Pro-Palestine protests are ignored by the Western elite, and it may be a fatal mistake
In recent days, there has been a wave of pro-Palestine protests across the world as violence in Gaza escalates in the wake of an Israeli invasion and bombing campaign that has killed thousands, including many women and children, in response to the deadly terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7. One of the key questions is, will this actually amount to any change in so-called Western democracies that are standing behind Israel’s onslaught?
It depends on the country; however, largely, the answer is no – at least for the countries that have the most pull over Israel’s position. In the United States, lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party are reportedly ducking calls from concerned constituents who are calling for a ceasefire. President Joe Biden, when asked by reporters if there was any possibility for a halt to the violence, said, “None. No possibility.”
This is worrying because, in principle, in a democracy, politicians are supposed to respond to the will of constituents. They are also supposed to bend to popular will, given that their electoral odds hinge on the opinions of voters. Arab Americans, including in key swing states, are fed up with the Biden administration’s policies in general – but also particularly with its dealings with Israel. Support for Biden among them now stands at a mere 17%, and 40% are inclined to vote for Republican former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election, according to a poll conducted by the Arab American Institute.
Massive protests, calls for voters, and the very real possibility that Biden’s position on Israel could forfeit the upcoming 2024 presidential election to Trump, the likely Republican Party nominee, show that Western democracy – especially in the US – is in shambles. When politicians ignore popular will, it shows that there is a serious crisis with the ordinary function of supposedly democratic institutions.
At the same time, it must be noted that Biden has not shied away from his pro-Israel leanings. To quote then-Senator Joe Biden, a self-described Zionist, from 1986, “There’s no apology to be made [for supporting Israel]. None. It is the best three-billion-dollar investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.”
Still, as a unity president (at least in theory), Biden has a responsibility to shirk ideology in order to preserve democracy – especially when it is under full-scale assault by an opposition party that casts doubt on the legitimacy of elections and does not believe Biden was rightfully elected. The fact that he is staying firm on his position with Israel, despite protests from his own party and reportedly his own staff, is a grave mistake.
The situation in Europe is also more nuanced. Here we are seeing countries, like the Czech Republic and Hungary, remain steadfast in their unwavering support for Israel despite some opposition, and the former has even outlawed pro-Palestine demonstrations.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently urged Israel to stop bombing Gaza – but he is also facing open criticism from his own ambassadors for his support for Israel. France has also outlawed pro-Palestine protests. But some countries, like Ireland and Spain, are openly critical of Israel and are considering cutting diplomatic ties.
If nothing else, this disunity demonstrates the fragility of a common EU foreign policy framework. This is especially the case given the fact that Ursula von der Leyen, the unelected president of the European Commission, has proven to be a US-infiltrated, hypocritical pro-war demagogue.
What’s clear as day in the current situation in the Middle East is that each and every day that the attack on Gaza continues, it becomes more difficult to morally and logically justify the common Western position of supporting Israel no matter what. The rest of the world sees this and is taking note, understanding the days of Western hegemony are numbered. Moreover, the leaders who are holding firm on the pro-Israel line despite immense and unprecedented public pressure are inadvertently eroding the very fabric of the fundamental institutions of Western society.
As a growing number of people in the West become jaded with democracy, or, in the case of the EU, become skeptical of Brussels, the leaders who ignore their constituents only have themselves to blame.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.