It is a combination of the images from Gaza and the words of these Israeli high officials—backed fully by the United States government and many of the governments of European states—that provoked the sustained anger and desolation that has driven these mass protests.

Legitimacy
Over the course of the past two years—from the start of the war in Ukraine until now—there has been a rapid decline in the legitimacy of the West, notably the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), led by the United States. These wars are not the cause of this drop in legitimacy, but they have accelerated the decline in the legitimacy of the NATO countries, particularly in the Global South.

Since the start of the Third Great Depression in 2007, the Global North has slowly lost its control over the world economy, over technology and science, and over raw materials. Billionaires in the Global North deepened their “tax strike” and withdrew a large share of social wealth into tax havens and into unproductive financial investments. This left the Global North with few instruments to maintain economic power, including by making investments in the Global South.

That role was slowly taken up by China, which has been recycling global profits into infrastructural projects across the world. Rather than contest China’s Belt and Road Initiative, for instance, through its own commercial and economic project, the Global North has sought to militarize its response with massive spending (three-quarters of global military spending is by the NATO states).

The Global North has used Ukraine and Taiwan as levers to provoke Russia and China into military conflicts so as to ‘weaken’ them rather than contest growing Russian energy power and Chinese industrial and technological power through trade and development.

It is clear to the majority of people in the world that it is the Global North that has failed to address the crises in the world, whether the climate crisis or the consequences of the Third Great Depression. It has tried to substitute a language of euphemism for reality, using terms such as “democracy promotion,” “sustainable development,” “humanitarian pause,” and—from UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron and Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock—the ridiculous formulation of a “sustainable ceasefire.” Empty words are no substitute for real actions. To speak of a “sustainable ceasefire” while arming Israel or to speak of “democracy promotion” while backing anti-democratic governments now defines the hypocrisy of the Global North’s political class.

The Israelis say that they will continue this genocidal war for as long as it takes. As each day goes by of this war, the legitimacy of Israel deteriorates. But behind that violence itself is the much deeper end of the legitimacy of the NATO project, whose sanctimonies sound like nails being dragged across a bloodied chalkboard.