Was it Schopenhauer, the 19th century German philosopher, who observed, “Humor is the only divine quality of man”? And then belligerents gave us two world wars in the next century, followed soon by the Korean and Vietnamese wars, numerous local conflicts on different continents, and communal carnage, notably in India.
Now there is Gaza, where Bibi Netanyahu has given us new norms of human beastiality. A confined, overcrowded, densely populated area is being bombed into the stone age. The Hamas fighters are in the tunnels where the IDF has tried to root them out. But the Israeli public is not very tolerant of casualties so they are busy thinking up other means, including flooding the tunnels — again not an easy task. So the bombing efforts continue causing more and more casualties plus destruction of infrastructure.
The law of humanitarian war seeks to limit the damage from armed conflict. It affords protection to civilians including medical and humanitarian workers; protection of refugees, prisoners, the wounded and the sick; freedom of movement for humanitarian workers; and the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian aid. It is based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in conflict and the 1977 and 2005 Additional protocols.
The IDF by restricting movement in Gaza, by bombing hospitals and areas dense with civilians is clearly in violation. President Erdogan of Turkey has already made his views clear. “Netanyahu will be tried as the butcher of Gaza that he is.” Some hope, when the US wields a veto at the world court.
Meanwhile, toadying to Israel is a congressional pastime and the Republican led House passed a $14.3 billion aid package even as women and children are being slaughtered by the hour — the new figures coming out have over 17,000 dead. The aid package will have to be passed by the Senate and then will go to Biden.
With tempers rising, one not unexpected consequence of the war has been to reopen the border conflict in Lebanon with shelling from both sides. Since Iran supports the Shia protagonists, the possibility of a wider war engulfing the Middle East is now not out of the question.
A particularly vicious aspect of the Gaza war has been the toll on children. When the recent truce and prisoner exchange occurred, those released by Israel were women and children. The obvious question: why were they prisoners in the first place and why use the term ‘prisoner’ for prisoner implies wrongdoing? Yet the mainstream idea characterises all Palestinians taken as prisoners, and any Israelis held as hostages. It is the media’s subtle war on our subconscious for as Goebbels knew well, language shapes our subconscious.
When is the Gaza carnage going to end? The Biden administration believes sometime in January. Is no one even concerned (forget appalled) by the daily carnage, the plight of mothers and children, and the difficulties of aid reaching the victims. Such is our world today — a world of tribal conflicts and a world so obviously lacking Schopenhauer’s divine quality.