Jillian Selman

Are Palestinians Facing Genocide?

Photo by Alisdare Hickson taken at the Palestine Solidarity Protest in London on October 9th 2023.
Photo by Alisdare Hickson taken at the Palestine Solidarity Protest in London on October 9th 2023.

Jillian Selman and Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg

Graduates from Lesley University’s Expressive Therapies Masters’ Program become eligible to join an email list-serve of over 700 prior graduates. Generally, posts are about jobs, licensure/insurance, office space, or the availability of therapists with certain specialties. But on November 8 the following excerpted email was sent out by, let’s call her “Megan”:

Hi Dear Colleagues — As therapists, it is absolutely essential for us to be highly attuned, empathic people. And right now, this feels so so so hard as we bear witness to the unbearable atrocities unfolding as millions of our beloved kin in Palestine face crushing forces of genocide. I am reaching out to see if anyone has any resources, personal anecdotes or thoughts to share that they have found helpful to navigate this moment we are all living in especially as therapists. I am grateful to navigate this world and this work with a soft heart but sometimes it feels impossible.

With radical softness and humanity always,

This is how we would reply:

Hi, Megan,
We agree with you that therapists must be highly attuned, empathic, and humane. But therapists must also be well informed. Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.

As Jews, we belong to a people that has faced more universal discrimination and genocidal adventures than any other. We’ve been beaten, ghettoized, interned, gassed and incinerated from time immemorial. Virtually no society has been innocent of anti-Semitism. The world’s most enduring hatred has been embraced by Europe and the Middle East, by ignorant mobs and self-congratulatory intellectuals, by leftists and by right-wingers. Hitler’s “Final Solution” was radically successful. It claimed the life of two out of every three European Jews. That is what is meant by “genocide”.

The Palestinian terrorist organization, Hamas, shares the Fuhrer’s dream. Its charter calls for the eradication of the Jewish State. On October 7, it did its best — with handsome funding from Iran and Qatar — to make its dream come true. In the name of Islam, it deployed thousands of rapists, sadists, and murderers against unsuspecting men, women, and children in pursuit of its genocidal objectives. Rather than unconditionally condemning the atrocities of their co-religionists, the Muslim world greeted them with stony silence, contorted justifications, and — in the case of millions — enthusiastic support.

The Jewish State does not practice genocide. On the contrary, the Arab population between Dan (in Israel’s north) and Beersheba (in Israel’s south) has grown 34-fold since the beginning of the Zionist movement in the nineteenth century, nearly 5-fold since the founding of Israel in 1948. That couldn’t have been if Jews had practiced genocide. In addition to the Arabs’ high birthrate, that phenomenal demographic increase occurred because Jews actually drew Arabs from surrounding countries in the region by providing better economic opportunities, dramatically improving educational standards, offering better health care (including increased life expectancy and a lower infant mortality rate), and bestowing the freedoms of living in the Middle East’s only democracy. Arab citizens of Israel not only vote, they serve as representatives in Israel’s parliament, serve on its Supreme Court, and enjoy a high standard of living as a significant percentage of the country’s doctors, pharmacists, bankers, and other elite professions. Significantly, a survey conducted by the highly regarded Israel Democracy Institute after the current war began, reveals that 70% of Israeli Arabs feel part of the State of Israel. That’s up from 48% this past June. In fact, it is the highest percentage ever since the question was first asked twenty years ago. Moreover, the sharpest increase in identification was among the youngest cohort of Israeli Arabs – those aged 18-24. Among Druze and Arab Christians the sense of belonging is even greater – fully 84%. Megan, such figures strongly suggest that Israel’s Arab population, itself, hardly shares your ill-informed description of the Jewish State as genocidal. They understand that the country in which they live and thrive is simply fighting for its life in Gaza against a cruel, implacable enemy.

Megan, we urge you not to be taken captive by ugly propaganda. Jews do not practice genocide.

Rabbi Bruce Ginsburg is the Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Sons of Israel in Woodmere, NY. He and his wife, Rachel, immigrated to Israel in 2022.

About the Author
Jillian Selman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Registered Art Therapist. She resides with her family in the United States.
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