Moral bankruptcy and life in the age of spiritual children.
I didn’t leave the left, the left left me, as the saying goes.
During the late 2010s, left wing politics became increasingly identitarian, and by 2020 culminated in a full blown medical fascism I never thought I would see the likes of. The left had unashamedly aligned itself with power against the average person.
After a recalibration of sorts, I’ve ended up settling on what I think of as a post-partisan politics, meaning that while I think both the right and left have good (and not good) things to offer, at this point in history our problems utterly transcend them. But the more human politics I would like to see emerge seems light years away, and the spiritual maturity necessary for this, a bridge too far.
On no issue does this seem more evident that on Israel/Palestine, which in much the same way as covid, has divided people fiercely along tribal lines. At the height of covid-mania, sane voices from across the political spectrum, but noticeably the centre-right were a balm when ‘woke’ was trampling all over dearly held and long-established values.
Now, it’s the right’s inhumanity that strikes me, and the right that is aligning with power and grand narrative. It’s like 9/11 and the resulting disaster in the Middle East, a fraudulent war, which killed an estimated 1.3 million people for basically no good reason, never happened. The same propaganda playbook has been rolled out again and, what do you know – the reversion to type was immediate.
Gazans just don’t matter
At least 22,000 dead Gazans (including militants), more than 6500 of them children – and the ongoing genocide is not even mentioned by the punditry cheering on Israeli’s asymmetrically disproportionate response to the Hamas attack on October 7, which needless to say was an horrific atrocity.
But what has unfolded since is something else. An ethnic cleansing operation taking place in full view of global publics, with no political opposition from any quarter that has real influence (until now, perhaps). It’s astonishing. What is the UN even for? The moral bankruptcy of the west was complete after 2020, but now the powers that be don’t even bother with a pretense of benevolence. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised when our own government is still promoting a deadly shot that it rolled out in complete contravention of medical ethics, regulatory scrutiny and the Bill of Rights, and which in all likelihood was intended to kill millions.
It has fallen to South Africa, a country that knows apartheid when it sees it, to file a claim of genocide with the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Bravo.
Narrative and propaganda
The propaganda war came quickly in the aftermath of October 7. In reality, it probably took effect within hours. Think 40 dead babies and then think about the lies used to buy consent for the war in Iraq. Same deal. And yet the more we learn about what really happened on October 7, the more the whole thing can be called into question. We still don’t have an answer to why the border with Israel was left undefended, and there seems to be no plausible explanation other than that Israel let it happen.
Later, as public opposition grew, outrage about the use of the ‘River to the Sea’ chant became 6 O’Clock news fodder, as pundits claimed that activists using the phrase to demand Palestinian liberation were really calling for an end to the state of Israel. Little analysis was given to what those who were saying it meant, the focus was on the Zionist interpretation of it. Yet it was always Israel that wanted to put an end to Gaza and the West Bank as Palestinian territories. An inversion.
The weaponisation of words is all part of the information war being fought by both sides. Other phrases and talking points come to mind as well – human shields, right to defend etc. Serious people ought to refrain from using such politicised terms because so much language today is an exercise in manipulation, and furthermore, the use of certain language and imagery is being used as an excuse to further crackdown on democratic free expression.
But what really stands out to me by those condemning the use of phrase and the marches taking place all over the world, is how they are saying absolutely nothing about the actual-rather-than-hypothetical genocide taking place right now just over the massive concrete separation wall that divides Gaza and Israel.
The daily reports of bombed hospitals, ambulances, refugee camps and churches elicit no response. It doesn’t matter how many international laws Israel breaks, it is defended as the victim of a people it keeps in stateless bondage. If anything at all, there’s flat out denial about the material reality, and scale of destruction and death in Gaza, often underpinned by racists beliefs about Muslims. They’re all the same (they’re not). They want to destroy the west (newsflash, if you haven’t figured out that the attack on the west is coming from within western power structures and has been overtly for at least three years but in reality much longer, you haven’t been paying attention).
We’re told we can’t trust statistics from the Gaza Ministry of Health, but we’re supposed to find it acceptable that US media outlets must submit footage to the Israeli Defense Force for review before publication, and cannot even enter Gaza to report unless escorted by the IDF. This obviously makes objective reporting an impossibility, unless Douglas Murray standing on the border in a flack jacket spouting platitudes for war is your idea of journalism. The only actual reporters on the ground in Gaza are Palestinian ones. Any other journalists simply can’t get in and more than 60 journalists already there have been killed – a complete accident, I’m sure.
And when it became clear that public opinion was turning against Israel, certain journalists key to selling the IDF assault on Gaza were cynically invited to view an hour long video of the Hamas attack – which was undoubtedly brutal and traumatising to watch. A month or so later it happened again. Each time a flurry of tweets ensued obviously intended to underline the argument that only truly evil people could commit such acts, and Israel, a beacon of goodness and light, was in a spiritual war against a dark people.
Did the journalists not stop to ask themselves if they were being used and manipulated? Did they then ask to review footage of Israeli war crimes and tortured Palestinian prisoners? Of the thousands of daily humiliations Gazans are forced to live with, let alone indiscriminate acts of cruelty? Have they stopped to consider that 6000 blown up kids in Gaza might be the result of their unwillingness to condemn Israel’s response?
Gaza and Israel exist side by side in an apartheid imposed by Israel (most Palestinians have never met an Israeli and vice versa) with US backing, but the political right denies this even though it was at pains to point out the covid regime in New Zealand, and elsewhere, was the beginning of an apartheid society based on medical status. Did they fail to notice the ruddy great concrete separation wall and checkpoints that have kept Gazans confined to their strip?
Humans are willfully blind creatures. They see what they want to see, unless that is, they are looking with their heart. And many hearts and minds are closed to Gazans.
During covid, the ease with which some people accepted the de-humanising separation of their brothers and sisters revealed a moral shallowness I had not expected. The left happily threw covid dissidents and, earlier this year, women’s rights activists under the bus over inane identity politics and because they had allowed themselves to be manipulated by fear – but now this bloc sanctimoniously fights for Palestine. A fake left, with fake values. So I don’t really believe them now either. And Chloe Swarbrick’s performances for Palestine were much like her electioneering style – wild-eyed self-serving righteous rage. It’s extremely off-putting.
But the startling indifference shown towards Palestinians by conservatives disturbs me more. I’ve seldom heard anyone on the right in New Zealand even acknowledge the conditions under which Gazans have lived for years, or the fact Israel is breaking international law on the daily. Outpourings of sympathy for the Israeli victims of Hamas are everywhere, but not even a word for Gazan kids, unless to call them human shields (which I suppose is an improvement on “human animals“).
Anti-Muslim sentiment is now a regular part of my X feed. Yeah, hardline Islam doesn’t appeal to me either and Sharia Law can be brutal and duplicitous and is anathema to westerners. I guess that makes it ok to ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip?! The conflation of all Muslims into the same radical basket is one of the problems. The talking points are all lined up to justify the unjustifiable.
There is some heavy, heavy karma going down on planet earth, with the fundamental issue – that all human life is of equal value, and that every single one of us is first and foremost a human being, a creation of god, with a right to exist in peace and dignity – a selective exercise for many. Spiritually speaking, this is non-negotiable.
Of Gaza, former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis says:
The profound lack of spiritual and political leadership on earth at this time is notable. Diplomacy is dead, and those in a position to do something about the bombardment do not even offer a pretense of concern or political will. In their advocacy – or silence – western leaders are openly backing genocide and ethnic cleansing and the world is watching. There was even a march in Washington in support of Israel’s war on the women, men and children of Gaza. “No ceasefire!”.
What brave, upstanding people.
But popular support for the Palestinian cause is growing by the day. And this popular support has a solid base that far predates the woke era – it has long been a human rights issue that attracted campaigners from across the west. Consider the John Pilger documentary from 2002, Palestine is Still the Issue – available right now on 21st Century Wire in tribute, after the great journalist unexpectedly died on new year’s eve.
Far from what the conservative right claims, the current marches are clearly not support for terrorism, or Hamas. They are a response to the sheer scale of the bombings and inhumanity of the conditions under which this is taking place. This man from London’s simple, clear and profound statement at an early protest exemplifies the sentiment.
Asked, ‘Why do you support Palestine?, he responds “Because I am a human being. Do you think I’m going to sit back, watch my TV and watch a genocide? No chance. This isn’t about religion. It’s not about being Muslim, being Jewish, whatever. I am a Christian. I’m a human being. That’s all that matters to me.”
This sentiment is only growing, the protests are getting bigger and more countries are withdrawing their diplomatic missions to Israel in protest. The propagandists tell us that this surge against the most blatant brutality I may have seen in my lifetime, is ‘radicalisation’.
Conflation, misrepresentation and the criminalisation of compassion
The conflation of these protests with support for terrorism and veiled antisemitism is a key way the debate is moved away from the question of basic right and wrong. In fact, It’s the exact same misrepresentation we saw the left wing legacy media make about the protesters at parliament over mandates – they were all “far-right extremists”, remember? Now ALL protestors are terrorist sympathisers. Same playbook, flipped and reversed.
Orwell talked about the inversion of language. Now, we’re hearing marches calling for peace and an end to suffering described as ‘hate’ marches. By the way, Suella Braverman, the former British Home Secretary who resigned recently, gave us that little piece of newspeak. Consequently, her resignation letter, in which she performatively stuck it to PM Rishi Sunak in her defense of the policy of deporting illegal immigrants to Rwanda, temporarily made her the darling of the right.
But do remember – she was in Wellington quite recently for the Five Eyes Ministerial, no doubt plotting more censorship in the name of domestic terrorism, and spent much of her stint in Westminster working to ensure the state gets legal access to scan people’s private What’s app messages vis a vis the Online Safety Act. She is not a good guy.
But back to the ‘hate’ marches – we should be able to call out Israel’s lack of restraint and defend innocent civilians without being called anti-semites, pro-Hamas, or terrorist sympathisers. So please, just stop it.
I thought covid had given people’s propaganda literacy an upgrade, but it seems the powers that be are expert at pressing those emotional trigger points to elicit deep demoralisation. We should be able to spot this line-blurring by now, we should not be falling for it. It seems to work particularly well on people who are deeply ideological in their politics, whether on the left or right.
Surveillance, censorship and special powers get a boost
The control agenda is doing rather nicely out of this little war, as well. The non-partisan solidarity that emerged these last three years is now fractured, quite intentionally I believe, and more political freedoms are being removed.
The UK is now trying to officially brand those who “subvert” the nation’s institutions and core values as extremists, recently leaked documents reveal. ‘Non-violent extremism’ they’re calling it.
With the conflation of anyone opposed to the maltreatment of Palestinians with Hamas, well. You see where this is going, right? Later, the target population can be changed at will to suit whatever agenda happens to be important to the state.
Israel has been cracking down on speech since October 7. An Israeli human rights lawyer told CNN: “The police say that any slogans in favor of Gaza or against the war mean supporting terrorism … even if you say that you are, of course, against people being murdered”
Pro-Palestinian marches have been forbidden in Germany and protesters are being arrested.
At home, Mick Hall, the former RNZ ‘Russia edits’ journalist who’s career was cancelled for doing his job properly, tells of the attempted censorship of New Zealand academics with the wrong opinion on Gaza, at his new Substack, In Context.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said was was intensifying counterterrorism measures by boosting surveillance of social media platform to monitor New Yorker’s speech for ‘hate’ – meaning support for Palestine. Hochul is planning to give $2.5 million to state police to support FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force personnel.
Political will for ceasefire and peace must be found
The western public is now watching war crimes live-streamed from Gaza for the first time in history and our leaders are shamefully doing nothing to stop it. New Zealand’s caretaker government, instead of calling for a ceasefire, opted to send $10 million in aid, and called for a “humanitarian pause” in hostilities.
The newly formed coalition government is similarly weak, towing the Five Eyes line, whatever that happens to be. Mick Hall reports that New Zealand may join a naval coalition to defend Red Sea shipping after attacks on merchant ships from Houthi-controlled parts of Yemen – retaliation against the Gaza genocide. Last month Prime Minister Christopher Luxon also called for a pause in hostilities to allow humanitarian aid access.
This newly made up nonsense phrase – humanitarian pause – just means getting Israel to stop bombing for a couple of hours so that the victims of the attack can take a sip of water before being bombed again.
Gazans have now largely been cleared from the North of their tiny strip of land after 16 years of siege, under which Israel has controlled every aspect of their lives including how many calories they could access. But after telling residents in the North to evacuate to the South, Israel is now bombing the South. It appears Gazans will either be forced into Sinai and never allowed back, be encouraged to flee as refugees to the West, or be bombed into oblivion while the world stands by and watches.
The reality is that Israel is the US military ‘bulwark’ in the Middle East, as Robert F. Kennedy admitted to the amazement of many. It is a strategic asset used to uphold the US’ now faltering uni-polar hegemony and control of natural resources. Some are saying that the war paves the way for a new canal to be blasted through Israel’s Negev desert. Israel’s exceptionalism is just an extension of American exceptionalism.
Over the last two months, the US has increased its military presence in the region, deploying two carrier strike groups, signalling a likely widening of the conflict to include Iran. Two ISIS bombings in Iran are thought by some to be US and Israel backed, which of course the US denies. Israel is now bombing south Beirut. The conflict in Gaza could destabilise the Middle East region to the point where a full-scale war is created there, with Iran and Syria as major players against Israel.
But the playing field is different these days. The now forgotten Ukraine was shredded – about 500,000 dead – in the name of uni-polarity, to prevent a stronger bond forming between Russia and Europe. That’s why the Nordstream pipeline was blown up. Yet Russia thrives. In the Middle East, its unlikely Iran and Turkey will sit back allow Israel to take more territory. A wider regional war beckons if western publics continue to tolerate what Israel is doing and what and our supportive leaders are not doing.
There is a glimmer of hope, however. On 29 December 2023, South Africa filed an important application to the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. It’s tenet is that Israel’s war is intended to “bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic … group in the Gaza Strip.” Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Convention.
You can read international relations expert John Mearsheimer’s analysis here. He says the document is expertly compiled containing the big picture and all the important detail.
“In essence, the document argues that Israel’s actions in Gaza, combined with its leaders’ statements of intent, make it clear that Israeli policy is ‘calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.'”John Mearsheimer
Mick Hall reports that the Luxon, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Attorney General Judith Collins have now received a letter from a group of legal academics, including law professor Jane Kelsey, putting pressure on them to support South Africa’s legal action on January 11.
“We understand the diplomatic sensitivities involved in these proceedings. We ask that New Zealand steps up, in a principled way, as this Government did when it debated a parliamentary motion on steps towards a ceasefire in Gaza ahead of its Five Eyes partners.
“New Zealand could express its support for the request for provisional measures, as Turkey and Malaysia have done, or it could seek to intervene in the case,” the letter states.
The time to bring this conflict to an end and initiate a peace process is now. Perhaps this document is the first step towards ending the genocide.