Palestine, Western Power and the Transition to a Multipolar Global Order

Palestine Map

In the emerging world of ethnic conflict and civilizational clash, Western belief in the universality of Western culture suffers three problems: it is false; it is immoral; and it is dangerous.

(Samuel Phillips Huntington)[1]

Often misattributed to Albert Einstein, the famous adage that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” has rarely been more apt than in the case of the traditionally biased Western governments’ position vis-à-vis the Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Remarkably unanimous as far as the substance of the problem is concerned – even though  occasionally divergent on paltry details of pure form – these governments, as well as their powerful relays among the globalist elites and mainstream media, have invariably supported and defended loud and clear the theses and objectives of the Israeli occupier, giving themselves a clear conscience by making false promises and failed commitments to the Palestinians, who in the process have steadily been uprooted from their ancestral lands.

Because of their customary hypocritical posturing and morally bankrupt double-standard language and procedures, they have culpably contributed to the perpetuation of both the plight of the Palestinians and a conflict that colonial Great Britain and France in particular and Nazi Germany created during the past century, and which the United States of America constantly feeds in order to serve its strategic interests  in a world it has relentlessly strived to dominate and control exclusively since the end of the Second World War.

As a result, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has today become explosive, while its solution, on a just and lasting basis, seems to be moving further and further away, giving rise to an unprecedented degree of despair, mutual hatred and violence in an historically volatile region. The ongoing horrendous Israeli onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip – the fifth of its kind in just 15 years – is further destabilizing the whole region. It is also gravely jeopardizing international peace and security and seriously undermining the credibility and durability of the whole international order put in place in 1945.


In this respect, as early as 2018, I asserted that “Epochal developments in nearly all areas of human activity have triggered increasing concern about the sustainability of an international order conceived, shaped and erected in large measure by the United States of America, in the wake of World War II, thanks to its overwhelming economic and military power. But this so-called US-led ‘liberal’ order has been witnessing steady erosion and is today brutally called into question, to say the least. And surprisingly enough, its very foundations have been subjected to incessant assaults carried out by those who have constructed it (…) As John Ikenberry stated, ‘the world’s most powerful state has begun to sabotage the order it created. A hostile revisionist power has indeed arrived on the scene, but it sits in the Oval Office, the beating heart of the Free world’.[2] The conjunction of such realities as illegal wars waged by self-proclaimed global policemen against weaker ‘disobedient’ albeit sovereign states, and unparalleled economic inequality stemming from the contradictions of capitalist globalization and the behavior of unfettered corporate expansion exploiting almost every area of public and private life, has generated a growing global authoritarianism and social Darwinism (…) Pankaj Mishra[3] aptly captured and eloquently summed up the big picture and the choreography of this danse macabre in which the world got trapped. He rightly observed that ‘future historians may well see such uncoordinated mayhem as commencing the third – and the longest and the strangest – of all world wars, one that approximates, in its ubiquity, a global civil war’”.

Alas, in its annual report 2023/2024 on “The State of the World’s Human Rights”, Amnesty International is painting a similar gloomy picture. Indeed, the UK-based non-governmental organization that campaigns to end abuses of human rights worldwide is sounding alarm on what it says is a watershed moment for international law amid flagrant rule-breaking by governments and corporate actors, which are abandoning the founding values of humanity and universality enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Powerful governments, it explains, cast humanity into an era devoid of effective international rule of law, with civilians in conflicts paying the highest price; rapidly changing artificial intelligence is left to create fertile ground for racism, discrimination and division in landmark year for public elections; and standing against these abuses, people the world over mobilized in unprecedented numbers, demanding human rights protection and respect for our common humanity. All of this “in the midst of deepening global inequality, superpowers vying for supremacy and an escalating climate crisis” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard. But where many governments have failed to abide by international law, she goes on to say, “we have also seen others calling on international institutions to implement the rule of law. And where leaders the world over have failed to stand up for human rights, we have seen people galvanized to march, protest and petition for a more hopeful future (…) People have made it abundantly clear that they want human rights; the onus is on governments to show that they are listening”.

With regard to the genocidal war on Gaza, Callamard stated that “Israel’s flagrant disregard for international law is compounded by the failures of its allies to stop the indescribable civilian bloodshed meted out in Gaza. Many of those allies were the very architects of that post-World War Two system of law (…) In particular, over the last six months, the United States has shielded and protected the Israeli authorities against scrutiny for the multiple violations committed in Gaza (…) By using its veto against a much-needed ceasefire, the United States has emptied out the [United Nations] Security Council of what it should be doing.”

The blind and ironclad US support for Israel once again manifested itself when its Deputy Ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, was the only representative of a UN Security Council member country to vote against an Algerian-proposed draft resolution[4] recommending to grant the state of Palestine full membership at the United Nations Organization. In a vote of 12 in favor to one against, with two abstentions (UK and Switzerland), the Council thus rejected Palestine’s request, which, had it been adopted, would have recommended the General Assembly to hold a vote with the broader UN membership to allow Palestine to join as a full member state.

In so doing, the US administration has doubled down on its almost visceral hostility to such a membership, which it had already opposed in 2012 when the General Assembly adopted – with a vast majority of 138 votes in favor and only 9 against – resolution 67/19 granting Palestine “non-member state” status, as a state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Washington’s proclaimed “strong support for a two-state solution” has thus revealed itself to be singularly hollow and contradictory.

Commenting on that issue on X (formerly Twitter), Trita Parsi, founder of the National Iranian American Council and co-founder and executive vice-president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said “Take a moment to ponder how isolated Biden has made the US. Biden lobbied Japan, South Korea & Ecuador HARD to oppose the Palestine resolution so that the US wouldn’t have to veto. They refused. So Biden cast his 4th veto in 7 months (!!). This is the opposite of leadership”. By the same token, Washington has failed to use its diplomatic weight to accomplish its face-saving goal before the Security Council, has laid bare the contradictions between its words and deeds, and has shown it cannot formulate a coherent strategy that aligns with its own stated values, thereby further exposing its gradual loss of soft power.[5]

Amnesty International has also finger-pointed several other Western countries for their “grotesque double standards”, including the UK and Germany, continuing to shield and thus bolster the actions of Israel, given those states’ well-founded protests over war crimes by Russia and Hamas. The report specifically condemns the UK for failing to use its leadership role within the UN to prevent human rights violations in Gaza and its weak support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into human rights violations in Israel and Palestine. It also highlights Britain’s unbridled involvement in arming Israel and warns Britain will be “judged harshly by history for its failure to help prevent civilian slaughter in Gaza”.[6]

Yet, and fortunately enough, the lines are starting to move in a changing global geostrategic context, chiefly under the combined effect of the end of the dismal American unipolar dominance parenthesis, the resurgence of Russia and China on the global stage, and the gradual emergence of a Global South, which legitimately claims the right to participate in the management of the affairs of our increasingly interconnected “planetary village”, most conspicuously under the aegis of the BRICS nations.

It is hoped therefore that there will soon be an end to the plunge into the abyss of lawlessness, unaccountability and impunity, lest the disenchanted peoples of the Earth, starting with those of the Arab-Muslim world, irreparably lose faith in the so-called Western liberal values and norms of freedom, equality, human rights, democracy, and rule of law.

The government of South Africa courageously showed the way by dragging Israel through the International Court of Justice, and the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Karim Khan must quickly follow in its footstep, despite the scandalous letter[7] sent by 12 U.S. senators threatening to take action against him and his staff if the ICC issues international arrest warrants against Israeli officials. In this letter, which blatantly violates international law, the U.S. lawmakers told Khan: “If you issue a warrant for the arrest of the Israeli leadership, we will interpret this not only as a threat to Israel’s sovereignty but to the sovereignty of the United States (…) Target Israel and we will target you [and] will move to end all American support for the ICC, sanction your employees and associates, and bar you and your families from the United States. You have been warned”.

Also worthy of special mention here is the resounding rise of the Vox Populi across the world. It’s increasingly becoming a powerful means in modern political communication, from global popular street protests and demonstrations to smartphones and digital platforms and social media networks, like Facebook a decade ago and TikTok today; the impact of which on political authority, participation and representation is far from negligeable.

The textbook case of genocide that Israel is carrying out against the Palestinian people has inflamed public opinion across the whole world as shown by the millions of pro-Palestinian protesters marching almost daily in rallies on the street of major world cities. These multitudes are united in one overarching demand: ending the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.  Even in the United States, the staunchest supporter of Israel no matter how gravely damaging this blind support has been to the United States’ national and global interests, growing numbers of protesters are taking to the streets of New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and Dallas, among others.

This is particularly true in the case of young people as was powerfully and cogently expressed by actor and environmental activist Harrison Ford: “There’s a new force of nature at hand, stirring all over the world. They are the young people whom frankly we have failed, who are angry, who are organized, who are capable of making a difference. They are a moral army. And the most important thing that we can do for them is to get the hell out of their way.”[8]

One cannot but notice, however, that this advice has yet to be heeded by the powers that be. This is once again illustrated by the violent repression of the ongoing students protests – which are reminiscent of opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s, the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street guerilla war of 2011, and the Black Lives Matter international social movement formed in the US in 2013 and dedicated to fighting racism and anti-Black violence – especially in the United States and in a growing number of Western countries, including the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, Australia and New Zealand.

Furthermore, as observed by Chris Hedges[9], not one university president has denounced Israel’s destruction of every university in Gaza; not one has called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire; not one has used the words “apartheid” or “genocide”, or called for sanctions on and divestment from Israel. Instead, he says, “heads of these academic institutions grovel supinely before wealthy donors, corporations – including weapons manufacturers – and rabid right-wing politicians. They reframe the debate around harm to Jews rather than the daily slaughter of Palestinians, including thousands of children. They have allowed the abusers – the Zionist state and its supporters to paint themselves as victims.[10] This false narrative, which focuses on anti-Semitism, allows the centers of power, including the media, to block out the real issue – genocide”.

Thus, for instance, during four hours of grueling testimony before the Republican-led Committee on Education and the Workforce, the president of Columbia University Minouche Shafik was even grilled about allegations of antisemitism on her campus. In a surreal moment during that congressional hearing, Republican Georgia Congressmember Rick Allen brought up the Bible in his questioning of Shafik. He cited the Old and New Testament and asked Shafik if she wanted Columbia University to be cursed by God![11]

For his part, Gilad Erdan, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN in New York took his point in this regard to ridiculous extreme by declaring publicly that the pro-Palestine and pro-peace protesters in US campuses are ideologically the same as Hamas. At a meeting of the UN General Assembly about Palestinian statehood, he said that the chants of the pro-Palestinian rioters on campuses are calls for Israel’s destruction, adding: “We always knew that Hamas hides in schools. We just didn’t realize that it’s not only schools in Gaza; it’s also Harvard, Columbia and many elite universities”![12]

Also speaking about these protests – which have sprung up at lightning speed on dozens of American campuses covering two-thirds of U.S. states, and are now taking center stage on the international political and media theatre – Shahid King Bolsen argues[13] that the students are protesting against the ongoing genocide, the crime of crimes; a genocide for which the entire collective West is culpable, but of which America is the key enabler, sponsor, defender, protector, funder, armor, and in many ways, the architect. The students, he goes on to say, are being cracked down upon for disavowing and disassociating themselves and their educational institutions from the crimes that their country is perpetuating in Palestine. He pointed out that these protests, which are by no means the first of their kind as they have been ongoing since October 2023, have now reached the ivy league, that is the “crème de la crème” of the institutions of the ruling class, the soil from which the ruling class grow their next generation of leaders. Some cop on the Harvard campus, he adds, “probably just zip tied the future president of the United States, a future Secretary of State, a future diplomat, a future dignitary”.  Bolson rightly reminds us that on those same campuses, there have been demonstrations against Russia and in favor of Ukraine as well as protests against China over Xinjiang, and there were no zip ties, no arrests, and no young students going to jail; but the moment they start demanding that their institutions “stop partnering with Israel over a genocide and all hell breaks loose”. He also quite appropriately reminded us that in 2020 this same generation was going around, knocking down statues of slave owners and colonizers. This generation, he remarked, “didn’t have a chance to try to oppose slavery and colonization a century ago or two centuries ago, so they just pulled down all the icons of slavery and colonization. Everything that they could find, they tore it down. But right now, today they have the opportunity to actively oppose and fight against present day colonization in Palestine, and that’s what they’re doing”. These young people, Bolson concludes, “have been primed to take over the system, and instead of taking over the system they’re taking the system down (…) America’s most prestigious campuses have become occupied territories. This is a total system breakdown (…) It’s a tectonic shift. The epicenter is in Gaza but the shock waves are shaking the foundation of American power”.

While it’s true that American opinion continues to vigorously support Israelis rather than Palestinians[14], the current war on Gaza is precipitating the steady decline in Israel’s popularity over the past decade among Democrats and young people, signaling a yawning political and generational divide. It is very likely that President Biden will pay the price of it in November against Donald Trump.

As a consequence of this momentous historical evolution, there are clear signs of a revolt brewing both in the West and among Global South nations and peoples. And after more than three centuries of complete Western domination, a process of de-Westernization of the world coupled with a transition to a multipolar global order seem to be inexorably underway.

To be sure, there is, for once, a silver lining in this new environment for the innocent, dispossessed and oppressed Palestinian people, and for the endlessly and purposefully divided and tormented part of the world they belong to, which the European colonizers once called the “Near East” until the Americans, pursuant to strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan’s determination, decided it should rather be known as the “Middle East”.[15] Thanks to their steadfast resistance and indescribable sacrifices, Palestinians have at last, and against all odds, succeeded in having their just cause front and center at the global stage. Thus, they have decidedly paved the way for a long-awaited independence and a dignified life on their stolen ancestral land.

Amir Nour is an Algerian researcher in international relations, author of the book L’Orient et l’Occident à l’heure d’un nouveau Sykes-Picot (“The Orient and the Occident in time of a New Sykes-Picot”), Editions Alem El Afkar, Algiers, 2014: downloadable free of charge, by clicking on the following links:

http://algerienetwork.com/blog/lorient-et-loccident-a-lheure-dun-nouveau-sykes-picot-par-amir-nour/  (French)
http://algerienetwork.com/blog/العالم-العربي-على-موعد-مع-سايكس-بيكو-ج/ (Arabic)


[1] Samuel Phillips Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, 1 January 1998.

[2] G. John Ikenberry, “The Plot Against American Foreign Policy: Can the Liberal Order Survive?”, Foreign Affairs, May/June 2017.

[3] Pankaj Mishra, “Age of Anger: A History of the Present”, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

[4] See United Nations News, “US vetoes Palestine’s request for full UN membership”, 18 April 2024. The draft resolution is among the shortest in the Council’s history: “The Security Council, having examined the application of the State of Palestine for admission to the United Nations (S/2011/592), recommends to the General Assembly that the State of Palestine be admitted to membership in the United Nations.” Palestine has been a “Permanent Observer” at the UN since 2012, before which it was an observer in the UN General Assembly. 

[5] Bradley Blankenship, “The Middle East crisis has made one thing clear about the US”, RT, 22 April 2024.

[6] Karen McVeigh, “UK accused by Amnesty of ‘deliberately destabilizing’ human rights globally”, The Guardian, 24 April 2024.

[7] To read the letter: https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000018f-4e0e-d759-a9ff-ff4ee9420000

[8] Harrison Ford, statement on the importance of rainforests during the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, 23 September 2019.

[9] Chris Hedges, “Revolt in the Universities”, ScheerPost, 25 April 2024.

[10] Read in this respect: Robert Tait, “Sanders hits back at Netanyahu: ‘It is not antisemitic to hold you accountable’”, The Guardian, 27 April 2024. In a two-and-a-half-minute video, Sanders – who sponsored an unsuccessful Senate bill in January to make US aid to Israel conditional on its observance of human rights and international law – listed a catalogue of Israeli crimes in Gaza, including the destruction of infrastructure, hospitals, universities and schools, along with the killing of more than 400 health workers.

[11] Excerpt from the dialogue: “Rep. Rick Allen: Are you familiar with Genesis 12:3? Minouche Shafik: “Probably not as well as you are, Congressman”. Allen: “Well, it’s pretty clear. It was the covenant that God made with Abraham. And that covenant was real clear: ‘If you bless Israel, I will bless you. If you curse Israel, I will curse you.’ And then, in the New Testament, it was confirmed that all nations would be blessed through you (…)  Do you consider that a serious issue? I mean, do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God, of the Bible?” Definitely not, answered Shafik. The Congressman then concluded by saying: “OK. Well, that’s good”.

[12] Voice of America News, “More US campus unrest erupts over war in Gaza”, 1 May 2024.

[13] Shahid King Bolsen, “University Protests for Palestine | Campus Protests Signaling Significant Change in America”, Middle Nation, 27 April 2024: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zAvTEBLme8

[14] Jeffrey M. Jones, “Americans’ Views of Both Israel, Palestinian Authority Down”, 4 March 2024. According to Gallup figures, young adults show the biggest decline in ratings of Israel, dropping from 64% favorable among 18- to 34-year-olds in 2023 to 38%. Middle-aged adults (those aged 35 to 54) show a smaller but still significant drop, from 66% to 55%, while there has been no meaningful change among adults aged 55 and older.

[15] Read the brilliant analysis of Chas W. Freeman Jr., “The Middle East is Once Again West Asia”, Remarks to the Middle East Forum at Falmouth, 6 August 2023.

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