The post-September war on terror was of a political nature in which the various parties tested the balance of power (Getty Images)

Political regimes and forces in the region have historically used the Palestinian cause to poison the intellectual and political atmosphere, and to achieve personal or partisan interests, and since the second half of the twentieth century, many sacrifices have been slaughtered in major events. Who among us remembers the slogan: "No voice is louder than the sound of battle", which was raised by nationalist regimes in the sixties of the last century, and used to confiscate freedoms and democracy in our homelands?!

The funny thing is that the louder this slogan is, the more the Israeli occupation encroaches on the ground and in the minds and hearts. Hafez al-Assad (1971-2000) continued to blackmail the Gulf states to pay more money under the pretext that he continued the war in Israel, which has not been shot after the October 73 war until now.

Just as the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict have historically been a way for Arab regimes to leapfrog the demand for democracy, it is expected that the war on Gaza, even for a while, will also confiscate human rights issues under the pretext of national alignment, delegation of leadership, and confronting the conspiratorial West.

The position of the West's concept of the Palestinian issue

It is true that the emergence of the concept of the West in the Arab world was of a civilized/cultural nature, but the concept was greatly influenced by political developments. It was founded first on the colonial invasion during the Western occupation of the Arab world, then deepened after the United States inherited both France and Britain in its leadership of the West after the second war (1939-1945), and became more entrenched during the period of the United States' sole leadership of the international system after the fall of the Soviet Union (1990/1991). This period was punctuated by the so-called "war on terror", whose main theater was the Islamic world, or what they called: the "Greater Middle East", in which Afghanistan was invaded in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The Palestinian cause and the West's support for the Zionist entity have been present since the proclamation of the State of Israel in 1948 until now at the heart of the position towards the West.

Are we facing a civilized position on the West based on political friction, or a political position based on a civilized outlook? I think – and God knows best – that the two fed each other, but the dilemma is that with every major political crisis with the West – such as the one we are dealing with now – we get intellectual confusion that greatly confuses how we perceive ourselves, think about the world with its various developments, and priorities for political action.

The dilemma of the concept of the West, or the construction of the concept of what the West claims was "an integral part of Arabs building their self-image," as one researcher put it, and I add that the approach to looking at the West and obsessing with it – as I pointed out in a previous article on Al Jazeera. Net – It is one of the problems that governed our thinking in the twentieth century, and the most dangerous thing is that this approach of consideration is still extended until now, as appeared in the two articles of our professor Hassan Awrid, which he published commenting on the battle of "the flood of Al-Aqsa".

What west are we talking about?

The West, a holistic concept that is comprehensive, not historical, with disparate elements, and this is a feature close to the twentieth-century way of thinking, which is based on polarization between opposing dualities, and it is also a reductionist concept based on epistemological certainty, because it is linked to ideology: the East versus the West, the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc versus the Western Bloc, and capitalism versus socialism.

Of course, Professor Awrid, a prominent thinker, is aware of this fact, as he says: "The West is a concept of porter faces, which benefits the geographical area in which Western civilization was born, and refers to the values on which that civilization was founded, and also means the policy adopted by the countries of the West. (The White Man...) However, the concept of the West has evolved over time, and is defined by (another). In the eighteenth century, it meant lights and reason against tradition, and what was called obscurantism, and it meant "civilizational mission" in the nineteenth century, during the colonial era, and it came to mean "the free world" against fascism and Nazism, and it was associated with democracy and the market against communism, until it became an absolute goal, and a rehearsal valid for all times and places, after no potential adversary was eliminated, when history came to an end, Fukayama claimed."

Despite the clarity of Mr. Awrid's description of the concept of the West, he quickly abandons it in establishing his political and intellectual position on the developments of the war on Gaza, as it continues to emanate from the overall solid concept of the West in its political aspect only, as expressed by some Western governments. "We return again to square one, that is, to the fission between the West and the Islamic world," he says, adding: "Israel chose in its speech to provoke the West and move its concerns by comparing (the Al-Aqsa flood) to the events of September 11." One of the expressions common in his article is "Western global conscience".

If the view of the West is established as a holistic and comprehensive concept, it must lead to two concomitant conclusions:

First: We are in the flood of Al-Aqsa "on the verge of the second civilizational war" – as his article titled – between the West and the Islamic world, given that the first war was during the September era (2001-2021). Second, the West has lost its luster, based on the fact that the prevailing values that are being violated by the West itself are Western values that have become universal, and the problem becomes: "How can we convince the new generation of the universality of Western values?"

The problem with these ideas, which have become taken for granted, is that they recharacterize the nature of the Palestinian cause, shape our self-perception, and the way we view the world around us, and may extend to rethinking everything that surrounds us, and this is what Mr. Awrid demanded: "We are required to reconsider everything; in the other, in its (universal) calling, in ourselves, and in those who are considered 'living consciences', who are laboratory beings, in fact."

Four key notes

  • First: It is dangerous to reposition the Palestinian cause in the civilizational conflict with the West, or in the words of our professor Awrid: "If the Western world conscience wants to put an end to a civilizational war that will be exhausting, then the Palestinian cause is in accordance with international legitimacy."

The post-September war on terror was of a political nature in which the various parties tested the balance of power in light of a strong blend of political and strategic interests with religious feelings and cultural values, and was by no means a civilized war. Cultural jargon was used for mainly political purposes.

The Palestinian cause is the cause of a people looking for their legitimate right to liberate their land from Zionist occupation, eliminate apartheid and establish their independent state, in accordance with international legitimacy.

What I fear is that the characterization of civilization will meet with much of the rhetoric of Western governments, which has made the war in Gaza a humanitarian issue for Palestinian civilians, not a cause of national liberation and a legitimate right to resistance.

  • Second: Between Western values and common human values: The problem always with talking about issues of values is that they are discussed complete, not according to their historical process.

Human rights concepts, for example, have witnessed many developments until they ended up being where they are now, and will witness other developments, such as what is being raised now about the issue of privacy vis-à-vis big tech companies. The rules that should govern AI will overshadow the concept as well.

We are facing concepts and definitions of values that are constantly evolving.

It is true that the West has historically contributed a large share to it, but other civilizational frameworks and political experiences have participated in its development, making it a human achievement that everyone should strive to preserve and activate in reality, not abandon. The various international covenants of human rights were enriched by national liberation movements in the sixties of the last century, as well as by communist experiences.

The assessment of Israeli behavior was based mainly on the various references that have arisen over decades in the organization of war operations and international humanitarian law ... Etcetera. Despite the seeming weakness and decline in its obligatory level in contemporary international regulation, its renunciation or absence will leave humanity in chaos and may return us to the law of the jungle. There is no interest whatsoever in wasting these rules and the conventions and mechanisms on which they are based in international regulation. It is a humanitarian achievement to which everyone has contributed, and it is harmful to abandon it in any case.

  • Third, macro concepts are no longer suitable for understanding the complex world, and they can no longer describe, let alone interpret, the positions of different parties. One of the features of contemporary reality is the fragmentation of polarizations, not their permanence and continuation as before.

The demonstrations, which are also a component of the West, included multiple elements: left, feminists, blacks in America, and members of the LGBT community, along with Arabs and Muslims, and non-Zionist Jewish movements advanced in apparent defiance of prevailing narratives or grand concepts.

In another movement – such as the right to abortion or sex education in schools – we will find Muslims next to conservatives and evangelical Protestants who support Israel today.

The concept of civilization is one of the concepts that are no longer suitable for analyzing our contemporary reality. The units of analysis must differ, not be based on ancient ones such as civilization, state, West, East, society... Etcetera. These are the divisions of the ancient world, we are dealing with new issues and various phenomena that call for new epistemological models in light of the intertwining and complexity that the contemporary world seems, and the division and fragmentation that societies are witnessing, and transient phenomena of the contemporary nation-state, and supranational and non-state actors, and technological developments that change the face of the world... Etcetera.

For example, the problem of equality in income, wealth, and opportunity is a global problem that does not concern one system or country over another; People have become sensitive to the growing gap between winners and losers in a globalized economy that has created "inequality" or globalized phenomena. People may cooperate on these repercussions regardless of their national, national, ethnic, or cultural affiliation, as we are now witnessing in support of Palestinians.

Abandoning the holistic and solid concepts that governed our thinking would allow for multiple levels of vision, detailed mapping, and the manifestation of multiple positions and their constant movement, allowing the construction of intellectual position and political action. Without that, we will remain captive to the solid twentieth-century way of thinking based on conflicting dualities.

  • Fourth, the most serious collapse of this dominant anti-Western narrative as a holistic concept is that it casts doubt on the applicability of "Western values" that have been transformed into general human values—as I pointed out and Mr. Awrid also pointed out—to Arabs in the first place. If, for example, human rights principles reflect "Western culture" and not common human values to which everyone has contributed, then it makes sense for Arabs to define their own rights, reflecting their culture and values.

"The West" is a misleading concept, which does not exist in contemporary reality except in the minds of some intellectuals who inherited it from the way of thinking in the twentieth century. Its main problem is that it traps us with the thinking of "enemies" who wanted to give their aggression against people and the place a civilized message that does not exist in the first place.

In the past, we used the Frankish wars, and we used the Crusades only in modern times, and in following the ancestors a good year.