LETTER: Bizarre version of liberal democracy
Frans Cronje shows a propensity to view the world along ethnic or tribal lines
Frans Cronje’s article proffers bizarre, frankly obscene, versions of liberal democracy — among them the notion that Arab states, not Israel, should shoulder blame for their failures to absorb Palestinians (“The war in Gaza and the stark test it demands of liberal democrats”, November 14). Liberalism upholds universalist ideals and any of its versions would find abhorrent this idea that shared ethnic or tribal identity compels union.
Still, that misrepresentation of liberalism pales alongside Cronje’s rejection of the idea that Israel has engaged in collective punishment of the residents of Gaza, on the basis that “many Gazans initially elected Hamas to lead them ... polls show Hamas to be a popular Palestinian group ... large crowds of Palestinians celebrated Hamas’ October 7 attack ... [and] there has been no popular protest against Hamas in any Middle Eastern capital”.
Cronje’s propensity to view the world along ethnic or tribal lines, and an allergy to any versions of liberalism founded on post-Enlightenment conceptions of justice, is again evidenced. But surely in the face of a count that shows close to 5,000 children killed as part of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, even he would blanch at the suggestion that those children had somehow elected Hamas, had demonstrated popular support for them or had cheered the October 7 attack?
The longevity of liberal democracies is not dependent on them endorsing Israel’s actions. Quite the opposite. Those that look to shield Israel from sanction for its atrocities in fact undermine the rules-based global order, rooted in liberal democratic norms, that sustains those democracies. Israel’s attacks on innocent Palestinians not only inflict horrific human suffering, but absent clear condemnation shatter the global consensus that the preservation of innocent human life — irrespective of race, nationality or ethnicity — is our highest universal (and liberal) ideal.
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