A book on “Justice or Savagery”… Why?

Haytham Manna

In the vast expanse of human rights and international law, clarity is essential. As we traverse the desolate landscapes of injustice, we must navigate with the compass of contemplation, rationality, and deep reflection. No amount of suffering should obscure our commitment to humanity, steering us away from the abyss of violence and revenge.


In Paris in 1982, I had the opportunity to meet Shimon Ballas, a respected critic and writer, who shared his compelling narrative of immigrating to Palestine. His initial days were fraught with challenges, including a week of imprisonment due to his communist beliefs. Originating from Iraq, Ballas proudly identified as an Arab-Jew. In his astute analysis of the Zionist movement, he said: “The Zionist movement was Western at heart, and was based on a concept that called for immigration to Palestine, settling in it, and buying lands; What was known as settlement, is a translation of colonialism. Culturally, the Zionist approach considered that the East was backward. This means, among many other things, that the Zionists came to the East, not to integrate into it, but to construct a Jewish identity with a Western template. Therefore, it is destined that the Levant will remain in constant confrontation with such goal. Due to the establishment of the State, this approach became more entrenched, and the Jews of the Middle-East were seen, accordingly, as coming from the same backward world and needed to be re-educated “.

How can this reconcile with the fact that the Zionist endeavor fundamentally aims to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, predicated on the nationality of its population being Jewish? Does this inherently lead to the ethnicization of religion, blending individuals from diverse backgrounds like Yemeni, Moroccan, Ukrainian, and Russian into a singular ethnic-religious identity? As Muhammad Hafez Yaqoub highlights in “The Frustrated Dream“: “wherever ethnicity asserts itself, it tends to impede integration and development, fostering social discrimination, tension, political and social conflicts, and giving rise to extreme reactionary racist movements.”

Today, we examine the outcomes of the “re-education” endeavors among the Jews of the Middle East, whether they were the primary target of what’s termed “Jewish Zionism” and Ultraorthodox ideologies, or as the late Saeb Eurekat referred to them as “the Jewish Taliban”. These individuals have become fervent advocates for solidifying the apartheid system within the Israeli Basic Law.

Yigal Amir, a Yemeni Jew and law student, showed no hesitation in considering Yitzhak Rabin, who had diligently worked for two years in the shelters that housed his family, a traitor and assassinating him. As for Itamar Ben Gvir, of Kurdish Iraqi origin, his character deserves scrutiny as a product of “Religious-Zionist education”, shaping him into a “Human beast” within the authoritarian framework of indigenous affiliations, and in the process of institutionalizing a singular identity for Religion, State, and Society. Regrettably, those who view Rabbi Eliyahu Mali, head of the Shirat Moshe yeshiva, a religious school in Yafa, as a unique case are mistaken. Those who endorse his call to kill all residents of Gaza are not only carrying out his “fatwa” in military operations but also collaborating to obstruct the entry of water and food supplies at border crossings under the protection of the Israeli army. It is insightful to consider what Gilles Kepel wrote about the “supremacy theorists” 75 years after the Nakba – the Palestinian Catastrophe: “Contemporary Jewish zealots find ample material in holy books, which they disseminate throughout their extensive network of religious schools, to justify acts of sacred terrorism against non-Jews. In Exodus (23, 27), it is written: ‘I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run.’ After specifying: ‘Your right hand, LORD, shattered the enemy.’ In Jericho, after the trumpets led to the collapse of the walls, Joshua ‘slaughtered all that was there.’ These are the Israeli representatives in the Gaza crisis following the massacre of October 7, 2023, who now hold significant sway over Netanyahu’s agenda and political survival.” (Gilles Kepel, Holocaustes, P. 61)

Here lies the Gaza Holocaust, a stark reminder of Israeli institutionalized racism and its pervasive grip over even the remnants of secularism in the “Promised Land,” resonating profoundly with the realities of today.

Discussing the notions of justice and injustice, with their intricate philosophical, moral, and ethical dimensions, without delving into the strategies employed by both the powerful and the weak, and without acknowledging the mechanisms behind the construction and management of brutality within the Zionist project, is overly simplistic and superficial.

Therefore, the question is persistently and tirelessly posed: Does this apartheid regime, which starkly contradicts the values upheld by the global community, genuinely perceive itself as superior, immune to criticism, beyond error, and, notably, beyond the timeless concepts of accountability and justice? Does it maintain the belief that the world order, recognizing it as a pivotal player, can endorse this delusion without becoming complicit in its own destruction within this prevailing global system?

The Israeli apartheid regime, during its 75 years, created the last living embodiment of all the crimes and massacres committed by the Western system throughout the centuries of colonialism, settlement, and world wars, both ancient and modern, including the horrors of the Holocaust that took place in the heart of Europe against the Jews, the “Gypsies”, and the communists… Thus it became the last clown of a global system whose true heroes are dead. Can the world remain a slave to this clown, stained with Palestinian blood to the brink of drunkenness? Can we, at the end of an era, allow the murderer to assassinate what humanity has achieved in terms of standards, considered by The International Bill of Human Rights, ratified by most countries of the world, as non-negotiable rights? Or not, just because the German Chancellor didn’t yet pass through psychoanalysis that frees him from the guilt complex of a Holocaust in which his grandfather participated? Or because the American president still insists, while begging for the approval of the Israeli War Council, that “if Israel did not exist, we would have to invent it”?

In the book “Justice or Savagery,” we endeavor to illuminate the profound implications of Western international involvement in the documented genocide, dismantling the mechanisms of normalizing such actions with the arrogance of power, whether ruling or governed. We explore how the fundamental values for which the world ardently fought following the horrors of World War II are now under assault.

Therefore, in the introduction to the book, I expressed: “The conflict against the people of Gaza has brought the Western world face-to-face with the monstrous entity that facilitated its descent into greater savagery and barbarism. Yet, it has also laid bare this monstrosity before the global audience. The war of genocide has uncovered the complicity of every hand stained with blood from Western nations. It has also exposed the formidable influence of a diabolical apparatus that has infiltrated the key decision-making centers in the West, institutions responsible for fabricating falsehoods, and even the coercive measures necessary to shield this entity from any form of accountability.”

Consequently, the conclusion emphasizes: “It is now evident that there is a pressing need to establish a focal point for genuine intellectuals with liberated minds, imbued with the principles of human rights and legal activism, to position Palestine at the forefront of the contemporary challenges we encounter: whether they be historians, philosophers, legal experts, jurists, or global citizens…”

In a world transitioning from a dying unipolar order to the murky complexities of a multipolar landscape, the Palestinian predicament emerges as a focal point of these shifts. Palestinian children, in their innocence, compel us to confront a pivotal moment of choice between two paths: one leading to justice, symbolizing the pursuit of humanity and dignity, and the other descending into the abyss of savagery and cruelty.


Haytham Manna

Justice or Savagery, for a global tribunal for Palestine

Zamakan Publications (Beirut) and the Scandinavian Institute for Human Rights/Haytham Manna Foundation – Beirut and Geneva, 2024

272 medium-sized pages (issued on the occasion of the “Global Tribunal on Palestine” on June 6-8, 2024)