Hamas dehumanizes Jews. Some Palestinians dehumanize Jews. Some Arabs dehumanize Jews. The Iranian government dehumanizes Jews. This dehumanization is not restricted to the Middle East. Donald Trump recently called opponents “vermin” and claimed that immigrants were “poisoning our blood”.
The results of Hamas’s dehumanization of Jews were the atrocities, the terror, and the murders of October 7th.
The despicable aims and actions of Hamas are well-known to all informed, unbiased people. I want to focus on some Israeli and diaspora Jews’s statements and beliefs about dehumanization. The International Court of Justice is considering the issue of whether Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. The issue of the intent of the Gaza campaign has been made worse for Israel by statements made by some Israeli leaders and politicians, some of which I documented in my TOI blog post https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/gaza-and-genocide/ .
Over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of the dehumanization of Gazans and Palestinians in general. War exacerbates all these hateful emotions. The recent extremist settler violence on the West Bank, encouraged by extremist Israeli ministers, is an example. However, the primary reason for the spread of this dehumanization is the Gaza war. Two recent responses on TOI blogs were revealing. In one blog post, I postulated the hypothetical moral thought experiment: how many Gazan kids would you kill to get one hostage returned? One answer I received was: “No number is too high”. I responded that there were only about 800,000 Gaza kids. https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/one-hostage-or-100-gazan-kids/ In another, a TOI responder stated that the parents of these kids voted for Hamas in 2006, implying that a parental vote before the child was born could make that child guilty and justify death from the skies. Perhaps this merely walks in the path of the Hebrew Bible God in the Torah (5 books of Moses), who stated: “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me”.
However, one of the worst aspects of this dehumanization is the silence about what is not said. There have been innumerable posts, media interviews, social media discussions, and newspaper articles about the suffering and travails of the hostages. There have been a large number of such stories about survivors and about those murdered on October 7th. This outburst of emotion is normal and justifiable in the aftermath of such an atrocity. Yet nearly all these posts, editorials, articles, etc., lack any mention of the suffering and deaths of Gazan kids and civilians. A few state that this causes much suffering, but it is required, i.e., an anodyne statement of “we had to do it”.
I do not believe that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, despite some foolish statements by leading politicians. Israel has achieved some substantial results: 85% of Gazans displaced (some several times), 9,000 kids killed, 64% of structures damaged or destroyed (higher than Dresden in World War 2), 65% of Gazans having a family member killed or injured, growing food shortages, and a lack of medical supplies for the wounded and those with chronic illnesses. But every day that Israel has not destroyed Hamas in Gaza, every day the hostages are not returned, and every day that Gazan civilians die from bombings, shootings, food shortages, disease, and preventable illnesses brings Israel closer to the brink of genocidal crime in Gaza.
For some Israelis and diaspora Jews, these dead kids are just collateral damage as is the rubble covering some of them. The kids, as well as their parents, have been successfully dehumanized.
Homicide is the ultimate in individual dehumanization. Genocide is the ultimate in racial/national/ethnic/religious dehumanization.