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Tom Palley on “Israel’s genocide, US assistance, and consequences thereof”

Summary:
By Tom Palley South Africa has now presented its charge of Israeli genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and Israel has presented its rebuttal. Regardless of the ultimate judgment, a page has been turned. Israel’s actions in Gaza, assisted by the US, have changed the geopolitical landscape. The consequences stand to be dire and lasting.The case against IsraelThe case against Israel is stark and simple. The argument in descending order of import is as follows.First, and foremost, is Israel’s disproportionate response and application of collective punishment. Hamas is a criminal terrorist organization, not a state. Israel has a right to appropriate self-defense, but it has no right to kill vast swathes of non-combatant Palestinians as it tries to combat a criminal

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By Tom Palley

South Africa has now presented its charge of Israeli genocide in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and Israel has presented its rebuttal. Regardless of the ultimate judgment, a page has been turned. Israel’s actions in Gaza, assisted by the US, have changed the geopolitical landscape. The consequences stand to be dire and lasting.

The case against Israel

The case against Israel is stark and simple. The argument in descending order of import is as follows.

First, and foremost, is Israel’s disproportionate response and application of collective punishment. Hamas is a criminal terrorist organization, not a state. Israel has a right to appropriate self-defense, but it has no right to kill vast swathes of non-combatant Palestinians as it tries to combat a criminal organization. The indiscriminate killing constitutes a war crime and crime against humanity. It becomes genocidal when paired with denial of means of survival.

Second, razing Gaza to the ground and intentionally driving an entire population into the unprotected open guarantees large scale death from lack of shelter, hunger, and sickness. It echoes the Armenian genocide of 1915.

Third, the razing of Gaza fits with an Israeli plan for mass expulsion of Palestinians, a sort of Israeli final solution to the Gaza problem. Such a plan has long been popular in Israel, predates the Hamas attack, and fits with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s October 28th quotation of the Bible whereby God ordered the Israelites to eradicate the Amalekites: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay man and woman, infant and suckling.” That record is suggestive of ethnic cleansing which turned genocidal in the wake of the October 7th attack.

Fourth, during the conflict, dehumanizing videos have emerged of Israelis celebrating the killing of civilian Palestinians, mocking Palestinian suffering, vandalizing Gazan shops, and desecrating mosques. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant described Palestinians as “human animals”. Dehumanization is always part of the story with genocides. Furthermore, Israel’s shooting of Israeli hostages waving a white flag who had escaped from Hamas, shows Israel’s take no prisoners tactics which violate the Geneva conventions. All are part of the mindset informing Israel’s actions.

Some claim every Palestinian is a potential terrorist and legitimate target. Not only is that grotesquely specious, it also tacitly justifies Hamas’ murders on grounds that every adult Israeli is a soldier. The horror of Hamas’ October 7th attack may explain the Israeli public’s desire for revenge and retribution, but it provides no legal justification for mass murder.

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Matias Vernengo
Econ Prof at @BucknellU Co-editor of ROKE & Co-Editor in Chief of the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

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