When Palestinian academic Abdalhadi Alijla called Israel’s military operations in Gaza genocide, he received a prompt response from Israeli professor Josef Olmert. In this final reply, Alijla takes his argument further.
I hesitated before writing a response to my Israeli colleague, Professor Josef Olmert, who responded to my recent Op-Ed on Your Middle East, as it would be a waste of time for one main reason: Israeli Zionists, including academics and officials, are part of Israel’s Hasbara public diplomacy strategy, which actively seeks out and disputes every opinion that opposes theirs, even when it is supported by empirical evidence.
As part of the recent assault on the Gaza Strip, Israel bombed and completely destroyed one of the highest residential towers in Gaza City – 14 floors with more than 40 apartments, displacing over 80 families in less than five minutes. Hours later, they bombed the main trade center in Rafah city and one of the highest buildings there.
Scenes coming from Gaza are similar to 9/11 terrorist attacks on the innocent civilians working in New York’s twin towers. Of course, Israel will claim that the buildings were used for terror activities, yet will provide no evidentiary proof. Instead, Israel characterizes nearly all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as terrorists, making no exception for children and women.
“Israel bombed and completely destroyed one of the highest residential towers in Gaza City”
First, Professor Olmert attempts to undermine my argument using the reprehensible tactic of accusing me implicitly of defending Hamas or being a member of Hamas. I am not a member of any Islamist political movement, and indeed my past criticism of Hamas ideology and strategy has been documented publicly. However, at the present time, being a member of Hamas is an honor for many Palestinians.
Professor Olmert seeks to avoid the core of my article, which focuses on the ongoing assault against the Gaza Strip.
I am saddened by what happened to members of my extended family, who lost 44 homes, with 90 families erased from the civil registry. Beyond my family, Israel has caused massive devastation to the Gaza Strip, dropping the equivalent of six nuclear bombs on the Gaza Strip in the last month and a half.
Just look at the numbers: The territory is only 360 km2, or about twice the size and three times the population of Washington, DC, and it has been shelled by more than 60.000 artillery missiles and more than 8.000 highly explosive MK missiles.
If the Professor was in Gaza, would he be silent, relaxed, or angry at the current state of affairs? Gedon Levi, the prominent Israeli writer, describes the death of just one Israeli child compared to many Palestinian children, he writes: “There are only children killed for nothing, hundreds of children whose fate touches no one in Israel, and one child, just one, around whose death the people unite in mourning”.
I advise Mr. Olmert to read what Robert Fisk wrote last month in an article in The Independent, titled “The True Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week”. Fisk reminds everyone of the sad irony that the Palestinians in Gaza are firing rockets on villages and cities that once belonged to them but were taken by force.
Dr. Olmert is most upset that I labeled Israel’s latest operation a genocide. Yet he is presenting false information about the number of casualties in Gaza and arguing that genocide cannot be occurring if the natural population growth rate of Palestinians is increasing. What a justification for massive killing!
Gaza is a small, densely populated area that has been under closure for more than 7 years, a fact that Dr. Olmert omits. The number of causalities in the Gaza Strip, most of them are civilians, has been published on the websites of the Palestinian Ministry of Health, various human rights organizations, the ICRC, UNRWA, including the names, ages, and address of the causalities.
Would Professor Olmert provide an explanation for the racist demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jewish cities in which Israelis chant, ”Death to Arabs”, and for the Israeli crowds cheering as they watch footage of bombs falling on the heads of civilians in Gaza in what they call the “war cinema” near Sederot city?
Dr. Olmert should clarify the speech of one of Israel’s most influential rabbis and the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Israelis, who compared the Palestinians to “snakes who must be beheaded.” Racism in Zionism, if I may argue, goes beyond overt violence to more subtle, pernicious practices. Dozens of top Israeli rabbis have signed rulings to forbid rental of homes to Arabs. One rabbi says that the Jewish way to fight a moral war is to kill civilians and destroy places of worship.
William Schabas, professor of international law and senior lecturer at Canada’s Middlesex University, argues that genocide is comprised of different components; it is not only in the act but also in the means of committing the crime. Genocide can be physical, biological, economic, societal, and cultural in its obliteration of a people.
“Gaza is a small, densely populated area that has been under closure for more than 7 years”
Article II in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide indicates that genocide occurs when any of the following acts are committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:(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.
Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, has found, according to Wikileaks, that Israel has been using the Dahiya Doctrine, which is further evidence of Israel’s intent to slaughter Palestinians en masse in Gaza.
The following figures are current as of August 24 according to the Palestine Committee on Human Rights in Gaza: more than 80% (1.800) out of those 2.120 killed were civilians and represent one out of every thousand people in Gaza. Almost 25 percent (507) were children. Out of 10.854 wounded, 3.307 are children, 2.042 are women and 401 are elderly. Israel is responsible to give an explanation for its crimes!
Between 2007 and 2012, more than 300 Palestinians died because of the lack of health and medicine that Israel has prohibited, due to the severe Israeli siege imposed against Gaza. As the Israeli Prof. Ilan Peppe states, “it is incremental genocide”.
In conclusion, the Gaza Strip is the victim of the Israeli claims that they are fighting terrorism. The fact is that Israel dehumanizes and commits genocide based on ethnic cleansing.