardian raised their new concerns about “a heightened risk of atrocity crimes.”

There is, too, a clear difference between the exceptional, one-off violence Hamas was able to wreak on Oct. 7 because of dramatic and unexpected failures in Israel’s surveillance and control of the Palestinian population in Gaza and Israel’s intensification of the structural violence of a decades-long occupation and siege.

These, all too obviously, are not the same things — and they do not pose even vaguely comparable threats to the status of the Genocide Convention and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To suggest otherwise — as all Western reporting does constantly — is to exaggerate the threat posed to international law by the atrocities committed by Hamas and dramatically underplay the significance of Israel’s genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Weapons Testing Lab

But there is a far deeper problem with the framing of these concerns. The critical problem is not “global inaction” over mass atrocities. It is the opposite: intense Western — chiefly U.S. — support for, and complicity in, such atrocities.

This problem is highlighted only too clearly by events in Gaza. Which is precisely why it is included reluctantly, and only as an afterthought, in the list of threats to international humanitarian law. The U.S. is not helpless in the unfolding genocide. It is actively facilitating it. In fact, Israel’s genocide and ethnic cleansing would be impossible without not just U.S. collusion but active participation.

The mass slaughter of civilians in Gaza is occurring because the U.S. has supplied many of the heavy-duty bombs razing Gaza’s high-rises and killing its children. The slaughter is occurring because the U.S. has sent warships to the region to intimidate neighbouring Arab states and militant groups into remaining quiet as Gaza’s civilians are murdered. 

Lebanon’s Hezbollah, for example, is quite capable of ending “global inaction,” by engaging Israel militarily and drawing Israeli firepower away from Gaza. But no one in the “international community” presumably wants that kind of “action.”

The mass slaughter in Gaza is occurring because the U.S. used its veto at the U.N. Security Council last Friday to block a ceasefire. It is occurring because the U.S. has funded the Iron Dome missile interception system that stops Hamas being able to fire rockets on Israeli communities — mirroring on a tiny scale Israel’s destruction in Gaza — to raise the political pressure in Israel for a ceasefire. 

The slaughter is occurring because Washington has for decades propped up Israel’s military with the bulk of the U.S. overseas aid budget, and let Israel use the Palestinian territories as a profitable laboratory for testing new weapons systems, surveillance techniques and cyber technology. 

Peace Talks Blocked

Boris Johnson, then-U.K. prime minister, left, meeting Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kiev, April 9, 2022. (Ukraine government)

The problem here is most definitely not “inaction.” It is that the U.S. picks and chooses when and how it wants to be active in creating, sustaining and ending conflicts around the globe.

Noticeably absent from the list of concerns about the spread of atrocities is the suffering of Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been waging a genocidal war for years. On average, four Yemeni children have been killed or maimed each day over the past eight years by Saudi atrocities. 

Why is Yemen overlooked? Because factions there are seen as allies of Iran and therefore enemies of the West whose lives count for nothing. Because Riyadh is a critically important U.S. ally and supplier of oil. And because the U.S. and Britain have been arming the Saudis to the hilt to commit the genocide there. 

Similarly, in Ukraine. The vast majority of the casualties on both sides of the fighting might have been avoided if peace talks had not been blocked by the U.S. and Britain in the first weeks after Russia’s invasion.

It was that “action” and others — such as the threatening expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders and the West’s flooding of Ukraine with weapons on the false promise that Nato would have Kyiv’s back — that ensured nearly two years of war and its tragic death toll.

As with Gaza, the problem has not been inaction, it’s been far too much action from the U.S. and its lapdogs in Europe of the very kind designed to assist in slaughter and genocides.

‘You Must Obey’

There is, however, a reason why the “international community” is raising concerns about “atrocity crimes” now, while downplaying or denying the worst possible atrocity crime – genocide – in Gaza.

And that is because Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 signifies a dangerous moment for Western domination of the so-called global, rules-based order. The concern is not really about a rise in mass atrocities. The West is just fine with atrocities when it commits them or it helps others carry them out.

It is about the West’s increasing difficulty of keeping the rest of the world weak, intimidated and subdued through the use of its own atrocities. U.S. military failures in Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine — and the growing self-assurance of Russia and China — are marking out new limits to Washington’s supremacy.

The truth is that Hamas’ attack on Israel — horrific as its consequences were — served as a signpost to a different future for many of those who have lived for decades under the thumb, or more often the boot, of the U.S. and its allies. They see that it is possible, even as an oppressed, weak, abused party, to give the bullying global hegemon and its sidekicks a bloody nose.

What is seen by privileged, complacent Westerners purely in terms of senseless, barbaric violence is understood by others as a slave revolt – as an “I am Spartacus” moment.

[See: JOHN PILGER: We Are Spartacus]

Which is why, just as happened after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, so much of the rest of the world is failing to join the West in its self-righteous chorus of outrage and condemnation. They view these professions of indignation as pure hypocrisy.

It is the reason, too, why the U.S. is being so indulgent as Israel goes about its genocidal rampage in Gaza. The importance for Washington is not stopping Israel’s atrocities but making sure Israel reasserts its famed “deterrence” to provide a lesson to those who might be inspired to wage their own slave revolt.

In front of the cameras, the Biden administration is calling for restraint and urging Israel to minimise civilian casualties. But behind the scenes, it is carefully calibrating just how much savagery Israel needs to unleash to send the right message to the non-Western world: You cannot win. You must obey.

Jonathan Cook is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at www.jonathan-cook.net

This article is from Declassified UK.

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11 comments for “West Fears ‘Atrocity Upsurge’ While Ignoring Gaza

  1. December 15, 2023 at 13:13

    Brilliant Analysis, Thanks so much

  2. Ricardo2000
    December 14, 2023 at 18:23

    “…threat posed to international law by the atrocities committed by Hamas….”

    Stephen Biko (1946-1977): “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”

    There was never any proof of Palestinians committing any kind of crime. Israeli Occupation Forces have admitted they killed hundreds, including those who offered surrender. Most Israeli casualties were caused when the IDF implemented the “Hannibal Doctrine”. Israelis will kill anyone held by their enemies so they become excuses for war crimes.

    Thomas Mann (1875 – 1955): “War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”

    Released Hamas prisoners of war have stated that Hamas behaved with scrupulous attention to human rights. The 1% Nazi Guardian isn’t all that different from the author’s ignorant nonsense. Cook retails the same lies as every other MSM cloaca.

    Albert Einstein: “The most important aspect of our policy must be our ever-present, manifest desire to institute complete equality for the Arab citizens living in our midst … The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people. … What saddens me is less the fact that the Jews are not smart enough to understand this, but rather, that they are just not smart enough to want it.”

    The most important fact to grasp is that Hamas didn’t invade Israel. They reoccupied Palestinian land for the benefit of Palestinians. Hamas attempted to expel murdering criminals illegally occupying their homes. These settlements, AKA colonial outposts, are intended as permanent Israeli claims to Palestinian land. They are front line combatants in which many war criminals are found celebrating brutal an-Nakba and Naksa ethnic cleansings. Those Israeli colonialists aren’t “innocent” in any meaning of the word. To live comfortably next to the Gaza Strip and not be sickened or outraged, is undeniably contemptible. It’s equivalent to those “Good People” who lived next to Nazi or Soviet Death camps and didn’t notice the stench, the gunshots, or the ashes falling on their heads.

    George Orwell: “A people that elects corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors aren’t victims…but accomplices.”

    How many people and children have Israelis killed and mutilated since 1948 only approximate numbers are known: since Oct 07 nearly 29,000, of which more than 10,000 were children. Who knows how many dead children are still buried under Gaza’s rubble. Israel has declared Gaza will be turned into Hiroshima, the ultimate crime against humanity.

    Israelis no longer obey the Ten Commandments: they only obey the “11th commandment”. Israelis are ‘the Chosen People of God’, an arrogant profane apostasy excusing and celebrating genocide.

    Sergey Lavrov (UNSC – April 24, 2023): “…no one allowed the Western minority to speak on behalf of all humankind.”

  3. Tim N
    December 14, 2023 at 12:57

    Thanks for mentioning this!

  4. mgr
    December 14, 2023 at 11:59

    Part of the problem is similar to the situation in the US with the cDP and GOP political parties. Vote for either and you get the same. In other words, there is no choice. All the options are bad. Neither makes a difference. And until now, it’s been much like that in the world of the “rules based international order.” The “only game in town” and “it’s our way or the highway.”

    Russia, China and all the BRICS nations are now poised to offer the world, for the first time in a long time, a choice; the genocide, war, subservience and conflict of the “rules based” status quo order, or international law, respect, mutual benefit and cooperation.

    Let’s see which nations are willing, or even able, to get off their knees.

  5. Bushrod Lake
    December 14, 2023 at 11:47

    R2P is another way of creating an attack and response. The attacks are provoked and the responses are calculated (as in our 9/11 and their Gaza, as well as Ukraine).

  6. Dr Bruce Spencer
    December 14, 2023 at 06:54

    Many thanks gain for your research and article.

    Do you have an estimate of how many Israelis (and others) were killed by Israeli fire (helicopters, tanks, and IDF) on 7th Oct. I think it may undermine the usual claims.


    • Tim N
      December 14, 2023 at 12:55

      Scott Ritter says that the IDF killed more Israelis that day than Hamas. At the very least, one should mention at least that the IDF killed dozens, if not hundreds of Israelis that day. This needs to be repeated over and over to the liars in and out of the media.

      • Dr Bruce Spencer
        December 16, 2023 at 05:56

        Thanks Tim — I missed Scott’s comment — I have tried to persuade Al Jazeera t.v. to do a special on it — if anyone reading this has influence please use it.

        Bruce Spencer

  7. Francis Lee
    December 14, 2023 at 05:11

    Israel, another day, another massacre of children. How far do these kiddie-killers and their Anglo-American backers have to stoop? There are times when words are insufficient. This is not war, it is mass murder. One is reminded of the old American refrain. ”Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today” How many indeed, the count hasn’t yet stopped.

  8. Francis Lee
    December 14, 2023 at 04:31

    Yes how far does the imperial press 5-eyes have to sink? One is reminded of the old Manchester Guardian, as it was then called, under the Stewardship of C.P.Scott, – and the British war in South Africa, 1900 or thereabouts. Scott and the Guardian took a principled stand against British imperialism and the war. Scott for his bravery had to stand against the pro-imperialist mob who attacked the Manchester building as well as Scott’s home. See below the Manchester Guardian as it once was and what it is now.

    ”The peace party retains its right of protesting when and how it thinks best. It holds this war to be an iniquity into which the Empire has been plunged by a course of diplomacy which, if not unscrupulous, has been shown by the event to be grossly incompetent, and it will doubtless say so as occasion arises… those of us who have striven for peace must be prepared as soon as the moment comes to strive for peace again.”

    Times has obviously changed – not for the better.

    Editorial, Manchester Guardian, 12 October 1899, p. 7.

    • Joy Al-Sofi
      December 15, 2023 at 10:57

      Thank you for sharing this relevant info from the forgotten imperial past.

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