Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular national or ethnic group with the intent to destroy that national or ethnic group. It is not just any conflict in which there are many casualties; the essence of genocide is in the intent behind the killing.
If a thousand civilians from a particular national group are killed by errant airstrikes or in the crossfire during a military operation, there is no act of genocide. But if a thousand civilians from a particular national group are deliberately targeted by roving bands of terrorists seeking to eradicate that national group, that likely amounts to genocide. Hamas’ antisemitic charter, and the statements of its leaders, evidence a genocidal intent.
“Settler-Colonialism” and the Jewish State
“Settler-colonialism” refers to a situation in which a foreign power not only establishes control over an indigenous people to benefit its homeland, but also uses the territory to permanently settle some of its own population.
The charge of “settler-colonialism” against the Jewish state is inaccurate for the following reasons:
- Jews are indigenous the land of Israel.
- It imagines a conspiracy that the Jewish people are working on behalf of some distant, foreign power.
The Jewish people have maintained a presence in the land of Israel for thousands of years and are the only people to have established an autonomous state there. Many Jews were driven from the land as punishment for opposing Roman rule. The return of Jews to their historic homeland was not for the benefit of a foreign power and came about only after driving out the British.
What is Apartheid?
Apartheid” refers to a system of racial segregation and discrimination created by a series of laws in South Africa by the white minority government which ruled from 1948-1994. Apartheid is about race, not citizenship. All states accord different rights for citizens and non-citizens. Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are not Israeli citizens.
Unlike South Africa, in Israel the state is forbidden by its own laws from discriminating on racial grounds. All Israeli citizens – Jews, Arabs, Druze, or otherwise – are treated equally under the law.
“Resistance” or Terrorism
In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “resistance” is a euphemism for “terrorism.” While Palestinians and their sympathizers refer to groups like Hamas as “resistance organizations,” the United States, European Union, and others classify them as “terrorist organizations” because of their intentional killing of thousands of civilians. The targeting of civilians is forbidden by law no matter the proclaimed merits of the cause, and while Israel does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties, killing civilians is the goal of Palestinian terror groups.
Palestinian apologists claim that Palestinian “resistance” is justified by Israeli “occupation.” However, Palestinian Arab violence against Jews has been widespread since the 1920s, preceding the establishment of the State of Israel. The Palestinian Liberation Organization proclaimed its support for “resistance” at its founding in 1964. Israel did not take control of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip until 1967. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
Is There an Occupation?
“Occupation” refers to a situation in which a state forcibly takes territory belonging to another state.
Israel is not an “occupying power” in Judea, Samaria, or Gaza. These territories were committed to be a part of a Jewish national home by the United Nations. When the State of Israel was born in 1948, Jordan and Egypt declared war and unlawfully captured those territories. No Palestinian state was ever created. In 1967, Israel took control of the territories during a defensive war. Because there never was a Palestinian state, and because the land belonged to neither Jordan nor Egypt, Israel is not an “occupying power” of any other state’s land.
Israel and much of the international community believe that the final status of the territories can only be settled with a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite numerous offers, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly rejected offers of statehood. Nonetheless, the Palestinian Authority has significant autonomy over Palestinian areas in Judea & Samaria. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and since 2007, it has been ruled by Hamas.