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Israel’s Gaza Offensive and the Clash of Civilizations: How Western Values Are Being Tested

The Israel-Hamas war, now in its twentieth day, is becoming increasingly dire. According to data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, the death toll is approaching 10,000, with the majority being women and children.

The number of people buried under the rubble in continuously bombed cities is still unknown. There is no electricity, water, or basic food supplies. Most hospitals are now inoperable.

While the tragedy escalates day by day, the leaders of the EU countries who met yesterday couldn’t even call for a ceasefire. The U.S., on the other hand, not only refrains from calling for a ceasefire but also continues to provide unwavering support to Israel. Consequently, Israel is destroying Gaza in front of the world’s eyes.

It is impossible to predict when it will stop or how many people it will kill. However, it is essential to express this point: Israel is not just destroying Gaza; it is also leading Western civilization, primarily the United States, towards a gradual collapse.

I will elaborate on what I mean with recent examples from the U.S., but before that, let me digress for a moment to mention a breaking news development that I believe is crucial.

As is well known, Turkish-American relations have been strained for a long time. Even the ‘frequency harmony’ between Erdogan and former President Trump couldn’t thaw this chill. After winning the election, Biden blatantly ignored Erdogan. He didn’t return congratulatory calls for months and didn’t invite him to the White House. Their forced meetings were brief and held at international summits.

Erdogan has taken offense at not being taken seriously by Biden. He was hoping for improved relations, especially with Ukraine’s occupation and Sweden’s NATO membership. However, on Wednesday, claiming that “Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a liberation organization defending its country” elevated the relationship to another level. I can say that the doors of the White House, which had not been opened to Erdogan, are now completely closed.

There was significant opposition to Erdogan in the U.S. Congress, but the White House and the Pentagon tried to balance the situation, citing ‘strategic relations.’

Congress’s reaction to Erdogan has risen again due to his Hamas policy. In recent days, 110 members of Congress sent a letter to President Biden expressing their concerns about Turkey’s policies. Last night, a letter addressed to Secretary of State Blinken was published. This letter, signed by 45 members of Congress, is exceptionally harsh.

The members of Congress who signed the letter called on the U.S. government to use all diplomatic and national security tools to sever political, logistical, and financial connections between Turkey and Hamas, the connections enabling Hamas to carry out ruthless acts of terror against Israel. They demanded immediate and unequivocal action from Turkey in this regard.

The letter also emphasized that Erdogan’s relationship with Hamas and the logistical support provided by Turkey are a matter of serious concern.

The Congress members argued that Turkey’s support for Hamas goes beyond rhetoric, and the U.S. has not taken necessary measures. They claimed that Turkey has become Hamas’s second-largest base after Gaza.

The letter also mentions the activities of senior Hamas figures in Turkey. The most striking part is in the ‘demands’ section.

U.S. senators presented five demands to Blinken.

Among these demands, there is one that is quite noteworthy: “Investigate whether any Turkish officials were present during Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, and report the findings to the U.S. Department of State.”

To be honest, such a demand is rare and unusual.

Because the October 7 attack is associated with Turkey or, more precisely, the Erdogan regime. There is no need to be an expert to understand that Congress members did not haphazardly include such a statement in the letter.

Erdogan has managed to turn around the relations that were thought to have ‘severed’ so far, but this time, the situation is a bit more challenging. First and foremost, he may lose the Jewish lobby, which he has invested heavily in for years. We will discuss this issue at length later, so let’s return to the topic I mentioned at the beginning.

A BLOW TO WESTERN CIVILIZATION

Israel’s Gaza operation and the support provided by Western countries to the Netanyahu government will have an underestimated side effect. First and foremost, the U.S. and EU countries are indirectly becoming complicit in the crimes committed by Israel.

Furthermore, Israel has initiated a process that undermines Western values. In the U.S. and the EU, freedom of expression is considered the most crucial issue. In fact, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is related to freedom of expression. This issue is almost sanctified. We have been witnessing the broadest applications of freedom of expression for years.

For example, I have personally seen people cursing Trump on the wall of the White House during his presidency, as long as it did not incite violence. Heavily critical statements were made without any problem.

I am using the past tense because since the start of the process triggered by Hamas’s attack, the U.S. has also changed. Today, it is almost impossible to say anything in favor of Palestine, even starting with a sentence condemning Hamas’s terrorist actions without immediately being silenced. This has become so pervasive that there is now a unanimous consensus in politics, media, academia, and the arts.

Imagine that even in universities where freedom of expression is at its broadest, making a statement or holding a demonstration in favor of Palestine has become almost impossible. Florida Governor DeSantis shut down an association defending the rights of Palestinian civilians.

Student associations that made statements in support of Palestine divided Harvard University. Alumni made opposing statements. It is almost impossible to make a statement in favor of Palestine in many Western capitals today. The programs of Palestinian writers and artists are being canceled. The examples can be extended.

As a long-time analyst living in Washington put it, “The atmosphere has returned to the post-September 11 era.”

Can you imagine that in Western capitals where freedom of expression is almost sanctified, it has become impossible to criticize Israel for bombing Palestinian civilians?

Every bomb Israel drops on civilians in Gaza increases anger in other parts of the world. This tension has the potential to turn into a clash of civilizations.

Are you aware of the danger?”

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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