The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Génocidaires In Gaza

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.” What is happening in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip today is dangerously encroaching on genocide, close enough so that the pictures of Palestinians in Rafah loading their meagre belongings on carts and evacuating their homes are too reminiscent of another time, another place and another people - Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan

Anthony McIntyre • 27 May 2004

Last Saturday morning, along with perhaps fifty others, I stood at the front of Belfast City Hall in silent rage hoping to draw much needed attention to the plight of Palestinian civilians being mercilessly slaughtered by Israeli forces. Someone in a Glasgow Rangers top drove by and howled 'up the Jews.' We were not protesting against Jews, but this little vignette reveals something about tribal loyalties in Belfast. I waited on him to shout 'up Linfield' just to round off his philosophical reasoning.

Two days earlier I had finished reading Hitler’s Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen. This book, when it was first published in the 1990s, met with a blaze of publicity which arrived with no scarcity of controversy. Its author had accused German society in general and not just the Nazis of being complicit in the elimination of the Jews of Europe during the Second World War. Whatever the alleged limitations of Goldhagen’s explanatory framework, his account was powerfully constructed. The mass murder of men, women and children for no reason other than they were Jews has no way of disguising itself, no mitigation.

A particularly interesting feature of Goldhagen’s book was his insistence that a pervasive eliminationist perspective gripped Germany prior to actual widespread physical elimination kicking in. At the same time, he showed how German society quite often rebelled against and occasioned a halt to certain Nazi policies which it found unpalatable. Despite its fierce ideological passion, the Nazi regime was depicted as being pragmatic and constrained, doing what it could and not merely what it wanted. This begs the question, would Goldhagen identify similar phenomena at play in Israel today?

Modern genocide is meticulously prepared by calculating planners, and there is invariably forewarning. Jewish people more than most should be able to recognise genocidal inclinations when they see them. And if they do what has been their response? It would seem there has been more uproar in Israel in reaction to an article by one of the country’s professors, Lev Grinberg, than there is an outcry against the massacres being carried out in the name of the county's citizens. Grinberg said ‘unable to recover from the Holocaust trauma and the insecurity it caused, the Jewish people, the ultimate victim of genocide, is currently inflicting a symbolic genocide upon the Palestinian people.’

Certainly, what there is to be read about Gaza in recent weeks bears a striking similarity to what Goldhagen wrote of Poland under Nazi occupation. There was no milk for babies, no means for women about to give birth to get to hospital, no electricity, no water. It is a place where even ambulances are shelled. Did the Nazis target animals? The Israeli Army destroyed the only zoo in Gaza. And what animals they didn’t kill they stole as loot. The region was saturated with tanks, bulldozers, planes and helicopters. Contrast this mechanised phalanx with the donkey carts used by Palestinians to escape the terror.

The passion for murdering Palestinian children which seems to pervade Israeli military personnel was all too evident. When Goldhagen details how one Nazi killer would lift Jewish infants off the ground by their hair, hold them aloft and then put a bullet through their brains, before dropping them into a mass grave, all escape routes open to revulsion are, hopefully, immediately closed off within our minds. Are we supposed to employ the alibi of context and feel less revolted by the actions of Israeli military child slayers? They murdered Rawan Mohammed Said Abu Ziad just short of her fifth birthday; her crime – going to the shop to buy sweets at 10 in the morning. Then 14 year old Asma Mughayar, her life snuffed out by an Israeli sniper as she brought in clothes from the roof of her home. Ahmed, her brother and two years younger, murdered while feeding his birds.

There was a certain eerie resemblance about the events taking place in Gaza and those that this country witnessed just over thirty years ago. Thousands of people taking to the streets carrying bottles of milk and water for the children in the Tal Al Sultan district in Rafah which was the first area to be attacked by the marauding Israelis, immediately invites a comparison with the Falls Curfew of July 1970. It ended when the women and children of West Belfast marched on the Lower Falls carrying milk, water and food. The purpose of the relief march by Palestinians was to relieve the siege and ask the world to halt the slaughter and starvation that was taking place in Gaza. It never reached its destination because Israel used Bloody Sunday tactics to kill the demonstrators including children. Whereas British paratroopers murdered innocent Irish from the ground, the Israelis murdered defenceless Palestinians from the skies. Perhaps this explains why support for the Palestinian cause in Ireland comes in the main from the nationalist community. People there experienced both relief marches to break sieges and the massacre of civilians taking part in demonstrations to protest state violence. Unionists applauded the oppressors and invariably called for more of the same.

How people in Gaza sustain their faith in anything that exalts life is one of the modern wonders of our world. As puzzling, how a body of people with an acute sense of its own history could produce and perfect a murder machine such as the Israeli Army Einsatzgruppen. Kofi Annan may look at these paradoxes and then wax ethical before informing the Israeli government that its action is inhumane. But as Peter Murtagh, writing in the Irish Times asserts, Annan’s United Nations is an organisation ‘about which Israel has shown it doesn't give two hoots.’ And why should it? The power behind the UN throne, the United States, backs Israel and finances its war on Palestinian children. After Rwanda where the UN pulled its troops out and allowed genocide to sweep the country, Israel knows it has nothing to fear.

And when the UN refuses to strike fear in Israel and curb its murderous wrath, Palestinians will do it themselves. They will do it in crowded cafes and packed buses; they will do it at checkpoints and in settlements. Those of us who sought a just outcome will recoil in despair at the resort to such nihilistic activity. Others content to stay mute while Israel dished it out will find that their wails of disapproval will not weigh in the slightest in the deliberations of those who kiss their families good bye, strap a bomb to their bodies and walk off to do what was done to them.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

29 May 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Door to Door: An Irish American House Call
Matthew Kavanah


Republicans who do not follow the Sinn Fein line are also entitled to their opinions
Dolours Price


What Made Us Distinct
Tommy Gorman


US Schools Must Disclose Information About Crime on and Around Campus - (Clery Act USA): Is Similar Legislation Required in Northern Ireland?
Sean Mc Aughey


Old Friends, New Friends
John Kennedy


Memorial Day on WBAI


No More Tears
Omar Barghouti


The Nothing Here to Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC
Mary La Rosa


Génocidaires In Gaza
Anthony McIntyre


A Writer's Writer
Henry McDonald


24 May 2004


Tipping Over Cash Cows
Seaghán Ó Murchú


Dying Easily
Anthony McIntyre


Danger to Society
Chrissie McGlinchey


The Moral Failure of the "Free World" in Gaza
Ghali Hassan


Colin Powell, DOA
Paul de Rooij


The Letters page has been updated.




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