For greater than 4 months now, the US, the UK, and different Western nations have been staunchly supporting Israel’s conflict on Gaza. As of now, the Israeli military has killed greater than 28,000 Palestinians, together with greater than 12,000 youngsters.
On January 26, the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice dominated that “not less than a few of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa to have been dedicated by Israel in Gaza look like able to falling throughout the provisions of the [Genocide] Conference,” and that South Africa’s declare that Israel is committing genocidal acts is “believable”. However, the West continued to face by Israel.
Then when Israel alleged that workers of the United Nations Reduction and Works Company for Palestine Refugees within the Close to East (UNRWA) have been linked to Hamas, the US, the UK, Germany, and greater than a dozen different nations suspended their funding, as Palestinians in Gaza confronted hunger.
Regardless of Western complicity in actions the world’s high court docket is recognising as genocidal, the West nonetheless assigns itself all method of superiority in civilised societal behaviour. Western nations nonetheless honour themselves as “the great guys”.
“I obtained in bother many instances for saying you don’t should be a Jew to be a Zionist, and I’m a Zionist. I make no apologies for that. That’s a actuality,” President Joe Biden mentioned in a speech at a non-public marketing campaign reception in Massachusetts in early December, when the loss of life toll in Gaza already stood at 16,200. “We’ve [Americans] by no means thought something is past our capability, from curing most cancers this time round to every little thing we’ve ever accomplished. I actually imply it,” he added.
It takes a particular form of narcissism for a world chief to declare himself a 50-year-long adherent to a white supremacist ideology that excuses apartheid, settler-colonialism, and genocide after which to show to the greatness of the US and all its “prospects”, as if the US has solely been sprinkling pixie mud all over the world and never intervening with brutal army and financial energy over the previous 130 years.
However the US president shouldn’t be alone in his self-delusion. On the Conservative Mates of Israel gathering in London final month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed unwavering assist for Israeli assaults on Gaza and the West Financial institution. “There’s a horrific irony in Israel, of all nations being accused of genocide,” Sunak mentioned, labelling South Africa’s case towards Israel “fully unjustified”.
The “horrific irony” is that Israel, as a Western ally, can’t be accused of genocide as a result of it’s considered one of “the great guys”. The “unhealthy guys” can solely be non-Western (actually, non-white) nations, similar to South Africa.
Biden, Sunak et al nonetheless consider that because the leaders of the developed world, they’re making comprehensible rational decisions when they’re preventing wars and killing folks within the title of self-defence or underneath the guise of preventing “terrorism”.
Regardless of the protest of tens of tens of millions folks all over the world and the deaths of tens of 1000’s of Palestinians, the razing of Gaza and different crimes towards humanity, the disregard for the continued conflict in Sudan and the battle within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Western leaders nonetheless consider Western capitalism and democratic establishments will save the world.
In his e book The Conflict of Civilizations (1996), the late political scientist Samuel Huntington warned concerning the risks of the Western delusion that the remainder of the world ought to embrace its purported values. “The survival of the West is determined by People reaffirming their Western id and Westerners accepting their civilization as distinctive not common,” he wrote.
However what Huntington didn’t perceive concerning the West’s quest for a one-world civilisation is that right this moment’s resentments towards it didn’t begin within the post-Chilly Battle period of the Nineties. They’re a response to the path of loss of life, destruction, and devouring of sources that Westerners have left behind ever since Christopher Columbus made his approach to the Western Hemisphere and Vasco da Gama discovered a route round Africa to South Asia, each within the 1490s.
The remainder of the world has been the West’s supply of plunder, first by means of the pillage of gold, silver, and gems from newly invaded lands, then by means of the enslavement of tens of millions of Indigenous, African, and Asian peoples, and eventually by means of the conquest of the previous empires of the East.
This perception in Western civilisation as superior and righteous due to its whiteness is so ingrained in its tradition that younger folks within the West develop up with out anybody of their lives ever questioning it. That’s, till somebody like me as a historical past professor comes alongside and confronts this basic perception.
In my a few years of instructing historical past, my very own college students have typically gotten into it with me over my supposition that “Western civilisation” is a contradictory time period.
“However the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice!” one pupil yelped, whereas a calmer pupil, with a raised hand, mentioned, “It’s unlucky that atrocities occurred to the natives, nevertheless it’s insulting to check what the Spanish did to what occurred to Rome.”
That was the sturdy pushback I obtained from just a few college students in considered one of my world historical past programs just a few years again once I spoke of the barbarity of the Spanish conquests of the Aztecs and the Inca within the sixteenth century and the similarities between these invasions and the Vandal and Visigoth tribes who helped finish the Western Roman Empire.
I identified the achievements of the civilisations destroyed and the conquistadors and the Spanish monks burning practically all Mayan writings, desecrating Mexica, Mayan, and Inca temples, and forcing the inhabitants into slavery and Christianity.
I’ve additionally endured vitriol from college students unwilling to even take into account the chance that the US and the West, having engaged in barbaric behaviour with their very own populations and throughout the globe, may achieve this within the close to future.
“It isn’t doable, as a result of…no civilised society needs it taking place to them,” one pupil mentioned years in the past. “People would by no means take up arms towards the federal government, particularly with our army, it isn’t rational. We wouldn’t be silly sufficient to make this error once more. Our army would crush any revolt,” is what one other pupil blurted out up to now 12 months, regardless of proof of the alternative with the revolt on the US Capitol Constructing on January 6, 2021.
Some college students have been too deep within the perception of the West as a optimistic power to think about the apocalypse it visited upon 60 million Indigenous folks, wiping out as much as 90 p.c of the inhabitants inside 100 years of Columbus’s first contact.
We couldn’t even talk about the opposite genocides wrought within the title of empire, colonialism, and capitalism: the 165 million South Asians the British starved, murdered, or labored to loss of life between 1880 and 1920; or the estimated 10 million Congolese who Belgians exterminated; or the genocide of as much as 100,000 Herero and Nama folks by German forces in Namibia between 1904 and 1908.
My college students’ perception in Western rationality remained sturdy even when the carnage of World Wars I and II was introduced up. In these conflicts, as many as 90 million civilians and repair members have been killed – amongst them greater than 200,000 annihilated within the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Western narcissism is precisely why my college students have issue accepting that Western civilisation contradicts itself at each flip. Because the late post-colonial scholar Edward Mentioned wrote in Orientalism (1978), “It may be argued that the key part in European tradition is exactly what made [Western civilisation] hegemonic each in and outdoors Europe: the thought of European id as a superior one as compared with all of the non-European peoples and cultures.”
This perception in Western superiority means all the time being on the fitting aspect of historical past, regardless that there are many examples of Western irrationality, barbarism, and brutality in its interventions within the Center East and the remainder of the world. Western narcissism means the US and West will solely raise a finger to assist the Palestinians if compelled to by the world and by their very own residents.
That roughly half of People ages 18-29 consider that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza is encouraging, however by itself not sufficient to finish US and Western complicity in Israel’s crimes.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.