In recent weeks, the world has witnessed a significant wave of pro-Palestine protests in response to escalating violence in Gaza. This surge in demonstrations follows an Israeli invasion and bombing campaign that has resulted in the tragic loss of thousands of lives, including many women and children. The catalyst for this violence was a deadly terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7. As the world watches these events unfold, one pressing question emerges: Will these protests lead to any meaningful change in Western democracies that have traditionally supported Israel’s actions?
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Recommendation 1: Engage with Constituents
The answer to this question varies from country to country, but on a broad scale, it appears that significant change is unlikely, especially in nations with the greatest influence over Israel’s stance. In the United States, lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party have been reported to be avoiding calls for a ceasefire from concerned constituents. President Joe Biden, when asked about the possibility of halting the violence, responded with a resounding “None. No possibility.”
Recommendation 2: Responsiveness to Popular Will
This is concerning because, in principle, democracy dictates that politicians should be responsive to the will of their constituents. They should also be attuned to popular sentiment, as their electoral prospects depend on the opinions of voters. Arab Americans, particularly in key swing states, have expressed frustration with the Biden administration’s overall policies and its handling of Israel. A poll conducted by the Arab American Institute reveals that support for Biden among this demographic stands at a mere 17%, and 40% are inclined to vote for Republican former President Donald Trump in the 2024 election.
Recommendation 3: Preserving Democracy over Ideology
The significant protests, calls for action from voters, and the very real possibility that Biden’s stance on Israel could jeopardize his chances in the 2024 presidential election, with Trump as the likely Republican nominee, highlight the challenges facing Western democracies, especially in the United States. When politicians disregard the will of the people, it signals a crisis in the fundamental functioning of supposedly democratic institutions.
Recommendation 4: Balancing Ideals and Unity
At the same time, it’s essential to acknowledge that Biden has not concealed his pro-Israel stance. He has openly expressed his support for Israel, even describing himself as a Zionist in the past. In 1986, he stated, “There’s no apology to be made [for supporting Israel]. None. It is the best three-billion-dollar investment we make. Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.” However, as a leader of unity, Biden bears the responsibility to prioritize democracy over ideology, especially when democracy faces a full-scale assault from an opposition party that questions the legitimacy of elections and the rightful election of Biden. His unwavering position on Israel, despite protests within his party and reportedly among his own staff, is a grave misstep.
Recommendation 5: Diplomatic Nuance in Europe
The situation in Europe offers a more nuanced perspective. Some countries, like the Czech Republic and Hungary, remain steadfast in their unwavering support for Israel, even outlawing pro-Palestine demonstrations. French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Israel to halt its bombing of Gaza, but he faces open criticism from his own ambassadors due to his support for Israel. France has also prohibited pro-Palestine protests. On the other hand, countries like Ireland and Spain openly criticize Israel and contemplate cutting diplomatic ties.
Recommendation 6: Unity in EU Foreign Policy
This disunity within Europe highlights the fragility of a unified EU foreign policy framework. This is especially noteworthy given the perception that Ursula von der Leyen, the unelected president of the European Commission, is influenced by the United States and exhibits a hypocritical pro-war stance.
Recommendation 7: Reevaluating Western Support
What is unmistakable in the current Middle East situation is that with each passing day of the Gaza attack, it becomes increasingly challenging to morally and logically justify the common Western position of unconditional support for Israel. The rest of the world is observing this and recognizing that the days of Western hegemony are numbered. Moreover, leaders who remain steadfast in their pro-Israel stance despite unprecedented public pressure are inadvertently undermining the very foundations of Western society’s fundamental institutions.
Recommendation 8: Nurturing Democracy and Public Trust
As a growing number of people in the West become disillusioned with democracy, and skepticism toward Brussels grows within the EU, the leaders who disregard their constituents have only themselves to blame. The situation in Gaza is not just a regional crisis; it is a litmus test for the values and principles that underpin Western democracy.
This blog post seeks to shed light on the complex dynamics surrounding the recent pro-Palestine protests, their impact on Western democracies, and the challenges facing political leaders in these tumultuous times. The future implications of these events are uncertain, but they undoubtedly warrant closer examination and consideration.