Washington, DC - Jan 13, 2024: March on Washington for Gaza – Image Credit: Shutterstock.com/Johnny Silvercloud
Not content with fabricating and perpetuating the charge that Israel is an apartheid state, South Africa's ANC ramped up its hostilities against the Jewish state on December 29, 2023, when it filed charges of genocide at the International Court of Justice. On January 26, 2024, the ICJ refused to throw out the case.
Considering Germany's history, its objection that "This accusation has no basis whatsoever" should hold special significance to the ICJ. Berlin's statement that it "firmly and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide that has now been made against Israel" also acknowledged South Africa's "political instrumentalization" of the term.
There is no shortage of academics who bolster these claims. A professor of genocide studies named Raz Segal argues that Israel's actions in Gaza constitute "a textbook case of genocide." An "historian of genocide" named Omer Bartov warns that while the Netanyahu government hasn't yet committed genocide, it has shown "genocidal intent, which can easily tip into genocidal action."
The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Francesca Albanese, argued recently that Israelis "see Palestine as the Promised Land, which belongs to them, but this does not mean that they can destroy the Palestinian people." She also claims that "in the name of self-defense Israel is seeking to justify what would amount to ethnic cleansing."
The problem for South Africa, the U.N., and many academics is that neither the genocide accusation, nor its brother, the ethnic cleansing accusation, stands up to scrutiny.
The word "genocide" was coined by Rafael Lemkin in 1944 when he combined the Greek word geno (race or tribe) with the Latin suffix -cide (from caedere, kill), to denote Nazi Germany's systematic attempt to kill all Jews and thereby destroy an entire people.
In 1948, the UN approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, defining Lemkin's neologism as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." In addition to mass murder, other indicators of genocide and ethnic cleansing are "measures intended to prevent births" such as forced sterilization and "transferring children."
Accusing Israel of genocide is part of a strategy called Holocaust inversion, whereby Israeli counterterrorism measures directed against Palestinian terrorist organizations are compared to the crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Thankfully, most people see through the hyperbole and distortion. National Security spokesman John Kirby called South Africa's case against Israel "meritless, counterproductive, and without any basis in fact whatsoever." Kirby, a retired admiral, knows that if Israel truly intended to destroy the Palestinian people, it would not have taken seven decades.
The ICJ case even united 210 members of the U.S. Congress to "vigorously denounce South Africa's deeply hostile stance towards Israel and thoroughly reject its charge of genocide."
No data supports the charge of "ethnic cleansing" or "genocide" against Israel. On the contrary, the Palestinian population has grown steadily since 1948, sometimes remarkably so. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) itself acknowledges that the "Palestinian population has increased 8-fold since the  Nakba."
This is not what a geocide looks like.
In 2016, the United Nations warned that "rapid growth in the Palestinian population" it had documented would soon create a "crisis in unemployment" and "a strained infrastructure."
In 2022, the Arab News reported that "the high growth rate among Palestinians" will "cause concern for Israel."
This is not how ethnic cleansing works.
Non-Jewish citizens of Israel are not second-class citizens, and no one is trying to prevent them from having babies. Arab Muslim citizens of Israel work the same jobs as Jewish citizens. Many volunteer to serve in the IDF, though they are not required to do so. There are Arab Muslim members of the Knesset (Parliament), and the Supreme Court.
The irony of the absurd claim is that Hamas (along with most of the Palestinian "resistance") harbors verifiably genocidal intent towards Jews. The Hamas charter states clearly that "Israel will exist and continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently noted that Israel's enemies "continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews."
Israel's enemies have long openly called for the annihilation of the Jewish state and the mass murder of Jews.
The so-called "founder of the Palestinian national movement," Haj Amin al-Hussaini, invited Hitler to expand his "final solution" to the Middle East. As the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in 1937, he commanded all his "Muslim brothers" in a Proclamation to the Islamic World: "Do not rest until your land is free of the Jews."
On October 11, 1947, less than 6 weeks before the U.N Partition vote, the first-ever Secretary General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, threatened "a war of extermination and momentous massacre" should there be a Jewish state established "in Palestine." Pasha, whose real name was Abdul Rahman Azzam, also gave a hint of the long strategy to come: "The Arab is superior to the Jew in that he accepts defeat with a smile: Should the Jews defeat us in the first battle, we will defeat them in the second or the third battle ... or the final one... whereas one defeat will shatter the Jew's morale!"
When given the opportunity, the enemies of Israel have followed through with their threats. Amos Oz, who lived through the 1948 War of Independence, wrote in his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness (2003), that during the war, "Arabs implemented a more complete 'ethnic cleansing' in the territories they conquered than the Jews did ... The settlements were obliterated, and the synagogues and cemeteries were razed to the ground."
Even the Palestinian leadership doesn't believe its own propaganda. Consider the case of Saeb Erekat, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and senior PLO negotiator who himself charged Israel with genocide. When Erekat was gravely ill in October 2020, he chose to be treated in an Israeli hospital. Would he have done so if he truly believed Israel was guilty of genocide against his people?
Coming soon, Part 5: "Gaza is an Open-air Prison"
IPT Senior Fellow A.J. Caschetta is a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum where he is also a Ginsberg-Milstein fellow.
Copyright © 2024. Investigative Project on Terrorism. All rights reserved.