Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Debasement of Language: "Israeli Genocide"

With the Israeli Air Force continuing its ongoing retaliation against Hamas, the columnist David Aaronovitch is not what you could call a cheerleader for the Israeli side. He raises some useful criticisms, along the "this sort of thing never works" line, favouring instead an emphasis on more carrot, less stick.

Then he turns to what I consider a more important observation, which he begins by being facetious: "But why speak about such things when we can hold up placards equating Jews with Nazis, emote over dead babies or talk tough about defending Israeli citizens?" He goes on to suggest that Israel's critics would do well to behave like grown-ups, but: "If we are to do this then the friends of the Palestinians would be best advised to put pressure on Hamas never to launch another of its bloody rockets and to stop its death-laden rhetoric, and the friends of Israel well placed to cajole it into making a settlement seem worthwhile. All else is verbiage."

All well and good, but the problem is worse than mere verbiage. In Iran, the people are told Israel’s genocide in Gaza reveals the nature of what the US leaders consider to be the human rights. And they are told Gaza Slaughter Condemned as Genocide. In the Saudi Gazette, we read: Stop Gaza Genocide. In the Gulf Times: Qatar has condemned the savage Israeli raids on Gaza and the genocide operations perpetrated by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian people.

On it goes like that, and one can to some degree excuse the "Arab street" for being so wrong about what's happening in Gaza that not an eyebrow is raised when the word "genocide" gets chucked around so liberally. In countries with low literacy levels and no press freedom, people can't be expected to do nuance very well. The Arab despotisms, and indeed most Islamic republics, consistently rank at the bottom of the 173-nation press freedom index maintained by Reporters Without Borders: "Free expression continues to be no more than a dream in Iraq (158th), Syria (159th), Libya (160th), Saudi Arabia (161st), the Palestinian Territories (163rd) and Iran (166th)."

Note the 163rd place ranking of the Palestinian territories, down from 82nd place six years ago. Rashid Shahin explains why.

But then there's this: "The Palestinian resistance in Gaza has been retaliating to the Israeli genocide in Gaza and fired Sunday three rockets at Ashdod and Ashkelon, 40 km away from Strip." That's from the British magazine alJazeera, based in Manchester. And in the Toronto Star, Khaled Mouammar, president of the Canadian Arab Federation, says: "People are suffering and dying. There is an actual genocide taking place." And in the same article, Sid Ryan, president of CUPE Ontario, says: "I want to condemn in the strongest terms the acts of genocide committed by Israel this weekend," he said.

Michelle Sieff notices the same kind of deranged hyper-propaganda abroad in South Africa, and asks: "Isn’t Hamas the political entity which calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter?" She answers: "It is Hamas which has 'genocidal intentions,' not Israel."

Go to Google News and type the words Gaza and genocide, and you will get 640 results, as of this afternoon. Type Gaza holocaust and you'll get 1,007 results. A Google blog search for Gaza genocide turns up 77,501 results as of 2:20 p.m. today.

This is not just "verbiage." This is not just about Muslims being driven half-mad by the bloodcurdling lies they read in their state-sponsored newspapers.

Something else is going on.


Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

While actual genocides are perpetrated in Darfur and Zimbabwe, it is the attack on genocidal Hamas that gets all the attention and inverted, to blame the Jews. The air is thick with the fumes of Auschwicz.

Why don't the real victims of ethnic slaughter get to be seen and heard? Why don't they get their share in the world's so easily dispensed (and withheld) pity?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that the Palestinians hit the jackpot, by having the Jews for their enemies?

The late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish stated on one occasion:

"Do you know why we Palestinians are famous? Because you are our enemy. The interest in us stems from the interest in the Jewish issue. The interest is in you, not in me. So we have the misfortune of having Israel as an enemy, because it enjoys unlimited support. And we have the good fortune of having Israel as our enemy, because the Jews are the center of attention. You’ve brought us defeat and renown.”

4:21 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


When I ask myself why it is that since 1967, the Left has conventionally provided support of an almost universally uncritical kind to the notoriously corrupt PLO (and now even to Hamas), other, more disturbing questions arise.

Why such affection for the Palestinian Authority, but such vitriolic, venomous opposition to the Karzai regime in Afghanistan? What would it take for those who profess such friendship for the Palestinian leadership - and make so many excuses for Palestinian gangsterism - to profess a similar degree of support for the Afghan government?

What is the big difference? Is Afghanistan not also engaged in an existential struggle with a much larger and more powerful neighbour? Does Pakistan not also occupy vast tracts of land - "Pashtunistan" - that Afghans claim as their own?

One is tempted to ask a horrible question: How many Israelis would Hamid Karzai have to kill in order to earn the excuses, explanations, apologies and support of the "anti-war" movement?

Five? Fifty? Five hundred?

Or rather than a number of dead Israelis, would a number of dead Jews suffice?

How many?

4:47 PM  
Blogger James O'Hearn said...


I don't think it really is a mystery why the Left supports groups like the PLO, while opposing a legitimate government like Karzai's. It has nothing to do with who the groups or people are, but who they are allied with. According to the Left, the US is an imperialist hegemon. It is not coincidence that since the 1960's there has been an explosion in disparate "isms" which have come to dominate the political discourse on campuses and in the media. Be it feminism, or post-colonialism, or which ever related branch of more or less deconstructionist school, in their estimation, there is no greater evil, nor greater corrupter of humanity than the United States. Anyone and anything that allies with them is considered the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree.

It does not matter if a person or groups is brutal, anti-democratic and murderous, the profession that they are the enemy of the United States is ascribed as a preeminent moral virtue, which not only redeems their other failings, but stands in as a justification for their actions and deeds.

This willful self delusion is not a new story.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You're quite right, James, although willful self-delusion might no quite cover it, nor anti-Americanism, nor an irrational hatred of Israel for that matter.

And that was a tremendous review of The Forsaken. I have been to the Russian Far East, twice now, and heard stories about the Kolyma camps; had no idea the gulag was so full of Yanks, though. Astonishing.

12:52 AM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

not to mention that the "genocide" or "slow-motion genocide" has resulted in their being about 5 million Palestinians in Israel, Gaza and West Bank (i.e. mandate Palestine), when there were fewer than 1 million in 1948.

And not to mention that many of the same people who don't recognize genocide in Darfur (200,000 dead at least) are happy to call the Gaza operation genocide when 60 civilians are killed.

For all the hyperbole, though, it's interesting that very few states (excepting Iran and Syria and a few others) are really bothering much with Israel's action. Even the Arab states issue only pro-forma condemnations, and you get the feeling they are happy to see Hamas get its ass kicked.

PS: Terry any news on the Felton issue i emailed you about a few weeks ago.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...


The Felton issue, being a legal issue, is one that I can't comment on. Except to note that his complaint is what the law understands as "frivolous and vexatious".

11:46 AM  
Blogger Israel vs Genocide said...

Israel / Jews vs Islamo Arab fascist genocide campaign since the1920s

Why doe biased media blame Israel when it's the Arab racist & Muslim bigots terrorists (Hamas or Hezbollah) who use their civilians (causing their deaths)?

10:08 PM  

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