Anees in an email: I am still wondering about the criticism of the use of the term genocide by EI in the Martin Kramer flap. I cannot decide if it is unwarranted or hyperbolic. After all, Israel’s blockade of Gaza is in fact directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds (or more?) of Palestinians, and Kramer is adamantly supportive of it in the context of ‘limiting birth rates’. (See Sara Roy’s very recent detailing of such things as Gaza’s infant mortality rate post-blockade.)
Weiss responded: Myself, I don’t like to use the word genocide. It stops conversation. But I think Palestinians who live under these conditions have a different understanding than I do.
Anees: You bet they do. I think we experience and feel Israeli viciousness more than you do because it’s something that shakes one inside and gradually forms ‘an understanding’ over a lifetime. It’s there when you get yelled upon at a checkpoint, get serviced by a racist nurse, get arbitrarily stopped and harassed on the street by bored soldiers, and when you see others get treated like that and much much worse.
The viciousness comes in many flavors, as you know. My friend S—, who studied at Hebrew U and most of whose friends are Jewish Israelis, recently relayed to me a story a Russian Israeli friend of his told him. He (his friend) and other IDF soldiers would be bored patrolling a checkpoint in or around Gaza, and for fun they’d: stop a car, have one of them divert the driver with the usual questioning and ask him to lower all windows, while another throws a few bullets in the back seat from a back window; then they’d ask him if he’s carrying any weapons or ammo for Hamas… and then you know.. "What’s this you have in the back seat?" … the bewildered driver becomes terrified of what the soldier is about to do to him … all the soldiers standing at the rear get a good laugh.
The viciousness directed at Gaza has been homicidal on a grand scale. No one can deny this. Whether it’s ‘genocide’ or not seems in part like an argument about a different matter. I do think it’s enough sometimes to point out the facts and not use names—but sometimes, like when Sara Roy wrote on the Gaza assault, calling it a massacre with some surprise of her own at having to go there, you just have to use ‘a strong word’.