Genocide in Gaza

Where to begin? Let’s start with the oft-cited justification for the atrocities Israel has committed in Gaza since the Hamas attack of last October 7: “Israel has the right to defend itself.” What does that actually mean?

In practice, it seems to mean whatever the Israeli government says it should mean. It means well over 30,000 Gazan deaths so far (over 32,000, according to Al Jazeera), including a shocking number of children. It means indiscriminate bombing and reducing homes to rubble. It means mass displacement and it is beginning to mean starvation.

Yazan Kafarneh, 10, died of severe malnourishment on March 4. Photo: Hatem Ali/Associated Press.

Many Western figures, in government and media alike, seem to accept this “anything goes” rationale as a logical extension of Israel’s “right to defend itself.” President Biden basically endorsed this stance after October 7, before his more recent cosmetic, slow-moving retreat. And David Brooks, a supposed compassionate conservative, exemplifies the tortured logic behind Israel’s supposed need to obliterate Gaza in the process of defeating Hamas in a recent column entitled, “What Would You Have Israel Do to Defend Itself?”

“So where are we?” Brooks asks. “I’m left with the tragic conclusion that there is no magical alternative military strategy.” The rest of the column duly notes Israeli discrimination against Palestinians and the need for a more equitable future (but without endorsing a two-state solution).

Let’s illustrate this thinking in blunt terms. Mr. Brooks, do you believe it was necessary for Israel to kill more than 32,000 people, including more than 13,000 children; to destroy more than half of Gaza’s homes (some 360,000, Al Jazeera estimates); to implement mass displacement and withhold shipments of aid to create starvation for use as a weapon, in order to defeat Hamas? Answer: yes (tragically).

More than half of Gazan homes have been destroyed. Photo: Mohammed Hajjar/AP.

By this same rationale, it was necessary for Hamas to attack Israel on October 7 and kill more than 1,100 Israelis in order to fight injustice, strike a blow for freedom and underscore the Palestinian cause. If you’ve been oppressed for more than 70 years, had your land stolen and your rights taken away, doesn’t the end justify the means? Many American college students believe exactly that, which is why the leaders of Harvard and Penn were deposed, after a self-righteous and hypocritical hearing in the House.

The truth, it should be obvious, is that no one has the “right” or the justification to murder innocents. Yet Israel and its defenders insist on precisely that right. At times, they employ the memory of the Holocaust or Shoah, to underscore their need to have this right. If you’d like to take a closer look at how the Holocaust is employed in service of Israel’s murderous policies, this article in the London Review of Books does just that.

South Africa has brought a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ highest court, arguing that Israel is committing genocide. Most Western countries will reject this claim, but it appears Ireland is about to file an argument in support of South Africa’s case.

We believe genocide is occurring in Gaza, and that Israel and its leaders have committed numerous war crimes. We also believe Israel’s current actions have provoked a spike in antisemitism worldwide and have imperiled the country’s future security.

Ideally, an ICJ verdict in support of the genocide charge would be a first step toward justice and, hopefully, change. But change remains unlikely, especially if the U.S. continues its unequivocal military and financial support of the rogue Israeli state.

1 thought on “Genocide in Gaza”

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