Monday, January 8, 2024

In This Moment: Is Ethnic Cleansing Genocide? Does it Matter?/ Blacks and Jews: Shame, Pride and the Curse of Canaan


In This Moment

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Is Ethnic Cleansing Genocide?

Does it matter?

The accusations that Israel is committing acts of genocide in Gaza are libelous and just plain wrong.

And yet, Israeli ministers who are publicly promoting ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and resettlement of Jews back to Gaza are also wrong. Ethnic cleansing is not genocide. But it's still wrong.

It's also important to note that this proposal, while real, is not the policy of the Israeli government, nor is it likely to become policy, in large part because of pressure from the US This is precisely why American Jews need to be completely informed about Este. In the end, our opinions matter a lot.

So let's begin with the genocide question I've covered this ground before , but now comes a charge against Israel by South Africa to the International Court of Justice, which will be heard in the Hague later this week. It's a big deal, for the country that suffered the Mother of all Genocides to be accused of said crime.

The South Africans accuse Israel's leaders of having expressed "specific intent" to commit acts of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. Intent is the crux of the matter. Such intent has been expressed clearly and repeatedly by Hamas officials toward Jews and Israelis, both before and after October 7. It is in their charter. It's never been a secret. Their genocidal intent is overt.

That is not the case for Israelis. There has never been such an attempt. The quotes used to attack them are taken out of context at best - for instance, references to Israel's biblical nemesis Amalek that have been made - references to an ancient arch enemy that do not apply to the here and now.

Below is part of an "X" thread from a representative of " Honest Reporting ," which explains goes point-by-point in exposing the fallacy of these accusations of genocidal intent. Read the entire thread (enlarged) here.

Here is how The Jerusalem Post anticipates Israel's defense plan at the Hague:

What will Israel's case be?

Israel will be able to show it has instituted mitigation measures in its military campaign. “Israel's extensive advance warning and other measures to mitigate harm to Gaza civilians make clear that Israel's goal is not to commit genocide but, far from it, to instead minimize Palestinian civilian casualties while lawfully exercising Israel's rights to rescue its hostages, apprehend the October 7 perpetrators, and ensure that Israel's population is secure from further attacks,” he said. Israeli spokespeople have also suggested that Israel will seek to turn the tables, and level charges of genocide against Hamas. “The Hamas terrorist organization — which is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and sought to commit genocide on 7 October — is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by using them as human shields and stealing humanitarian aid from them,” the Foreign Ministry's Hayat said in a statement.

So Israel's actions in Gaza have not been genocidal. But that's a rather low bar. I'm not a murderer. Mazal tov. It's a Pyrrhic victory to be able to make that claim, especially if Israel's own ministers are simultaneously undermining the country's credibility as a civilized nation. See Friday's story in the Washington Post, "Israeli calls for Gaza's ethnic cleansing are only getting louder"

.. .Far-right figures like finance minister Bezalel Smotrich and national security minister Itamar Ben Gvir... do little to hide their vision of an ethnically-cleansed Gaza. “What needs to be done in the Gaza Strip is to encourage emigration,” Smotrich  said  in an interview Sunday with Israeli Army Radio. “If there are 100,000 or 200,000 Arabs in Gaza and not 2 million Arabs, the entire discussion on the day after will be totally different.” Ben Gvir separately called for the de facto forced migration of hundreds of thousands out of Gaza.

No American Jew should be asked to defend statements like that. In fact, we should stand in public protest against them.

We just need to learn how to do that and to defend Israel from accusations of genocide and war crimes at the same time. Not an easy task.

Because we are dealing with a heavily charged environment where no one is listening to nuanced arguments. You can't be both for and against Israel on this. It will only strengthen Israel's enemies if you try to split hairs on this issue.

I agree Which is why this right-wing coalition needs to disband and a new Israeli government needs to take control , one that can be on-message when it comes to security, diplomacy AND morality.

This situation is unsustainable. And as the fighting begins to dissipate (at least in Gaza), we'll be seeing more and more Israelis calling for such a change over the coming weeks. It can't come soon enough.

Perhaps the best posture to hold on this is to follow the Ben-Gurion model. When the British adopted the infamous 1939 White Paper, restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine, just as World War Two was breaking out:

Ben‐Gurion put it this way: “We shall fight in the war against Hitler as if there were no White Paper, but we shall fight the White Paper as if  there were no war.”

Israel and the Jewish people are facing existential threats that are both external and internal. Both need to be fought with equal passion and determination.

We shall fight the South African libel as if our own ministers were not promoting unspeakable measures of their own.

And vice versa.

Tomorrow's Israel's Front Pages

Jerusalem Post


Yediot Ahronoth

If Tuesday's editions have not yet been posted, try again later this evening

Recommended Reading

  • The US Is Dealing With an Israeli Leader Who's Losing Control (Politico) Aaron David Miller, a former longtime Middle East negotiator, describes Netanyahu as increasingly desperate. This is, after all, a man who long cast himself as Israel's best hope for security in a tough region — a brand badly damaged following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war. “It is a terrible example of a leader who has conflated his own political survival with what he considers to be the best interests of this country. “It's a horrible combination, and it leads to terrible decision-making,” he told me.

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