Saturday, January 13, 2024

It's Almost As If Germany Understands Genocide

As bombs continue to rain down upon Amman, the capital city of a nation including approximately three million Palestinians, South Africa has leveled a charge of genocide against the State of Israel at The Hague in the Netherlands. Both sides have presented their case and a decision will be handed down at a later date.

Of course, Israel has not attacked Jordan, a reality seemingly lost on South Africa, which accuses Jerusalem of being "intent on destroying the Palestinians as a group in Gaza" while trying to "bring about the destruction of its Palestinian population." (CNN)

Were Gaza populated by Slavs, that group would be the innocent victims of Israeli bombs welcomed by Hamas. . If it were populated by Scandinavians, that group would be the victim. They are Palestinians, so they are the victims, and not because of some racist plot. Were Israel trying to annihilate Palestinians as a group, there would be aerial assaults elsewhere- including in Amman- in the region.

South Africa is trying to rope all Palestinians in with the Gazans. Among its charges is “The acts and omissions by Israel complained of by South Africa are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.” Not Gazans, but Palestinians- which the charging party is unable to identify as a distinct national, racial, or ethnic group. Nonetheless, "genocide."

Germany is one of the countries the past several decades most appalled by, and wary of, genocide, Fortunately, the western European nation now has weighed in, as a third party, on the side of the victim and against the perpetrator while a representative of the German federal government explains

My personal and political opinion is that one can criticize the Israeli military for using harsh measures in the Gaza Strip. However, that does not constitute genocide. Those who would commit genocide, or desire to do so if given the opportunity, are Hamas. The annihilation of the State of Israel is on their agenda. So we can understand the slogan "from the river to the sea" as not meaning that Jews should leave Israel by boat but as an extinction fantasy. Accusing Israel of genocide is a complete distortion of victims and perpetrators in my view and is just wrong.

The South African action needs to be put into context. When a senior Hamas delegation visited South Africa, in early December, the Jewish News Syndicate noted

South Africa is one of few countries that is not only sympathetic to the Palestinian cause despite officially advocating for a two-state solution, but recognizes Hamas as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

 Last week, the National Assembly, South Africa’s parliament, voted 248–91 to close the Israel embassy and suspend diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. While the resolution is nonbinding, it has sent a chilling message to South African Jews.

While Berlin is obviously aware of the rise of anti-Semitism in many nations in the east and west, its understanding of the stakes involved in the charge of genocide may go far beyond. The JNS continues

Howard Sackstein, founder of the Jewish Anti-Apartheid movement and chairperson of the South African Jewish Report, told JNS: “South Africa’s foreign policy is stuck in the 1960s Cold War with deep ideological revolutionary attachments to the oppressive regimes of Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and Palestine. Although claiming to support a two-state solution, for the South African government, Israel is a colonial manifestation of Western imperialism.”

This is the observable reality of the current Mideast conflict, one that Germany is well positioned to understand while unable for strategic purposes to put forward.  Call it a dirty little secret- for many nations, the issue is not Hamas vs. Israel, Gaza vs. Israel, or Palestine (Palestinians) vs. Israel. Were it so, there would be an active and effectual effort in the Middle East to create a Palestinian state or to welcome Palestinians into their own country. 

As Sackstein reaIizes, Israel is perceived in some quarters in the East as "a colonial manifestation of Western imperialism". And so it is that South Africa now has notified Washington that it is suing the USA because of the latter's support of Israel in its war against Hamas. 

Israel's fight is not only Israel's fight as the current conflict in the Middle East morphs into a struggle of East vs. West. Disturbingly, if Germany has an inkling of this, it may be the only country in the West which is even starting to figure it out. 


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