The World Today for November 20, 2023


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In the West, there has been staunch support for Israel since the attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas and its affiliates that killed about 1,400 people.

It was no different in Africa, Asia or Latin America initially, with leaders expressing sympathy.

That was then.

Now, many in Europe, North America or elsewhere might be surprised to discover that much of the world blames Israel – not Hamas or the Palestinians – for the violence currently taking place in the Middle East.

In late October, before Israeli forces began bombing campaigns against the Gaza Strip in retaliation for Hamas’ attack, 120 countries in the United Nations voted in favor of a truce on humanitarian grounds. Only 14 countries – the US, Israel, and some European countries – voted against the measure. Another 45 – mostly European countries and Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan – abstained.

“Seldom has the isolation of the West been so apparent,” wrote Jorge Heine, interim director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future at Boston University, in the Conversation.

And now, throughout the world, Israel and its Western allies are losing diplomatic support in the Global South, the large group of developing and non-aligned countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

While Americans and Europeans might unequivocally think that terrorism is never justified, wrote Agence-France Presse, people from other regions of the world wouldn’t frame this crisis in that manner, citing years of complaints that Israeli officials have turned Gaza into an open-air prison.

For example, rejecting the premise that Hamas’ horrific attack on Oct, 7 justified Israel’s devastating response, one that has killed more than 11,000 people, many Arab and Muslim-majority nations like Jordan, Turkey or Egypt, with all three having a diplomatic relationship with Israel, have called for de-escalation. Others like Algeria and Sudan have expressed support for Hamas.

“We have seen a glaring double standard in the world,” Jordan’s Queen Rania, a Palestinian born in Kuwait, told CNN in an interview, noting how Western leaders will condemn Hamas for killing Israeli children but shirk from blaming Israeli forces for killing Palestinian children while rooting out Hamas. A child perishes every 10 minutes in Gaza, reported the Atlantic magazine, citing World Health Organization figures.

Jordan, Bahrain and Turkey have recalled their diplomats from Israel in protest of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, Reuters reported. Turkish lawmakers, in an odd maneuver, removed Coca-Cola and Nestlé products from their parliament’s restaurants over those companies’ alleged support for Israel, Channel NewsAsia reported.

Elsewhere, Bolivia, Belize, Colombia, and Honduras have pulled their ambassadors from Israel in protest at its handling of the war, the Hill added. Their leaders said Israel was violating international law with its disproportionate responses to Oct. 7. The Honduran foreign ministry even described Israeli’s actions in Gaza as “genocide.”

While North Africa has been the stage for pro-Palestinian protests since the bombing of Gaza began, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as South Africa and Chad, have withdrawn their diplomats from Israel.

Kenya, a victim of terrorism over the past few decades, has been more understanding of Israel’s fight to eliminate Hamas. Even so, its leaders have been openly concerned about violations of international law, Kenya’s Nation reported.

And in Asia, Japan and China are taking nuanced and “balanced” approaches to the conflict, trying to avoid overtly taking sides. That’s in contrast to Malaysia and Indonesia: Neither country now recognizes Israel.

Writing in the Diplomat, Aiza Mohamad, a security consultant at Bait Al Amanah, an Indonesia-based independent think tank, called on Indonesia and Malaysia, both Muslim-majority countries, to create a new bloc to counter Israeli influence in Asia and beyond.

Countries have the right to defend themselves. They can’t control what others think about it, however.

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