An image from a video released by the IDF in February allegedly showing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in a tunnel under Khan Yunis in Gaza

IDF Spokesperson

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Stop the War in Gaza

In the only way it can be done

Bernard-Henri Lévy
March 13, 2024
An image from a video released by the IDF in February allegedly showing Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in a tunnel under Khan Yunis in Gaza

IDF Spokesperson

An American soldier, Aaron Bushnell, lights himself on fire in solidarity with Palestine.

An electorate, in the United States, on both the left and the right, disputes with more and more vehemence Biden’s support of Israel.

Lula’s Brazil, and the South Africa of Mandela’s heirs, decry Israel’s supposed crimes against humanity: “It’s apartheid, it’s genocide,” they say.

And now, the awful images from the humanitarian convoy into Gaza City and its dozens of dead, some crushed by the famished crowd, some thrown under the truck wheels, and others killed by panicked soldiers in the Israeli escort.

Too much is too much, scold the great and the good of globalization.

Enough, the chancelleries declare, nearly in unison.

It’s a worldwide row, a tumult, a planetary outcry.

A wind of hate blows over Israel, but also, from San Diego to Zurich by way of Paris, on the world’s Jewish communities.

Never mind that it was the IDF itself that, in the humanitarian convoy drama, initiated the investigation concluding (an uncommon thing in a “genocidal” army!) that it shared responsibility for accidental civilian deaths.

Never mind that the U.S. would later manage to kill five Palestinian civilians with an airdrop, not because anyone intended to do so but because it is difficult to operate humanitarian missions in a war zone.

Never mind that a fifth of the population of this country “under apartheid” is made up of Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians, who (without mentioning the Christian, Druze or Bedouin minorities) enjoy the same civil rights as their fellow Jewish citizens.

And let’s not mention the astonishing role reversal that has those crying out against genocide are the same people who call for the birth of a Palestine from the Jordan River to the sea that would involve an ethnic cleansing purging the entire region of all Jewish presence. (Apparently, pure genocide is OK, where imagined genocide is worthy of an impassioned outcry!)

This is where we are.

These proud members of the global Empire of Palestine hardly flinch when China commits genocide against its Uyghurs, Iran its Kurds, and Putin the Chechens or Ukrainians.

They can find no complaints with the fact that neo-Ottoman Turkey resumes, in Nagorno-Karabakh, its endless war against the Armenian people.

I see no mobilizations on campus when an Arab state, Syria, kills not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands of civilians, backed by Iran, which promises even greater massacres against Jews and anyone in the region who dares to oppose it.

But, now it’s about Israel.

It’s about this minuscule country that the international community, still drunk on 2,000 years of spilled Jewish blood, finally recognized, after decades of broken promises, and only after the Shoah.

It’s about a small, fragile, and threatened country that, confronted with the most sadistic mass terror attack in modern history, responds like any other democracy would have in its place, and, in fact, like the United States did when invading Afghanistan after Sept. 11, or like France bombing Mosul—where thousands of civilians died alongside 3,000 ISIS fighters—after the Bataclan.

Instead of supporting Israel in its legitimate self-defense, the world accuses the Jewish state of poisoning wells and starving the civilian population; it’s no longer opinion, it’s demonization; it’s the unified non-thought of Humanity 2.0, the sequence of its speech and reflexes, which takes for granted that Israel is “indefensible,” that Zionism—alone among national liberation movements—is a curse word, and that the very survival of the Jewish people on its land is an entirely legitimate object of dispute.

Faced with this unprecedented surge of political and digital hatred, faced with these amnesiac crowds for whom it seems evident that the Oct. 7 pogrom has become, in their eyes, a mere detail of history, what can we hope for?

That the IDF, of course, continues to do all it can—faced with an enemy lurking among its population and using it as human shields—to limit civilian deaths.

And that the country, once this war is over, maintains its will to find new and better leadership.

But, in the meantime, when one is not Israeli but American or French, there are not 36 solutions. There are only two.

Persist, as the Monsieur Homaises from Flaubert’s Madame Bovary of the white-hot streets of the world do, chanting “Cease-fire now! Cease-fire now!” a solution that would have the obvious effect of handing victory to Hamas; to prolong the hold of a Muslim Brotherhood death cult on a population that serves as its guinea pig in a horrific experiment; to see the aura of the terror cult and its backers grow, and grow again, beyond Gaza, with all the cataclysmic consequences that one can imagine, both throughout the Middle East and in Europe.

Or to expect the international community, and even Hamas’ sponsoring countries, to demand of the aggressor two very simple things that would immediately end this atrocious war and the suffering it causes: Liberate the Israeli hostages who are still alive; and lay down their arms, recognizing, in one way or another, defeat.

Who has the courage to demand this?

Who cares enough about the fate of Israelis and Gazans alike to force the aggressor to stop its monstrous blackmail, instead of telling the victims to submit?

Does anyone care about peace and justice enough to demand an end to this war, in the only way it can actually end—with the defeat of Hamas?

To do this, simply change the program and, instead of “Free Palestine,” think “Peace now.”

Translated from the French by Matthew Fishbane.

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a philosopher, activist, filmmaker, and author of more than 30 books including The Genius of Judaism, American Vertigo, Barbarism with a Human Face, Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, and The Empire and the Five Kings. His most recent film, Slava Ukraini, premiered nationwide on May 5, 2023.