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The Abdication of Reason: Antonio Guterres and the Erosion of UN Integrity

António Guterres (2016-11-24) 01.jpg From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

So, Antonio Guterres decides to indulge in a reductive intellectual escapade, one that lends credence to a symphony of historical inaccuracies and moral equivocations about the Israel-Hamas conflagration. He thus relinquishes the impartiality that his grand office should exude and adopts a stance that can best be described as politically radical under a veneer of diplomatic nuance.

Oh, don’t misunderstand me: this is not just a poorly calculated blunder from someone perched atop the ethical and diplomatic hierarchy. This is a flagrant crime against reason and humanity itself. Guterres chose—note, chose—to not only rationalize but legitimize acts of terror, thereby turning the arena of international ethics into a macabre theatre, a dark comedy, where the victims are shorn of their dignity as though it were a mere trifle.

I’m loath to point out the glaring, but let’s not shy away from what needs to be said: Hamas is not a misunderstood community organization or a ragtag band of freedom fighters. It is, in its essence and its expressed aims, a group committed to anti-Semitism and the obliteration of the State of Israel. To suggest that such ideological zealotry, and barbarism can be justified by the grievances—real or imagined—of the Palestinian people, is to utter a fallacy so grave it amounts to a sin against the intellect.

It’s a rather grotesque sight, isn’t it? Watching Guterres—this supposed custodian of global peace and security—drain humanity from those who suffered at the hands of ideological murderers. To echo his terms, let us say this did not happen in a vacuum. No, it happened in a reality where the complexities of Middle Eastern politics are being distorted and weaponized for rhetoric, reducing the United Nations to a stage for political posturing rather than meaningful action.

But what of the UN itself? Once an emblem of international cooperation and a guard against the horrors of war, it now risks becoming an echo chamber where rational thought dies and moral clarity is muddied. By setting this precedent, Guterres undermines not just his position but the very institution he is supposed to lead and preserve, relegating it to irrelevance and ridicule.

In sum, Guterres has not only failed as a diplomat but also as a moral actor on the global stage. By aligning himself with a false and dangerous narrative, he impugns the principles of the United Nations and leaves a stain on its history that no amount of rhetoric can cleanse. What’s truly disheartening is that this will have repercussions far beyond the halls of the UN, reverberating through the global struggle against terrorism and the search for peace in the Middle East. So let it be known: this was not leadership; it was an abdication of the most fundamental moral and intellectual responsibilities.

Let us delve into the semantic contortions of Guterres, shall we?

To begin, there’s this inane ‘Vacuum Fallacy’ he propounds. He dares to suggest the Hamas-led massacre—an atrocious snuffing out of 1,400 Israeli lives—is somehow a product of circumstance rather than conscious, genocidal intent. What sophistry! This is not a benign growth nurtured by grievances but the malevolent fruit of an anti-Semitic and annihilatory tree—a tree that requires no ‘occupation’ to sink its roots deep into the soil of hatred.

Moving on, with almost theatrical gravitas, Guterres speaks of ‘Humanitarian Concerns’ in Gaza. The audacity! As if Israel, of all nations, relishes the unenviable task of war. Let us be perfectly clear: Israel forewarns Gazan civilians of impending military actions. Hamas, in contrast, has no such scruples when launching rockets at Israeli children cowering in bomb shelters. Such courtesy is distinctly asymmetrical, to put it mildly.

Now, what about the long-suffering ‘Palestinian Grievances’? A topic worthy of discussion, surely. Yet Guterres, in an act of moral myopia, ignores the numerous instances where Israel has proffered the olive branch—peace proposals, land-for-peace overtures—only to be repaid with aggression. These grievances, however complex, are not a fig leaf under which the naked aggression of terrorism can modestly hide.

As for the term ‘Collective Punishment,’ it is thrown around with the casual air of someone who’s never lived a day under the iron dome of incoming rockets. Israel’s actions in Gaza are not sadistic; they are protective, a nuance that our Secretary-General has wilfully chosen to overlook.

Ah, and then we have the ‘Ocean of Need.’ What a poetic touch! While humanitarian aid is noble in theory, Guterres conveniently sidesteps the uncomfortable fact that much of this aid has a curious tendency to metamorphose into weapons and terror tunnels.

Lastly, we arrive at the mythical chimera of a ‘Two-State Solution.’ A noble dream turned nightmare, given that one of the would-be states remains, in its charter and actions, committed to the utter destruction of the other.

So, what do we have in the final analysis? A litany of remarks that neither advance peace nor illuminate truth. What they do accomplish, however, is to further muddy the waters of a conflict already opaque with misinformation and biased narratives. The tale spun by our esteemed UN Secretary-General is ultimately one of sound and fury, embodying nothing more than the continued and tragic failure of international diplomacy.

About the Author
Catherine Perez-Shakdam - Director Forward Strategy and Executive Director Forum of Foreign Relations (FFR) Catherine is a former Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and consultant for the UNSC on Yemen, as well an expert on Iran, Terror and Islamic radicalisation. A prominent political analyst and commentator, she has spoken at length on the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling on the UK to proscribe the IRGC as a terrorist organisation. Raised in a secular Jewish family in France, Catherine found herself at the very heart of the Islamic world following her marriage to a Muslim from Yemen. Her experience in the Middle East and subsequent work as a political analyst gave her a very particular, if not a rare viewpoint - especially in how one can lose one' sense of identity when confronted with systemic antisemitism. Determined to share her experience and perspective on those issues which unfortunately plague us -- Islamic radicalism, Terror and Antisemitism Catherine also will speak of a world, which often sits out of our reach for a lack of access.