Monday, January 05, 2009

Genocide in Gaza?

Terry Glavin, in his essay "The Debasement of Language: 'Israeli Genocide,'" succinctly discusses the use of language equating Jews with Nazis and accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. This is relevant to a conversation I just overheard today.

I went to a local cafe this morning for a nice cup of coffee and to read a heavy tome on Angelomorphic Christology (for an article I should be writing on "Divine Beings"), and was sitting and sipping the coffee when I heard a couple of people at another table discussing the Gaza War. One of them started going on about Israeli genocide in Gaza - how Israel had already killed over 500 Palestinians and that this was genocide. Only my desire not to make a scene in public prevented me from going over to them and asking them what did they really think genocide was? And to add the comment that if the Israelis really wanted to commit genocide in Gaza, they were doing a really poor job at it. And that if the Israelis needed any models for how to go about it, they should consult the Syrians, who killed between ten and twenty thousand people in Hama, or perhaps Saddam Hussein and "Chemical Ali" for their Anfal campaign against the Kurds.

None of this should be construed, however, for support of Israeli bombing and killing of civilians - I am still deeply ambivalent about the Israeli assault on Gaza, at this time leaning towards being against; this is why I keep posting about demonstrations against the attacks in Gaza, in the hope that maybe I'll find one I might actually want to attend, were I to be present in the relevant location at the right time.

Unfortunately, while there has been a local demonstration against the Gaza War, I didn't see that I could support it, even though I agreed in part with the organizers' statement. It calls for, among other things, a complete halt to American military aid to Israel, which I do not support. It also very much dismisses the impact of the constant rocket attacks on Sderot and other Israeli towns near Gaza. While I think that one could argue that the Israeli response to those attacks is wrong and counterproductive, it is also incorrect to dismiss the suffering that the residents of Sderot have endured, even if the magnitude is much less than that endured by the people of Gaza.

I would ask the organizers of the demonstration to consider how they would feel if Ithaca had received rocket fire from nearby towns for several years - I think that they would not be inclined to dismiss the ill effects upon us even if only a few people were killed. The statement that "The airstrikes, which stoke the Palestinians' anger and desire for revenge, in no way contribute the security of Israelis," could equally well be turned upon Hamas - rockets upon Israelis also stoke their anger and desire for revenge, and do not contribute to the security of Gazans. There is no acknowledgement of any responsibility of Hamas for this horrible situation. I would prefer to see signs denouncing Hamas along with those denouncing Israel.

Update, a little later - I'm listening to the evening news show on Israel channel 1, Mabat, which is going back and forth between the anchors in the studio and reporters in Sderot and Ashkelon. As they were talking to the reporter in Ashkelon, the air raid sirens came on - warning of incoming rockets from Gaza, and they're now talking about the rockets that just landed. Mabat is a live news show, so this just happened - it's very scary to listen to, I can just imagine being there.


  1. Gee, that wazs a week ago and now there are 500 more dead, mostly children. Do you think that you spoke a bit too soon? Don't you think you might have gotten it wrong - yes, Rebecca, there is a genocide in Gaza!!!

  2. What do you think genocide is, Tamara? Try looking at the definition given in the international convention on genocide. I see no evidence that the state of Israel has decided to exterminate the Palestinian people. IF Israel had, there would be far more devastation in Gaza than there currently is. As much as I hate this war and find the scale of devastation and death appalling, it's not genocide. Study Rwanda - then you'll see what genocide is. 800,000 Rwandans were killed in the genocide in 1994. It was carefully planned by the government, there was government propaganda beforehand, genocidal songs played on the radio, etc. The Israeli government has a lot to answer for morally and legally, but the charge of genocide is not it.

  3. Get real Tamara, this article was a breath of fresh air. It's nice to see someone being truly objective and I feel like I actually learned something here!