We once believed that the first victim of war was truth, but now we know it is freedom. You will tell me that truth is freedom and you will be right, but freedom is a broader concept still. Losing it is even scarier.
In the battlefield that information has become, in this muddy trench where we are sinking up to our eyes, the hoaxes are so intense that even the president of the world’s leading power has stated that he has seen babies beheaded by Hamas. Joe Biden said it with the same assertiveness with which his own team later denied it: “I never really thought that I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.” It was a lie. In fact, an Israeli journalist had reported that the army had found 40 beheaded babies in a kibbutz, an unconfirmed story echoed by the Israeli government. But from there the “news” traveled to Washington and the entire world.
That Hamas has committed atrocities is a reality that exceeds our capacity for endurance, which was already quite strong. But adding lies and exaggerations, creating an illusion with fictional tools, only diminishes the credibility of the Government of Israel.
There are more worrying things. Rishi Sunak has joined the voices demanding that the BBC call Hamas militants terrorists, as the European Union considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization. There is no doubt that it is, but Sunak’s choice of words, the tone and the versions that hide behind this move belie a harmful interventionism. In an even more authoritarian line, France is prohibiting demonstrations in favor of Palestine. What is this?
One of the terrible consequences of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the West was the sacrifice of some of our freedoms and the rule of law on the altar of security. The United States thus justified the savagery of Guantánamo—a place of shame that still exists—, visa restrictions and population movements that had nothing to do with 9/11, not to mention the attack on two sovereign countries. Today, if what happened in Israel could be considered a 9/11, then we are beginning to make the same mistakes: restricting freedoms, trampling on information and justifying atrocities that we would condemn in others. What Hamas does is indeed terrorism. What Israel does is apartheid, it is punishing and cruel to the civilian population, it is revenge and not defense, it is a violation of international legislation, it is spreading hoaxes that amount to lying. And no one can deny us the right to say it. Not in our world of freedom.
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