8 arguments against all those who claim that Israel is carrying out “genocide” against the Palestinians

For some time now, I’ve been constantly reading the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s action in the Gaza Strip. I’m a German teacher, and for almost 15 years I’ve been teaching my students about the Holocaust at least once a year. I have read many documents on Nazism, archives on the Shoah and have prepared dozens of lessons on the subject. I’m not a Middle East specialist, but I’m scandalized – yes, scandalized – that the word “genocide” is constantly used to characterize the Israeli army’s actions in Gaza. I’d like to make several points on this issue:

1) Legal definition of genocide:

According to the UN, genocide can be defined as follows:

In the present Convention (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide), genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

a. Killing members of the group;

b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

2) A short overview of some of the most important genocides in 20th century

Among the many historical precedents, we may recall the genocide committed by the Turks against the Armenians (1915-1916); the genocide committed by the Communists under Stalin against the Ukrainians – even if other peoples were killed by Stalin as part of genocide (1932-1933); or the most – infamous – genocide in history, the genocide committed against European Jews during the Second World War (1941-1945).

Is there any analogy between these historical precedents and Israel’s policy towards Palestine?

3) Firstly, all these genocides were accompanied by an explicit plan (the “intent” referred to by the UN), verifiable by archives, testimonies and often by investigations carried out by international justice. However, to my knowledge, there is no document, archive or oral testimony from an Israeli politician, military officer or any other reliable witness close to Israeli decision-making centers that would attest to such an intention or plan to destroy the Palestinians as a people.

4) Moreover, these genocides cost the lives of between 1.2 and 1.5 million Armenian victims; in Ukraine, between 2.6 and 5 million people were killed; 6 million Jews were killed by Nazis (not to mention the other victims of Nazism, including numerous minorities, hostages and political resistance fighters). Although every human death is tragic, I would like to point out that some 75,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the Second World War. These figures always correspond to the highest estimates, and even include deaths caused by Israel’s direct allies in Lebanon. Even taking this high range, these figures are not comparable to the genocides of the 20th century.

In comparison, the number of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank has increased significantly, from 1 million in 1950 to 9 million in 2021. The number of Palestinians in Israel has risen from 150,000 in 1948 to 2,600,000 in 2023. Is there any genocide here?

5) I would also like to remind you that up to 10,000 Palestinians were killed by …. the Jordanians between 1970 and 1971 during “Black September”. Around 3,700 Palestinians were killed in Syria by the Assad regime. These terrible and surprisingly forgotten figures are comparable to the number of victims of the 2023 operation in Gaza. Yet no one would suggest that there was any genocidal intent here. These terrible figures are quite comparable to the number of Palestinians killed during the second Intifada for example. But only Israel is called a “genocidal” state, not Jordan or Syria.

6) Are these conditions “d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group” fulfilled?

Have any Palestinian children been deported to Israel? No. Many Israelis are even worried about the demographic shift in favor of the Palestinians.

Is there any attempt to prevent Palestinians from having children by imposing abortion or forced sterilization from having children?

Of course not. Israel has even financed the renovation of hospitals in Palestine, and has never opposed European aid for humanitarian or medical purposes.

7) It would obviously be more than desirable – to say the least – if there were far fewer Palestinian or Israeli victims. The deaths cause suffering and mourning, and contribute to a never-ending cycle of revenge. But we must never forget the direct responsibility of Hamas and Iran in the recent wars between Israel and the Palestinians. Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, which support and finance them, are the main culprits in the cycle of violence that has set the Middle East ablaze, not any “genocidal” intent or “plan” by Israelis. What’s more, the annexation of the West Bank is morally outrageous in relation to the Palestinian population, illegitimate in terms of international law, and dangerous for Israel itself, since it fosters resentment and even hatred among many Palestinians. But this does not justify suicide bombings and rockets against the Israeli population, which are “nihilistic” acts or a way for Iran’s proxies to seek to weaken Israel and terrorize its population.

8) All war causes civilian deaths and fuels hatred against peoples, but this does not necessarily have to do with genocidal intent or design. Finally, to conclude this brief article on the pseudo-“genocide” committed by Israel, let’s remember that if Hamas were to lay down its arms, any military intervention by Israel in Gaza would cease immediately. On the other hand, if Israel were to lay down its arms, Hamas would massacre the Israelis.

Sources :

Definition of genocide: https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/genocide.shtml

On Palestinians in Syria: https://macleans.ca/news/world/the-forgotten-palestinians-of-syria/

Palestinian demographics since WWII: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_State_of_Palestine, figures based on UNO statistics

On the number of Palestinian deaths since 1948: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_casualties_of_war

On the number of Palestinians in Israel: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-and-non-jewish-population-of-israel-palestine-1517-present


Cite this blog post
Baudry Pierre (2023, December 5). 8 arguments against all those who claim that Israel is carrying out “genocide” against the Palestinians. Deciphering international politics - religion, economics and international affairs. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/tl3p

Baudry Pierre

Ph.D. CNRS/EPHE (Paris), Assistant professor.

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