It''s one thing when a political activist of the far-out leftist progressive camp like Ken O''Keefe of Turkish Flotilla infamy says that Jews who do not criticize Israel are like pre-war Germans, that we have a "special burden" and that we “as a people are a threat to every ounce of decency and humanity that exists." That''s pure guttersnipe obscenity.
True, it is an example of a growing opinion, first coming from the anti-Semites and now seeping into academia and columnists, that Israel''s actions by defending itself against Arab deeds of terror and Arab negation of the idea of the Jewish people''s peoplehood is somehow Nazism, Nazi-like or plain Germanic.
Claims are made that Gaza is no less than a concentration camp as by the Pope''s justice minister, Cardinal Renato Martino and also by Tony Blair''s, now Muslim, sister-in-law, Laura Booth who said Gaza is "the largest concentration camp in the world today". Israelis soldiers are Gestaspo. The rhetoric increases all the time.
But the situation is much worse. I had presumed that this Germanic comparison ranting was off-the-edge. It isn''t. My ignorance embarrassed me.
I was aware of a pro-Palestinian activist who seems to have sold his soul for falafel. Here is Francis A. Boyle, currently Professor in International Law at University of Chicago in 1997 demanding:
"That the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine and its President institute legal proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague (the so-called World Court) for violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. I am sure we can all agree that Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian People."
In 2009 he wrote:
"[This is what] Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity. Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews."
If you read this article, entitled "The question of genocide in Palestine, 1948: an exchange between Martin Shaw and Omer Bartov" which was published in the Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 12, Issue 3, 2010, Pages 243 – 259, you will realize what monstrous irrational conceptualization is going on in institutions of higher (?) education. In a previous article, which was the catalyst for this Shaw-Bartov "discussion", Professor Shaw of Sussex University, Department of International Relations and Politics, had set out his goal:
"This article discusses what may be involved in treating the 1948 destruction of a large part of Arab society in Palestine as ''genocide''. It argues that genocide is a general sociological concept which can be applied to many historical cases varying in scale, murderousness, ideological motivation, etc., so applying genocide analysis does not imply a comparison to any other specific case. The article analyses the Palestinian case in the context of an international perspective on the historical development of genocide, and discusses the significance of differences over the historical explanation of the 1948 events for a genocide perspective."
He explains in the article, and repeats in his later ''discussion'' with Omer Bartov, Professor at Brown University and chair of its Department of History, his
"justification for introducing a genocide perspective. It proceeds from the assumption that genocide is an important concept of social and historical analysis, and that applying a genocide perspective will help us to explore and explain the Palestinian crisis of the last six decades in an illuminating way. In order that a genocide perspective can fulfill this role, however, it is necessary to discuss what genocide means, why the concept is important, and how it should be used in historical analysis.
The key to his approach is two-fold: fudge historical facts (he admits to a lack of Hebrew comprehension which nevertheless does not interefe with his analysis of Hebrew words like tihur (''mopping up'' in military parlance) and shoah (Holocaust, yes, but not always) and also adopt a new definition of the subject at hand. If you control the language, you control the discourse.
For example, he suggests that:
"We need also to pay attention to how prevalent a genocidal mentality was among nationalist elites in Eastern Europe – the milieu in which Zionism itself was formed. It had become normal, in formulating a project for a nationally homogenous state, to envisage removing populations who did not fit (italics in original)."
"Normal"? Was not Zionism the sole modern nationalist movement that sought a "Charter", as Herzl termed his diplomatic approach, and then set about buying up its own national homeland? Shaw then takes his "genocide" theory a step further off the cliff:
"The proposal here is therefore that we should view Israel''s destruction of large parts of Arab society in Palestine in 1948 not simply through the perspective of settler-colonial genocide, but as an extension of the exclusivist nationalism which had recently brought about extensive genocidal violence in the European war – and perhaps even (given the complex connections between the different branches of Zionist power involved in forcing the removal of the Palestinian population) as in some senses like the ''post-colonial'' genocide of the Indian Partition."
There it is. Genocide has become not murder, rape and pillage in an organized fashion but also a "destruction of societal parts". And Zionism is characterized as "settler-colonialist", a term I first came across in a booklet by Maxime Rodinson, "Israel: A Colonial-Settler State?" published in 1973, a Marxist-directed analysis by a proponent of the Palestinian cause. Shaw then tries to cover his mendaciousness while carrying forth the banner of prejudice by writing:
"To return to Palestine: clearly no one contends that Israel intended to commit the extensive mass murder of the Arab population, and so in terms of a narrow understanding of genocide, there is no case to discuss. The Nakba was not the Final Solution, and a simple comparison of the two is utterly inappropriate, even if earlier episodes in the Nazi genocide of the Jews, such as the 1939-40 expulsion from western Poland into ghettos in central Poland, provide more debatable comparisons."
First, Shaw would have us believe there was "extensive mass murder" and then, his definition of genocide simply alters or enlarges the narrow meaning of the term and he thus fashions a new conversation. He seeks to dominate the vocabulary and lexicon on his own rules and in addition, claim that only he knows how to use words. For him:
"Genocidal action aims not just to contain, control, or subordinate a population, but to shatter and break up its social existence. Thus genocide is defined, not by a particular form of violence, but by general and pervasive violence...even if we may distinguish genocide from war or repression, in historical reality they are usually closely related. [italics in the original)"
He is saying, it is not what one does and accomplishes actually and moreover, one doesn''t really have to kill and destroy buildings but just severely damage social institutions, but there is more: how I do it. If I act violently but do not actually eradicate a population, perhaps it isn''t genocide?
He continues with a ''retreat-and-advance'' maneuver at the end of his words, so:
"In Gaza in 2009, Israel did not aim to destroy Palestinian society, but to impose a severe collective punishment on that society for its support of Hamas, while attempting to destroy, physically as well as militarily, that organisation itself. (Ironically it was the attempt to assassinate Hamas members, killing their families, which seemed closer to genocide than the punishment of the general population.) I draw a rather different conclusion: the consequence of a society founded on genocide in these circumstances is a situation of more or less permanent war. So long as Israel does not come to terms with the genocide of 1948 and its enduring injustice, its leaders will continue to resort to brutal, degenerate war as a method of keeping the Palestinians in their place. A society thus founded cannot hope either for integrity or for security."
Thus, with a wave of a wand and the mutterings of some hocus-pocus, the definition of genocide is altered, broadened and made facile but all the more applicable to cases of conflict, like Israel, where genocide not only did not take place but was not intended even if a claim of ''transfer'' is arguable. Genocide is not only about people but a society, Shaw demands.
Bartov makes a very good rebuttal but I do not have it on-line at the moment. He attacks ‘the idea that there is a link between assertions of the Holocaust’s centrality and uniqueness and the legitimization of the State of Israel as a colonial entity with its own history of ethnic cleansing and genocidal potential’. He also comments that ‘statements by historians of genocide about Zionist ideology and Israeli policies are mostly rhetorical expressions of opinion, not scholarly analyses of the politics and practices of nation-building and ethnic displacement’. Nevertheless, after I read the later discussion, one thing Bartov could have emphasized is that persons like Shaw simply avoid the genocidal nature of the local Arab social (?) movement in Mandate Palestine between 1920-1948, something I touched upon in my review (Part I; II; III; IV) of Norman Rose''s new book, "A Senseless, Squalid War: Voices from Palestine 1945-1948". As woeful as that book is - especially in the failure to include new research that traces the Mufti''s complete identification with and willingess to serve Nazism (see here; and here; and also here) - it at least provided material to offset this genocide claim. The histories published by post-Zionists and Arab scholars are linking Zionism to Canaanite genocide.
By refusing to confront the true history of the Mandate period, which includes the ethnic cleansing by Arabs of Jews from locations they resided in for centuries - and not only the "new Zionist colonies". Ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and pillage took place in Hebron, Gaza and Shchem as well as Gush Etzion, Tel Hai and Neveh Yaakov and in Jerusalem''s Old City quarter. Shaw and others are not only revealing their ignorance but their unwillingness to be objective scholars. They act as apologists for the actual and persistent genocidal tendencies that were acted out and still form the foundation of much of the Arab hostility to Israel. Indeed, Arab nationalism predicated on an identity defined by the former Mandate of Palestine territory (which originally included Trans-Jordan, today''s Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) is more genocidal in practice despite so-called democratization processes.
Could I suggest that Shaw and others like him are engaged in a genocidal-like operation against the Jewish national idea, its realization and the historical record of the Jewish people in Eretz-Yisrael, its historic homeland?