Mankind has the capacity to build great civilizations and commit the most barbaric massacres. There are moments when international law and organizations vanish into thin air.
When the powerful turn their backs on the law, they hurt the international community's sense of justice. The silence of the atrocities in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and the Shujaya neighborhood of Gaza, among others, when evoked, put strains on one's conception of justice. When the world's leading powers justify such massacres under the pretext of "the right to defend oneself," however, they undermine humanity.
Israel's slaughtering of 433 Palestinians, leaving 4,000 people injured and the most recent assault on the Shujaya neighborhood attests to the lack of interest of great powers in our region. It is this indifference that plants the seeds of hate and makes it impossible to peacefully coexist in the world.
In modern times, humanity most clearly experienced this feeling during World War II. The West, which has made great contributions to civilization, thus created so many painful works for the museum of barbarism.
Western governments, the proprietors of the existing world order, partitioned the Ottoman Empire to form the modern Middle East and, shortly afterward, Israel established at the region's center -The existence of Israel began after WWI, it's just a coincidence that it didn't get state status until after WWII. Ever since then, this part of the world has been deprived of order and peace.
The trauma that Israel's foundation entailed gave rise to both religious and secular strands of nationalism in the Arab and Muslim world. Both the Baathist movement and Iran's Islamic Revolution derived legitimacy from the threat associated with Israel.
The struggle against Israel has served as a convenient excuse for authoritarian regimes to repress the democratic demands of their citizens. It is in this sense that Israel's unstoppable expansionism represents the leading reason for the lack of order in the Middle East. To be fair, Israel always enjoyed a privileged status in the international arena.
Since its foundation, the country walked the path of aggression under the protective umbrella of Britain and, in later years, the United States. Israeli authorities assumed themselves to be immune to the resolutions of international organizations and faced no resistance when it developed nuclear weapons and embarked on an occupation of Gaza and the West Bank through the proxy of settlers.
Meanwhile, Israel, after a brief period of hesitation, made the most out of the wave of democratization that accompanied the Arab Spring revolutions. The country's reaction to the Syrian Civil War and sectarian strife in Iraq remained largely limited to silence.
The demise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and competition between regional powers also served Israel's interests. While the Middle East witnessed the emergence of new tensions along sectarian lines, Israeli authorities used the murder of three people as a pretext to launch a major campaign against Gaza.
There is no doubt that the "intra-civilizational" disputes among regional powers will do little to increase the pressure on Israel. Considering that the major players in the international arena will continue to treat Israel as a spoiled brat, the Muslim world's reaction becomes all the more important.
In this sense, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's complaint about the Islamic world's indifference regarding the situation in Palestine rings true: "Leave aside the West. The Islamic world is uninterested in Palestine because there is no sectarian conflict there. In Palestine, our own brothers and the honor of Muslims are dying."
Obviously, there is strong criticism lurking behind Erdoğan's words, as he points to the cost of the rivalries between regional powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia and the resulting chaos that the Middle East has to endure.
More painfully, however, is the following: what really is the so-called Islamic world? How accurate is it to describe a group of Muslim countries, incapable of taking charge of their future and resolving their own issues, as the Islamic world? Can we really refer to a community that cannot raise awareness about Palestine, the common cause of all Muslims, to stop Israel as the Islamic world? Clearly not.
About the author
Burhanettin Duran is General Coordinator of SETA Foundation and a professor at Social Sciences University of Ankara. He is also a member of Turkish Presidency Security and Foreign Policies Council.