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Israel and the g-word

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Israeli officials were caught in a revealing lie late last month as the country celebrated the Jewish New Year. Shortly after declaring the most popular boy’s name in Israel to be “Yosef”, the interior ministry was forced to concede that the top slot was actually filled by “Mohammed”.

That small deceit coincided with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the United Nations. He outraged Israelis by referring to Israel’s slaughter of more than 2,100 Palestinians – most of them civilians – in Gaza over the summer as “genocide”.
Both incidents served as a reminder of the tremendous power of a single word.
Most Israelis are barely able to contemplate the possibility that their Jewish state could be producing more Mohammeds than Moshes. At the same time, and paradoxically, Israel can point to the sheer number of “Mohammeds” to demonstrate that at worst it is eradicating the visibility of a Muslim name, certainly not its bearers.
As distressing as it is, hundreds of dead in Gaza is far from the industrial-scale murder of the Nazi Holocaust.
But the idea that Israel is committing genocide may not be quite as hyperbolic as is assumed. Last month a “jury” featuring international law experts at a people’s court, known as the Russell Tribunal, into Israel’s recent attack on Gaza concluded that Israel was guilty of “incitement to genocide”.
The panel argued that Israel’s long-term collective punishment of Palestinians seemed to be designed to “inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group”.
The tribunal’s language intentionally echoed that of Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew and lawyer who after fleeing Nazi Europe succeeded in introducing the term “genocide” into international law.
Lemkin and the UN convention’s drafters understood that genocide did not require death camps; it could also be achieved gradually through intentional and systematic abuse and neglect. Their definition raises troubling questions about Israel’s treatment of Gaza, aside from military attacks. Does, for example, forcing the enclave’s two million inhabitants to depend on acquifers polluted with sea water constitute genocide?
The real problem with Abbas’ use of the term – given that it conflicts with popular notions of genocide – is that it made him an easy target for critics. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, accused the Palestinian leader of “incitement”. The Israeli left, meanwhile, decried his wild and unhelpful exaggeration.
But the critics themselves have contributed more heat than light.
Not only do experts like Richard Falk and John Dugard view Israel’s actions in genocide-like terms, but notable Israeli scholars have done so too. The late Baruch Kimmerling invented a word, “politicide”, to convey more safely the idea of an Israeli genocide against Palestinians.
Israel has nonetheless successfully ringfenced itself from the critical lexicon applied to comparable situations around the globe.
In conflicts where a mass expulsion of an ethnic or national group occurs, it is rightly identified as ethnic cleansing. In Israel’s case, however, respectable historians still equivocate over the events of 1948, even though more than 80 per cent of Palestinians were forced out by Israel as it established a Jewish state on their homeland.
Similarly with “apartheid”. For decades anyone who used the word about Israel was dismissed as an extremist or anti-Semite. Only in the last few years – and chiefly because of former US president Jimmy Carter – has the word gained a tentative foothold.
Even then, its main use is as a warning rather than a description of Israel’s behaviour: die-hard adherents of two states aver that Israel is in danger of becoming an apartheid state at some indefinable moment if it does not separate from the Palestinians.
Instead, we are told to suffice with the label “occupation”. But that implies a temporary state of affairs, a transition before normality is restored – precisely the opposite of what is happening in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, where the occupation is entrenching, morphing and metastasizing.
Those guarding the critical lexicon strip us of a terminology to convey the appalling reality faced by Palestinians, not just as individuals but as a national group. In truth, Israel’s strategy incorporates variants of ethnic cleansing, apartheid and genocide.
Observers, including the European Union, concede that Israel continues with incremental ethnic cleansing – though they prefer the more obscure “forcible transfer” – of Palestinians from so-called Area C, nearly two-thirds of the West Bank, the bulk of any future Palestinian state.
Israel has mastered too a sophisticated apartheid – partly veiled by its avoidance of the more visual aspects of segregation associated with South Africa – that grabs resources, just like its famous cousin, for one ethnic-national group, Jews, at the expense of another, Palestinians.
But unlike South African apartheid, whose fixed legal and institutional systems of separation gradually became torpid and unwieldy, Israel’s remains dynamic and responsive. Few observers know, for example, that almost all residential land in Israel is off-limits to Palestinian citizens, enforced through vetting committees recently given sanction by the Israeli courts.
And what to make of a plan just disclosed by the Israeli media indicating that Netanyahu and his allies have been secretly plotting to force many Palestinians into Sinai, with the US arm-twisting the Egyptians into agreement? If true, the bombing campaigns of the past six years may be better understood as softening-up operations before a mass expulsion from Gaza.
Such a policy would certainly satisfy Lemkin’s definition of genocide.
One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. Sadly, by then it may be too late to help the Palestinians.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

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78 Responses

  1. pabelmont on October 10, 2014, 1:24 pm

    Too bad we need short names for crimes.

    Is it a “hate crime” to liken Desmond Tutu to Hitler? Perhaps an “abomination”? Has Israel acted — 1947-present — in “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” or “abomination” or maybe something with a different name (or with no name!) but is it not still a crime?

    A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and a crime by any other name would smell as foul.

    If we intend to “go to law” to prosecute alleged actions as alleged crimes, we do indeed need short (statutory) names, such as “violation of section 345.67 of the criminal code” or, more succinctly, “a 345.67”.

    But if we mean to inform the public of the nature of acts (as we perceive them), what better than short words?

    Can the Zionists do any better, in this respect of using short words, than in branding Tutu as “Hitler”? Can the anti-Zionists do any better than in using “genocide”?

  2. American on October 10, 2014, 1:49 pm

    I think I am getting tired of all the ‘political’ and legal descriptions, arguments , and the zionist, anti zionist , liberal , blah, blah , blah comparisons and all the other nit picking and parsing that is just a waste of time.
    They are bullies period.
    They need the shit beat out of them.

    ‘If You’re a bully, I’m going to fight You’

    “This doesn’t mean I am acting out some kind of hostility with those groups”, he clarifies. “I just don’t feel any loyalty to anyone because of who they are – no intellectual should be taken seriously if they do.” While many of those who attack Israel’s critics speculatively ascribe sinister or personal motivations, Max is dismissive of such ad hominem.

    “If people really want to know what motivates me and the position I’ve taken, it shouldn’t require some rich explanation or ideology. It’s not about having ‘Jewish issues’ with the way I was raised, or even necessarily deep identification with Palestinian culture. All you need to feel is disgust with unfairness: it’s just not fair the way Palestinians are being treated.” In other words, Max explains, he is applying the way he was raised to this seminal issue. “If you’re a bully, I’m going to fight you.”

    ..Max Blumenthal

    • Marnie on October 11, 2014, 2:06 am

      We’re all witnesses to the criminal enterprise that is the state of israel. Words don’t have much of a point if there isn’t any punch behind them. Remember the utter ridiculousness of, during the decimation of Tutsi’s by their fellow Rwandans in 1994, the Clinton administration’s press secretary (?) fumbling and stuttering when a journalist raised the question of genocide? No one wanted to use that word because using that word and acknowledging a genocide was indeed occurring meant then something had to be done to stop it because to use the word genocide and then continue to sit on one’s hands wouldn’t look good. That’s where we are. Less talk, more action.

    • Citizen on October 12, 2014, 10:54 am

      I totally agree with Max B. I hate bullies of any type, always have.

  3. Shmuel on October 10, 2014, 2:14 pm

    And what to make of Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir’s genocidal remarks (in his capacity as chairman of the ministerial committee on Bedouin resettlement ) about reducing the Bedouin birthrate?

  4. Blaine Coleman on October 10, 2014, 2:22 pm

    Just read the United Nations’ own definition of genocide. You may be surprised to learn that it fits Israel like a glove. Israel really is committing a genocide against the people of Palestine.

    I am therefore surprised to see so few campuses demanding a blanket boycott against all Israeli goods, as was done to Apartheid South Africa.

    Where is the BDS movement this semester? After the last Gaza massacre, I had thought dozens of campuses would host loud movements for boycott or divestment against Israel. Where are they? It’s now mid-October.

  5. adele on October 10, 2014, 2:47 pm

    Incitement to genocide was codified when Golda Meir said:

    There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.

    (As quoted in Sunday Times (15 June 1969), also in The Washington Post (16 June 1969)

    Israel has tried to EXISTICIDE the Palestinians, a form of genocide. Then add Gaza to the mix….and you get a one-way ticket to the ICC.

    • Citizen on October 12, 2014, 10:59 am

      Golda Meir logic: If your group is native but has no national identity, then you and your group are fair game for predators. Or is it that they had a general ethnic character and chief religion and culture but none of that counted for Golda since they were Arabs? There were no Israelis before 1948 either.

  6. Les on October 10, 2014, 3:14 pm

    Shlomo Sand: ‘I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew’

    • seafoid on October 10, 2014, 4:06 pm

      That is seismic
      Amazing courage from Sand. Judaism is really lost.

      “Now, having painfully become aware that I have undergone an adherence to Israel, been assimilated by law into a fictitious ethnos of persecutors and their supporters, and have appeared in the world as one of the exclusive club of the elect and their acolytes, I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew.

      Although the state of Israel is not disposed to transform my official nationality from “Jew” to “Israeli”, I dare to hope that kindly philosemites, committed Zionists and exalted anti-Zionists, all of them so often nourished on essentialist conceptions, will respect my desire and cease to catalogue me as a Jew. As a matter of fact, what they think matters little to me, and still less what the remaining antisemitic idiots think. In the light of the historic tragedies of the 20th century, I am determined no longer to be a small minority in an exclusive club that others have neither the possibility nor the qualifications to join.

      By my refusal to be a Jew, I represent a species in the course of disappearing. I know that by insisting that only my historical past was Jewish, while my everyday present (for better or worse) is Israeli, and finally that my future and that of my children (at least the future I wish for) must be guided by universal, open and generous principles, I run counter to the dominant fashion, which is oriented towards ethnocentrism.

      As a historian of the modern age, I put forward the hypothesis that the cultural distance between my great-grandson and me will be as great or greater than that separating me from my own great-grandfather. All the better! I have the misfortune of living now among too many people who believe their descendants will resemble them in all respects, because for them peoples are eternal – a fortiori a race-people such as the Jews.

      I am aware of living in one of the most racist societies in the western world. Racism is present to some degree everywhere, but in Israel it exists deep within the spirit of the laws. It is taught in schools and colleges, spread in the media, and above all and most dreadful, in Israel the racists do not know what they are doing and, because of this, feel in no way obliged to apologise. This absence of a need for self-justification has made Israel a particularly prized reference point for many movements of the far right throughout the world, movements whose past history of antisemitism is only too well known.”

      • just on October 10, 2014, 4:47 pm

        Seismic, indeed.


      • American on October 10, 2014, 8:15 pm

        Wow, indeed!

      • Stephen Shenfield on October 11, 2014, 9:23 am

        If I am asked whether I am Jewish and I want to answer honestly, I say only that I am of Jewish origin. I am tempted just to say yes for two reasons. First, it is a way of avoiding complicated explanations and arguments — but I should regard such explanations and arguments as a worthwhile opportunity, shouldn’t I? Second, there is the hope that opposition to Israel and Zionism will have greater impact coming from someone who calls him/herself a Jew. What do others think about that?

        Regarding ethnic cleansing, it is the same thing as forcible transfer only if “force” is given a broad interpretation. Rather than force people out at gunpoint, it is possible to make life so unbearable to them that they will get out “voluntarily.” Israel has used both methods. Yesterday I read an article in The Guardian Weekly about Palestinians who are so desperate to get out of Gaza that they pay large sums to people smugglers for a small chance of reaching Europe, even knowing that it is more likely that they will drown in the Mediterranean.

      • Mooser on October 11, 2014, 1:10 pm

        “If I am asked whether I am Jewish and I want to answer honestly”

        Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that question, Stephen. Really, the most usual procedure is this: Somebody I meet gives me a quick perusal, or hears me say a few words, and then I get a curt “You’re Jewish aren’t you?”
        In fact, I can’t ever remember people asking me if I am Jewish, all I can remember is people telling me I’m Jewish. Not a very nice way to go about it, (I would prefer to be asked) but at least it doesn’t leave me with any doubts about my identity.

      • Citizen on October 12, 2014, 11:04 am

        @ Mooser
        So you assume those you meet as you described are just asking what they surmise is a rhetorical question? Ever ask yourself or them why they react so? Just asking.

      • Keith on October 12, 2014, 3:43 pm

        STEPHEN SHENFIELD- “What do others think about that?”

        Unless you are a religious Jew or have definite feelings of Jewish tribalism, describing yourself as coming from a Jewish background is correct. People who identify as anti-Zionist Jews may in fact be using anti-Zionism as a guilt-free Jewish tribal unifier.

      • Mooser on October 12, 2014, 5:08 pm

        “Ever ask yourself or them why they react so? Just asking…”

        I don’t have to ask! It’s cause I am Jewish, and it is immediately apparent.

      • Citizen on October 13, 2014, 8:25 pm

        @ Mooser

        So what do you think are the telltale signs? To you, or to them?

      • Mooser on October 16, 2014, 5:42 pm

        “So what do you think are the telltale signs? To you, or to them?”

        Don’t really know. I look pretty typical NW, don’t affect any special haircut or dress.

    • Talkback on October 10, 2014, 8:21 pm

      “Shlomo Sand: ‘I wish to resign and cease considering myself a Jew’”

      Finally. Join the club.

      • Mooser on October 11, 2014, 1:03 pm

        So Sand quit his Job at Tel Aviv University, sold all his property in Israel, and moved out? I did not know that. Has he made any move to have that “Jewish” erased from his papers? I don’t think he can.

        What Sand wants is the we-stole-it-fair-and-square, so-let’s just-forget-about-it solution.

      • Mooser on October 11, 2014, 1:04 pm

        Yes, I read the book, it doesn’t ad up. Might have 40 or 50 years ago, but not today.

      • amigo on October 12, 2014, 9:55 am

        To Mooser upthread.

        “In fact, I can’t ever remember people asking me if I am Jewish, all I can remember is people telling me I’m Jewish.” Mooser

        Some years ago , on St Patrick,s day , (yes , in a pub )in the Bay Area , I was engaged in conversation with two strangers who asked me if I am Irish .I answered in the positive. We discussed Ireland for a while and then I asked them where they were from .The female responded by telling me she is Jewish to which I responded , I did not ask what her religion is.I never did find out who the other person was as the female gave me a dirty look and whisked him away for “Greener” pastures .

        Did I do something wrong???.(serious question)

      • Citizen on October 12, 2014, 11:16 am

        @ Amigo
        RE: “I was engaged in conversation with two strangers who asked me if I am Irish.”

        How did they phrase their initial question to you? “You’re Irish aren’t you?” Or some other words, such as “Where are you from?” Or “Are you Irish?” Or, “You’re Irish, right?”

      • Mooser on October 12, 2014, 5:13 pm

        “Did I do something wrong???.(serious question)”

        Amigo, if your intentions were honorable (and I, for one, am certain they were above reproach) and your behavior that of a gentleman, you could commit no serious breach.

  7. Dan Crowther on October 10, 2014, 3:22 pm

    Not sure what the point is here. Seems to me, if you’re killing and expelling year after year with the goal of destroying a specific people your committing genocide, numbers be damned. The Palestinians are the objective enemy of Israel – their existence is what makes them the enemy. They’re killed because they exist, and that’s what makes their murder genocide.

    • just on October 10, 2014, 4:11 pm


      I read Jonathan’s article yesterday. It is good, but facts are facts.

      What Israel is doing, and has been doing, is genocide.

    • amigo on October 12, 2014, 1:05 pm

      reply to Citizen up thread.

      “How did they phrase their initial question to you?” citizen

      I guess it was along the lines of , “are you from Ireland”. My accent , while not bog Irish , for want of a better term , would still have given that away quite readily to most reasonably well traveled people .

      I gathered from her accent she was an American , and was merely trying to find out which part .If she had said Los Angeles and added she was Jewish, that would have been more than I needed to know but I would have left it at that. I cannot imagine myself telling someone I am an Irish Catholic, or a Catholic from Ireland.If you see my point.

      • Bumblebye on October 12, 2014, 5:00 pm

        Awkward moment chez Bumblebye many years ago when I asked my new neighbor where she’d moved here from, expecting to hear the name of a nearby town or city. She said Ethiopia. Okaaay, but she’d lived here years by then, and had indeed moved from a nearby town!

    • amigo on October 13, 2014, 6:06 am

      “Amigo, if your intentions were honorable”mooser.

      They were and thanks for your response.That little meeting bothered me for a long time.However , given my more in depth understanding of the Jewish experience , I would handle that same situation somewhat differently today.Hell , she and I might even have become friends.

      • Mooser on October 20, 2014, 11:52 am

        “Hell , she and I might even have become friends.”

        One never knows, does one? I have found that things go much better from the first if I just think of every woman I meet as an ex-wife.

  8. seafoid on October 10, 2014, 4:19 pm

    “One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. ”

    “Failed”. It already exists

    • amigo on October 12, 2014, 1:31 pm

      “One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. ”

      “Failed”. It already exists” seafoid

      Yes and the kicker is , that historian may write how they destroyed “The Jewish State ” instead.

  9. catporn on October 10, 2014, 4:27 pm

    One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. Sadly, by then it may be too late to help the Palestinians
    A strategy that’s working, but only because of US support. Weapons and money are all well and good, but the UN vetoes are just as important – its time to scrap the permanent member hierarchy, its an outdated model (maybe it always was) that undermines the UN’s stated objectives of promoting human rights and maintaining international peace and security. By rights the international community should have intervened in many American transgressions over the past 60 years, and worked as a whole to penalise its behaviour, there’s other countries too, but the US is by far the worst aggressor. Instead we’re in a situation were it wages endless war, tramples the sovereignty of other states and backs the likes of Israel in their campaign of slow genocide, and the world just watches.

  10. seafoid on October 10, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I don’t think it could work in 2014, not given the fuss over the Yazidis for example, and the general decency of people outside Israel and the fact nobody bar maybe the North Koreans get brainwashed to the extent the Israelis do.

    So I think there’s going to be a very hard land in Israel and they aren’t going to be ready for it.
    Maybe if they had an autarchy where they fended for themselves and kept the Palestinians as gimps out the back and nobody ever came in they could get away with it. It worked on a smaller scale for Ariel Castro for a number of years. But even he got caught because a regular man walking by heard a woman scream and went to help BECAUSE THAT IS HUMANITY.

    I see this girl going nuts trying to get out of a house
    She says help me out I been here a long time
    so you know I figured this is domestic violence
    So I try to open the door and we can’t get in that way
    How the door is it’s so much that a body can’t fit though it
    So we kick the bottom
    And she comes out with a little girl and she says call 911
    My name is Amanda Berry

    And the palestinians are Amanda bery now.
    and Israel is Ariel Castro
    And Zionism has nothing to do with the Bible.

    Now, Israelis are hip and they like their iphones and pensions and health service and they have to pay for all of those things by trading with Galut.

    So how can they exterminate the Palestinians and pay for their lattes ? I can’t see it working
    And what will be left of Judaism at the end ? Anything ?

  11. MHughes976 on October 10, 2014, 4:57 pm

    Anyone may use words as (s)he likes – the only obligation being to explain how the word is being used. However, a personal use of the word is not necessarily accepted by people in general.
    The generally accepted idea of ‘genocide’ is that it calls for the elimination, with great violence against a shocking number, of a group of people selected, at least in major part, on the basis of ancestry or heredity. I don’t think people ask themselves whether there can be genocide if many individuals survive or if they still have descendants so long as the group is no longer really on the scene. What shocks people changes somewhat over time. I think that Israel’s apologists have sensed that the scale of casualties in Gaza (which might have seemed ‘ordinary’ at an earlier, more callous time) is at least beginning to shock people, so they have rushed to provide excuses and exculpations. The shock moves opinion towards classifying Israeli campaigns in Gaza as ‘genocide’ in the commonly accepted sense. So does the fact that there is a racial division between the parties, ie it’s a matter in part of ancestry and heredity. So does the increasingly stark recognition that Israel does not envisage a scene in which a Palestinian sovereign state exists: I think that the ‘move to Sinai’ stuff is just a way of saying in fantastic terms that Palestinian sovereignty will never exist.
    I’d keep the word ‘genocide’ in play, rather than try to use a word like ‘politicide’ that seems to come out of a seminar room with no emotional force.
    Not that I really like the morality which makes ‘genocide’ the supreme crime, ie interprets injustice as mattering more if inflicted on a group rather than on individuals.

  12. Rusty Pipes on October 10, 2014, 5:42 pm

    “Genocide” and “Apartheid” are technical terms in international law. Zionists have managed to prevent Israel from being held accountable for crimes under international law by creating distractions, arguing about the popular understandings of such words (if it’s not South Africa, it’s not apartheid; if its not 6 million, it’s not genocide), and by shutting down discussion of such words because it hurts their feelings.

    Jimmy Carter carefully, but firmly, opened the door to using the term “apartheid” about the West Bank. It’s time more people stopped allowing Zionists to frame or squelch the terms of debate. Abbas was right to use the term, “genocide” — it shows that he’s serious about pursuing full statehood, because he has the goods to take Israel to court.

    • Kay24 on October 10, 2014, 9:20 pm

      Israel is guilty of all those crimes, but simply hate it when people label those crimes.

      They can dish out, but does not have the spine or honesty to take it.

  13. JLewisDickerson on October 10, 2014, 6:22 pm

    RE: “One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people.” ~ Jonathan Cook


  14. NickJOCW on October 10, 2014, 8:46 pm

    One may dispute whether or not it is genocide, but it is unquestionably genocidal.

  15. talknic on October 11, 2014, 6:26 am

    The important question in relation to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is:

    If it isn’t genocide, then WTF is it?

    • eljay on October 11, 2014, 4:04 pm

      >> talknic: The important question in relation to what Israel is doing to the Palestinians is:
      >> If it isn’t genocide, then WTF is it?

      Zio-supremacists will tell you it’s Jewish self-determination.

  16. Kay24 on October 11, 2014, 8:05 am

    It is so obvious that it can be defined as genocide, but no one in the US dares to say it. It is known, and so obvious, that the illegal settlements they keep arrogantly building is against UN regulations, not recognized by any other nation, and yet you never hear it even mentioned, in the US media, whenever this topic comes up. All we hear are about those rockets that are being sent, but hardly hitting its mark, that somehow keeps justifying Israel’s brutality, and high casualty numbers in Gaza.

  17. a blah chick on October 11, 2014, 12:57 pm

    But, but Bennett told us all back in July that the Palestinians were committing “self-genocide” in Gaza!

    Are you saying Naftali Bennett doesn’t know what he’s talking about?

  18. Nina F on October 11, 2014, 5:57 pm

    I don’t know whether it qualifies as a “genocide” or not, and on what basis. What matters more to me is the spirit in which people are using these terms. I believe in a careful use of language. Many who strongly oppose Israel’s actions (as I assume most of us here do) want to use the (overdetermined) “genocide” specifically because of the historical baggage it carries—in other words, they want to get under folks’s skin.

    I’m not sure it’s necessary to make the case this way. Further, I’d be more interested in hearing what Palestinians might call it, and use that term as a foundation.

    Believe it or not, I never even heard the word “Nakba” until recently. How would Palestinians refer to this decades-long siege carried out by Israel—this assault, catastrophe, regime of violence and oppression, or whatever we may call it?

    I have also started Shlomo Sand’s book “How I Stopped Being a Jew.” I’m completely sympathetic; but as I go along, I try to consider alternatives to what he has decided. (Humorously, I think if he wants to cease being a Jew, he has to stop going by the name “Shlomo.”) I’m also comparing his ideas and stance—including his notion of Jewish identity—to those of Gilad Atzmon.

    • MHughes976 on October 12, 2014, 4:42 am

      I see what you mean about words that get under the skin. Zionists try on many occasions to make pincushions of our skins by means of the term ‘anti-Semitic’. I share your aversion to playing that game – on the other hand I’m reluctant to abstain from the term ‘genocide’ if by abstaining I concede that Israeli behaviour, based as it is on beliefs about rights related to race and ancestry, never touches the depths touched by atrocities against Jewish people when their race and ancestry were held against them. Israel has never killed so many in the short term but it has inflicted such extensive expulsion and humiliation in the long, the endless term that there is no serious moral gap.
      However, I am also troubled by the collectivist morality implied by making ‘genocide’ – an offence against the group rather than against the individuals in the group – the worst thing, just as I am troubled by the dark theology of sacrifice implied by ‘holocaust’.

      • wondering jew on October 12, 2014, 5:09 am

        MHughes- When we say that the white man was guilty of genocide in North America, the first thing we think of is numbers. Okay, I’ll stop. I said we. In fact I don’t know how every human or every lawyer or every student of Lemkin uses the term or if people refer to common usage or legal usage or original intent of Lemkin. but i digress. when in fact i get into a discussion regarding the north american killings of what i used to call indians, but are now called native americans, if someone in that discussion might use the term genocide the first thing i would ask would be for a number.

        the essence of the ethnic cleansing of nonJews out of palestine is based on the idea of “this land belongs to the Jews”. Is this a racial term? Because the jews primarily are of two distinct ethnic groupings: mizrahi and ashkenazi, this is called a racial term and not merely a religious term.

        i come from a line of thought regarding the recent (at the time of my childhood it was indeed recent) history of what jews referred to as the hurban (hard hanuka h, similar but not precisely like humus and hamas) by us ashkenazic jews in the first twenty years after that debacle/abyss/earthquake (who here speaks for armenians, nothing but white people and brown people around here, but nobody comes from nations of an equal debacle.)

        the earthquake that took the land out from under the palestinian people is quite a debacle and earthquake as well, although i do not call it an abyss in any way similar to the 39 to 45 time period.

        i have sufficient respect for buber to accept the idea of the ihud group as a valid response to jewish history. ben gurion’s path resulted from politics, he overpowered anyone else in the movement and took it in a specific political/military direction. he was one of time magazine’s 100 top people of the 20th century, a list that included gandhi i believe and also adolph and uncle joe.

        my point is that there is nothing wrong with a path other than the path that ben gurion took and to advocate some other path is valid. having grown up with the nakba already part of the past it was not something in my experience, whereas the 67 war was in my experience and therefore i could relate to it in a different way. i think that a decision by the Palestinians and Zionist Jews of Israel to reach a peace can be reached and turning back the hands of the clock to undo the nakba is not a path that seems near and that aspect of the sin of what was done to the palestinians really is not near to being rectified, and yet i think that a peace can be reached, say in 11 or 12 years. with implementation taking another 8 or 9 years. the odds against it are great.

      • MHughes976 on October 12, 2014, 12:17 pm

        An interesting and sensitive comment (if I may say so) Yonah.

      • Mooser on October 12, 2014, 5:19 pm

        “and yet i think that a peace can be reached, say in 11 or 12 years. with implementation taking another 8 or 9 years. “

        I get it, Yonah. If Israel takes about twenty years to eliminate the Palestinians, maybe nobody will notice?

      • just on October 12, 2014, 5:26 pm

        Thanks Mooser.

        That’s how I read it, too. Pretty sickening.

      • Mooser on October 13, 2014, 3:53 pm

        Yonah has such an interesting and sensitive brand of dehumanization on offer. It’s a mixture of pilpul and schmaltz.

        Dig that wonderful challenge concerning the Native Americans: ” if someone in that discussion might use the term genocide the first thing I would ask for would be a number” Charming, and downhill from there.

        Another prize mutter.

      • Citizen on October 13, 2014, 4:18 pm

        @ yonah freedman
        What percentage of native Americans died of disease such as smallpox? More or less than those natives who died from disease brought over by the Spaniards? You may know since you are so keen on numbers.

      • wondering jew on October 14, 2014, 4:51 pm

        mooser, just and citizen, the price i have to pay to communicate with MHughes is to subject myself to three hecklers. heckling- a form of communication. a low form of communication.

      • Mooser on October 16, 2014, 5:49 pm

        ” heckling- a form of communication. a low form of communication. “

        We’re all doing the New Low-Down!

    • Mooser on October 12, 2014, 5:17 pm

      ” I’m also comparing his ideas and stance—including his notion of Jewish identity—to those of Gilad Atzmon.”

      I confess, I do stuff like that sometimes, just because of how good it feels when I stop.

      • Nina F on October 12, 2014, 5:24 pm

        Sorry, Mooser; your meaning is unclear to me.

        I meant what I said: I like to read, and think about ideas. At the moment, I’m thinking (perhaps belatedly) about Jewish identity, and what it means to be a Jew. So—for me, personally—it’s a timely matter, and, as I ponder it, not at all masochistic.

      • Mooser on October 13, 2014, 3:55 pm

        I always feel pretty good when I stop thinking about Gilad Atzmon.

  19. Bornajoo on October 11, 2014, 7:07 pm

    “… there is the hope that opposition to Israel and Zionism will have greater impact coming from someone who calls him/herself a Jew. What do others think about that?”

    That is the only single reason I haven’t changed my very biblically Jewish (real) name and neither have my 3 older brothers who share my views. Not long ago I was seriously thinking of changing my name and I mentioned this to a pro-Israeli, pro-zionist acquaintance. She told me that she didn’t blame me because she fully understood how scared I must be these days due to the massive increase in anti semitism. In fact her father had to change his name more than 60 years ago for that very reason.

    I then had to explain to her that actually I wanted to change my name because I no longer wanted to be associated with a race of people who are committing a slow motion genocide upon another people. She found my attitude quite distressing which only exposes the huge gulf that exists between zio supremacists and their supporters and the rest who can see things as they really are. Furthermore I have not noticed any increase whatsoever in anti semitism here in the UK. This is all part of the usual hasbara to make us believe we are about to have our throats slit open any second now

    I decided to keep my name because I did realise that for someone with a strong Jewish background and very deep connections to Israel can have a more powerful impact by standing up and opposing this genocide from “within”

    I’m not very popular with most of my family (especially the ones in israel) and also most of my Jewish acquaintances here. I am a kind of traitor. It’s all very sad

  20. ckg on October 11, 2014, 9:01 pm

    Twelve Ways To Deny A Genocide
    By Israel Charny, these 12 methods were originally called “Templates for Gross Denial of a Known Genocide: A Manual” in The Encyclopedia of Genocide, volume 1, page 168.
    1. Question and minimize the statistics.
    2. Attack the motivations of the truth-tellers.
    3. Claim that the deaths were inadvertent.
    4. Emphasize the strangeness of the victims.
    5. Rationalize the deaths as the result of tribal conflict, coming to the victims out of the inevitability of their history of relationships.
    6. Blame “out of control” forces for committing the killings.
    7. Avoid antagonizing the genocidists, who might walk out of “the peace process.”
    8. Justify denial in favor of current economic interests.
    9. Claim that the victims are receiving good treatment, while baldly denying the charges of genocide outright.
    10. Claim that what is going on doesn’t fit the definition of genocide.
    11. Blame the victims.
    12. Say that peace and reconciliation are more important that blaming people for genocide.

  21. jimby on October 11, 2014, 9:16 pm

    not evidence but the competition..

  22. NickJOCW on October 12, 2014, 3:29 am

    Tomorrow the UK parliament votes on recognising the state of Palestine.

  23. amigo on October 12, 2014, 10:43 am

    Some Jews throw around with wild abandon the words , Pogrom/Jew Hatred/Anti Semitism and a plethora of other accusations in response to the slightest hint of condemnation of Israeli actions.

    I am convinced that the term “Genocide ” dovetails with Israel,s actions far more closely than the loose blather that Hasbara central circulates in international media on a daily basis.

  24. hardteachings on October 12, 2014, 10:11 pm

    the traditional revision of history has morphed into media ‘spin’ ; but most truth can be still be discerned by following the money, the ascension of power and the circumstance of the dead.


  25. Kathleen on October 13, 2014, 10:24 am

    Irgun…morphs into IDF…..Latest massacre in Gaza. Racist agenda continues to move forward with no interference from the US.

    Convention on the
    Prevention and Punishment
    of the Crime of Genocide

    Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

    Article 1
    The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

    Article 2
    In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    •(a) Killing members of the group;
    •(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    •(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    •(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    •(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

  26. Kathleen on October 13, 2014, 10:31 am

    When Israeli lawmakers like Ayelet Sheked publicly call out for the destruction of Palestinians homes, infrastructure ““the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justifies its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”

    When the majority of Israeli’s supported the latest massacre in the Gaza.. situation not looking promising

    “A poll this week for Israel’s Channel 10 news, conducted by the Sarid Institute, found that 87 percent of Jewish Israelis support continuing the Gaza operation. A survey by the Israel Democracy Institute found that 95 percent of Israeli Jews think the operation in Gaza is just, and 4 of 5 oppose a unilateral withdrawal. Just 4 percent said the Israeli military has used excessive force.

    And in another survey this week, by the University of Haifa, 85 percent of Jewish Israelis said they are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with Netanyahu’s leadership.”

  27. shalom on October 13, 2014, 4:53 pm

    Jonathan, I remember George Carlin’s famous skit about 7 words you can never say. Well if I count right you managed to say at least 7 that leave George in the dust with your egregious slander of Israel. As a Jew who is whole-heartedly against the occupation and in favor of Two States it is painful to read your seven words and consider how you call them up traveling from Mahmoud Abbas to Jimmy Carter to the Russell Commission, but that is your mission. Mine is to promote peace.

    • Citizen on October 13, 2014, 8:28 pm

      @ shalom
      Which of Jonathan’s words comprise your seven words?

      • shalom on October 15, 2014, 10:15 am

        Lets just say Genocide is more than enough….

  28. Citizen on October 13, 2014, 8:29 pm

    And do you really think at this stage of the game the two state solution is a viable goal?

    • shalom on October 15, 2014, 10:20 am

      It’s Livni’s goal. Lapid’s goal. Herzog’s goal. Gal-On’s goal. It’s Peace Now’s goal. It’s the Gush’s goal. It’s J-Street’s goal. It’s the goal of a majority of Israelis, even if they don’t know how to get there. It remains my goal and my mission…..

      • MHughes976 on October 15, 2014, 4:02 pm

        On what terms, then, should the 2ss be set up?

      • Citizen on October 15, 2014, 5:22 pm

        What limits would you set on a Palestinian State’s sovereignty or do you envision such a state being as sovereign a state as Israel is now?

      • Mooser on October 17, 2014, 11:15 am

        ” It remains my goal and my mission…..”

        … try and keep as much of what the Zionists stole, and killed for, as possible. And an accounting? That doesn’t scare “shalom”, he knows the Zionists can blame it all on the Jews.

      • Mooser on October 17, 2014, 5:19 pm

        . “It remains my goal and my mission…..”

        Oh, I’m sorry, ‘shalom’. I didn’t realize you were talking about a two-state arrangements based on “Israel’s” legal borders. I think those borders were delineated in about 1948 or so?

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