Palestine:A question of Genocide
According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, adopted at the end of 1948, genocide is legally defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
Israel Charny, director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem and former editor of the Encyclopedia of Genocide, acknowledges that Zionists committed genocidal massacres and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians
Did Israel commit genocide in 1948, is it still now involved in an act of Genocide against the Palestinian people today over 63 years later???
The question is provocative,…. But a debate over this idea has formed the crux of a heated argument among the most eminent genocide scholars in the world, and led recently to the censure of an Israeli professor by the field’s leading academic association.
The debate began in the pages of a scholarly publication, the Winter 2010 issue of the Journal of Genocide Research. Two specialists in genocide, Omer Bartov of Brown University and Martin Shaw of Roehampton University, in London, engaged in a back-and-forth exchange about whether the word “genocide” could be applied to the expulsion and killing of Arabs in Palestine during Israel’s War of Independence. During the course of the war, more than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were forced out of their homes and were later prevented from returning, creating what would become one of the world’s most enduring refugee crises.
Both Bartov and Shaw agreed that some form of what is now called “ethnic cleansing” did occur. But where Bartov was not willing to think of this as genocide, Shaw confidently argued that any policies meant to destroy a group, even if not outright murder, should be seen as genocide.
In the exchange, Bartov described Shaw’s ultimate purpose as “delegitimizing” Israel, and offered plenty of evidence for why calling what Jews did in 1948 “genocide” would only serve to render the term “meaningless.”
But it didn’t end there. Israel Charny, an American-born scholar who immigrated to Israel and who directs the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem and edited the Encyclopedia of Genocide, was offended by the exchange. He wrote a response that was posted on the discussion board of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, a 16-year-old organization that is considered the pre-eminent association of its kind.
Charny did not mince words. He referred to Shaw’s argument as the “delusional projection of an angry soul,” and accused Shaw of attacks on Israel and Zionism that were “blind and rampaging.”
Charny makes it clear that he does think Jews committed what he calls “genocidal massacres” during the war of 1948, like the infamous shooting of civilians in the village of Deir Yassin, in which more than 100 unarmed people were killed in a brutal raid. But he does not consider the “ethnic cleansing” that took place as constituting genocide, nor does he think, as Shaw contends, that the Zionists had any genocidal objective.
As always the chatbacks can be very revealing