Polish Jew Raphael Lemkin lost his family to the unspeakable and unprecedented horror of the Nazi's Final Solution. The fate that befell Europe's Jews led Lemkin to singlemindedly devote his life to finding a term to describe and, in doing so, assist him criminalise Hitler’s acts.
Lemkin rightly argued that the terms of the day, 'barbarity" and "vandalism, fell tragically short of describing “the assault on all aspects of nationhood; physical, biological, political, social, cultural economic and religious.”
Given the backdrop to this relatively new word, it is not surprising that genocide analogies to Israel's policy towards the Palestinians generate instant uproar. The uproar, however, rarely goes beyond outrage at the mistaken use of the word. Therefore there is little Lemkin-like analyses of what the Israeli’s Palestinian policy should be called.
Although rarely seen or heard in the mainstream media, the policy has been linguistically pinned down, though, needless to say, it has yet to be criminalized. Writing in the New Left Review Israeli Political Scientist Baruch Kimmerling coined the term “politicide.”
Politicide was “a process aimed at destroying a certain people's prospects - indeed their very will -for legitimate self-determination and sovereignty over land they consider their homeland," Kimmerling
The eminent Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh argues that “peace talks” and the conditions and preconditions thereof are a mere pretence. Because if there is one thing that Israel fears more than terror, it’s the prospect of peace with the Palestinians. Nusseibeh- allowing for the looseness of human analogy - is like a cross between John Hume and Field Day era Seamus Deane – has been called the “most dangerous Palestinian of them all.”
And the usual “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Ironic for a man that has as much to fear from Hamas and other Palestinain militants because of his opposition to suicide bombers and violence in general Leftist Knesset Yossi Sarid has spoken with exasberation about the Israeli government’s constant complaint about no credibille peace partners. Yet when there are such figures they “do their utmost to insult them, to weaken them.”
Authors of the Israel Lobby john J Mearsheimer qnd Stephen M.Walt make the same point
“Olmert like his predecessor Sharon has no interest in negotiating a peace settlement with the Palestinians…Israel would prefer occupation to peace if the latter means giving 95% or so of the West Bank to the Paestinians,” they write.
They too argue that that the Israeli government does all they it can to undermine moderates.
“In order to achieve its goals, Israel has decided to avoid any peace negotiations,” wrote that well-known radical Jimmy Carter in his recent book “Palestine. Peace Not Apartheid.”
And the goals-politicide.
Israel wanted the best parts of the West Bank, the best land, the water etc leaving “Palestinians destitute within a small and fragmented remnant of their own land.,” he wrote.
Politicide, Nusseibeh comments is the only explanation, for the actions of the Israeli Defence Forces during one of their now routine assaults on Palestinian areas.ltu
IDF troops ransacked the Palestinian Authority's Bureau of Statitistics and the Ministry of Education - attacks that can only be seen as an assault on a people's identity. In a further display of such cultural vandalism, Nusseibeh points to an IDF raid on Al Quds Centre For Media Studies where the TV broadcast of cartoons was interrupted to show pornography. The broadcasting facilities were then destroyed.
Like Israel’s initial support for Hamas to undermine Fatah, the government’s policy only strengthens those Palestinian factions that claim violence is the only effective tactic. But this is the way Israel wants it. If Hamas ceased firing rockets into Israel, the government would need to find a faction to continue the fusillade.
In order to successfully pursue its policy of politicide, Israel has to make sure there is no-one credible to talk to. So when Hamas started to slightly moderate its tone, despite being the government of the biggest prison in the world, Israel invades, pursues a policy of collective punishment and contimues laying the groundwork for another nihilistic generaton jihad.
Politicide, however, comes at a price. As Richard Ben Cramer writes In his Pulitzer prize winning “How Israel Lost”, Israel used to be “a nice little country with a problem” but now the problem has consumed the country. Everyone’s heart Is either heated or hardened. The stories emerging from the IDF about the gross human rights abuses in Gaza testify to the brutalization of Israel.
Israel can keep the land but lose its soul, Cramar writes, adding that even in the States the Leon Uris image is long gone. And no matter how hard the lobby tries, there is still a reek of something rotten in the State of Israel.
Politicide is a tragedy. One that's rarely challenged by the international commun counit, bar the occasional symbolic attempts by countries like Belgium who threaten to try and detain visiting Israeli Generals.
Some argue that in a world full of human rights abuses, such attempts are mere political grandstanding
But if injustice is not a sufficient motivation to rally a response to Israel's pretence of peace-seeking, then perhaps safety might be.
Israel, and the US have granted a degree of legitimacy to the theory that western liberal democracy is a con job designed to keep uppity arabs and other irksome natives in their place. Unfortunately the angry young man or woman in the oft talked about Arab street as well as their countetrparts in the Arab libraries and universities can find too much empirical evidence to back up this tragic view.
Israel needs to be told very loud and very clear that its insidiuos policy of creating fact is endangering not just the long term prospects of Israel but is endangering anyone getting on public transport in any city in the West.
Unfortunately because of our silence we are seen as complicit. And therefore, in the minds of 'generation jihad', we are all 'legitmate' targets.