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For about a week I've become convinced that the ongoing Israeli attack on Gaza, which started on July 8th, is not just a war crime.  It's not just apartheid.  It's not just collective punishment.  It's not just mass murder.  It's not just ethnic cleansing.  It's not just terrorism, although it is all of those things.  Instead, I believe it amounts to the grave international crime of genocide.

It is important to advance this conclusion, because it underscores the incredible gravity, and evil, of what Israel is doing.  It's also important, because if the idea were to take hold internationally, it might be the only way to put pressure on the supine U.S. government, which is doing absolutely nothing to acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, much less actually help them.  Of course, as a practical matter, things would have to get fantastically more horrible (hard as that is to imagine) before any U.S. elected official will have the courage to even THINK about criticizing Israel.

By the way, spare me the boring comments about how it's supposedly never appropriate to use the label "evil."  There are times for that.

This is an attempt to develop my views on that a little, although I don't have time for the extensive research I'd like to do.  I'm not an expert.  It has been more than 30 years since I took a law school class on international law, and I rarely need to use international law in my work as a U.S. immigration lawyer (although I sometimes make treaty arguments in federal litigation).

I haven't done extensive research.  Indeed, this mainly relies on some excellent posts made by other Kossacks.  But I hope it will open some minds, at least a bit.

Many Kossacks, while deploring the massacre, reflexively and viscerally reject that label.  I had a diary today entitled White House Condemns Attack on UN Shelter in Gaza. A few people said they'd decline to rec the diary, or had removed a rec, because I'm calling it genocide.  The label was said to be hyperbolic, distracting from opposition to the massacre.  

Somebody even said something that someone else thought seemed to imply that using the label is tantamount to calling the Israelis Nazis (although the poster who said that later said she certainly didn't mean that)!

A note about the Nazis:  I am NOT comparing Israel to the Nazis.  I'm very careful about
never doing that, for many reasons, and I don't think the comparison is useful.  Saying that they are genocidal war criminals is NOT the same thing as calling them Nazis.  

Israel supporters will claim that this is a Nazi comparison.  They will claim it is anti-Semitic.  We've seen such wild charges regularly in I/P diaries the last few weeks.  I hope anybody who comments on this diary will avoid such calumnies.

My history: As I've said a few times, almost all of my long-time friends are Jewish.  (That's true!)  I'm not anti-Semitic in the least.  To the contrary, I have great admiration for Jewish people in general.  And I was solidly on the side of Israel for decades.  Even during the Cast Lead atrocities in 2008-09, I generally supported the Israeli government.  But I'm radicalized now.  I want to see U.S. support withdrawn from Israel and given to the Palestinians.

Maybe a miracle will happen!  (As a religious Catholic, I have lots of religion-based views on this, but that sentence is the most I will say on that.  I don't want to distract from the main point with a lot of foolish bickering about religion.)

A note about HRs:  I respectfully request no HRs in this diary.  That's not a way to win arguments.

Some great recent posts.  I want to start with a first-rate comment from jfromga, which I think is the best I've yet seen on the topic.  (Incidentally, I quipped that he was basically writing my next diary for me, but maybe he should write the diary.  He said he'd prefer not to, because "I will not be able to stay civil hosting a diary.")  Here is his comment:

the problem (8+ / 0-)

with a bright line number of people killed before one can call it a genocide, means that any response to the beginning of a genocide is delayed.

The Rwandan Genocide was notable for its swiftness, it was largely accomplished in 100 days and took out 70% of the targeted population.  But other genocides have taken years.

Israel has killed less than 1/10 of 1% of the population, mostly in three weeks.   But with infrastructure largely destroyed now, the power plant virtually inoperable, water and sanitation will get worse and we can expect an increase in the mortality rate.  The Israeli government has said to expect a prolonged 'war'.  How many people will be dead in a year?  Will the number of dead in a year be sufficient to look back and say, opps, it was a genocide.  Maybe we should have
done something sooner, but not enough people had died.


 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of this convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its
physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."[4]
Seems to me that shelling Gaza every day, hitting identified shelters after telling people to evacuate to shelters, destroying the hospitals, power plant, etc., is deliberate action to cause serious bodily harm and mental harm to members of the group and inflicting group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction of the group in whole or in part.

But if you like waiting on a sufficient body count because 1000 people, a majority of whom are civilians,  of 1.82 million people trapped on a tiny strip of land with no place to flee in three weeks of military operations isn't enough, then I am afraid of what your definition of genocide is.

Let me paraphrase the core of that.  The UN Genocide Convention defines genocide as:  the intent to destroy IN PART a national, ethnical, racial or religious group (and the Muslim Palestinian Arabs in Gaza certainly qualify as simultaneously a distinct national, ethnical, racial and religious group) by such acts as killing members of the group, causing serious bodily OR MENTAL harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life that are calculated to bring about its physical destruction, at least in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

That's six different kinds of prohibited acts against such a group (counting bodily or mental harm as distinct).  Israel is doing at least FIVE of those prohibited acts, in cruel measure beyond belief.  The ONLY one they don't seem to be doing is forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.  Instead, they're just murdering them by blowing up kids on the beach and targeting schools and refugee shelters.

The above is the actual international law on genocide.  It simply cannot reasonably be denied, by anybody who has been following the story, that that is what Israel is doing.

This deserves the most ferocious international condemnation by the whole world, including the United States.  But this will only get traction if the public in the United States starts to have a glimmer of truth about what's going on, and that seems unlikely.

Many people have argued that this is old news, that Israel has been ruthlessly suppressing the Palestinians for more than 50 years.

But what is going on now is something new, I believe.  A whole new level of escalation of a long-term plan of genocide against the Palestinians.

I can't find it right now, but there was a good series of posts today in another diary about the fact that it is now official high-level policy of the IDF, as promoted by one of the IDF's top commanders, to cause widespread civilian casualties to break morale of the Arabs, which of course is a wall to wall war crime.

Here is another great post by


It is incremental genocide. (5+ / 0-)

HoundDog wrote a good diary with a description by Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who said:

    But what I want to emphasize today is these killings are part of a broader set of inhuman acts by Israel constituting international crimes, carried out by Israel over many years, going back to at least 1947 and 1948. They include crimes that aren't talked about that much in the media or the press, the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and apartheid. These crimes can be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court and are defined there. They include what the well-known Israeli writer Ilan Pappé called incremental genocide. Pappé says he wants to place the barbarity of what Israel is doing in its proper context.

    I'm a lawyer. I've looked at genocide. Genocide has two elements. One element is the mental element, the intent to destroy the whole or in part a national or ethnic or racial or religious group. Palestinians are clearly a national and ethnic group. And you don't need to kill them all.

You just need to have the mental intent to kill part of them. For example, it would be enough to have the mental intent to kill the leadership of the Palestinians or to kill people in one region. No doubt about that.

    Genocide also requires that there be acts of genocide--killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm, or inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction, in whole or part, of the people you're trying to destroy. There's no doubt again here this is "incremental genocide", as Ilan Pappé says. iIt's been going on for a long time, the killings, the incredibly awful conditions of life, the expulsions that have gone on for from Lydda in 1947 and '48, when 700 or more villages in Palestine were destroyed, and in the expulsions that continued from that time until today. It's correct and important to label it for what it is.

Conclusion: I keep thinking about, and posting about, the deliberate Israeli destruction a couple of days ago of the one power plant in Gaza.  They say it will take at least a year to repair--but only if Israel ceases hostilities and permits imports of building materials and workmen and engineers, which is very doubtful.

Why would they destroy all electrical power in Gaza?  Think about that.

It's summer in the Middle East.  I checked the weather forecast.  It's in the mid-90s in Gaza for days to come.  And the people have no electricity.  No well water, for the pumps are dead.  ("The pump don't work because the vandals took the handle.")  No refrigeration.  No fans or air conditioning.  Nowhere to run.  And the constant crushing fear that any second could be their last from an Israeli bomb.  How could anybody endure that kind of torture?  I wouldn't last for a day.  The resilience of the Gazans is admirable.

As some have pointed out (sorry, can't remember who) another motive for that would be to destroy the ability of Gazans to use the Internet to get the truth out.  I think that's surely part of it, but I think it's mainly the long-rolling plan of slow genocide.

How do you live with no home, no safe place, no food, no water, no electricity, no medical help, no firefighters or police, no nothing?  I'm amazed the death toll is thought to be "only" about 1,400 or whatever.  It's much higher, and given the amazing destruction of fundamental infrastructure, it is absolutely certain that it will go MUCH higher.


The United States was incredibly callous and cruel and criminal when it killed so many tens or even hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the illegal and unbelievably foolish Iraq war.  But I don't think you can argue that that was a genocide.  It was something much weirder and arguably even more evil.

But in Gaza, although SO FAR the death toll is not comparable, the intentions are clearly genocidal (I could quote so many people here who've found Knesset members and Orthodox leaders actually openly calling for extermination).  How could almost an entire society become so hateful?  (Yes, I know there are some peacenik Israelis.)

Okay, I'll stop there for now.  The subject is miles deep, and one could spend years and years on this, with no answer.

There are MANY good comments on this by smart and knowledgeable Kossacks over the past few days.  I'm genuinely humble about that, and I'm sorry I don't have the beans to try to find all of them.

I hope some of my friends (and others) will repeat their thoughts here, if they wish.

In any event, I sincerely hope that diaries like this will help persuade some, especially U.S. citizens, that what we're watching is more horrible than they realize, by far.  This can't go on.

UPDATE:  Please be sure to read this great comment from Lib Dem FoP:

UPDATE 2:  Need to go to bed.  I'm sorry I can't respond to every comment tonight, but I'll try to do that tomorrow.  Please let us try to have no hidden comments from this diary, no matter how angry we may be.  And thanks for the good discussion so far on this very important topic.

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