Israel may be a world leader in many things: hi-tech, agricultural innovation, anti-government protests, but evidence is mounting that we are truly terrible at one thing: genocide.
Yes, according to hundreds of thousands of demonstrators at rallies around the world, not to mention politicians, academics and journalists in multiple countries, Israel is perpetrating a genocide against the population of Gaza. In fact, according to many “experts”, Israel has been engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people for years.
But we keep screwing it up! Just yesterday I saw the headline: “IDF offers incubators for Gaza newborns, aid to Al-Shifa Hospital”. Come on Israel! What are you playing at?? Hamas is using the hospital as a headquarters, turning it into a legitimate military target under international law. But Israel is trying to ensure the safety of the babies?? Whatever next? Warning civilians ahead of attacks? Actually calling Gaza residents to tell them to evacuate their buildings before they’re bombed?
OK, flippancy aside. The reality is that these accusations of genocide are so phenomenally baseless, they collapse in the presence of thought.
A couple of facts that demolish the claim:
- If Israel has been trying to ethnically cleanse Gaza or the West Bank of Palestinians, it’s done a spectacularly bad job of it. Since Israel took control of both territories in 1967, the Palestinian population has rocketed, from 300,000 to 2.2m in Gaza, and from 650,000 to 3.2m in the WB. That’s quite some genocide. I only wish the Nazis had perpetrated an Israel-style genocide. The Jewish population of Europe today would be over 50 million!
- If Israel had wanted to wipe out all the Palestinians in Gaza, it could have done so in less than a day. Every innocent Gazan killed is a tragedy, but if Israel were not taking care to attack military targets, and trying to avoid civilians when possible, there would be hundreds of thousands dead. (As with the bombing of Syrian civilians by two regimes who really do target civilians – those of Assad and Putin.)
What makes the claim not just idiotic but sinister, is that those making it ignore the actual, provable genocidal intentions of Hamas. They themselves say their aim is to destroy Israel, and to kill Jews wherever they find them. It’s explicit in the organization’s founding document, the Hamas Covenant, which, as scholars such as Jeffrey Herf and Paul Berman have explained in detail, borrows significantly from Nazi and earlier European antisemitism.
Hamas is funded and supported by another genuinely genocidal regime: the Islamic Republic of Iran. As Irwin Cotler has noted, its frequent exhortations to destroy Israel meet the Genocide Convention’s definition of “Incitement to Genocide”.
Martin Luther King Jr. warned of the dangers of “sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”. Too many of Israel’s accusers are guilty of both. Ignorant of Israel’s ethics, and of Hamas’s genocidal antisemitism; and stupid enough to perversely accuse the wrong party of the most heinous of crimes.
Israel vs. Hamas is unequivocally a ‘just war’; no less than the Allies vs. the Nazis, the United States vs. ISIS – or indeed Ukraine vs. Russia. After October 7, it should be entirely, uncontroversially obvious who decent, freedom-loving people should support. And it’s endlessly shocking to me that it isn’t.