What should it take to be human in Gaza? By Usman Sarki


“He who has a mind to beat his dog, will always find a stick” – Chinese proverb

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THE glaring indifference and total insensitivity that the leaders of the Western countries have shown towards the systemic and wholesale slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, calls for an introspection about what being human is all about. The idea that one set of rules should apply to a group of human beings only but not to others, must receive our critical attention and outright repudiation.

The deliberate, systematic and premeditated obliteration of Gaza and other Palestinian communities by Israel, as well as the killings and expulsion of their members in countless numbers by both its military forces and extremist Jewish settlers, must elicit our reconsideration of what we understand by the concepts and principles associated with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

The dehumanization of people prior to their extermination has a historical basis and precedence. When the Nazis decided to embark on their rampage of conquest across Europe and Russia, they established the ideological and philosophical foundations for the outrages that they committed against entire races that they deemed as undesirable, by first proclaiming them to be subhumans or “untermenschen”.

Thus, millions of Poles, Ukrainians, Gypsies, Russians and other ethnic Slavs, Jews and many others, were systematically exterminated for just being what they were. One recoils with utter horror and sheer petrification when one wonders what could have been our fate as Africans if the Nazis had won the war. It is very likely that Africa would have been made a desolate island of despair, “cleansed” of all its natural inhabitants, to be made the home for new “superior” races of peoples from across the Mediterranean Sea!

The Romans once did such a thing but on the Northern shores of the Continent. The same doctrine of the Nazis is now being put into practice in Gaza. After the Hamas orchestrated attacks against Israeli settlements on 7th October, 2023, both the Israeli leaders and citizens called for revenge. The attackers were immediately branded as “animals” and subsequently, a terrible retribution ensued, that has so far left over more than 40,000 Palestinians dead with more than 15,000 of them innocent children.

Almost all of Gaza or what was left of it, has been bombed beyond recognition by the Israeli air and ground forces. The idea that a nuclear bomb could be used even in a global war has remained a discrete prospect that no one wanted to openly discuss or mention for the dire consequences that such a proposition entails. But recently, the world was horrified by the utterances of an Israeli cabinet Minister that they should use the nuclear bomb to destroy Gaza, as if the tens of thousands of tons of bombs, missiles, rockets and other destructive ordinance that have been dropped on that sliver of territory was not enough punishment!

While the rest of the world remained powerless to do anything other than offer remonstrances and condemnations, the West, which has the means to prevent the tragedy that is unfolding in Gaza, could not raise a finger of protest or indignation in the face of this unprecedented wholesale violence and mayhem being meted out collectively against the Palestinians. Under the same circumstances but when applied to another race of people, the Ukrainians, the speedy invocation of human rights and international law was witnessed, while the denunciation of Russia became a frenetic vocation of the Western political and media classes. Ukraine is of course “White” and Palestine is not.

Ukrainians are Europeans while Palestinians are “Asiatics”. Ukrainians can aspire to be part of the European Union, EU, and the Western military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, but Palestinians can never dream of getting such a privilege. Ukrainians can aspire and even claim to belong to the “West”, but Palestinians are firmly located in the “East” for better or worse.

Thus, two standards must be made to apply to the two different peoples experiencing similar circumstances but whose sufferings and collective indignity must be weighed in different scales of justice and moral fulminations. With such callous and appalling show of indifference to suffering and mass murder, and the temporization in calling for cessation of hostilities even if to render humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians, it becomes imperative that the Western notions of “human rights” and “humanity” should be questioned and reevaluated.

It is time that the conception of human rights as hitherto propagated by the West is challenged and a counter narrative proposed. The selective, dehydrated, clinical and cold-blooded approach to human rights that we have seen since the onslaught against civilians and children in Gaza, should awaken us Africans to the danger of one day, being treated in a like manner for just being who or what we are. History does repeat itself in circumstances that we cannot wholly understand or control.

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The enslavement of our ancestors, the colonization of our lands and brutalization of our people, were not just historical accidents that happened by chance. They were part of a mindset that constructed certain principles and ethos that categorized humanity into different classes and levels of civilization on the evolutionary ladder, whereby one race ascribed to itself the right to dominate others as a natural prerogative and its manifest destiny.

These historical phenomena may one day be experienced by us again to the same degree or even worse, when circumstances converge with certain interests that would warrant the direct control of our lands, our resources and even our bodies as commodities of value.

It may seem far-fetched to imagine that recolonization of Africa could take place, let alone that we might once again be enslaved as our ancestors were taken in chains to the Americas and other lands and climes. If the contestation and rivalries over Africa’s resources are anything to go by, the tale-tell signs are already here for us to see and be warned by them.


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