Incremental genocide

Originally the Zionist movement fired by the Balfour Declaration (1917)  sought to conquer Palestine “in blood and fire.”Later as the 20th c morphed into the 21st the world was now watching and slowly became aware of the massive injustice done to the original indigenous inhabitants. 

A  new strategy with an old name became the way forward. the land would be stolen “dunam by dunam, goat by goat.”in other words, slowly, slowly one step at at time .A genocide need not be overt,  consisting of mass murders.It can be slow, hidden from the prying eyes of major dailies and news feeds, an ominous and cynical attempt to erode a  distinctive culture and people. The late Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling called this “politicide.”

Israel was always aware that people were watching. a free press  was an enemy. The classic example was ben Gurion’s refusal to go against Canadian Ben Dunkelman’s orders of July 1948 to depopulate the Palestinian city of Nazareth. This was the the hometown of Jesus and ethnically cleansing the populace was bad optics. It would not go down well internationally. “Here the world is watching.”

Dunkelman  later wrote that this was “one of the most sanctified shrines of the Christian world”(Jesus’ hometown) and was thus aware of the very bad optics and the “severe international repercussions” of such an action.”

When Dunkelman’s memoir went into a second printing  this story was excised.

Historian Ilan Pappé describes Israel’s long game as “incremental genocide.” Go slow so the world does not notice what Israel is doing. That worked for a long time but then computerization and media platforms, cell phones etc laid bare the  brutalizing attempts of a putative democracy to pulverize a proud people.Today because of the above too many people are watching and literally can not abide what they see ,

Pappé writes

The Zionist strategy of branding its brutal policies as an ad hoc response to this or that Palestinian action is as old as the Zionist presence in Palestine itself. It was used repeatedly as a justification for implementing the Zionist vision of a future Palestine that has in it very few, if any, native Palestinians.

The means for achieving this goal changed with the years, but the formula has remained the same: whatever the Zionist vision of a Jewish State might be, it can only materialize without any significant number of Palestinians in it. And nowadays the vision is of an Israel stretching over almost the whole of historic Palestine where millions of Palestinians still live.

Typical hallmarks of the previous stages in this incremental genocide reappear in this wave as well. One can witness again consensual Israeli Jewish support for the massacre of civilians in the Gaza Strip, without one significant voice of dissent. In Tel Aviv, the few who dared to demonstrate against it were beaten by Jewish hooligans, while the police stood by and watched.

Academia, as always, becomes part of the machinery. The prestigious private university, the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has established “a civilian headquarters” where students volunteer to serve as mouthpieces in the propaganda campaign abroad.

The media is loyally recruited, showing no pictures of the human catastrophe Israel has wreaked and informing its public that this time, “the world understands us and is behind us.”

That statement is valid to a point as the political elites in the West continue to provide the old immunity to the “Jewish state.” However, the media have not provided Israel with quite the level of legitimacy it was seeking for its criminal policies.

Cessation of the incremental genocide in Gaza and the restitution of the basic human and civil rights of Palestinians wherever they are, including the right of return, is the only way to open a new vista for a productive international intervention in the Middle East as a whole.

In Februaty 2017 Ben Ehrenreich the author of an excellent book The Way to the Spring used the same expression–incremental genocide.

This is an especially painful thing to talk about, given the history of the Holocaust, and as someone with a Jewish background, it’s extremely painful for me to use that word. It’s more painful to see those realities, and those historical ironies are brutal. I mentioned the Balfour Declaration because I think this always has to be put into a colonialist context. Israel is a settler colonialist society, and the one things that settler colonialist societies have in common is that they follow a genocidal logic. The one we’re living in right now. Every single one of them– South Africa, Canada, the United States, Australia, and Israel: places where settlers came in and declared the land theirs and did everything they could to either remove the people who were already there or so erase their history that they could pretend that they weren’t there.

Finally cultural anthropologist and theologian Ben Corey sums it all up:

Let’s not be dishonest in the ultimate goal here: it is to rid the land of Palestinians.

Capture their land. Develop policies to evict them from their houses. Send in settlers and soldiers to colonize what land they still have. Refuse to let refugees back. Make them miserable under military rule. Limit their access to basic, life-sustaining resources.

The goal? Be not deceived: this is ethnic cleansing.