Are Israelis and Zionists really talking about a Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem?

By Juan Cole

The Times of Israel published and then removed from its site an essay by Yochanan Gordon that openly called for genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza. A cached version is still on the internet as of this writing.

Gordon’s logic, if one wants to dignify it with that term, is that Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, and therefore the only way to deal with them is to obliterate them entirely. He used the words “obliterate entirely.”

Nor is he alone. Israel nationalists have been arguing for war crimes at an alarming rate.

Hamas is a party-militia of the religious right. It does say it wants to see the Israeli government overthrown. Its leaders don’t, however, speak of committing genocide against Israelis. They say they want to recover their country, which was stolen from them by the Israelis in 1948. Colonial regimes always produce resistance movements.

The fact is that Hamas was supported by Israeli intelligence in the 1980s as a foil to the PLO, so Shin Bet and Mossad don’t seem to have been worried by the party charter.

Moreover, half the population of Gaza is children, who, how shall we put this, did not vote for Hamas in 2006. Even many Palestinians who did vote for it did so for internal reasons– they were protesting the corruption and authoritarianism of Fateh and the PLO. You can’t assume that they voted for it because they wanted to see it destroy the Israeli state.

Where Israel has worked out a truce with Hamas, Hamas has typically honored it. The truces have usually been broken by Israel. It isn’t true that it is impossible to deal with the organization. As recently as last month, the party had agreed to join Fateh in a national unity government, taking subordinate positions in a government that recognizes Israel.

Gordon has a backwards understanding of who is threatening to whom. Gaza politicians just have the opportunity to make some incendiary and boastful speeches. The Israeli military is rather more effective, and has the people of Gaza under siege, having just killed one in every thousand Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel destroyed Gaza’s only airport in 2002, and put its harbor off limits for free imports, as well. From 2007 it has prevented people in Gaza from exporting most of what they make, or from importing enough rough materials. For a while Israel even limited the amount to food coming into the Strip, declaring the Palestinians to be “on a diet.” This is a large concentration camp, and any human being cooped up in it would try to find a way of fighting this occupation.

Not to mention that Hamas doesn’t have the ability to destroy Israel. Israel has a massive military establishment and arsenal and several hundred nuclear weapons. Hamas has a few machine guns. No Israelis were killed by Hamas rockets in 2013 or the opening months of 2014. It was only after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu incorrectly blamed Hamas for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers this summer, and began intensively bombing Gaza, that Hamas began replying with its rockets. 99% of Hamas rockets land harmlessly in the desert. Most of the rockets are tiny and little more than 8th grade chemistry experiments. A few are larger, imported from Iran, but there weren’t many of those and Hamas could not use them to do much real damage. A proportionate response to the rockets wouldn’t involved killing 1500 people.

The Israeli army has the right to defend Israel from Hamas attacks, but not an absolute right. It must abide by the principle of proportionality. It can’t commit war crimes or genocide.

If in the US a dangerous terrorist holed up in a mall, the government couldn’t scramble F-18s and bomb the mall to smithereens, killing hundreds of shoppers. That is what Israel did to Khuzaa.

Gordon’s premise, that Hamas wants to or can commit a genocide against Jews, is wrong. His premise that all the residents of Gaza are Hamas is wrong and wrong-headed. Gordon’s leading question is whether genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza would be justified if it eliminated (and he does mean eliminated) the threat to Israel.

That Gordon’s piece initially appeared at one of Israel’s largest-circulation newspapers is extremely worrying. Democracies don’t advocate murder or genocide. Did the editor not read it? Or did he read it and agree with it?

In any case, one thing is clear. Too many Israelis have justifications in their minds for genocide. This includes alleging that children are not innocent non-combatants. And the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, makes another thing clear: Advocating genocide is a crime for which one can be tried at the Hague.


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36 Responses

  1. Deprive the victim of sufficient Gas, Water and Electricity and then call the victim dirty. After that, use hygiene and disease
    metaphors to create an existential threat.

  2. Some say Gordon apologized.

    This is what he wrote: “I never intended to call to harm any people although my words may have conveyed that message.”

    If that is an apology, or if someone thinks this sounds as an apology, then I may be a Neanderthaler

    • As one of European extraction (meaning I carry the genes of Neandethals in my cells), I resent the implied slur against my distant ancestors who, as far as we know, never advocated for genocide.

    • Good link, Lucas Thorpe. It is reminiscent of Moshe Dayan’s prescription (paraphrase) – they will live like dogs, those who wish to leave may do so.

  3. It is not just Gordon Juan – Irwin Blank writing for the same paper made the same argument. To enter the dark universe of Irwin Blank’s Wannsee fantasy go to:

    link to

    Give it a few weeks, and NPR will come on with some smooth commentator’s voice that airs with a charming lead debating the potential merits of genocide and ethnic cleansing. The “liberal” media did it with torture – why not its logical conclusion? Look for members of Congress to defend said genocide. The supine surrender of our sovereignty to the false heresy of Apartheid is now to be followed by the perfidious betrayal of our nation’s principles to a deplorable barbarism. One can only wonder how representative this is of the thinking among the elites, but my guess is that both are representative of what policy makers believe more than we would like.

    • …the perfidious betrayal of our nation’s principles to a deplorable barbarism.

      That “deplorable barbarism” began with importation of slaves and was followed with the attempted ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Indians and has continued ever since in some form of aggression against others. Presumably, by “nation’s principles” you are referring to the minority among us who genuinely believe that all people are created equal with a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and believe in the concept of “one nation, … , indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

      • Very true – from the Trail of Tears to Southeast Asia we have a singularly gruesome tradition. The open advocation of genocide, however, has not recently been advanced as national policy; and I frankly see little daylight between the Israeli and US government. Blank and Gordon do not speak for the US – but yet, in a sense, they do – or at least certain elements of it.

  4. The editor has stated on the paper’s website that Gordon was a blogger who was allowed to make his own posts without prior approval by the editor.

  5. The Times says they don’t typically review or edit posts once the blogs have been accepted, and so rather quickly responded by removing it. There seems to be a little bit of a tortured distinction here. The premise is essentially the same premise the Likud has been using for many years. Of course, Gordon seems to have made the semantic mistake of using the term “genocide”. His logic and (outside of that term) rhetoric are very much in line with official Israeli propaganda. But he’ll have to choose his words much more carefully if he wants to be involved in any official hasbara.

  6. If it makes any difference, the Times of Israel is not “one of Israel’s largest-circulation newspapers” but a website founded a few years ago.

  7. Anyone who might be able to make a legal case in a future world that Israel stole his family’s property is a threat. Therefore children are a threat.

    But once they are driven out of Israel/Palestine, they will never have leverage in, say, the World Court to have land restored. Future Israel will make a pitiful cash settlement to the far-flung descendants of its victims, as so many corporations have before.

  8. Mia Bloom

    allegedly the editor did not read it, YG is a regular contributor but took it down because it was offensive and advocated violence

  9. Gordon has a backwards understanding of who is threatening to whom.

    According to recent polls there are sizable segments of the American people who think similarly. Same goes for some people in the mainstream media.

  10. Are Israelis and Zionists really talking about a Final Solution of the Palestinian Problem?

    The Israelis and Zionists are continuing the original Zionist policy, as explained in Benny Morris’s “Righteous Victims,” of transferring (ethnic cleansing) all non-Jews out of the Palestine Territories AND Trans-Jordan.

  11. I saw also that Gordon’s is an unedited and unreviewed blog. But the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset went almost as far a few days ago. link to
    and in Israel’s biggest English-language paper, an editor-reviewed opinion piece by the director of a defense think tank at one of Israel’s major universities also openly advocated ethnic cleansing: link to
    Of course, these points of view are all supported by the fact that Likud has always had a clause in its platform advocating total Israeli sovereignty in all of historic Palestine and the rejection of Palestinian equality or sovereignty. so they’re basically the same as Hamas.

  12. Also on the Times of Israel is this lovely essay, which starts: “Samuel 15:18-Samuel said, “Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel? And the LORD anointed you king over Israel, 18and the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’” and closes with : “To destroy Hamas utterly, we cannot stop this war until they unconditionally surrender, even if it means making the war more horrific for the people of Gaza, who are the victims of their own leadership. Just as the Amalekites were the victims of their own king, whom Saul left alive and why today, we fight the modern day Amalekites in every generation.

    It’s time to take heed of the words of the L-rd, it is time to do what the people of Israel demand, it is time to kill Agag”

    He’s subsequently added a non-apology to say he was only kidding about the Final Solution part.

    The fact is, that just as the Teahadists have taken over public discourse in the US, Israel has been taken over by the hard right. Leftist Jews are being told to leave Israel by the Right. Many are fleeing the new brown shirts. And yet, America, even under a Democrat president, can’t shovel munitions and cash over to Israel fast enough.

  13. You should see the most recent columns by Martin Sherman on the Jerusalem Post, presenting ethnic cleansing as a solution to Gaza and terming it “humanitarian relocation.” I submitted an opinion response we’ll see if they publish it.

  14. Gordon isn’t alone, an op-ed from the Jerusalem Post echoes his genocidal preferences (with the added inference that a large part of Israel’s actions simply has to do with acquiring Gaza in order to obtain its gas reserves).

    link to

  15. Juan,

    Thanks much for revealing this mindset which is all too common among Israeli society and Israeli elite.

    And thanks for the excellent commentary to refute the million times repeated lie that Hamas is an existential threat to Israel.

    Many Israelis follow the propaganda principle that if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

    Of course, regardless of Hamas, it is always evil to kill civilians, even more so children. Besides being killed, over 8,000 have been injured. Many have lost legs, including children….some have lost both legs thanks to weapons paid by our tax dollars. . .

    God will not let people of conscience by always fooled. They will come to know the truth and do action to do good for all people, regardless of religion, etc.

  16. Let us hope that Yochanan Gordon’s apology is somewhat sincere, and the Twitter account continuing to endorse the post is not he, but someone seeking to shame him.

    Mr Gordon is clearly not a man of much knowledge or insight. His piece (if one can get through it without throwing up) is simply a regurgitation of memes completely standard in Zionist discourse. Max Blumenthal in his book Goliath gives numerous examples, starting with an Israeli minister (Matan Vilnai) threatening Palestinians with a ‘Shoah’, and remaining minister afterwards.

    Nor is the rhetoric recent. Many Jewish intellectuals (including Einstein) warned of this already in 1948, in their open letter about Herut, the predecessor of Likud. Has the present generation of Likud leaders moved on? One would like to think so, but when we see Mr Netanyahu delivering a speech above a huge sign, helpfully summarizing the message as ‘Death to Arabs’ we know they have not.

    Nobody is suggesting that all Zionists, or even all members of Likud, are genocide advocates. But even nice Mr Shlomo Ben Ami seems to accept it as good and proper to divide Israeli ‘citizens’ into different ‘nationalities’ based on ancestry. We have a word for that, begins with A.

  17. You know…this all would make more sense from a very stark, realpolitik perspective, than many folks here may be willing to admit.

    After a couple millennium of being cast to the winds, victimized and ostracized by communities around the world, maybe we should recognize that as a group Israelis may have a well-developed sense of who and what represent threats, and the ramifications of not accepting that understanding. They may have realistically concluded that neighbors will never, ever, accept them, regardless of ephemeral 3rd party guarantees and however a 2-state solution may be defined. Various Israeli leaders have said as much, that if they were Palestinians they’d have taken up guns long ago. Under such circumstances the best Israel can hope for is the equivalent of buffer zones like the Sinai and perpetually effete governments like those of Egypt. Similarly, an ugly civil war in Syria is good news as long as it lasts. Really, to be realistic in an unforgiving world (made all the more unforgiving by their actions) how can Israel prudently proceed otherwise? Certainly these little home-made rockets present no real threat, but the underlying hostility and threat from their builders stands only to grow. The only REAL solution will be one of physically unassailability: hence the Iron Wall; preferable with astute politics and actions that keep their neighbors forever (sic) divided and weakened. Maybe Israel has understood from the beginning that there will never be any real security from its neighbors, given the highly dubious nature of their claim to the land. There may be temporary support from the US or others, but that could pass in a heartbeat and at some point it will.

    The chore then is to keep up the facade of looking for peace, and to string events along, while they patiently continue the process of consolidating their position. Inevitably, this must mean cleansing and incorporating Gaza and the WP. Naturally, fleece the Goyen for everything you can in the meantime to finance the operation, which necessarily entails keeping up as good a PR front as possible. The situation here may not be at all that complex or hard to understand once one gets past their idealism and naiveté.

  18. I can no longer access the Gordon piece on the archive (Sunday 8/3, 9:30 am est.) Seems to have disappeared a 1/2-hour ago. takes some doing to clear that cache out, no?

  19. Israel has from the first seen Palestinians as comparable to Native Americans who must be expelled or eliminated as they were expected to resist Israeli colonization (as all natives would)–this in the words of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, one of the Zionist founders of Irgun.

  20. Once the Israelis get away with a completed Palestinian ethnic cleansing/genocide, we will start to see the same rhetorical games played by all far-right nationalist extremists around the World. Right now, members of the neo-Confederate League of the South are working hard to get on the ballot in Maryland elections, looking to push their way into the state GOP and thus acceptance as the legitimate defenders of free enterprise and limited government. The reality is, they are a secessionist group, and the moment they secede, they will start to do bad things to a long list of groups they hate. But of course, even elected to state government, they can do some of that. The implied goal is that through terror and discrimination, white Christians can ethnically cleanse their state of “parasites,” and thus tax cuts will ensue.

    So what happens in Israel matters not because they are so different than us, but because they are so much alike.

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