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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Sunday Summary – A Dystopian Reality

This week felt like a chapter out of a dystopian novel, combining presumptuous luxury and harrowing destruction. On the one hand, stars decked out in haute couture and jewels walked over the MET Gala stairs. On the other hand, the violence of the Israeli attack on Rafah painted a grim picture of reality. Once again, this stark contrast has sparked many debates, highlighting the daunting disparities in our global society.

Last Monday, The Metropolitan Museum of Art held the annual "Costume Institute Gala", commonly known as the Met Gala. This year's exhibition, "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion", spans over 400 years of fashion history. The dress code, “The Garden of Time”, inspired by a short story from 1962, inspired most celebrities to be adorned in botanical looks. At its core, the Met Gala is a charity event to raise money for the museum's costume institute. However, ticket prices are rising annually, and an entry ticket for this year's gala costs 75.000$. Of course, you can't just show up in your average summer dress or slacks. In the past decade, the Met Gala has become one of the fashion highlights of the year, and alongside the ticket prices, the standard for costumes and gowns is steadily increasing. The annual event allows many celebrities to show their wealth through record-breaking outfits. As an example, the controversial "Happy Birthday Mr President" gown first worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1962 and recently, in 2023 by Kim Kardashian to the Met has an estimated worth of $ 4.8 million.  

Simultaneously, this week, Israel moved ahead with their long-planned offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza to “exert military pressure on Hamas”. On Monday, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets in Rafahr, urging roughly 110.000 people sheltering there to evacuate. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, tens of thousands of people were leaving the city. Two weeks ago, Israeli authorities promised an expanded humanitarian zone in nearby Al-Mawasi, providing food and shelter to refugees. However, the living conditions in previous “save zones” have been more than tragic for weeks now; squeezed into crowded tent cities, famines and starvation have plagued millions of civilians. For many families, it is unclear where they are expected to evacuate. In the past few weeks, Israel has been under intense international pressure to increase humanitarian aid to enable essentials like food and medicine to allow a temporary respite. However, due to the military offence, aid has come to a near-total stop. By Tuesday already, more than two dozen bodies have been brought to Rafah Hospital, with more than 150 injured civilians. Because Israeli forces closed down the Rafah border crossing, many injured and sick people are prevented from leaving Gaza to receive proper medical treatment in Egypt. Meanwhile, Egypt is refusing to allow aid trucks from Rafah crossing to drive on to Karem Shalom and reinforcing their frontier in Gaza to prevent Palestinians from seeking refuge in Egypt. Even longstanding supporters of Israel, like the  United States, are finally raising the prospect that Israel is violating humanitarian laws and blatantly failing to protect civilians for the first time since the aggression started. However, whilst the U.N General Assembly adopted a resolution in support of Palestinian statehood to symbolize the growing global solidarity with Palestinians, the US vetoed. 

Whilst the global outrage over the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is making headlines, debates over the best dress at the Met Gala and celebrity drama have social media in a chokehold. Like we previously saw when the Oscar nominations coincided with the Israeli bombing of Gaza, high-profile media spectacles like award shows in the US amass significant media coverage that severely overshadows the political crisis. While pro-ceasefire calls are very present, many people are fed up with the attention paid to this year's red-carpet drama. As a connoisseur of celebrity gossip, the backlash toward Cardi B for not remembering the designer of her gown would have captured my attention any other year. But this week especially, the ability of gossip to overshadow a humanitarian crisis has felt especially dystopian. The events that happened these last couple of days,  have felt eerily reminiscent of The Hunger Games, where luxurious celebrations in the Capitol starkly contrast with the struggles in the districts. In reality, extreme opulence and tragic destruction coexist on our social media feeds.  Ultimately, it remains our responsibility to navigate these complexities and pay attention to the critical issues. Furthermore, we must actively remind ourselves of the tragedies happening and force our so far silent governments to vote for a ceasefire. 


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