July 15, 2010

Genocidal campaign against the Palestinians?

I was surprised recently to see someone whose opinion I usually respect saying that Israel's campaign against the Palestinians should not be called genocidal.
Some people have used the term genocide to describe Israel’s attack upon Gaza. Whilst it was a brutal assault aimed largely at terrorising the civilian population, the term is misused here. I’ve also heard the term used more generally for the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel; again, as bad as it is, I don’t think it is pertinent as we are not talking about an attempt physically to destroy an entire nationality.
I just don't agree. Well I agree that each attack on Gaza isn't of itself genocidal but I may well use the word "genocide" as shorthand for the fact that Israel's attacks on and blockade of Gaza are part of a genocidal campaign against the Palestinians. Surely the destruction of the Palestinians is what Israel and the zionist movement have been attempting since their earliest days?

Mike Marqusee puts it all better than I could:
Within pre-1967 Israel, the 18% of the population who are non-Jewish Palestinians, officially classified as “Arabs”, enjoy what is at best a second-class citizenship. More than 90% of the land is legally reserved for Jewish use, while Israeli Palestinians are confined to a separate and inferior educational system and denied benefits and jobs to which Jewish Israelis are entitled. Israeli law prevents Palestinians who marry Israeli Arabs from living in Israel, but anyone else who marries an Israeli is granted Israeli citizenship. Yes, Israel’s Palestinians have the right to vote, but even that is circumscribed. Any political group that advocates amending the “Jewish” character of the state by calling on Israel to become, like every modern state, “a state of all its citizens”, is banned from taking part in elections. Elected Palestinian Members of Knesset who have made such a call have been stripped of Parliamentary immunity and tried for subversion.

Some 10,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently held in Israeli jails, including over 300 children, some 50 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, plus mayors, municipal councillors and even a few ministers of the Palestinian National Authority. 600 are being held without charge under “administrative detention”; others have been charged but await trial indefinitely.

Israel claims all this is necessary because of its unique “security” needs. If these actions are not taken, it is asserted, the Jewish State and therefore the Jewish people will be annihilated. In fact, it is the Palestinians who face an existential threat, who are being ground out not in theory but in daily practise.
And that's without getting into 1948 and all that.


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