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Le Monde
Le Monde
6 Jan 2024


Images Le Monde.fr

Thinking clearly about the war in Gaza has become a challenge amid all the noise: Frenzied discourse on college campuses, op-eds and social media, as well as rising anti-Semitism. Both legitimate emotions and prejudices limit our ability to grasp the complexity of this tragedy. After the immense emotion and dread provoked by the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023, the Israeli military operation has since turned the tables, with these feelings now centering on the suffering Palestinian civilians. Israel's isolation is thus deepening.

This reversal is supplemented by a distortion in perspectives between the outside world and Israel. From the outside, there is a strong focus on Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister bears a heavy responsibility for the security, moral and identity crisis affecting his country. He has organized the attack on all forms of checks and balances to his power. He has allowed xenophobic rhetoric to become commonplace in public debate. He has allied himself with the representatives of violent Jewish supremacism out of pure political calculation. Yet this rise in national religious tribalism also reflects Israeli society's fragmentation.

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Similarly, Netanyahu must be held accountable for the October 7 disaster. Only a commission of inquiry will be able to uncover the warnings that went unheeded and the analyses that were ignored. However, we know that "Bibi" had encouraged the breakdown of Palestinian politics, making tacit agreements with Hamas in Gaza. Here again, this responsibility is shared with Israel's top brass and elites. An entire country was overawed by its technological prowess, convinced of its definitive superiority over the Palestinian armed factions.

Today, by focusing on Netanyahu, who has suffered a spectacular loss of credibility in public opinion, Western experts are overlooking a form of Israeli consensus, which is forged in mourning and anger and has repeated that Hamas must be eliminated. This is the only perspective now cementing Israeli society, as well as the rationale behind the operational decisions that are taken by the War Cabinet – and not by Netanyahu alone.

This brings us to the second factor distorting perspectives: That of urgency. For the whole world today – apart from the United States – the current priority is to put an end to the carnage committed by the Israeli army in Gaza. For Israel, the slogan "Destroy Hamas" covers everything. It confuses legitimate military objectives with satisfying a vengeful impulse in the wake of the trauma of October 7. While some misguided minds in the West, the Global South and the Middle East rationalize these Hamas crimes as part of a supposed Palestinian "resistance," the Israelis feel they have no choice: To restore their country's security and deterrence, they need to remove the tumor, even if the Palestinian body dies.

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