It has been interesting to watch the latest round of score-settling and silencing around the world against the backdrop of the Gaza war 40 days later.
Today, various actors are becoming more stringent in their repression of objections to the ongoing genocidal displacement in the Gaza Strip, starting with the governments of major Western countries and not ending with prominent American universities and their financial backers, as well as organizations that claim to be committed to combating hatred, bigotry, and discrimination.
Of course, Israel's war, which has resulted in the death of about 12,000 Palestinian civilians and the displacement of more than a million others on foot, was not merely a reaction. And it was followed by campaigns of political lobbies, financial circles, and media "mafias" – with all their influence – across the West, to stifle, intimidate, and extort anyone who objects.
Among the latest examples of this was the launch of an "advertising boycott" campaign against platform X (formerly Twitter), under the pretext that it was allowing "hate speech" (of course, meaning criticism of the Israeli government's actions). Another complaint was that Elon Musk, who owns X, asserted that Israel would not win in the long run if it killed a few Hamas fighters, as it would have contributed to recruiting more supporters to its cause.
This statement seems to me, at least on the surface, logical advice from a man who understands winning and losing. Moreover, born in South Africa during the height of the apartheid era, Musk is neither Muslim, nor Arab, nor is he a fan of armed militias. In fact, in the context of what is happening in the Gaza Strip, he made his input as a person familiar with ethnic animosity and racial discrimination. He knows the futility of "demonizing" opponents by trivializing the terrorist label.
More dangerous than the campaign against Musk and his platform, however, is that prestigious American institutions of knowledge and culture, such as Harvard University and Columbia University, have "put the squeeze" on student organizations and dissolved others. Decades ago, these institutions were the conscience of the US, with their youth protesting against the perpetuation of Washington's entanglement in Vietnam.
This is happening in the United States, which has long been embarrassed by a dark era in its political history, the "McCarthy era" of the early 1950s, which was named after the right-wing populist Senator Joseph McCarthy.
To those who are not familiar with him, McCarthy made an art out of branding elite intellectuals, liberals, moderates, writers, and artists "traitors," accusing them of being "communists" and undertaking "un-American activities." Ironically, prominent Jewish figures in the arts, culture, and media were among the primary victims of this repugnant McCarthyism. They were very different figures to those who are now actively funding campaigns to defend the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu, Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Bezalel Smotrich, promoting them and denouncing their opponents.
On the other hand, broad segments of the population in Western European countries, as well as in America and Canada, are frustrated with Western governments' insistence on considering calls for ending the Gaza massacre tantamount to "supporting" Hamas and an effort to help it achieve its objectives on the battlefield.
Regarding the question of their "support" for Hamas, I am fully confident that most of these Americans, Canadians, and Europeans, except those who belong to immigrant communities, have no sympathy for the ideology of Hamas. Indeed, many of them are secular, liberal, or leftist. Moreover, what really bothers them is that while some pro-Israel Western personalities and media figures emphasize the religious "chemistry" of Hamas and its justification of violence on religious grounds, they ignore the fact that the Israeli government is led by religiously extremist Jewish groups that believe in armed violence. Smotrich has recently spoken openly about displacing Palestinians to countries across the globe, and Ben-Gvir has openly taken it upon himself to distribute arms to fanatical settler militias attacking villages and towns in the West Bank.
The truth deliberately being obscured here is that the religious right has dominated the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, because of the failure of the peace process and the US mediator's total bias in favor of Israel. On the other hand, regional actors have played a pivotal role in this crisis, both politically and economically, and they continue to do so. Hamas does not operate in a vacuum; it has, rightly or wrongly, presented itself as a key component of what some call the "Resistance Axis."
This Axis, which is fully rooted in the role Iran has crafted for itself, has tailored its actions to Iran's geopolitical interests. Iran has invested significant time and resources into building it, while leaving its proxies in the Arab world to pay the tax of the flesh.
Iran, which Washington has absolved of any role in the Hamas attack of October 7, has since claimed the honor of "liberating Palestine" since it came to dominate Iraq in 2003, frequently claiming that the Arabs have "neglected" Palestine. It has sedated its Arab audience with claims that it has the capacity to destroy Israel in minutes, allowing it to expand occupying and destructive influence in four Arab countries that are now on the brink of becoming "failed states."
However, today, more than 40 days after the tragedies of Gazan displacement, it is increasingly clear that Iran - having asserted that it would not intervene militarily in Palestinian territories - is waiting for Washington to invite it to the negotiating table, which it wants to discuss splitting territory, influence, and the gas on the shores of Lebanon and Gaza with Israel.
The "rehearsal" of the negotiation of Lebanon's gas rights was successful because the mediator, Amos Hochstein, got the approval of Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese proxy. And now, what could stand in the way of a repeat of this experience in Gaza after putting the final touches on the current war of displacement?