Australia/Israel Review


Scribblings: What Incitement to Genocide really looks like

Feb 27, 2024 | Tzvi Fleischer

Israeli President Herzog with a book found in Gaza: The End of the Jews (Image: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Israeli President Herzog with a book found in Gaza: The End of the Jews (Image: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“Genocide” has become the buzzword surrounding the Israel-Hamas war – the key slogan proclaimed by pro-Palestinian activists demanding a ceasefire that would leave Hamas in power, despite the absurdity of any such claim as a matter of law. 

In fact, elements of the pro-Palestinian lobby have been making the argument that Israel is engaged in genocide of the Palestinians for years, stretching the definition of the term way past the breaking point to basically claim that any Israeli-Palestinian violence whatsoever amounts to genocide because it is rooted in supposed Israeli racism against Palestinians. So these groups were primed and determined to deploy the term again once Israel’s war with Hamas began to lead to Palestinian casualties in Gaza. 

The core element for making a case that something is genocide requires establishing specific intent “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” so the statements of Israeli leaders were scoured to try to establish such intent. And predictably, things were found that could be stretched, or misrepresented, into an argument for it – such as Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant saying, “We are fighting human animals” and an Israeli parliamentarian talking about a need to “flatten Gaza”, comments which were both made shortly after the October 7 attacks.

Never mind the first was clearly a reference to Hamas terrorists, not Palestinians broadly, and the second was ambiguous hyperbole from a backbencher with no role in setting Israeli military policy – such quotes gave at least some ostensible plausibility to the “genocide” sloganeering. They were spread on pro-Palestinian social media for that purpose, and then used in South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice 

But anyone who wants to see what real genocidal intent looks like should have a look at a book recently discovered in Gaza and made public by Israeli President Itzhak Herzog. The book is titled The End of the Jews, and it was apparently written by Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the founders of Hamas (though there is some dispute about this).

The book has chapters such as “The world’s burning hatred for the Jews”, “The general corruption of the Jews” and “Reasons to expel the Jews.” It features blood libel, the age-old accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children for rituals, and antisemitic tropes asserting Jewish obsession with wealth and plans to dominate non-Jewish people.

But much of the book is devoted to praising the Nazi efforts to annihilate Jews during the Holocaust, which are held up as a role model to emulate. 

That is what incitement to genocide actually looks like – explicit, detailed demonisation of an entire people and praise for their systematic mass murder, not the ambiguous weak tea that pro-Palestinian activists tried to cherry pick from Israeli expressions of shock and anger after October 7. 

This is the sort of incitement that leads to horror stories like the Hamas terrorist who, on October 7, called his parents from Kibbutz Mefalsim to announce to them joyfully, “Look how many I killed with my own hands. Your son killed Jews!… I’m talking to you from a Jewish woman’s phone. I killed her and I killed her husband. I killed ten with my own hands! Dad, ten with my own hands… Mom, your son is a hero.”

Of course, the Hamas charter also contains an explicit call for genocide of Jews, citing an Islamic Hadith (traditional saying attributed to the prophet Muhammad) predicting that the Muslims are destined to murder all Jews in the end times. 

And yet there are people who try to deny Hamas has any animosity toward the Jewish people. For instance, UN Rapporteur Francesca Albanese vehemently denounced French President Emmanuel Macron for saying October 7 was the “greatest antisemitic massacre of our century.” Albanese insisted instead that “The victims of 7/10 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.” 

Yet not only antisemitism, but genocidal antisemitism, is dead easy to find in Hamas sources – if you are willing to look. 

Albanese represents a larger class of people who are completely unwilling to look when it comes to people they sympathise with – and who are simultaneously determined to pin ridiculous claims on people they do not like based on the flimsiest evidence. Albanese also claimed that what Israel is doing in Gaza is “similar to what happened in the Holocaust.”

When concepts essential to international law and basic morality like genocide are so misused, distorted and abused in this way, it makes one despair of any hope that the world overall can be made a more peaceful and law-abiding place.

 

Why is aid not reaching Gazans?

If you listen to the Australian media, particularly the ABC, you have probably heard story after story quoting UN officials and aid agency heads warning that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is catastrophic and adequate humanitarian aid is simply not reaching desperate Gazans. And there is always a spoken or unspoken implication that Israel is not allowing in enough aid to Gaza.

You are very unlikely to have seen the pictures that Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) posted on X (formerly Twitter) on Feb. 15 showing what it said was “the content of 500 trucks of humanitarian aid on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom [the main Israeli goods crossing point], AFTER Israeli inspection, waiting to be picked up and distributed by UN orgs.” 

COGAT also wrote: “It is the 3rd day in a row that hundreds of trucks are not picked up. The UN needs to scale up their operations.”

In other words, there is evidence Israel is making good on its promise back in November to expeditiously allow in as much aid as agencies can bring in – and the real problem is that these agencies cannot distribute it effectively. 

Just don’t expect to ever hear that on the ABC. 

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