Israeli calls for genocide rooted in its history
With Israel’s assault on Gaza claiming more than 1400 lives as of August 1, mostly civilians, Israeli leaders claim the offensive is self defence against Hamas, the party governing Gaza, in response to rockets fired at Israel.
However, it is hard to ignore the many genocidal incitements coming out of the mouths of Israeli politicians and other commentators.
The most recent infamous case was an August 1 op-ed published at widley-read website The Times of Israel by Yochanan Gordon entitled "When Genodice is Permissible".
In it, Gordon states: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people.
“If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?”
The article was subsequently deleted by the website.
But there are Israeli politicians making similar calls.
For instance Israeli member of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) for the far-right Jewish Home party, Ayelet Shaked, posted comments on Facebook stating: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism.
“They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses.
“They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
The article was originally written by Uri Elitzer, a leader of the Israeli settler movement, Electronic Intifada said on July 7.
Electronic Intifada said of the comments: “It is a call for genocide because it declares that ‘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’.”
From 2006-2008, Shaked was director for the office of now-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Knesset from the governing Likud party, detailed his solution for Gaza in an op-ed for Arutz Sheva.
Feiglin said: “Sinai [in Egypt] is not far from Gaza and they can leave.”
He said targets should be attacked “with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.”
Over the operation’s aim, he said: “The IDF will conquer the entire Gaza ... Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever ... it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews.”
Ben Packer, the director of Jerusalem Heritage House and co-director of Young Jewish Conservatives, echoed Feiglin in Arutz Shiva that the current attack “is an opportunity for Israel to achieve a victory — to move the border!”
Israeli academic Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University provided a shocking example of the dehumanisation of Palestinians when he told Israel Radio Bet that the only way to stop terrorist attacks was to rape the sisters and mothers of Hamas militants.
International Business Times reported on July 22 that Kedar said: “The only thing that could deter a suicide bomber is knowing that if caught, his sister or his mother would be raped.
“It sounds very bad, but that's the Middle East. You have to understand the culture in which we live.”
Such comments are extreme, but far from uncommon. They also are the most blatant and honest expression of Israel’s goals: to defeat Palestinian resistance by any means necessary and extend the apartheid Jewish state by dispossessing the land Palestinians still control.
It is this, rather than homemade rockets fired from Gaza, that is the cause of the conflict. The rockets are a response to Israeli occupation and its siege on Gaza.
To understand the current bloodshed, and genocidal calls, it is important to look at the foundation of Israel as a settler state that displaced and continues to oppress the original people of the land, the Palestinians.
Only in this context does the cycle of violence make any sense.
In the 19th century, increasing pogroms against Jews in Europe led to the birth of the Zionist movement. This movement aimed to establish a Jewish state to escape anti-Semitism.
However, its colonialist character, rooted in racism, was clear from the start. Zionism’s founder, Theodore Herzl, wrote in 1896: “For Europe we would constitute over there part of a bulwark against Asia as well as the advance post of civilization against barbarism."
Despite strong anti-Semitism across Europe, Zionism was a marginal movement until the horrific events of the Holocaust and World War II.
In 1917, British foreign minister Lord Balfour had sent a public letter to Lord Rothschild, a leading member of the Jewish community. The letter became known as the Balfour Declaration. It said that the British government “view[ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”.
The declaration gave the British government an excuse for claiming the territory after defeating the Ottoman Empire in WWI. British and French bureaucrats divided the Middle East into their own spheres of influence. Britain got control over Palestine.
However, with mass Jewish emigration from Europe during and after the Nazi reign, tensions rose between growing numbers of Jewish migrants and Palestinian Arabs.
The territory was still under British rule and, to win an exclusively Jewish state in Palestine, Zionists began a guerrilla war. The ensuing conflict resulted in the 1947 United Nations General Assembly resolution 181, which recommended partitioning Palestine into “independent Arab and Jewish states”.
This partition plan, which handed over more than half of historic Palestine to a specifically Jewish state, was met with anger in the Arab communities.
During the violent struggle over the establishment of Israel, up to 700,000 Palestinians, up to 80% of the Arab population, fled or were expelled. To this day, those who fled and their descendants remain refugees. Only 100,000 Arabs remained.
By the time Israel defeated an alliance of Arab states to secure its independence, it had claimed 78% of historic Palestine. Jewish migrants and settlers moved onto former Palestinian lands, and in some cases, directly into the homes of expelled Palestinians.
Swedish diplomat Folke Bernadotte was the UN Security Council’s mediator in Palestine in 1947-48. After visiting the refugee camps, he wrote: “It would be an offence against the principles of elementary justice if these innocent victims were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine, and, indeed, at least offer the threat of permanent replacement of the Arab refugees who have been rooted in the land for centuries.”
His proposal for fixed boundaries through negotiation, an economic union between both states, and the return of Palestinian refugees was turned down. On September 17, he was shot dead by Zionist militants.
Zionists have long claimed that Palestinians were not expelled, but left on their own volition or under direction of Arab leaders. This myth is important for denying the right of the refugees’ return.
But Shay Hazkani, writing in Haaretz, said: “Most historians today — Zionists, post-Zionists and non-Zionists — agree that in at least 120 of 530 villages, the Palestinian inhabitants were expelled by Jewish military forces, and that in half the villages the inhabitants fled because of the battles and were not allowed to return.
“[Israel prime minister] Ben-Gurion appeared to have known the facts well ... The Israeli military not only updated Ben-Gurion about these events but also apparently received his prior authorization, in written or oral form, notably in Lod and Ramle, and in several villages in the north.”
During the Six Day War in 1967, Israel capturing Gaza from Egypt and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. This gave Israel control over the all of British Mandate Palestine
However, only those who live in the borders of the official Israeli state as declared in 1948 are citizens of Israel, and in these borders, the Jewish majority had been made secure by the expulsion of most Palestinians. Those in Gaza and the West Bank — the Occupied Territories — live as occupied subjects.
When Israel withdrew all settlers and forces from Gaza in 2005, it merely enabled it to shut the territory off to the outside world, subjected it to a crippling siege and frequently bombing it.
In the Times of Israel, Netanyahu was reported as telling a July 13 press conference: “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”
The continued existence and struggle for justice by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Territories, and within Israel for full equality, is a permanent thorn in Israel’s side and threatens the stability of its apartheid state — that is, a state for one section of the population, Jews, over all others who live within it.
This is what drives Israel’s violence and ongoing push to subdue, expel or destroy Palestinians and end their fight for their national rights. The extreme genocidal calls from some Israeli politicians are merely giving voice to this ugly logic.