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Accusing Israel of ‘genocide’: Major fail

And deservedly so, because it’s a false accusation. This is not how to fight the occupation, this is how to help strengthen it.

Mahmoud Abbas’ speech last Friday at the United Nations General Assembly gave the highest-profile-ever exposure to the accusation, popular among anti-Zionists, that Israel practices “genocide” against the Palestinians, and that the war in Gaza was a genocidal one. That’s the highlight of the speech that was picked for the headline in any number of major international news outlets; in Israel the speech is already known, and will be forever, as Abbas’ “genocide speech.” That one word seems to have overshadowed everything else he said at the UN podium, which is a pity, because his basic message – that 21 years of internationally-sponsored peace negotiations have screwed the Palestinians, and they will stand for no more – is right and true, and must be heard, in exactly the furious, combative tone he adopted.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UNGA during the general debate, September 26, 2014. (UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UNGA during the general debate, September 26, 2014. (UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)

If his use of the term “genocide” to describe the occupation and the war in Gaza were truthful but “impolitic,” that would be one thing. But it’s not true – it’s plain false. And on top of that, it’s impolitic in the extreme – it’s politically suicidal, precisely because it’s so clearly false. It’s an Achilles heel in the argument against the occupation. It allows the right wing to sweep aside everything else, in this case every true thing that Abbas said at the UN, and zero in on that one blatant falsehood. It stamps the anti-occupation cause with fanaticism, with reckless disregard for the truth, with hysterical hatred for Israel. That one stupid word.

Using it against Israel may work well to “energize the base” in closed, anti-Zionist circles; it may also get some  college kids to join a protest. But now that Abbas has, for the first time, put the term out in the mainstream, it is so painfully obvious that accusing Israel of genocide is to shoot oneself in the foot, if not the head.

When you accuse Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians, you are accusing it of deliberately, systematically executing them en masse, hundreds of thousands or millions of them. You’re accusing Israel of an attempt to exterminate an entire people, like the Nazis did the Jews, like the Ottoman Turks did the Armenians, like the Hutus did the Tutsis in Rwanda. That’s what people think of when they hear the word “genocide.”

That was not the war in Gaza, and that’s not the occupation.

But many anti-Zionists disregard the common understanding of the word, and instead point to the “official” definition adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, and still used at The Hague:

[G]enocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (f) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

As Mitchell Plitnick just wrote, “Now, it is easy to state that Israel would love to see the Palestinians gone. But have their actions been motivated by the ‘intent to destroy’ them? If so, they’ve done a lousy job of it as the Palestinian population has grown significantly and consistently over the years.”

And if the UN definition of genocide does fit Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, or the war in Gaza, then what unjust rule of one nation by another, or what unjust, one-sided, devastating  war, was not genocide?

No, the term, either in its colloquial or UN-approved meaning, misses the truth by a great distance.

It seems “genocide” has entered the far Left’s vocabulary for no other reason than to satisfy its own rising fury at Israel. Sorry, the rising fury is absolutely justified, but it’s still not an excuse to talk bullshit. Especially when there are so many harsh terms that can be applied to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians that are indeed accurate. The ones I use – sparingly, though, because otherwise they lose their effect – are “military dictatorship” and “colonialism” (for the West Bank), along with “tyranny” and “oppression” (for the Palestinians as a whole).

One of the other terms Abbas used in his speech was “ethnic cleansing.” It hurts me as an Israeli to hear it, but I have to admit it’s a true characterization of the Nakba. And while current Israeli policies toward Palestinians in East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank’s Area C don’t fit the popular image of “ethnic cleansing,” they do fit the literal meaning.

And let’s not forget “apartheid.” I don’t use the term because it’s based on racial supremacism, while the occupation is based on national supremacism, and this is a major difference. But the most significant feature of apartheid – that of one people officially, as a matter of policy, keeping another people down by force – is the most significant feature of the occupation, too, so the comparison is certainly more true than false. Besides, good Zionists like Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon and star newspaper columnist Nahum Barnea have made the comparison, so it can’t be dismissed as another exercise in slanderous Israel-bashing by the “loony Left.”

Not so with “genocide.” Using it puts you an inch away from equating Israel with Nazi Germany. This sort of rhetoric will not stand the light of day. When Abbas used it in his UN speech, he might as well have put a “kick me” sign on his back as he left the podium. And I’m just dreading to hear Bibi take him up on that inadvertent offer when he makes his own speech at the UN later Monday.

Related:
Israel, Armenians and the question of genocide
Abbas’ generous offer to Israel
The Israel-apartheid debate

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    1. Danny

      Abbas may have used the wrong word to describe what Israel has been doing in the occupied territories (and does to this very day): ethnic cleansing. I think that’s the term Abbas should have used because it’s 100% correct.

      Saying Israel practices full-blown genocide against the Palestinians is indeed false, but what Israel does do in Gaza is a form of creeping genocide it likes to call “mowing the lawn” that does not leave much for the imagination. In mowing the lawn once every couple of years, Israel kills between 1000-2000 Palestinians (most of them civilians) while keeping them hermetically hemmed in so that they cannot recover or rebuild. What do you call that, Larry? Maybe not genocide, but pretty close.

      Abbas should be taken to task not for incorrectly using a word, but for continuing to be Israel’s best friend and active partner in managing its occupation.

      Reply to Comment
      • Your arguments are fallacious.

        Israel does indeed carry out a large scale attack which kills 1-2000 people in Gaza every couple of years. This is not genocide and not even close. It’s not just because of the small number of people killed (in comparison to actual genocides). It’s because the intention behind it is not to “keep their numbers down”.

        Israeli policy-makers do not want to kill civilians, they simply think that if it is necessary to kill some in order to achieve their military goals, then it is worth it and acceptable. I disagree with them, but the truth is that they have no intention to exterminate anyone.

        Plus, Abbas is not Israel’s “best friend”, he is a moderate leader who tries to do what’s best for his people, and unfortunately Netanyahu does nothing in return.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bruce Gould

      We need a new term: culturecide. Since 67 the Israelis have demolished between 25,000 – 30,000 Palestinian houses, the vast majority of them for building code violations (!); there’s a kafkaesque system of permits and rules that govern every aspect of Palestinians lives, and on and on. The Israelis are trying to dismantle Palestinian society piece by piece.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        We need a new term, nonsensecide.

        There is nothing kafkaesque about the Israeli system of plans, zoning and building permits. Israelis contend with and comply with the same laws and regulations and suffer the consequences when they do not. It may take a long time to get a plan approved and building permits issued but that is the reality concerning building laws providing for planned development.

        The Palestinians signed an international agreement with the Israelis in 1993 called the Oslo Accords. Palestinians gave the Israelis administrative control over certain areas which included the making of plans and issuing of building plans for residential, institutional and commercial structures and the enforcement of the failure to comply with building plans and permits. Having signed this agreement, Palestinians are bound to comply with building laws or suffer the consequences.

        Despite the Oslo Accords, Arafat told and encouraged Palestinians to build without obtaining building permits or complying with building plans. It is estimated in the 1990s Palestinians built up to 30,000 illegal homes in Jerusalem alone.

        If Palestinians build illegally without regard to plans and without building permits, they should expect their properties to be torn down as happens in any municipality in the United States or Canada when the offender cannot make his property comply with planning, zoning or building laws.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          Between 2007 and 2010 exactly 1426 applications for building permits were submitted by Palestinians to the Israeli authorities of Area C. Do you know how many of these were subsequently granted?

          64. Of 1426. That’s 4.5%.

          Would you now like to repeat your claim that “There is nothing kafkaesque about the Israeli system of plans, zoning and building permits. Israelis contend with and comply with the same laws and regulations and suffer the consequences when they do not…”?

          Reply to Comment
          • Whiplash

            Marwan Barghouti was the Secretary General of the Tanzim and founder of the Al-Asqa Martyr Brigades. In an interview with Al-Hayat on September 29, 2011 he admitted that he incited the beginning of the Al-Asqa intifada. In an interview with Jefferson Fletcher in 2001 Barghouti stated that he was in charge of the Central Committee for the West Bank in the intifada which coordinated activities by committee with all other terrorist factions. Barghouti said “I am in charge in the West Bank.”

            Barghouti also gave the following answers:

            And this will continue,

            absolutely.

            So this means you plan on escalating the resistance?

            Yes, of course.

            So civilians are targets?

            If they are part of the occupation, yes. They are occupation, they are occupiers.”

            So according to Barghouti Israeli civilian men, women and children were targets. Barghouti’s Tanzim and Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigades dispatched suicide operations in both the West Bank and Israel within the green line. The majority of attacks were against Israeli civilians and civilians in Israeli within the green line. These were all war crimes.

            In an interview broadcast by a Mr. Kraftt on Dec. 26, 2001 Barghouti was introduced as the head of the Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade. He also stated that he met with Arafat everyday and every night. He was the main cog in the wheel in transferring monies and giving instructions for operations against Israeli civilians. These are of course war crimes.

            In 2012 in the course of civil proceedings in Israeli courts, idf transcripts of interviews with Barghouti surfaced showing that Barghouti was responsible for arranging the outbreak of the 2nd intifada. Barghouti confirmed his role in coordinating attacks between different factions and financing such attacks from monies given to him. The finances flowed from Arafat. Barghouti insisted that Palestinian independence was dependent on bloodshed.

            Yediot Ahronot reported that Barghouti provided money to Palestinians involved in the lynching of army soldiers in a Ramallah police station on Oct. 12, 2000.

            Barghouti, who was acting as a miltary commander, hide out in a civilian area surrounded by women and children to avoid attacks by Israeli missiles.

            Barghouti’s Tazim and Al-Asqa Brigades recruited children as combatants and for suicide operations.

            These are war crimes.

            Barghouti is a war criminal and is serving 5 life sentences plus 40 years which will keep him in jail for the rest of his life.

            Reply to Comment
      • The term “ethnocide” is used for this purpose. Genocide scholars tend now to recognise it as a component of genocide rather than an alternative. When Lemkin created the term genocide he focused a great deal of his attention on social and cultural discussion as well as things like deprivation of food and land.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Whiplash

      Mahmoud Abbas even by his second name, Abu Mazen, has been a major disappointment to Palestinians and Israelis. The American administration seems to think Abbas is the last great white hope because there is no other Palestinian leader as moderate as him. This only points to the fact that there is little chance in the near future of finding a true Palestinian partner for peace.

      Abbas was part of Arafat’s corrupt regime installed in the West Bank and Gaza as a result of the Oslo Accords. He did not prevent Hamas, Islamic Jihad or the Al-Asqa Martyrs Brigade from carrying out martyrdom operations in the first years of the Oslo Accords or during the second Intifada.

      After Arafat’s death, Abbas had a chance to transform Palestinian society into a truly democratic society seeking peace with its neighbor. He had a chance to confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad and remove their arms. He did not. He had a chance to end Palestinian incitement to hatred and violence against Israelis and he did not. He had a chance to introduce free speech and freedom of assembly. He did the opposite.

      In 2008 he had a chance to reach peace with Prime Minister Olmert and he let that opportunity fail because he thought the incoming American administration would force a harder deal on Israel. Fatah and Abbas then instituted a policy of non-cooperation with Israelis and Israeli institutions. Most of the 25 joint commissions which had survived even the worst period of 2nd Intifada failed to continue to operate to solve issues between the parties. In their place Abbas and Fatah substituted demonization of Israel at every turn.

      Abbas always spoke in different messages to the Israelis and the Palestinians. While he talked about peace and goodwill to Israelis, he talked about non-compromise to his Palestinian people. To Israelis he talked of sharing Jerusalem and land swaps. To Palestinians he told Palestinians that there could be no peace unless Jerusalem was Arab and every settler was removed from Arab Jerusalem and the West Bank. He told Israelis he would give up the right of return. To Palestinians he said he would not give up the right of return of any Palestinian but himself.

      In 2014 Abbas refused to accept Kerry’s new road map instead preferring an Unity Government with a terrorist group. Even though Abbas had indicated that if Hamas had been responsible for the 3 Israeli teenagers’ deaths in the West Bank in June he would end the Unity government, he is still pursuing an unity government with terrorists instead of pushing for their disarmament. Abas also did not accept Livni’s and the Israelis plan to end incitement to violence, terror and hatred and produce an environment in both Israel and the Palestinian areas conducive to peace. Instead Abbas led the Palestinian delegation inciting hatred, terror and violence against Israel and Israelis with his allegation of genocide.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Lo

      Words should have specified meanings, especially when used in an analytical (as opposed to artistic) context.

      While Israel is certainly not conducting a genocide, it is definitely trying to ethnically cleanse the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      In both areas, the argument is simple: “either you non-Jews (Palestinians/African Migrants/Bedouin) acquiesce and live like dogs, or you can leave.” Because “israeli security” is such an amorphous and expansive concept, almost anything can be justified to further it, including forcible removal of the indigenous peoples and subsequent colonization of their lands.

      Reply to Comment
      • Good article. Accusing Israel of genocide is just insane. It’s amazing that some people are so ignorant and lost in their own rhetoric (and their hatred of Israel) that they can’t see this.

        If Israel is committing a genocide, then so has Russia in Chechnya, so has the government of Sri Lanka against the Tamil, and so have dozens of other countries. When you use the word so liberally, it loses its meaning.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Brian

      Agree, Larry. It was an incompetent blunder. But Israel makes sure to keep the competent ones such as Marwan Barghouti locked up for good. Israel does not WANT a competent Palestinian leadership. Lieberman is overjoyed to express his “disappointment and profound dismay blah blah blah” with the incompetence. The man can’t wipe the grin off his face. It’s the same grin Netanyahu had trouble wiping off his face when expressing his “profound dismay” at the fall of the twin towers.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        Marwan Barghouti is a war criminal, who is responsible for initiating the blood bath of the 2nd Intifada. He has the blood of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians on his hands.

        Barghouti the junior terrorist was released from Israeli jails and became a member of Arafat’s inner circle and a top terrorist leader. Barghouti claimed to support peace with Israelis but in reality turned to blowing up Israelis into pieces. He ensured that Arafat’s peace of the brave became the peace of the dead.

        So Israel will not make the second mistake twice and release Barghouti again.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          I’m sure you have proff for your claims. I’m looking forward to reading it.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Rune Lombardo

      Never thought I’d feel the way about +972 that I feel about Ha’aretz. Israel can’t systematically execute all Palestinaians or Arabs, it would face total international isolation. But it can talk about them in the same manner, treat them in the same manner ansd kill them in a very similar one. When Gaza, which is under total israeli control, is practically impossibloe to live in, has had its infrastructure – including the parts that sustain life – destroyed, its citizens killed and bombed by the thousands and wounded and traumatized by the tens of thousands o a ground poisoned by sewage water and depleted uranium,the term genocide is actually suitable according to the international definition. The discourse here is basically that only the Holocaust is a genocide, which contributes to the larger, boring discourse of the untouchability of the Holocaust and the untouchability of israel for being dominated by the ethnic group that was victimized by it. I’m thoroughly disapointed, thought we were allies in truth and the struggle for justice.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Mohammad Odetallah

      I’m not sure about the definition of genocide. But when it comes to ethnic cleansing, Israel’s actions toward my people fit the definition. Hint, according to the soldiers in unit 8200, Israel is systematically acting to destroy the very fabric of Palestinian society. Of course, the elimination of Palestinians is a security need which is typical of racist thinking. I mean what is considered a threat here: a girl going to school, a pregnant woman or people celebrating in a wedding party. Elements of normal life even in its biological aspect are considered a threat to a racist ideology. I think apartheid is a fair description because Israel maintains the supremacy of the Jewish element over Arabs especially in the west bank. Apartheid is considered a crime against humanity similar to the definition of the crime committed by Nazi Germany against Jews. For sure, gas chambers are missing and we may never see them just for the ease of analogy. But do we have to see them to believe that absolute power coupled with institutionalized racism will end up putting people in gas chambers? I dare you ask how many Israeli Jews (from politicians to the general public) would like to see Palestinians disappear from not only this country but from the face of the earth, then you’ll get a better sense of where things are heading to. The fact that you don’t see Israelis in jail for hate crimes does not mean they’re not there. It means that racism is so institutionalized and deeply rooted, that people sadly start seeing it as the norm. What is left is a self image that Israel is democracy, and a notion that Israel is morally superior even when it targets Palestinian children for jail or death.

      Reply to Comment
    8. bir

      Larry, you missed the real problem with the speech. The problem isn’t that he embarrassed himself, the Palestinian people as well as their supporters (lefties such as you) by openly lying about Israel. No, you and he and they and we are all used to this.

      No, the problem with his speech is that it demonstrated that which you don’t want to acknowledge: the Palestinians openly seek Israel’s destruction.

      In his speech, he didn’t just claim and demand the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, he indicated that the entire premise of peace talks, namely that there would be some arrangement in which the Israelis get peace and the Palestinians get territory is a fiction. He indicated that there will be no peace, no attempt at peace, no compromise on some fictitious claims on land (none of the land he claimed was “Palestinian,” though it was controlled by Jordan for 19 years), and a continued reading of UNGA 194 to mean that any person meeting the UNWRA-invented “refugee” definition – has a right to move into Israel.

      This wasn’t “fury.” This was a speech consistent with what critics of Oslo, critics of Barak, critics of Olmert, etc. have been saying all along: the Palestinians have no desire to compromise and are simply trying to buy time and land. There is no difference between Abbas of yesterday and Arafat of Camp David or Taba and there is no difference between Abbas and Arafat and the Fedayeen of 1965 – his words, not just mine. And you know when 1965 was? It was before 1967.

      So now it’s over. You can’t cover it up any more and you can’t pretend the problem is with Israel. You think Israel was born in sin? Then leave. Why be associated with it? Everybody else now understands what many knew in 1920, 1929, 1936-1939, 1947, 1948, 1950-56, 1964, 1967-70, 1973, 1981-82, 1996, 2000, 2001-2007 and 2002-2014, that this is a war and there is nobody with whom to speak or compromise on the Arab side.

      As an Israeli you should be proud of your country’s abilities to develop itself socially, economically and militarily over the course of this century-long war while maintaining its democracy and folding into its society 20% of Palestinian Arabs – while Abbas, of course, has rejected the idea of Jews living in his purported state (oh hell, I mean Zionists).

      Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        “In his speech, he didn’t just claim and demand the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, he indicated that the entire premise of peace talks, namely that there would be some arrangement in which the Israelis get peace and the Palestinians get territory is a fiction. He indicated that there will be no peace, no attempt at peace, no compromise on some fictitious claims on land…”

        Because it’s true, and the Israeli leadership is 100% responsible.

        The Israeli leadership has made it a fiction. Abbas has no partner for peace.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          Um, you misunderstand.

          The time for bullshit is over. Abbas has ended it emphatically speaking at the UN. The problem, he clearly stated, is that his people are at war with Israel and their goal is to first, gain control of the land the Jordanians conquered in 1948, and, at the same time to move as many people who can claim Palestinian descent as possible into Israel with the goal of changing its nature.

          It’s over. You can’t blame Israel or Israelis or Israeli leaders or Americans or Europeans or anybody else. It’s over. The truth has been spoken and…it’s not a surprise because the Palestinians have been saying the same thing since before they were Palestinians.

          Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            I’m sure you can quote Abbas on your claims, directly from his UN speech. I’m waiting…

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            You#re right on one thing though:
            The time for bullshit is over.

            Less and less people are believing the Israeli Hasbara, the Israeli lies, the Israeli distortions of the truth.

            Especially in the international Jewish community.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Notwithstanding the stream of endless lies in his speech, here is the end of possible peace:

            “we will maintain the traditions of our national struggle established by the Palestinian fedayeen and to which we committed ourselves since the onset of the Palestinian revolution in early 1965.”

            ” it is no longer acceptable, nor possible, to repeat methods that have proven futile or to continue with approaches that have repeatedly failed and require comprehensive review and radical correction.

            It is impossible, and I repeat – it is impossible – to return to the cycle of negotiations that failed to deal with the substance of the matter and the fundamental question. ”

            “There is no meaning or value in negotiations for which the agreed objective is not ending the Israeli occupation and achieving the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the entire Palestinian Territory occupied in the 1967 war.”

            “achieving the two-State solution, of the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, over the entire territory occupied in 1967, alongside the State of Israel and reaching a just and agreed upon solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees on the basis of resolution 194, with a specific time frame for the implementation of these objectives as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reicher

            None of these quotes, whatsoever, supports your claim that Abbas said any of the following:

            “The problem, he clearly stated, is that his people are at war with Israel and their goal is to first, gain control of the land the Jordanians conquered in 1948, and, at the same time to move as many people who can claim Palestinian descent as possible into Israel with the goal of changing its nature.”

            So would you now please provide quotes that support your claim? Or do you prefer making yourself look like an idiot?

            Reply to Comment
          • Felix Reichert

            None of these quotes, of course, in any way correspond to your claim that…

            “The problem, he clearly stated, is that his people are at war with Israel and their goal is to first, gain control of the land the Jordanians conquered in 1948, and, at the same time to move as many people who can claim Palestinian descent as possible into Israel with the goal of changing its nature.”

            So if you do not prefer to make yourself look like an idiot, I”m still waiting for the corresponding quotes from his speech. Especially in regards to the land conquered in 1948.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Seriously?

            You’re so committed to trying to dispute what I say that I have to deal with this inane stupidity?

            What does this mean, Felix: “…entire territory occupied in 1967?”

            What is this territory that was conquered by the Colonial Entity in 1967? Is it, perchance, the same land conquered by Jordan in 1948? You know, the territory they conquered known as Judea and Samaria which they renamed “West Bank?” Does it include the part of Jerusalem in the eastern part of the city which today is called “East Jerusalem” by people who wish to pretend that there are two Jerusalems?

            Why yes, it does.

            I’d explain more, but this is idiotic. He is saying explicitly that any land conquered by Arabs in 1948 is to become the new Palestine (he dare not mention Golan because it’s supposed to belong to Syria) and the land not conquered by Arabs in 1948 is to be populated by any people UNWRA calls “refugees.”

            Reply to Comment
    9. Mikesailor

      Larry:m Why beat around the bush claiming anything Abbas says actually matters? If Abbas had an ounce of courage and moral fiber, he would have called for elections when his term had ended. If Israel or the US objected, then he should have dissolved the PA. Even now, he won’t go to the ICC, Why not? Because he has been bought and paid for. Wht not call out the US and Europeans for allowing war crimes? Why not call out Obama for facilitating Israeli depredations while giving them diplomatic cover at the Security Council? If you won’t defend yourself, why would you count on strangers to defend you? This is merely more kabuki theater meaning nothing.

      Reply to Comment
    10. The whole point is that we are trying to prevent another genocide (as you define it). Israel has never been in a situation comparable to Germany in WW II. From what we have seen so far, there is no doubt Israel will be no better than the nazis in a similar situation. It was even expressed by many Zionists from Golda Meir on.
      The mention of the Armenians is interesting. Herzl tried to befriend the Ottomans by promising to help them suppress their nasty minorities, in return for Palestine. The Ottomans weren’t interested, but the US was, as we all know.
      The Armenian genocide was also denied by Israeli officials until after the Mavi Marmara massacre, when Turkey became angry.
      Your kind of Zionism, Mr. Derfner, ended with the Biltmore Program. Get out of your bubble and admit what has been happening for 70 years. It has been genocide, and it will go on, and it will get worse, until people like you finally wake up.

      Reply to Comment
    11. GKJames

      It’s easy to agree that what Israel is doing isn’t genocide. That said, why is it that rhetorical overstatement by Palestinians draws one kind of response — i.e., this harms the Palestinians’ chances of getting their own country — whereas the psychotic rhetoric of a Netanyahu doesn’t? Further, what, exactly, IS the causal link between a speech by Abbas and a Palestinian state? Abbas could sing lullabies to Israelis and it still wouldn’t make a difference in Israeli policy or conduct.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mareli

      Genocide was not the correct term. Ethnic cleansing is more applicable to the West Bank than to Gaza. Gaza is under siege; ethnic cleansing would only apply were Gazans able to leave, which they are not.

      Reply to Comment
    13. bir

      This is hilarious. Seriously. Larry, you are being remonstrated by a bunch of readers for not being tough enough on Israel! Hahahahaha. Can you imagine?

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bruce Gould

      Watch the movie “The Gatekeepers”. ( http://www.thegatekeepersfilm.com/ ) It’s interviews with 6 former heads of Shin Bet. Many of them have interesting things to say, but one in particular characterizes the Israeli treatment of Palestinians perfectly – he hits the nail on the head, and I’m not going to repeat it here.

      Reply to Comment
      • bir

        Um, Bruce, that film, although interesting, is a documentary made by a filmmaker who seeks to “end the occupation.” Like any documentary, he had probably 70-100 times the amount of footage he ultimately used in the film, and like any documentary filmmaker he fashioned the film he sought to fashion. Do try to be a little more critical of things you read and watch.

        The lesson you obviously didn’t take away from the film is that Israel’s intelligence leaders do not wish and do not enact anything resembling “genocide” upon the Palestinians. That’s why a film like that can exist.

        Reply to Comment
        • Felix Reichert

          I completely agree.
          The genocide claim is utter bullshit.

          Systematic oppression, ethnic cleansing, occasional mass murder, these are the real charges Israel is facing.

          Reply to Comment
          • bir

            I find it fascinating when Palestinian advocates take away all Palestinian agency.

            Reply to Comment
    15. JohnW

      Dinner party anti-Semitism crosses all political boundaries, age groups, geographical and socio-economic divides, and is just as likely to occur in a trendy inner-city restaurant, at the suburbs barbeque or within the elegant confines of a plush dining rooms.

      Here is a brief guide on how to spot it, and how to be prepared.

      … it goes on but here is a typical one:

      A typical discussion with a DPAS involves a bizarre dance of seven veils, where as soon as you think you have revealed what is really troubling them, that particular prejudice is whisked away and replaced with another. Always, the hatred tries to dress itself in prettier clothes.

      Concern for the ‘plight’ of the Palestinians is a fave, although no such concern, apparently, is necessary for those whose lives are a living hell in the rest of the Arab world. Contempt for the ‘apartheid’ of the West Bank and Gaza is another, allowing the DPAS to draw fatuous comparisons with South Africa. A sickening and utterly false moral comparison between the Nazis and modern Israeli soldiering techniques is another. Even circumcision gets thrown into the mix.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        This is a pretty neurotic search, like a nervous sniffer dog, for a trace odor of antisemitism. Why so desperate to sniff it out. Guilty conscience? Tell me, you want Israeli Jews to be regarded as SO Western, SO democratic, SO up-to-date, SO a member of the club of Western democracies (Bibi sure did today at the UN) and with all the rights and status and privileges that go with that, yet at the same time you want your occupation to be judged by the declared non-Western standards of the non-West (China in Tibet, etc., etc.). And yet you see no contradiction there, only the basest of motives in those who do see a contradiction? Hmmmmmmmmmm.

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        • Gustav

          “yet at the same time you want your occupation to be judged by the declared non-Western standards”

          Spare us your hypocrisy about ‘Western Standards’. The West too did/does whatever is necessary in it’s wars of survival. Go read up on what western democracies did in WW2 and rightly so I might add.

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    16. Leo C

      Abbas and his cronies have spent their entire careers lying to the world while sucking of the teet of financial assistance. The Arabs west of the Jordan river have received more aid, more time and more sympathy than any other “refugees” in history. And THIS is the lie you choose to cry wolf over?

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      • Brian

        That’s rich, coming from a smug apologist for a state that has sucked how many billions from the teat of Mama America while it’s Prime Minister stands on the floor of America’s legislature and insinuates bad things about its President, a President who has done more on behalf of Israel’s defense than any president in history, and whose sole crime is to ask about the same two state solution and make the same objections to destructive settlement building that has been standard US policy for 47 years? Oh I forgot, the POTUS dares to mumble the word “justice” once in a while. The nerve of that black guy! Who does he think he is?! And last time I checked Sharon, Netanyahu, Olmert, Lieberman and Katsav were not anyone’s candidate for the Thomas Jefferson award for ethical, corruption-free service to their countries.

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    17. Brian

      And, in response to the incessant irrational vilifying of Mahmoud Abbas by Bir or Bor or Bore or whatever her name is, here is Chemi Shalev on Netanyahu’s tired, recycled speech today:
      “Netanyahu’s arsenal seemed a bit rusty: He dredged up a list of Abbas’ well-known crimes and misdemeanors, including his controversial Holocaust denial in the 1970’s as well as a more recent statement that a future Palestine should be free of Jews [a devious distortion of what Abbas actually said, actually]. But from this short list of Abbas’ alleged crimes in the past one could deduce some of his achievements in the present, lauded only recently even in Israel itself: his unequivocal condemnation of the Holocaust, his effective battle against terrorism and the relative stability that he maintained among Palestinians in the West Bank even as the IDF was – very carefully and very morally – turning Gaza into heaps of rubble.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Yes, Abbas should be our pin up boy. But he is not. We just can’t help ourselves. We refuse to honor those who wish us harm. We Jews are unique in that regard. All other peoples of the world are selfless and prop up those who wish them harm.

        That’s the Sh-t that Brian is trying to promote. Funny little man that he is.

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    18. Donald

      I agree that the word “genocide” is not accurate. As you say, there’s a technical definition where one could argue the word fits, but the problem is that the word gets its emotional force from its common meaning, which refers to the attempt at exterminating most or all of an ethnic group. Israel isn’t doing that. Israel is guilty of mass murder, war crimes, and apartheid, but not genocide in the sense that most people use the word. Anti-Zionist lefties use the term because it is self-indulgent.

      That said, I also think it’s a big mistake to beat one’s breast too hard about this. Larry worries that people will be chased away because Abbas made a false charge. If someone is turned away from sympathy for the Palestinians because of this, it almost certainly means they were just looking for an excuse to do so. Anyone with common sense knows that politicians lie and exaggerate.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kiwi

        And you Donald are guilty of propaganda and lies.

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        • Pedro X

          Kiwi, Donald is a contributor and poser at Mondoweiss so we know what his opinion is worth.

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    19. Steve Cohen

      I think the author is right that what Israel does isn’t genocide as the term is popularly understood and that it might be better had Abbas not used it. I would reserve the term for instances where steps are actively taken to wipe out an entire nation. I would include the Holocaust, Rwanda 1994, and maybe Turkey 1915.

      HOWEVER, I still take STRONG exception to the tone of this article, which just falls back into the old trap of thinking that if only the Palestinians would frame their speech in exactly the right way, we’d have peace. This is bullshit, and condescending bullshit to boot. Israel has always been able to find excuses for not negotiating.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “Israel has always been able to find excuses for not negotiating.”

        Israel is always the party who was willing to negotiate. To say otherwise is nothing but revisionist history.

        In 1947, it was the Palestinian Arabs who didn’t want to negotiate but instead they rioted and murdered Jews after the UN passed it’s resolution to partition Palestine.

        Between 1948 and 1967, the Arabs could have established an independent Arab Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza which Jordan and Egypt controlled. Instead they waged a war to try and destroy Israel and refused to negotiate a peace deal.

        After 1967, the Arabs continued their war against Israel till Egypt and Jordan came to their senses and agreed to negotiate a peace deal with Israel. Consequently, Israel returned all of Sinai together with it’s oil fields to Egypt. But the Palestinian Arabs refused to sign a peace deal and continued their terror campaign intermittently to this day.

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        • Pedro X

          When Egypt was negotiating peace with Israel in 1978 the Palestinians were invited to join in the peace talks. The Palestinians refused to talk peace and instead shelled Northern Israel from Lebanon until Israel wiped out its conventional army in 1982. If the Palestinians had negotiated peace in 1978 they would have long ago had an independent state. But they preferred to pursue the destruction of Israel instead of having their own state.

          In the 1990s instead of advancing the peace negotiations Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad set up and carried out terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Then they wondered why the peace talks bore no fruit.

          Then Barak in 2000 and 2001 made peace offers to Arafat who responded with the second intifada.

          Abbas turned down Olmert’s 2008 offer which provided Palestinians with almost everything.

          The Palestinians have never made peace because they do not believe in two states for two people, living side by side in peace. Palestinians want a Judenrein Palestinian state and a second Arab majority state in 48 Israel. Guess what, Israel’s Jews are not buying any snake oil from Abbas or any other Palestinian leader.

          Reply to Comment
        • Steve Cohen

          Both sides have missed opportunities to make peace. It used to be that the PLO couldn’t be talked to. Now it’s Hamas. There’s always someone you have to denounce, failing which, you’re as bad as they are and not a fitting partner.

          Even now, Israel wants the PA in charge in Gaza, but because Abbas used the g word, you can’t talk to him.

          Tell me, which side’s demands have escalated? The Palestinians must recognize the”Jewish” nature of Israel? When did that become a requirement? And even their own “state” will not be free of patrolling by the IDF. And their borders? Fuhgeddaboutit. So said Bibi.

          These were the terms on the table long before Abbas used the g-word. So really, in all seriousness, is Israel a partner for peace?

          Reply to Comment
    20. Aaron Gross

      Regarding your “most significant feature of apartheid”: doesn’t that apply to any occupation that’s resisted by force? I don’t imagine you’re against belligerent occupations in general, right?

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, if the Europeans were still practicing colonialism today, protesters would rightly liken it to apartheid.

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        • Aaron Gross

          Right, but I mean even just occupation, not colonialism. Lots of occupations are not colonial, but they’re still “keeping another people down by force,” because that’s what you have to do in a war.

          The point is that “keeping another people down by force” is (sometimes) legal, just, and an accepted part of the law of armed conflict today.

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          • Arieh

            “The point is that “keeping another people down by force” is (sometimes) legal, just, and an accepted part of the law of armed conflict today.”

            You have got to be kidding. How dare Israel stop Palestinian Arabs from destroying the Jewish state?

            I mean every EXTREME leftist knows that Arabs have rights but Jews don’t. Jews are obliged to let Arabs slaughter them if that’s what Arabs want to do to Jews. How dare Jews occupy the Arabs and stop them? It’s Apartheid I tell you. It really is Apartheid.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            There are some extremists who think like that, but Larry Derfner is very definitely not one of them. One thing I like about his columns is that he is reasonable, and also fair to those with opposing views.

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        • bir

          Larry, you can’t just accept some words because you feel like it and reject others because you feel like it.

          Just as “genocide” is incorrect, so is “apartheid.” It’s just a propaganda word. And, btw, Barak and Olmert didn’t say there is apartheid, rather they predicted that apartheid would be the outcome if Israel does not come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians that defines their state. Of course, that was in the time before tunnels and thousands of rockets. One wonders whether they would even consider those peace proposals under current circumstances.

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    21. Susan

      Someone from 972mag. should check the statistics for Gaza. I believe that the population of Gaza continues to grow so how can Israel be committing genocide?

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      • Brian

        Larry’s point is getting missed in the joyous frenzy to seize on “genocide” here in order to distract everyone from the more difficult truth. As Larry wrote quite clearly, better word choices are: “military dictatorship” and “colonialism” (for the West Bank), “tyranny,” “oppression,” (for the Palestinians as a whole)and “ethnic cleansing.”

        The hasbarists here might try this on for size: “Oh, hey, whew, I thought you meant genocide!! Its only colonial dicatorship, tryranny, oppression and ethnic cleansing! No biggie. Cool!! We knew that all along!! Thanks bro!!!”

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          “military dictatorship” – well, Palestinian military dictatorship over their own people. However, by definition this doesn’t apply to Israel, not in Gaza and not in Judea and Samaria where 98% of Palestinians live under Palestinian rule.

          “colonialism” – uh, no. Sorry. Unlike, say, the British in India, Jews have always lived on this land and their people and culture precede the Palestinians.

          “tyranny” – well, Palestinian tyranny over their own people does exist. Yes.

          “oppression” – if by this you mean preventing Arabs from killing Jews, then yes. Otherwise, no.

          “ethnic cleansing” – biggest lie of all.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            One of the most instructive things for me in visiting these “discussion” (trench warfare?) sites is the lesson in dishonesty: the capacity for dishonesty in the service of an overvalued idea (messianic racism and less “idealistic” aims that tag along and borrow from it). I find myself returning to this theme over and over on these boards. Dishonesty. Netanyahu, famous at this point in his life for this, is emblematic. But posts like yours exemplify this problem as well. All of you MUST, if you have a subscription to Haaretz, read this article by Sefi Rachlevsky today:

            ===============================
            Netanyahu’s deceptive discourse forces Israelis to ask: What do we want?
            The choice of a messianic, racist, Jewish society is not yet accepted by most Israelis – so Netanyahu has made the tactical decision to conceal his present actions as a prolonged reprisal action.
            By Sefi Rachlevsky | Sep. 30, 2014 | 3:10 AM |
            =================================

            Because Rachlevsky’s essay is about the struggle for Jewish identity, and about dishonest subterfuges employed in that struggle. It’s about the Children of Light versus the Children of Darkness. Jewish version. This is so important. You have to read it. If I would not violate copyright rules I would post the whole thing here.

            But here are two pivotal paragraphs (but you must read the whole thing):

            […] There is a symbolic aspect to Netanyahu’s focus on the UN and the fact that he does so in English. Gone is the talk of universal Jewish ideas about the family of nations, the Hebrew Ben-Gurionism of “oom shmoom” to dismiss the UN or “It doesn’t matter what the goyim say, but what the Jews do.” Instead, we have the exact opposite: an identity that is dictated by others and presented as an endless reprisal action to the primary move of exposing gentile racism.

            Behind all of this is a great deceit. There is no greater success for Netanyahu than the repeated asking of the question, “What does he want?” and answering that all he wants is to remain in power. The truth is very different. After all, the settlement enterprise, that Kookian enterprise of Rabbi Dov Lior and Naftali Bennett, is entirely an Israeli choice — and from their perspective, a Jewish choice. It is an arrogant, messianic, racist choice by the “chosen people.” But since this choice of a messianic, racist, Jewish society, a society of extreme inequality, a society without borders, a society of settlements, is not yet accepted by most Israelis, Netanyahu has made the tactical decision to conceal this fact for now and to instead present his actions as a prolonged reprisal action, the response of the eternal Jewish victim to ongoing anti-Jewish hostility. […]

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Racism?

            Arabs express their hatred of Jews every time they get the chance. That is “freedom fight”. I guess a slightly different connotation to the normal meaning of freedom fight. In the context which the Arabs and the Brians of this world mean it it’s freedom from Jews.

            But when SOME Jews show or express disdain towards Arabs that is racism and apartheid according to the Brians of this world.

            Hellllllooooooo, Brian!!!! Anybody home????? People who are in war with each other usually don’t particularly like each other. Arabs and Israeli Jews have been fighting a 100 year war. So what exactly do you expect?

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Failure to actually read and understand Rachlevsky = Major Fail.
            Major Fail Score at half time:
            Abbas 1
            Gustav 1
            The clock is ticking!

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Rachevsky?

            Is he your oracle of all wisdom? Good for you, Brian. Personally? I think he is just another somebody with an opinion.

            I guess I could have been more unkind to him but I am in a good mood today.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Don’t strain yourself. It’s heavy lifting.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            I assure you Brian, dear. Ignoring Rachlevsky is no strain. It comes naturally to me to ignore idiots. Or to ridicule them.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Brian, it’s a little sad that this article and particularly the section you quote is what touches you and what you deem to be a reasonable explanation of what’s going on.

            Very sad.

            Reply to Comment
    22. Victor Arajs

      This is a disappointing article coming from Larry. Both the Nazis and zionists participate in genocide, the zionists are less efficient, but it is equally bad. The Naqba is the equivalent of the holocaust

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Let’s see what qualifications our Victor Arajs has to comment on anything to do with Jews. Here is what his infamous namesake was guilty of:

        “Viktors Arājs (13 January 1910 – 13 January 1988) was a Latvian collaborator and Nazi SS officer, who took part in the Holocaust during the German occupation of Latvia and Belarus (then called White Russia or White Ruthenia) as the leader of the Arājs Kommando. The Arajs Kommando murdered about half of Latvia’s Jews.[1]”

        So who is this Victor Arajs who comments here all the time like a man possessed?

        Either he admires his infamous namesake who murdered Jews for a hobby. That’s why he chose to call himself a virtually identical name. Or he is a relative of his. I don’t know which would be worse. But one thing is for sure, our Victor has no credibility when it comes to talking about Jews. In any case, he comes across as an obsessed hater.

        Then again, he is not alone in this site who is like that but in additional to being a hater, this Victor comes across as being stupid for coming here and using the name of a Nazi war criminal. Unlike someone like Brian who says much the same things but at least he uses an innocuous name like “Brian”.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          This is really vicious character assassination by innuendo. Nothing more. I’ve got your number.

          Reply to Comment
    23. Victor Arajs

      My ancestors helped liberate Latvia and I am proud of them. You are clearly in the monority hear. If the authors of the blogs felt i was not making a contribution, they would have rebutted them, deleted them or never posted them in the first place. The fact that they have not done so tells me that they agree with me. If you dont like it, leave this website

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Who was your ancestor, Victor? Was it Viktors Arājs the Nazi war criminal? If I were you, I would not use his name.

        By the way, Dahlia Schnedlin actually did ban you for using that filthy Nazi murderer’s name. But you are obviously hard to shake.

        Now, if you don’t like my posts about YOU Victor dear, either change your name, leave or put up with me.

        As for you Brian, I have got YOUR number.

        Reply to Comment
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