The October 7 Hamas horror attack on Israel, and Israel’s devastating response in the Gaza Strip, have dominated the world’s news coverage for more than a month now. Meanwhile, masses have taken to the streets globally, largely in support of Palestinians and against new Israeli military action in Gaza—along with what they view the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Political leaders around the world are now engaged in daily, sometimes vehement, disagreements about the situation.

But the crisis hasn’t just dominated global attention generally; it’s overshadowed the war in Ukraine specifically. Yet the two wars are interconnected: The United States is leading global campaigns to build support for Ukraine and Israel, while also remaining the largest funder of the two countries’ militaries. And both wars are intricately tied to the global struggle between Washington and its allies in Western Europe, on one side, against Beijing and Moscow, on the other. So how is the new conflict in the Middle East affecting the ongoing conflict in Ukraine?

Richard Gowan is the UN director for the international nonprofit Crisis Group. To Gowan, the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza has created a major opportunity for Russia to deride the United States relentlessly as indifferent to Palestinian civilian deaths—a charge that, rightly or wrongly, carries a lot of weight in non-Western countries. Among many of them, the Israel-Hamas conflict is eroding America’s standing—partly because majorities in these countries support the Palestinian cause, partly because they see Washington as unable to get the situation in Gaza under control. Amid all this, Gowan says, the outbreak of war in Israel and Gaza is contributing to growing uncertainty about the future of the war in Ukraine, as world leaders figure out how to handle an apparent stalemate there.

Michael Bluhm: After Hamas’s massacre in Israel, and Israel’s subsequent bombardment of Gaza, there’ve been massive protests against Israel across a number of Western countries. But what do we know about actual public opinion in these places?

Maarten van den Heuvel

Richard Gowan: When Russia invaded Ukraine, it created a rare moment of unity in the West—but the fighting now between Hamas and Israel has triggered off profound disunity. Across the West, responses vary from country to country; but almost everywhere, we’re seeing vicious exchanges in the public sphere, not least on social media, between sympathizers of Israel and Palestine.

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