Defense Minister Černochová’s idea that the Czech Republic should https://twitter.com/jana_cernochova/status/1718348872978674122/photo/1 The UN is one of those for which politicians in more sane times either leave the government after a short self-reflection, or are forced to leave. We obviously don’t live in such times, so you can’t even say that the so-called chair is swaying under the demented minister. Černochová likes weapons and the army, which is probably enough as a qualification. Although she is the Minister of Defense, she knows practically nothing about the world beyond the country’s borders.
Other Czech politicians, including the opposition, expressed their understanding for her statement threatening the security of the country and its anchoring in the world order. She was said to be frustrated with the UN vote, which everyone understands, including Prime Minister Fiala, because they feel the same way. It was a UN vote calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to temporarily halt the ongoing massacre of civilians in Palestine. According to Černochová, the adoption of the resolution means that the UN supports terrorists and we have no business in such an organization.
The level of admiration for strongman solutions and expressions is perhaps a reflection of a collectively traumatized country whose public space and politics are hostile to all the weak, as if we are trying to disguise that our country and its people have been among the weakest for most of history.
In that case, we probably have nothing to do in the European Union or NATO, because if only the members of these organizations, of which we are members, voted, the resolution would also pass. In both the Union and the Alliance, the majority of members abstained from voting. Of those who voted, in both cases there were eight in favor and only four against. This is the only way the Czech Republic will remain in the Association of Gardeners.
We are probably members of several organizations that, according to Černochová, support terrorism. Another possibility is that the world is not that simple and does not function only in light and dark mode like the mind of the minister from ODS. Perhaps Černochová could simply call her colleagues from European countries and ask them why they voted for the resolution or why they let it pass by simply abstaining from voting. But first she would have to know how politics is formulated at the international level and she would probably also have to speak something other than just Czech.
Previous statements show that it was not a one-off fling by Černochová. That she did not learn any lessons from this disgrace, which practically none of the politicians beat on her head, is evidenced by Tuesday’s tweet about the fact that Iran became the country of the presidency of the UN Human Rights Council. She later had to correct her statement when it was explained to her that nothing of the sort had happened and that Iran was merely chairing the two-day event of the Social Forum. We’re lucky that Černochová doesn’t have a nuclear briefcase and an army at her command, because we’d probably be at war with half the world.
We are also lucky that it is not the solution to the decades-long conflict in Israel and Palestine, which at the moment is the ammunition that not only Czech politicians are loading with their strong and forceful statements, as if perhaps human suffering is not just one thing, regardless of nationality, religion and place of residence. While most European politicians are rather looking for ways and expressions to ease the pain and escalation of violence, the Czechs look the other way, as if everything is permitted towards the people of Palestine and no human and humanitarian considerations apply.
Those who stand outside the conflict should not cheer, but look for a solution
First of all, it must be said that what the terrorists from Hamas did on October 7 is unprecedented, disgusting and cannot be excused or relativized. No human being deserves the death that Hamas has prepared for the innocent people of Israel. Israel needed and needs support in such a difficult moment, it has the right to defend itself and punish the guilty. In the same way, it is necessary to oppose all manifestations of anti-Semitism everywhere. There is no “but” behind all of this.
Nevertheless, Israel and its citizens received many “buts”, as if the introduction of some historical context lessened the guilt of those who decided on their own and of their own free will to murder and brutally torture innocent Israeli men and women, the elderly and even children. One cannot help but understand the indignation expressed, for example, by the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari, when immediately after the massacre he saw ignorance and condescending instruction from some of his ideological companions in the West instead of compassion.
Harari explains that it is possible to simultaneously oppose Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and at the same time condemn the brutal attack by Hamas. Likewise, it is common for victims and aggressors to overlap in similar conflicts. According to Harari, in such difficult moments, it is mainly up to those who stand outside the conflict to look for ways to peace and de-escalation. Unfortunately, this is not a role that would interest the Czech government, which just shrugs its shoulders boredly at the suffering of the residents of Gaza.
Our government thus unreservedly stands behind the unlimited counter-action, without a defined goal and solution, prepared for Gaza by Benjamin Netanyahu. The retaliation turned relatively quickly into an unprecedented killing of civilians, including women and children, in Gaza, from retaliation against the perpetrators in the exercise of collective guilt. In a territory that is closest to a penal colony of second-class citizens, in which probably no one would want to be born and from which there is practically nowhere to escape.
The role of the Israeli government, in which a number of extremists sit, has completely disappeared, and it has completely failed to defend its people. Today, on the contrary, he does not answer questions about what it actually means to destroy Hamas, whether there is any ceiling at all for the number of civilian casualties in pursuit of this goal, or whether it does not matter at all and what will happen when Hamas is gone. As we have seen many times before, the weakening or destruction of one organization makes room for the growth of others, often much worse. And without a meaningful solution to the situation in Palestine, no negotiation has any meaning.
Israel’s supremacy over the occupied territory, in which it decides water and electricity supplies, seems almost unlimited, when it is at its sole discretion how many rockets and bombs it drops on Gaza, without having to deal with anything like anti-aircraft or anti-missile defense. It is precisely in this that the role of even historical allies lies in holding back something that is causing death and suffering today and could easily lead to unfathomable consequences for the entire region and by extension Europe in the decades to come. Some understood this, and even US President Joe Biden tamed Israel slightly after the experience of America’s devastating engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq. If Černochová had understood his words, she would probably have called him a fan of terrorists and demanded the expulsion of the US from the Security Council.
There is no special wisdom hidden behind cynicism
In the Czech Republic, it is popular to pass off cynicism as realism and to mock humanism as naive idealism. Yet it is the latter that makes living in Europe meaningful, while no one would bet a bike on the former. The level of admiration for strongman solutions and expressions is perhaps a reflection of a collectively traumatized country whose public space and politics are hostile to all the weak, as if we are trying to disguise that our country and its people have been among the weakest for most of history.
Moreover, there is a public space closed off from the outside, which seems particularly bizarre for a country inside Europe that seems to exist alone in the middle of an ocean or on another planet. Czech politicians basically have no idea what’s going on around them, and they don’t even care.
The result is Jana Černochová, who slaps whatever comes to her mind, and who probably only recently learned about the existence of the UN. Even as a high-ranking minister, she doesn’t bother to find out and just shoots nonsense on the X (Twitter) platform that flies across the clear sky of her empty mind. The prime minister and university professor, who simply cannot see or hear the suffering in Gaza, are not much better off. It’s as if our country is run by a broken blender with a toaster instead of people.
Perhaps, however, both draw information about the events on the spot from the main Events of Czech Television, where journalist David Borek blurred the boundaries between reportage and reporting from the scene with his own interpretation and view of the world. One time he compares the statement of UN Secretary General António Guterres to Munich 1938 in prime time, and another time he describes the bombing of Gaza as basically just an annoying smoke in the Israeli sky. I may have never seen something so unprofessional on television, let alone public television.
The news coming from the place is dire. All organizations operating in the area – from UNICEF to People in Need to Doctors Without Borders – draw attention to the humanitarian disaster and limitless suffering. The same applies to the media, when, despite Bork, even the CT has moved towards greater understanding than the binary division into absolute good and indifferent evil.
No matter how many tunnels Hamas has built and how it uses hospitals and schools for cover, it still does nothing to remove the responsibility from the shoulders of those who drop bombs on civilians, including women, the elderly and children, and end their lives. Just as Hamas murdered and tortured at will, and no one else is responsible, Israel, on the other hand, is responsible for the violence. It is necessary to break the circle of shouting about who started it and who is to blame, and everyone should be held accountable for their actions.
The Czech political representation, with its statements and silence, moves us to the very strange edge of the universe, where suffering matters as much as ever, which also includes the prevailing condescension to the essentially insane statements of the Minister of Defense. In the end, it doesn’t help anyone: Israel, let alone the people in Gaza, and ultimately not even us in the Czech Republic, where unbearable cruelty towards all the weaker is only becoming more deeply established as a standard of public debate and worldview. However, we are not stronger because of it, only more miserable.
The author is the editor of Alarm.