Israel Faces Genocidal Slander
OpinionEditor's Notebook

Israel Faces Genocidal Slander

Even if you think Israelis were wrong on the Gaza border, how does the violence make them Nazis?

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Even given editorial cartoonists’ use of exaggeration for effect, how can anyone think this is a reasonable response to what happened on the Gaza-Israel border? (Cartoon by Sean Delonas, Cagle Cartoons)
Even given editorial cartoonists’ use of exaggeration for effect, how can anyone think this is a reasonable response to what happened on the Gaza-Israel border? (Cartoon by Sean Delonas, Cagle Cartoons)

Seventy-five years ago, the Jewish people were in danger of joining the ranks of the Parthians, the Huns, the Vandals, the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths and so many other peoples who have been lost in the history of human civilization.

As Hitler pursued his Final Solution, Jews were on the verge of the nightmare transformation from a tiny but prominent minority to a piece of living history, hanging on in a few places, including the United States, but doomed to extinction.

We owe our existence to the U.S. military’s might and the Soviet Union’s willingness to lose an almost limitless number of soldiers to defeat Nazi Germany. But it was a near thing.

So now our homeland, our haven, Israel, is portrayed as a fascist, Nazi-like nation intent on the extermination of the Palestinian people.

Somehow, neutral observers around the world can look at tens of thousands of rioting Palestinians along the Gaza-Israel border, including some trying to break through the fence with deadly intent, and conclude that Israel is genocidal because 60 people are killed.

I don’t want to minimize 60 deaths, but if Israel’s intent was to use the Hamas-driven March of Return as an excuse for mass murder, a military as powerful as the Israel Defense Forces could have caused far more carnage.

More people — actual innocent civilians trying to go about their lives — are killed on a single day in the Syrian civil war than the roughly 110 people killed during six weeks of Gaza rioting and attempted infiltrations, and it appears that most of those killed in Gaza were affiliated with Hamas or Islamic Jihad, organizations devoted to the Jews’ destruction as well as Israel’s.

The men who acknowledged trying to cross the border to kill or kidnap as many people as possible were trying to go from Gaza to Israel. The kites carrying incendiary devices and decorated with swastikas were flying from Gaza to Israel.

But, to take one offensive example, when Cagle Cartoons’ Sean Delonas created an editorial cartoon in response to the Gaza violence, he depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with blood on his hands in a Hitlerian uniform, complete with an Israeli-flag armband in place of the swastika, saying, “Israeli über alles” at a rally, surrounded by Palestinian corpses and backed by Jared Kushner doing a “sieg heil” salute.

Israel, or at least the Netanyahu government, is supposed to be reveling in Palestinian blood as part of a genocidal plot. But the Palestinian population keeps growing — faster than the Jewish population in Israel, by most reckoning — and that includes the unlivable, outdoor prison of the Gaza Strip.

If Israel is attempting genocide, it’s the most incompetent effort in human history.

Could Israel use nonlethal force to defend the Israeli civilians across the border from Gaza? I don’t know, though I’m sure the IDF would prefer nonlethal methods. Unfortunately, it’s tough to risk gentler approaches when facing an onslaught of people who would happily kill you. Most critics of Israel’s conduct don’t even try to suggest an alternative, other than inviting the Palestinians to come right in and make themselves at home.

But it’s a reasonable response when people who have vowed to kill you try to charge across the border to use any means necessary to keep them back. The IDF’s responsibility is protect every Israeli life, not to protect as many as possible without killing anyone on the other side. That’s why the argument that Israel is in the wrong because no Israelis have been hurt makes no sense: This isn’t about being fair and ensuring equivalent pain suffering; it’s about protecting our people.

So how do people make the leap to Israelis equaling Nazis? How does a defensive stand, even if it’s one you think is overly aggressive and too lethal, become genocide? How are people two or three generations from destruction now accused of that very crime?

It can’t just be anti-Semitism, can it?

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