Last night I had a nightmare about some unknown group of people who were going after me for some unspecified thing that I did, and eventually I realized that they were going to arrest me and I would be convicted of an unspecified crime and sent to jail. I can’t remember all the details, but it was so realistic that I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t shake the idea that it had really happened. I couldn’t get back to sleep because, unlike with other bad dreams, I continued to be terrified until I got up. I told Malgorzata about the dream, who replied, “You are a Jew in a world that hates Jews.” She added that she had had similar dreams of terror after the WWII, after she and her mother returned to Poland from their exile to the Soviet Union (Malgorzata was born in the Caucasus in 1943 after her mother fled Poland during the war, and both returned to Poland—only to face more antisemitism—in 1946.
I give this information only because today I am quite depressed about the situation in the Middle East, and especially about the unwarranted hatred for and accusations against Israel emerging throughout the world—even in the American Left. This is surely the source of my dream. So I may write a couple of posts today about the war and the ensuing hatred, just to calm myself down,
Some of the accusations flying around are palpably false, including the assertion Israel is committing a genocide against Palestinians, and that Israel is also an apartheid state that, many imply, should be erased.
In fact, both of these terms, “apartheid” and “genocide” apply better to Palestine and Hamas than to Israel.
Here’s an article from Quillette about the misuse of the “genocide” accusation. The author, Zachary Goldsmith, is identified as “the author of “Fanaticism: A Political Philosophical History” (2022). His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, NBC News, and Law & Liberty, among other venues.”
Click to read:
First, the definition of “genocide,” which comes from the UN:
The crime of genocide was codified by the United Nations in 1946 with the passage of General Assembly Resolution 96, defined as “a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, as homicide is the denial of the right to live of individual human beings.”
In 1948, the UN General Assembly passed its “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” which refers to five distinct acts, the commission of any one of which constitutes the crime of genocide: (1) killing members of the group in question; (2) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (3) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (4) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (5) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
So, do the actions of the State of Israel during the current war against Hamas satisfy any of these definitions?
Goldsmith argues “definitely not”:
Has Israel lived up to these guiding principles in Gaza? Yes. The IDF has gone to considerable lengths to minimize civilian casualties. As in previous wars, Israel has dropped leaflets and sent text messages directing Palestinian civilians to evacuate dangerous areas—in this case, the north of Gaza. This evacuation is being monitored from Israel by tracking the movements of cell phones in Gaza. Israel also uses precise targeted weapons in order to minimize civilian casualties in dense urban environments. One such weapon, used for the first time in this war, is the precision mortar dubbed “Iron Sting.” According to the Jerusalem Post, “The mortar is designed for use in both open terrain and urban environments, while using its precise targeting to reduce the possibility of non-combatants being injured.”
Tragically, all wars claim civilian casualties—and this is especially true in Gaza, due to the dense urban conditions and to Hamas’s deliberate strategy of attempting to maximize civilian casualties. According to a recent NATO report, Hamas “has been using human shields in conflicts with Israel since 2007”:
Hamas relies on the Israeli government’s aim to minimise collateral damage, and is also aware of the West’s sensitivity towards civilian casualties. Hamas’s use of human shields is therefore likely aimed at minimising their own vulnerabilities by limiting the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) freedom of action. It is also aimed at gaining diplomatic and public opinion-related leverage, by presenting Israel and the IDF as an aggressor that indiscriminately strikes civilians.
Hamas has used its nearly two decades of control over Gaza to build an extensive network of fortified tunnels in, under, and around civilian infrastructure in order to smuggle contraband and weapons, while carrying out a campaign of terror against Israel and its civilians. Even more tellingly, Hamas is currently using Gaza’s largest hospital as its headquarters. While the first duty of any government is to protect its citizens, Hamas’s central governing principle is to oppress its people while placing them squarely in harm’s way. Given this, it is clear that Hamas bears moral responsibility for all lives lost in this conflict, both Israeli and Palestinian, including those civilian Palestinians whom Israel has taken great pains to protect.
The demographic data also contradicts the idea that Israel is committing genocide. Since the year 2000, the population of Gaza has nearly doubled; it boasts the 39th highest birthrate among the world’s countries, and the average life expectancy is nearly 76 years of age (the average life expectancy in the US is just over 77 years of age). If Israel is intent on committing genocide in Gaza, it is doing a very poor job.
But Hamas is committed to the genocide of the Jews, and cries of “Israeli genocide” started even before Israel began its post-October 7 defense by bombarding Gaza:
Hamas’s founding covenant calls for an “Islamic Resistance Movement” that “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and provide “one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders.” The raison d’être of Hamas, then, is to expel every Israeli and Jew from Israel-Palestine, eliminating both the state of Israel and the Jews who inhabit it. “There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad,” the document states. It cites a Hadith (a saying of the Prophet Mohammed) that makes this point chillingly clear:
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
(Hamas issued a new charter in 2017. It is still rife with inflammatory language about the “Zionist entity.”)
So, whereas the IDF Code of Ethics requires all Israeli soldiers to act with “purity of arms” and make every effort to avoid civilian casualties, Hamas’s 1988 charter calls for unremitting jihad against Jews. While the IDF Code of Ethics prohibits war crimes up to and including genocide, the Hamas Covenant defines genocide as its core mission.
We saw this mission in action on 7 October, when Hamas carried out one of the most heinous anti-Jewish pogroms in history in a campaign of terror that satisfies every definition of genocide.
Now I’m not denying that innocent civilians are being killed by the IDF during the war, and that is a tragedy, for every life lost leaves behind loved ones and relatives who are devastated. But, as you know, this is largely because Hamas uses human shields, and in fact relishes Palestinian deaths because they’re good propaganda. And I’m not denying that a few errant Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian civilians out of hatred (if caught, these soldiers are charged with crimes). But that is a far cry from what Hamas does, which is to repeatedly and deliberately target Israeli civilians, and celebrate those who commit murder (they also pay them off if they go to prison).
What bothers me is that everyone with two neurons to rub together knows that Hamas, many Palestinians, and many Palestine supporters in the West either explicitly or implicitly call for a genocide of the Jews. Hamas is committed to it, and those who shout “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, are, some perhaps unknowingly, calling for an elimination of Israel and of the Jews who live there. (Or are they only suggesting that Israel’s Jews be moved to another place? A “one-state solution” is also a recipe for genocide.). In contrast, Israel, though it’s an enemy of Hamas and not friends with Palestine, is not sworn to eradicate it, either. In fact, Israel has made five offers of a two-state solution to Palestine since the 1930s—and all were rejected. It is Palestine who attacks Israel repeatedly—with terrorist attacks on civilians, with rockets aimed at civilians, and with the horrible butchery of October 7.
Yes, if you’re going to single out which entity is sworn to eradicate the members of the other, the answer would be Palestine. Those who answer “Israel” do so in the face of the facts and in light of their “settler-colonialist” analogy between Jewish “white” oppressors and subjugated Palestinian “people of color”. Of course I’m a secular Jew, but I wasn’t a particularly big defender of Israel until recent events have offended me as a scientist with their arrant distortion of the truth in service to ideology.
And, as part of their linguistic tactics, Palestine and its supporters level the worst possible accusation against Israel and the Jews—that they’re Nazis.
This new blood libel—the charge of genocide—is also an attempt to yoke the state of Israel to that very regime whose industrial murder of Jews gave rise to the necessity to create the term “genocide” itself: Nazi Germany. As the philosopher Bernard Harrison has argued, the intent “is to defame Israel by association with the most powerful symbol of evil, of that which, because it contains not the least scintilla of goodness, must be utterly rejected and uprooted from the face of the earth.” Harrison continues:
To use “Nazi analogies to criticize Israel’s policies” is to disseminate the suggestion that Israeli policies are morally indistinguishable from Nazi policies, and hence that the state of Israel is therefore in no way morally distinguishable from the Third Reich, from which, if true, it surely follows that the existence of the State of Israel has as little to be said for it as the existence of the Third Reich; which is to say, nothing; and from that that the Jews, since so many of them support the existence of Israel, are, collectively, enemies of mankind. To disseminate such suggestions, for whatever reason, and with whatever color of moral commitment or humanitarian concern, is, I submit, to disseminate anti-Semitic views of a rather traditional kind.
It is for this reason that likening Israel to Nazi Germany has been recognized as an antisemitic act by the US State Department in its working definition of antisemitism.
Today, these ideologues have a new weapon with which to target Israel—the baseless smear of genocide. This libel is fundamentally antisemitic and opens the door to greater and more extreme hostility toward Israel. It makes violence against Israel and against Jews worldwide seem more acceptable. At the same time, fallaciously accusing Israel of genocide serves to obscure the nature of the real genocide occurring here. It conceals Hamas’s genocidal acts and intentions, while furnishing an anti-Jewish blood libel refashioned for the 21st century.
It’s tine to call out the brainless ideologues who accuse Israel and the Jews of practicing “genocide” against Palestinians, as it’s a palpably false accusation that, if you know history, actually is the other way round. Likewise for calling Israel an “apartheid” state. Whether you construe that term to mean that Arabs in Israel are discriminated against (another completely stupid claim) or that Israel doesn’t want a two-state solution (ditto, though the possibility is vanishing), it’s a false accusation. If you’re a gay person, an atheist, a woman, or a critic of Islam, you are a victim of apartheid in Palestine. A Jew who is found in Palestine alone is doomed to be killed. This is not true of Palestinians, 18,000 of whom crossed the border every day to work in Israel.
Yes, Palestine is committed to genocide against the Jews, and is also an apartheid state.