Vaneisa: Combatting the cruel human invention of war

On Thursday, the Express reported on a surprising conflict at the St Augustine campus of The University of the West Indies.

It seems the Institute of International Relations had arranged a virtual seminar, Unravelling the complexities of peace in the Middle East: An Israeli perspective, to be delivered by the Israeli Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago and Caricom, Itai Bardov.

Students at The UWI Campus.
(via The UWI)

Not at all unexpectedly, students protested, and the event was hastily cancelled.

The surprising aspect was that someone actually thought it was an opportune moment to put this into the campus space.


Globally, the news is full of the carnage in Gaza. We have become familiar again with horrific words like genocide, bombings, drone attacks, infanticide, shortages of food, water, medical supplies—all the atrocities that surround this cruel human invention of war.

A father gives his children a bath in Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has been likened to an open air prison.

It is a sickening spectacle, and there can be no perspective that can render any of this madness acceptable. The old men perpetuating these obscenities on a planet that seems to have depleted its stock of humanity should be held accountable. The problem is that there does not seem to be any way to stop them.

The United States of America—the country that declared its support for the “war against Hamas” (BBC) as ­ironclad—has been the biggest supplier of weapons and ammunitions to the Israeli terrorists.

“By law, it provides Israel with US$3.8 billion (£3 billion) of military aid each year, designed to give the country an advantage over neighbouring countries. The US Congress last month passed a bill providing a further US$14 billion of military support,” reported the BBC earlier this week.

United States president Joe Biden (left) and Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

And, as if it makes the collaboration any more palatable, they announced that they have delayed a shipment of munitions to Israel. Delayed.

US President Joe Biden has actually finally admitted that civilians have been killed by the weapons they supplied.

“It would be wrong to send military support now,” he said.

Image: An alternative view of the Israel and Palestine conflict.

Obviously, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been ignoring the requests by its major ally to stop the murders. Despite peace talks between Hamas and Israeli delegations in Egypt, the Israeli army seized control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, described as a vital route for aid deliveries.

Netanyahu said attacking Rafah is vital to dismantling Hamas. So, the attacks have instead increased.

Children are dying from malnutrition; a million and a half people have been displaced, sheltering in Rafah; homes have been destroyed. Lives and futures have been utterly shattered.

Photo: A passerby scuttles to safety after an Israeli bombing.

For both men, their political futures are at stake. And as we have seen, that counts for more than the mass destruction of lives.

Exacerbating it, the actions have been supported by the responses to pro-Palestinian protests globally. Students at universities have been forcibly removed from campuses—the Dutch riot police used a bulldozer to break up a camp at the University of Amsterdam.

Students at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore camping out for nearly two weeks have been warned to leave; they’ve defied the order. It is the same at campuses in the UK and the US.

Palestinians and supporters with placards shouts slogans during a rally outside Downing Street in central London on 13 May 2023 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Nakba day, also known as the Palestinian Catastrophe.
Nakba was the process of, what they consider to be, ‘ethnic cleansing, colonisation and dispossession which saw over 750,000 Palestinians driven into exile.
Photo: Steve Taylor/ SOPA Images/ LightRocket via Getty Images

At the heart of the protests is the cry to end the genocide. I’ve seen placards representing Jewish voices asking for the killings to end.

Amidst all this horror, there is something faintly comforting in the stances taken by young people, students around the planet, who have not simply resorted to social media platforms to air their views.

They have actually been coming out into public spaces, knowing that it could turn violent, that they could face repercussions that include bodily harm.

Photo: A Palestinian woman vents to an Israeli soldier.

It is a powerful indicator of the different world views that come from the young and the decrepit old guard that continues to determine the state of global affairs. These relics will not be around long enough to truly experience the ­impact of their egotistical gambits.

I come back to what I feel is the most salient act now. The murders must stop.

Last week, a group, The Understanding Israel Foundation, issued a statement calling for a retraction of the T&T Government’s recognition of the State of Palestine.

A pro-Israel demonstrator gives her view of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

“This misstep portrays Trinidad and Tobago as both uninformed and disconnected from the realities of the peace process,” reported Newsday.

What has been the reality of the peace process?

Is this what was at the heart of the virtual seminar from the Institute of International Relations at The UWI?

UWI campus in St Augustine.
(via UWI)

The institute had issued a statement on its intention, saying it felt “that a ‘­real-time multiple-perspectives approach’ should be taken in the future to enrich the dialogue and ensure a more robust educational experience,” reported the Express, citing their statement:

“The Institute of International Relations of The University of the West Indies remains committed to exploring viewpoints on complex global issues.”

The robust educational experience that the IIR wanted to ensure seemed to have located itself far away from the world choking to death right outside our doors.

Image: A satirical take on the media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

A dull mind is a dangerous thing. Lacking the capacity to process information, it plods along narrow paths without even grasping that there is a world beyond.

The only kind of education that could realistically emanate from this approach is the one that traps young minds inside the theoretical world of academia with the kind of isolation that has resulted in many graduates who know nothing outside of their textbooks. They lose their humanity.

Thankfully, our students are still alive enough to stop them.

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