Peter Gelderloos: Israel is Committing Genocide

Revolution Was the Beginning by Sliman Mansour

From Peter Gelderloos’ blog/website, Surviving Leviathan, we share a recent essay (17/10/2023) by him on the current violence in Palestine/Israel.

What the Israeli government is currently doing to occupied Palestine meets all the criteria for genocide.

Time and again, the Israeli government has revealed that it supports the mass murder of Palestinian noncombatants, including children, babies, and the elderly. They support the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, and the mass theft of Palestinian lands. The Israeli military bombs hospitals and houses, shoots unarmed children, and tortures political opponents, and the politicians and officers responsible do not get punished, they get rewarded.

Israeli violence is clearly motivated along religious, ethnic, and political lines: it is not just Palestinians but also Arab and Muslim citizens of Israel, Jewish antiwar activists, and Christians living in Israel/Palestine who have documented and been subjected to these forms of murder, torture, and dispossession, while Zionist settlers are allowed to carry automatic weapons, harass and even kill Palestinians, invade Palestinian homes, and forcibly expel their residents to build new settlements on Palestinian land.

The UN and the International Criminal Court continue to draw lines to try to protect Palestinian land and to protect Muslims and other religious faiths. Every year the Israeli government and settlers continue to violently cross those lines, killing more Palestinians, attacking more mosques, and stealing more Palestinian land.

Gaza is populated mostly by Palestinians who had been forced from their homes, and by their children, who have spent their entire lives unable to return to a home they will probably never know. Israel controls all points of access to Gaza (together with their Egyptian allies) and Israel can and frequently does shut off electricity and water supplies for Gaza, one of its many habitual human rights violations. Those living in Gaza have no freedom of movement and no democratic freedoms of any kind. Israel has long presumed the right to declare which Palestinian parties or organizations are illegal, and to assassinate any Palestinian they declare illegal, without a trial. The Israeli state exercises a unilateral power of life and death over every Palestinian.

Gaza is effectively an open air prison for refugees who, if the Israeli government gets its way, will never be able to return home.

In the first ten days of the Israeli offensive, the IDF dropped more bombs on the Gaza strip than the US did during most years of its violent occupation of Afghanistan. But Gaza is the size of Detroit or Philadelphia, whereas Afghanistan is about the size of Texas. Also in the first ten days, Israel killed 2,750 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded 9,700, the vast majority of them noncombatants, including many babies, sick people, and elderly people. These casualty figures are more than double the number killed by Hamas in its attacks on October 7, and what no one can doubt is that Israel will murder many many more Palestinians before they stop. They are currently trying to depopulate the northern part of the Gaza strip and there is a high probability they will seek to annex that territory permanently. 340,000 have already had to flee their homes.

Israel is not acting in self-defense, and it never has been. Israel is the clear aggressor. Since 2008, according to data compiled by the UN, Israel has killed 20.8 times more Palestinians than the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians. By the Israeli government’s own standards, one Israeli life is worth 20 Palestinian lives, and they would have been much less restrained if nearly every country in the world besides the US and UK were not criticizing them for their racism and their policies of ethnic cleansing.

Israel murders with jets, missiles, and one of the best trained and best equipped militaries in the world. They are not sloppy, inaccurate, or careless. And yet, 32% of the Palestinians they kill are women and children, and many of the others are elderly or unarmed, including a large number of journalists. Meanwhile, the Palestinians, who don’t have a regular military, are much more restrained, killing mostly Israeli soldiers and armed paramilitaries, 71%. This is no accident. Theirs is a struggle for self-defense and survival, whereas the Israeli intention is to murder defenseless people on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. The vast majority of their killings are either “preemptive” murders (i.e. a missile strike of suspected political opponents) or indiscriminate killings of protesters, passersby, people sleeping in their beds, and other noncombatants.

Quoting from the Nuremberg Trials indictment and the Polish jurist who first defined it, Genocide is a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups, national, racial, ethnic, political, or religious groups, a coordinated plan aimed at the destruction of the essential foundations of these groups so they wither and die like plants that have suffered a blight. The end may be accomplished by the forced disintegration of political and social institutions, of the culture of the people, of their language, their national feelings and their religion, by wiping out all basis of personal security, liberty, health and dignity.

Rejecting Zionism is not antisemitic.

Antisemitism—hatred and conspiracy theories that target Jews—is a huge problem around the world and a major feature of many far Right ideologies. Anyone who condones antisemitism is condoning oppression. Zionism, however, is not synonymous with Judaism. It is a political current favored by some Jewish people, and also one favored by most far Right evangelical Christians. Anti-racist and antifascist Jews tend overwhelmingly to oppose Zionism. In fact, while the Nazis were rising to power, it was Zionist currents who frequently collaborated with them, whereas Jews who were a major part of anticapitalist movements were some of the most important elements of the antifascist resistance in many places in occupied Europe.

The Zionists who formed the government of modern Israel in 1948, for the most part, had been participating in the settler movement to colonize Palestine for decades. Under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion, they helped the new state of West Germany, which was largely comprised of (ex) Nazis, give itself a political makeover in exchange for a huge amount of money, packaged as “reparations” regardless of whether or not it actually went to Holocaust survivors.

The Zionist affinity for fascism and racism, and their complicity with antisemitism, is still evident today. Netanyahu, the current Israeli prime minister, has been a major ally to the most openly antisemitic regimes in Europe, such as Hungary under Viktor Orbán. As a settler state that needs to attract more racist immigrants to help occupy and settle stolen lands, Israel has also encouraged mass migration from Russia, offering citizenship in a much wealthier country to anyone who can claim at least one recent Jewish ancestor, even though many of these immigrants are themselves deeply antisemitic.

By conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism in order to cover up their own atrocities, the Israeli government makes it harder to talk about actual antisemitism. As for Zionist settlers, they even make a joke of the Holocaust and willingly compare themselves to the Nazis. One of the most common graffiti slogans on the walls in Israel, written in Hebrew especially around Zionist settlements and neighborhoods settlers are trying to annex, is “Gas the Arabs”.

In their own words, the founders of modern Israel were colonizers carrying out ethnic cleansing.

Zionist paramilitary organizations founded modern Israel in 1948 through a deliberate strategy of settler colonialism. First they organized a mass immigration of mostly Zionist Jews into Palestine, increasing their population by a factor of about 7 in two and a half decades. Then, when the growing hostilities boiled over, they won a quick war against Arab paramilitaries and proceeded to attack Muslim and Christian civilians. Their next step was to engineer the violent expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians, which was 36% of the total population of Palestine and 59% of the total Muslim population. Israeli forces wiped over 400 towns and villages off the map, and subsequently attempted to destroy all documentation of the massacres they had carried out.

The founders and leaders of Israel were quite open about what they were doing. Zionist strategists in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s referred to themselves as “colonizers”. Ben-Gurion, considered the founding father of Israel, wrote, “We must expel Arabs and take their place,” as clear an advocacy of ethnic cleansing as you can get. Close supporters of Ben-Gurion described his strategy towards the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had been forced out of their homes as “the old will die and the young will forget.” His policy was intended to be a permanent destruction of the Palestinian people.

  • Ze’ev Jabotinsky (Zionist leader and paramilitary) in 1923: “Zionist colonization must either stop, or else be carried out against the wishes of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, be continued and make progress only under the protection of a power independent of the native population – an iron wall, which will be in a position to resist the pressure to the native population. This is, in toto, our policy towards the Arabs.”
  • Golda Meir in 1969, after continuing Israeli policies of mass expulsion: “There was no such thing as Palestinians… They did not exist.”
  • Prime Minister Menachem Begin called Palestinians “two-footed beasts” and said that Israelis must hold all of Palestine, “All of it. And forever.”
  • Israeli Defense Minister Gallant in October 2023: “We are fighting human animals.” The Israeli Ambassador to Germany added that Israel must move “from containment to eradication” of their enemies.

Raphael Eitan, an IDF Chief of Staff in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was particularly transparent. In 1983: “The Arabs will never defeat us by throwing stones. Our answer will be a nationalist Zionist solution. For every stone throwing, we’ll establish ten settlements. If there will be—and there will be—a hundred settlements between Nablus and Jerusalem, no stones will be thrown.” And later that same year: “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” His implications are clear: he and the rest of the Israeli government know that the Palestinians don’t actually present a threat, and the Israelis will continue building settlements until there are no Palestinians left to throw stones. Eitan also made a very apt comparison to the whites of apartheid South Africa (with which Israel was a staunch ally, both of them being white supremacist states). He warned that South African Blacks “want to gain control over the white minority just like the Arabs here want to gain control over us. And we, like the white minority in South Africa, must act to prevent them from taking over.”

Who supports Hamas? The Israeli military.

The Israeli military’s very roots are steeped in terrorism against civilians. The main Zionist paramilitary group in Palestine in the ‘40s, the Haganah, were noted for bomb attacks that killed entire Palestinian families. In 1948, this and similar terror groups were reformed and became the core structure of the new Israeli military.

Israeli support for terrorism is much more twisted, though. As one former Israeli official puts it, “Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation.” Through the 1970s, most of the Palestinian resistance was secular, left wing, and enjoyed immense international popularity and support. So the Israeli military and secret services began funding the right wing Islamist currents of the movement, which until then were tiny and largely irrelevant, in an attempt to divide Palestinian resistance against itself.

This same strategy was later put to use by the US to gain support for its occupation of Iraq. Then, too, the resistance was overwhelmingly secular, and largely internationalist and humanitarian, clearly fighting a war of self-defense against the US invasion. By supporting the tiny Islamist and al-Qaeda linked segments of the Iraqi resistance, the occupiers gradually turned them into a significant player so the US and its allies could pretend they were “fighting terrorism”. On one occasion, British special forces even got caught preparing a car bomb that was to be blamed on “jihadists”. On other occasions, dissidents arrested and released by US special forces later found their vehicles had been rigged to blow up while they were driving through crowded areas, so they could later be portrayed as suicide bombers. And the Pentagon even admitted to exaggerating the presence of jihadists in Iraq in order to make them seem more important and help them win more support.

In many ways, Israel functions as an open air military laboratory, pumped full of funding, and studied to produce innovations for the sciences of warfare and counterinsurgency. And through the connections of apartheid and settler colonialism, Israel is connected to other systems of oppression across the world.

As the Israeli government once again accelerates its genocidal campaigns, everyone needs to be able to say: Never Again.

More on the occupation of Palestine and Israeli crimes against humanity:

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