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Russia-Ukraine war: Justice has never dictated the global order

The Israel-Palestine conflict has long shown the emptiness of terms such as 'international law'
A man stands by his destroyed home in Zhytomyr, Ukraine, on 2 March 2022 (AFP)

As the Russia-Ukraine war grinds on, we as Palestinians, who know the ravages of war all too well, have been watching developments with concern, fearing for the future of refugees who have fled their homes. This war is a battle between Russia and Nato, but it is being fought on Ukrainian soil.

As Palestinians who have also suffered through military occupation, we cannot wish for Russian President Vladimir Putin's victory, but we do look forward to the defeat of the West, whose colonial policies have exacted a heavy price on our lives and lands, rendering us perpetually homeless. 

Such blatant racism springs from the intellectual and moral context of western colonialism, which has wrought destruction and death the world over

Tel Aviv has met this war by encouraging the migration of thousands of Ukrainian refugees to Israel, ostensibly because they are Jewish. This is motivated by the colonial need for a demographic advantage - the drive to further entrench the colonial project on our land, as an outpost of western interests in the region. On the ground, this translates into more settlements, land confiscation, displacement and even death.

At the same time, former Israeli soldiers are reportedly fighting in Ukraine amid calls for volunteers; none are accused of being terrorists. This comes amid a deluge of racist agitprop, which betrays an arrogant intolerance of anyone who is not white-skinned and blue-eyed. Ukrainian refugees are allowed to cross borders unhindered, without being labelled "illegal immigrants". 

Images of Ahed Tamimi, a blonde and blue-eyed Palestinian girl, boldly confronting Israeli soldiers in her village of Nabi Saleh, have been shared online under the false claim that she was a heroic Ukrainian girl facing off against a Russian occupier.

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The image met with broad support from all sides, as the same groups who have accused Palestinians of recklessly endangering their children have now appropriated such imagery to extol the bravery of Ukrainian children. What comes as an even more painful slap in the face is that footage of Tamimi has previously been denounced as a fabrication designed to defame the Israeli army.

Violating human rights

Such blatant racism springs from the intellectual and moral context of western colonialism, which has wrought destruction and death the world over, directed against anyone who does not conform to its racial order.

Russia's assault against Ukraine contravenes all principles of justice, democracy, human rights and international law. But the levelling of Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria; the export of terrorist extremists; the forcible displacement and death of scores of people by the gatekeepers of western civilisation - all of this is a reflection of western imperial racism.

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American imperialism and European colonialism across Asia, Africa and Latin America are undergirded by a deep-rooted colonial ideology, which directly contradicts basic principles of freedom, democracy and human rights for all.

Repercussions have been felt in a wide range of areas, from school curricula, to the practice of religion, to the sociocultural sphere. All of this has been driven by the West's insatiable appetite for energy sources and raw materials for industry.

In the context of the Russia-Ukraine war, western states levied sanctions against Russia almost immediately, while Israel has been above the law for more than seven decades - even as Palestinians have endured repeated assaults from Israeli fighter jets. This confirms that the only principles dictating the global order are geopolitical interests and the balance of power.

Meanwhile, terms such as "international legitimacy" and "international law," along with the UN and its empty resolutions, are merely a numbing agent - an opium for the powerless administered by the powerful. 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Basim Tamimi is a Palestinian political activist from Nabi Saleh village in the occupied West Bank. Tamimi holds an MA in international law.
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