Monday, January 17, 2011

Practicing Academic Genocide

I have just read an article and a blog post.

The blog post is here at EOZ and, with help from Ovagoy, he quotes a Ken O'Keefe who says that Jews who do not criticize Israel are like pre-war Germans.

This is an example of a growing opinion, first coming from the antisemites and now seeping into academia and columnists, that Israel's actions in defending itself against Arab terror (deed) and Arab negation (thought) of the Jewish people's peoplehood is somehow Nazism.

Gaza is no less than a concentration camp. Israelis soldiers are Gestaspo. The rhetoric increases all the time.

Which leads me to the article I was sent this past week and finished reading last night. I admit, I was surprised. I had assumed that this Germanic comparison ranting was off-the-edge. It isn't. My ignorance embarrassed me.

I was aware of a pro-Pal. activist who seems to have sold his soul for falafel. Here is Francis A. Boyle, currently Professor in International Law at University of Chicago in 1997 demanding:

that the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine and its President institute legal proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague (the so-called World Court) for violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. I am sure we can all agree that Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian People

and in 2009 he wrote

[this is what] Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity. Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews

But the article immediately in question (and there may be others) entitled is "The question of genocide in Palestine, 1948: an exchange between Martin Shaw and Omer Bartov" and was published in the Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 12, Issue 3, 2010, Pages 243 – 259. In a previous article which led directly to this latest Shaw-Bartov "discussion", he set out his goal:

This article discusses what may be involved in treating the 1948 destruction of a large part of Arab society in Palestine as 'genocide'. It argues that genocide is a general sociological concept which can be applied to many historical cases varying in scale, murderousness, ideological motivation, etc., so applying genocide analysis does not imply a comparison to any other specific case. The article analyses the Palestinian case in the context of an international perspective on the historical development of genocide, and discusses the significance of differences over the historical explanation of the 1948 events for a genocide perspective.

He explains in the article, and repeats in his discussion with Omer Bartov, Professor at Brown University and chair of its Department of History, his

...justification for introducing a genocide perspective. It proceeds from the assumption that genocide is an important concept of social and historical analysis, and that applying a genocide perspective will help us to explore and explain the Palestinian crisis of the last six decades in an illuminating way. In order that a genocide perspective can fulfill this role, however, it is necessary to discuss what genocide means, why the concept is important, and how it should be used in historical analysis.

The key to his approach is two-fold: fudge historical facts (he admits to lack of Hebrew comprehension which nevertheless does not interefe with hius analysis of the Hebrew words tihur ('cleaning') and 'shoah' (Holocaust but not always and adopt a new definition.

For example, he suggests that

we need also to pay attention to how prevalent a genocidal mentality was among nationalist elites in Eastern Europe – the milieu in which Zionism itself was formed. It had become normal, in formulating a project for a nationally homogenous state, to envisage removing populations who did not fit (italics in original).

and then takes it a step further off the cliff:

The proposal here is therefore that we should view Israel's destruction of large parts of Arab society in Palestine in 1948 not simply through the perspective of settler-colonial genocide, but as an extension of the exclusivist nationalism which had recently brought about extensive genocidal violence in the European war – and perhaps even (given the complex connections between the different branches of Zionist power involved in forcing the removal of the Palestinian population) as in some senses like the 'post-colonial' genocide of the Indian Partition.

He then tries to cover his mendaciousness while carrying forth the banner of prejudice:

To return to Palestine: clearly no one contends that Israel intended to commit the extensive mass murder of the Arab population, and so in terms of a narrow understanding of genocide, there is no case to discuss. The Nakba was not the Final Solution, and a simple comparison of the two is utterly inappropriate, even if earlier episodes in the Nazi genocide of the Jews, such as the 1939-40 expulsion from western Poland into ghettos in central Poland, provide more debatable comparisons

His definition of genocide simple alters the meaning. Dominate the vocabulary and lexicon and only you can use words, I would say, if I could. For him:

Genocidal action aims not just to contain, control, or subordinate a population, but to shatter and break up its social existence. Thus genocide is defined, not by a particular form of violence, but by general and pervasive violence...even if we may distinguish genocide from war or repression, in historical reality they are usually closely related. [italics in the original)

So to say, it is not what I do and accomplish and moreover, I don't really have to kill and destroy building but severely damage social institutions, but how I do it. If I act violently but do not actually eradicate a population, perhaps it isn't genocide?

He continues this 'withdraw-proceed' maneuver at the end:

in Gaza in 2009, Israel did not aim to destroy Palestinian society, but to impose a severe collective punishment on that society for its support of Hamas, while attempting to destroy, physically as well as militarily, that organisation itself. (Ironically it was the attempt to assassinate Hamas members, killing their families, which seemed closer to genocide than the punishment of the general population.) I draw a rather different conclusion: the consequence of a society founded on genocide in these circumstances is a situation of more or less permanent war. So long as Israel does not come to terms with the genocide of 1948 and its enduring injustice, its leaders will continue to resort to brutal, degenerate war as a method of keeping the Palestinians in their place. A society thus founded cannot hope either for integrity or for security.

So, with a wave of a wand and the mutterings of some hocus-pocus, the definition of genocide is altered, broadened and made facile but all the more applicable to cases of conflict where genocide not only didn't take place but was not intended even if a claim of 'transfer' is arguable. Genocide is not only about people but a society.

Bartov makes a very good rebuttal and you'll have to read him but I do not have it on-line at the moment. Nevertheless, one thing Bartov could have emphasized is that persons like Shaw simply avoid the genocidal nature of the local Arab movement in Mandate Palestine, something I touched upon in my review (Part I; II; III; IV) of Norman Rose's new book - woeful as the book is -, especially in the new research (but basically known and published decades ago) that traces the Mufti's complete identification with and willingess to serve Nazism (see here; and here; and also here)

By refusing to confront this history, the actual ethnic cleansing of Jews from locations they resided in for centuries - and not the "new Zionist colonies" - such as Hebron, gaza nd Shchem/Nablus as well as Gush Etzion, Tel Hai and Neveh Yaakov as well as Jeruslame's Old City quarter - Shaw and others are not only revealing their ignorance but their unwillingness to be objective scholars. And they act as apologists for genocidal tendencies that were acted out and still form the foundation of Arab hostility to Israel.

Could I suggest that Shaw, et al. are engaged in a genocidal operation against the national idea and the hsitorical record of the Jewish people in Eretz-Yisrael, its historic homeland?

(see, too, my Green-Lined version at the JPost.)
Prof. Bartov can be contacted at Omer_Bartov@Brown.EDU
Prof. Shaw can be contacted at



Now see this.



Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

This sounds like the same Ken O'Keefe who was on the Mavi Marmara. He is supposed to be an ex-US marine. His interview on BBC showed him to be slimey and crooked.

YMedad said...

Yes, that would be but that's the most minor element in the post. You seem to be lost in minutia.

Anonymous said...

Francis Boil is a professional anti-Semite and like any other anti-Semite is a pustule on the backside of the American body politic and academia. The same is true of Ken O"Keefe, passenger and pro-Hamas activist, who was captured aboard the Mavi Marmara and tangled with IDF forces who took the ship to prevent its breach of the blockade of Gaza.

Anonymous said...

Martin Shaw is a "professor" at a micky mouse university. I am amazed these people are taken seriously.


YMedad said...

Found this:

In response to Yisrael Medad on January 17, 2011 at 19:24:

It is worth following Yisrael Medad’s link to see how polemic can degenerate. I am afraid that neither his impatient bluster about ‘hocus-pocus’ nor his hysterical accusation about ‘a genocidal-like operation against the Jewish national idea (etc.)’ will make the ‘genocide’ discussion of 1948 go away. I referred somewhat abstractly (in an academic journal) to ‘Israel’s destruction of large parts of Arab society in Palestine’. In response, Medad pounces: ‘Genocide has become not murder, rape and pillage in an organized fashion but also a “destruction of societal parts”.’ However by ‘destruction’ of Arab society, I meant the widespread terror and coercion – which included a fair amount of murder and pillage – through which the majority of Arabs were made to flee and prevented from returning. Medad may be correct to say that, in a full historical perspective, Palestinian violence against Jews in the Mandate period must also be brought into the picture. But none of this can distract from the widespread destruction of 1948 and the issues it raises. Medad’s absurd language only confirms that a raw nerve has been touched.

Anonymous said...

Re: Francis Boil

A "Boil" is a pustule on the backside of the body politic.

Why the University of Illinois' Law School bestowed a professorship on Boil defies explanation.