The Peril of Absolute Political Truth in the Shadow of Gaza

AI generated image courtesy of Catherine Perez-Shakdam
AI generated image courtesy of Catherine Perez-Shakdam

In an era marked by polarisation, the quest for absolute political truth has become a battleground where the humanity of those who disagree is often the first casualty. This dangerous trend, underpinned by a desire to be unequivocally right, has led to a profound dehumanisation across the spectrum of political and ideological debates. Nowhere is this more evident than in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, a situation that demands a nuanced understanding, yet often receives anything but.

As we navigate the complexities of this conflict, it’s crucial to remember that behind every political stance and narrative lie real people—individuals with experiences, pain, aspirations, and sufferings that transcend the binary of right and wrong. The desire to champion one’s narrative at the expense of another’s voice not only undermines the essence of democracy but also strips away the very humanity we claim to defend. Such absolutism is the hallmark of dangerous ideologues, not of a society that prides itself on diversity and tolerance.

While the loss of innocent Palestinian lives is a tragedy that rightly draws global condemnation, so too should the loss of Israeli lives. Israel, often reduced to a political statement in international discourse, is, in reality, a sovereign state populated by millions of individuals whose humanity is frequently denied in the court of public opinion. This denial, framed as solidarity with Palestinian victimhood, ironically betrays the fundamental principles of human rights: that they are universal, not conditional upon one’s political stance or ethnic identity.

To disregard the humanity of Israelis and Jews, interpreting their suffering through a lens skewed by political narratives, exemplifies a profound moral failure. A glaring example of this is the reaction to the events of October 7, where the refusal by many to acknowledge Hamas’ crimes, including the brutal abuse of Israeli women, highlights a disturbing inclination to sacrifice fundamental human rights at the altar of political agendas. This incident starkly illustrates how the narrative of occupation is manipulated to justify heinous acts under the guise of liberation.

But we must ask ourselves: what form of liberation condones the terrorization of women, the violation of their bodies and dignity, in the name of political objectives? Can the pursuit of freedom ever justify such barbarity? To assert that violence, particularly sexual violence, is a permissible tool against “the right group” is not only morally reprehensible but also a gross violation of universal human rights. This logic dangerously insinuates that some individuals, by virtue of their nationality or political identity, are less deserving of humanity and protection—a notion antithetical to the principles of justice and equality.

The refusal to condemn these acts unequivocally, to see beyond political divisions and recognize the shared humanity of all victims, emboldens extremists and fuels a cycle of violence that has long devastated the region. This selective empathy—conditioned upon political affiliation or ethnic identity—undermines the universal foundations of human rights and dignity.

Who, then, is authorised to determine whose suffering is valid and whose humanity can be ignored? The answer is unequivocally no one. Human rights are not a privilege to be granted based on political convenience; they are inalienable rights belonging to every individual, irrespective of their identity or the political context they find themselves in.

By allowing the narrative of liberation to be co-opted by those who would justify terror and abuse as legitimate tactics, we betray not only the victims of such atrocities but also the very essence of liberation itself. True liberation seeks to uplift and affirm the dignity of all individuals—not to oppress or dehumanise. As we navigate these complex moral and political landscapes, it is imperative that we uphold the principles of empathy, justice, and human rights for all, lest we lose sight of our shared humanity in the pursuit of political aims.

We find ourselves, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps not,  as pawns in a perverse game played by radicals who exploit our desire for moral and ideological vindication. In our zeal to be seen as righteous, we risk weaponizing our humanity—turning compassion, empathy, and understanding into commodities traded based on political allegiance. This commodification of our most fundamental qualities does not lead to resolution but rather entrenches division, making peace an ever more distant prospect.

The conflict in Gaza is a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in seeking absolute political truth. It underscores the need for a more empathetic and inclusive approach to understanding complex political realities—one that acknowledges the humanity of all parties involved. As we advocate for peace and justice, let us not lose sight of the individuals behind the ideologies, for it is in recognizing their humanity that we find the path to true resolution.

In the end, the greatest betrayal is not to a particular group’s victimhood but to our own humanity. By denying others the empathy and rights we claim for ourselves, we undermine the very foundations of the just and equitable world we seek to create. It’s time to step back from the brink of absolute truth and embrace a more compassionate, nuanced view of the world—one that recognizes that behind every political statement, there are people whose lives and dignity are at stake. Only then can we hope to break the cycle of violence and build a future founded on mutual respect and understanding.


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.
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