Hypocrisy and Genocide: Here’s who the West should really be ‘decolonizing’

Aprilia Rine

Hypocrisy and Genocide: Here’s who the West should really be ‘decolonizing’

Russia’s supposed imperial ambitions get a lot of airtime, but Israel gets a free pass to do what it wants with Palestine

The hypocrisy of the US-led West regarding how it reacts to Russia, a geopolitical opponent, on one side, and to Israel, a favorite with special privileges, on the other, is so flagrant that even The Guardian has noticed. While the West uses rhetoric about “rules” and “values” to cloak its proxy war against Russia via Ukraine, it tolerates and supports Israel’s genocidal attack on the Palestinians in Gaza. That even the United Nations’ top court, the ICJ, has by now found genocide a plausible possibility, simply makes no real difference.

This is a failure that goes beyond cynical political elites. During the war between Russia and Ukraine (and de facto the West), many Western academics, journalists, and experts have not been able to get enough of displaying their rhetorical toughness. While badly misled Ukrainians have been doing all the dying, going to verbal extremes was all the rage among the West’s chairborne brigade.

Some tried to accuse Moscow of genocide. Others felt that the least they could do was demand that Russia cease to exist. That fantasy of disintegrating a geopolitical rival was usually dressed up as a call to “decolonize Russia,” also disparaged as “the last empire.” These labels were handy because they implied three fashionable – if silly – ideas: First the claim that the modern, post-Soviet Russian Federation consists of a colonizing center and colonized peripheries. Second, the wish that Russia simply must fall apart because all empires do (never mind it’s not an empire). And third, that Ukraine can be recast as a victim of imperialism on par with, say, the Belgian Congo or Vietnam fighting off first the French and then the Americans.

None of the above makes sense. Russia is a federation, its population features more than one ethnic identity, and there are imbalances. If you think that’s the definition of colonialism, go right ahead and take apart Great Britain or France. As for a “last empire,” maybe try the US first. After all, that is the one country on Earth that considers itself officially “indispensable,” thinks the whole globe is its God-given (literal) sphere of influence, has just used up Ukraine as a proxy in Europe, and is reducing its EU vassals to penury, sponsoring an ongoing genocide in the Middle East, and gearing up for a big war in Asia to defend its “primacy.”

But the inherent absurdity of these clearly politically – propagandistically, really – motivated charges is not really their most interesting aspect. For one thing, it’s just too obvious. What is really intriguing is something else, and it has happened only recently. We are now in the fifth month of witnessing – 24/7 and in real-time – the Israeli genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza. That is the outcome of Israel’s very structure, its Zionist source code: that of a classical European settler colony whose existence in its current form is premised on the removal of indigenous populations.

And yet, the same brave voices courageous enough to loudly shout what every political leader (and editor, and employer) in the West has wanted to hear about Russia – where are they now? Where are their demands to “decolonize Palestine,” that is, free the Palestinians from Israeli oppression and mass murderous violence? Where are their demands to end the “last settler colony”?

And, make no mistake, ending Israel as it is now, a state based on persistent violence, in permanent violation of UN rules with impunity, does not require or imply indiscriminate mass violence against Israelis. It simply means that this state – not its Jewish population – commits the very imperialist crimes Western talking heads keep accusing Russia of.

Where is the concern for Palestine, a country that, clearly, is a real victim of imperialist violence at the hands of Israel and the West? Where are the calls for arming the Palestinian Resistance with the best of NATO’s arsenals? Transferring tens of billions of euros and dollars to the Palestinians so they can sustain their fight against Israeli aggression? Nothing. With very few exceptions, the silence of the Western intellectuals is deafening.

The contrast with past grandiloquence is stark, even grotesque. Take, for instance, the Washington Post op-ed “What’s happening in Ukraine is genocide. Period.” of April 5, 2022. Authored by Eugene Finkel, a political scientist originally from Lviv in Ukraine and based at Johns Hopkins University, the piece argued what its title would make you expect: Finkel had no doubt that he was able to identify a clear-cut case of genocide. He has not been silent with regard to Gaza either: On November 16, 2023, he used an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times to tell us about “a bout of violence that includes atrocities, indiscriminate targeting, bombings and hostage taking, leading to claims about a potential genocide or genocidal massacres committed by the warring parties.”

US ‘threatens peace’ in the Middle East – Russia

Spot the difference? Whereas Finkel rushed to the far-fetched conclusions he wanted with regard to Russia, he is careful to speak only of “claims” when it comes to Israel and Gaza – and, of course, he both-sides the Israeli perpetrators and Palestinian victims. And yet, Israel has clearly and deliberately targeted civilians with a strategy of forcing ethnic cleansing. The methods of warfare used by Israel – for instance, systematic starvation blockade; the publicly encouraged mistreatment of civilians, including children and women, as combatants and of combatants as without any rights; the destruction of all medical infrastructure and the systematic murder and abuse of medical staff; the systematic mass slaughter by bombing – have no parallel in Russia’s fighting in Ukraine. And, for Israel, there can be no doubt about “intent,” which is a key factor in proving genocide.

If Finkel were remotely honest and unbiased, the very least he would have to do is invert his position: The case of Israel’s genocide in Gaza is crystal clear; the case for accusing Russia of this crime in Ukraine is anything but.

Regarding “decolonization,” there’s Janusz Bugajski, a Senior Fellow at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington and author of “Failed State: A Guide to Russia’s Rupture.” Bugajski has been an ardent advocate of disintegrating Russia, urging Western policy-makers to get ready for Moscow’s defeat and collapse, and then “capitalizing on Russia’s de-imperialization.” He has, unsurprisingly, also reveled in the “falling empire” cant. His ability to get his facts and predictions ridiculously wrong is one thing. Poland, whose glorious strategic future his next book will predict, may worry about that.

So, what about Bugajski’s take on the Gaza Genocide? Simple: It’s Moscow’s fault, of course. Or, at least, what we must think about is not the Israeli genocide but Bugajski’s contention that Russia somehow benefits from this crisis. As to what is actually happening on the ground, Bugajski can only spot “Israel’s retaliation against Gaza to eliminate the terrorist threat.” Genocide? What genocide? He has, to be fair, noticed that the US faces “international condemnation” for its support of Israel. But that fact as well he can only mentally process as yet another “win” for nefarious Moscow.

We could add more examples. But the problem should be clear by now: Too many Western intellectuals are betraying the first obligation of their professions: to at least strive to be honest. The almost compulsive urge to weaponize themselves, their positions, and reputations against Russia has overcome any respect for facts and consistent standards. That alone is a sad picture of ethical decline. But their response – or often complete failure to respond – to Israel’s genocide in Gaza, however, is so much worse again. It is at that point – that is now – that their blatant disregard for the Palestinian victims and their needs and rights reveals them not only as biased careerists and ideologues, but as bereft of conscience and compassion.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


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