Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Gaza Genocide

We celebrated Yousuf's fourth birthday today. We ate cake. And we counted the bodies. We sang happy birthday. And my mother sobbed. We watched the fighter jets roar voraciously on our television screen, pounding street after street; then heard a train screech outside, and shuddered. Yousuf tore open his presents, and asked my mother to make a paper zanana, a drone, for him with origami; And we were torn open from the inside, engulfed by a feeling of impotence and helplessness; fear and anger and grief; despondence and confusion.

"We are dying like chickens" said Yassine last night as we contemplated the media's coverage of the events of the past few days.

Even the Guardian, in a wire-based piece, mentioned the Palestinian dead, including the children, in the forth to last paragraph.

In fact, a study by If Americans Knew found that the Associated Press Newswire coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict significantly distorts reality, essentially over-reporting the number of Israelis killed in the conflict and underreporting the number of Palestinians killed. The study found that AP reported on Israeli children’s deaths more often than the deaths occurred, but failed to cover 85 percent of Palestinian children killed. A few years ago, they found that the NY Times was seven times more likely to comment on an Israeli child's death than a Palestinian one's.

Is it only when Israeli deputy minister Matan Vilnai used "shoa" to describe what will come to Gaza that some media outlets took note. Here was an Israeli government official himself invoking the Holocaust, of his people's most horrific massacre, in reference to the fate of Gaza. But it was not necessarily because Gazans may suffer the same fate that they were perturbed, but rather that this event, this phrase-genocide or Holocaust- could be used with such seeming levity; that using such a loaded term may somehow lessen the true horror of the original act.

It is as though what has been happening in Gaza-what continues to happen, whether by way of the deliberate and sustained siege and blockade, or the mounting civlian death toll, is acceptable, and even encouraged
Illan Pappe has said that Genocide “is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip” after much thought and deliberation.

But the real genocide in Gaza cannot or will not be assessed through sheer numbers. It is not a massacre of gas chambers. No.

It is a slow and calculated genocide-a Genocide through more calibrated, long-term means. And if the term is used in any context, it should be this. In many ways, this is a more sinister genocide, because it tends to be overlooked: All is ok in Gaza, the wasteland, the hostile territory that is accustomed to slaughter and survival; Gaza, who's people are somehow less human; we should not take note; need not take note; unless there is a mass killing; or starvation.

As though what is happening now was not a slow, purposeful killing; a mass strangulation; But the governments and presidents of the civilized world, even our own "president" (president of what?) are hungry for historic peace deals and make-believe accords; theatrical summits and quasi-states; so they say, “let them eat cake!” And we do.


Anonymous dan said...


Let me remind you of the wider context.

If Israel were to simply leave Gaza alone and allow all its borders to be open, Gaza under Hamas would (as demonstrated) invest most of its energy in importing weaponry and military expertise, rather than creating a civic society and growing economy. Since Hamas's ideology calls for Israel's destruction, it would eventually apply its new resources to attacking Israel, with the long-term goal of destroying the Jewish political entity, turning its Jewish citizens into dhimmi at best, or killing them at worst. Not to mention the consequences for the Arab citizens of Israel who have cooperated with the state.

As an Israeli civilian who has not served in the army I say this without moralizing or judging. I understand and respect Hamas's position and ideology, and I take it seriously. It's clear they mean what they say.

However you can't expect Israel to commit suicide. You see, civic life is good here, and the citizens of this country (Jewish and Arab alike) do not want to live under undemocratic and incompetent Arab political leadership, of the kind the Palestinians seem to be offering.

So for its citizens' sake Israel cannot allow Gaza to soak up Iranian weaponry and Hizballah's expertise. Therefore some aspects of the "occupation", especially border control, remained in effect after the withdrawal. Therefore some Gazan groups "retaliate" by firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel, like any country, is going to try to protect its civilians, and so eventually turns from "pinpoint" attacks to wider military operations aimed at preventing the rocket fire. Since Palestinian militants mix and hide in the civilian population, many non-armed Palestinians become victims of the crossfire.

It's tragic, it's awful, it's part of nature. But could you really expect anything different? What exactly do you want Israel to do about its situation, even if (as I understand) you believe this situation is of its own making? Do you expect it to roll over and die?

Both sides are caught up in a classic cycle of violence, and I think it's disingenuous to ignore your own side's role in perpetuating that. As an Israeli I absolutely hate this situation but don't see an alternative that works out any better for the 5 million Jews living here.

9:36 AM  
Blogger rumi said...

i have a three year old and a new born. in our relative security we cannot but are reminded of the tremendous angst, pain and sacrifice children in occupied territories go through. the sky over the olive fields there must be as clear as everywhere. The wind must be crisp after the drones disappear, mowing down a cluster of dandelions in the valley of death. The stench of burned logs must still fill the evening air despite the lock-down, torture and systematic murder of a people determined to eek out a normal existence in a pristine corner of the world, they call paradise.

6:31 PM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

Happy birthday to your beautiful son. Now I have paused a long time to think what I could reasonably say...may there be peace before he turns five? May there be miracles? May the world wake up?
I wish all those, of course. Is it possible? I don't know. Maybe we need to live as if it is.

6:56 PM  
Blogger NewiMac said...

Nonsense. The Palestinians have been misled into their own misfortune by the Arab world and their own leaders and they keep compounding it with terror for over 60 years and then cry victim when Israel retaliates. If you were dealing with an Arab country as your enemy, you would be in much worse shape,as witnessed by what happened in Lebanon recently, and what Hussein of Jordan did to you in 1970. You elect Hamas whose only platform is terror and then you wonder why you get it?

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to give another perspective:,0,5791667.story

7:33 PM  
Blogger ياسمين حميد said...

To say 'I am sorry for what happens' or 'I am shocked' doesn't describe it. I feel... hollow. I really cannot describe the feeling.
Here in Germany they have a saying that goes:
"Smile, they said. It couldn't get worse. I smiled. And it got worse."

The only thing I can think about is:
What next? Can it get even worse?
My heart is with you all. Inside and outside Gaza.

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laila, I added today's article to my facebook, as I am now a member of several pro-Palestinian groups on facebook. I hope you don't mind.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Leila,
Your article is great. What is true for the NY Times in its bias reporting the deaths of Palestinian and Israeli children is also true for the main Canadians newspapers. NECEF of Canada did a study which I will send to you if you give me your email address.
Salam and courage
Federico Allodi

9:31 PM  
Blogger boaz said...


i wanted to say that i feel for you and your pain. i am israeli living near tel aviv. i hope there will be peace one day (even though i dont believe in it anymore...but still - hope is blind to me sometimes).

but i also think you have no idea (real idea) what is happening to the israeli people near gaza for 7 years now. there life is a living hell. yes - they have food to buy but have lost the will to eat, to dream even.
i think most people in israel are very hopeless for the future with you and it will lead to more drastic things. i am scared for that.
i think 99% of people in israel are just confused how after all this time and pain you elect hamas that refuses to accept jews in this area......
it was long. im sorry....
good day.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, how my heart aches for both Palestinians and Israelis...and for the world. How can we continue to believe that bombs of any kind can bring people together? Or do people really want to be at peace with one another?? It loooks like each wants to be superior to the other...and not just in Israel/Palestine.

Who will be the first to call a real halt to this insanity?

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Israelis for disengagement said...

Arab media does not report the rockets fired at Israeli civilians. So they do not report that Hamas started hitting Ashkelon. Which prompted this response. Hamas also boasted of shooting "maba'ad" Ashkelon.
This reminds me of Hassan "maba'ad maba'ad" Nasrallah.

Do you think that when Hamas has their "Divine Victory" that Mishaal will say like Nassrallah:
"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the (rockets) would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.”

Ya think?

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For God's sake stop firing missles into Israel and demand that the Muslim world help you develope your nation.
Only then will you have peace.
I have never understood why Israel should be required to supply you with markets, electricity and water. Your Arab brothers should have done it long ago.
As you screech about freedom, your allies are all too happy to let you die. Why is that?

1:50 AM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

I am so sorry for what you are witnessing, for sad for what your people are experiencing.

But I wonder if we should be more careful in our use of words. Genocide is a very big word. If we use it too lightly now, it loses it's effectiveness when the situation is graver, and more dire. I wonder if "ethnic cleansing" might be a more appropriate term at the moment.

3:19 AM  
Blogger The Heretical Jew said...

When I see the reports on the Israeli assault on Gaza I shudder to think that it is much worse than they are reporting.

It makes me want to go to Gaza and kill as many IDF as I possibly can, but what would that bring but a perpetuation of the cycle of violence. One can not help but feel deep frustration.

4:02 AM  
Blogger Joshua said...

The images we're seeing (mostly on YouTube) are horrific. I've kept Gaza in my thoughts for a long time now, and since the whole "disengagement" fiasco has only led to more suffering. This could be the culmination of what Israel had in mind for the Gaza Strip and it is frightful that the West is going to give them the go-ahead to do so (like they did with Lebanon).

I wish I could find some words of solace and consolation for you but there really is nothing that could make it easier. Let's just hope the West can come to its senses before it's too late.

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Peace deals'. Bah! Humbug! It would be useful, perhaps, if someone could find a more accurate term to end the macho mayhem and let people discover that others also put their socks on one at a time.

Time to let the fear become indifference, and the greedy covetting of a neighbour's goods die away.

I wonder when Israel will have strength and foresight enough to take their aggression to other countries to back demands for freedom and equality for people of their religion so their little country is not overwhelmed and over-populated. And they don't have to bully and steal from their neighbours.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Frida said...

I really am at a loss for words and yet I wanted you to know that I was here, that I read your words. That I care and that I'll continue to take note and to try to make our politicians take note.

8:04 AM  
Blogger thanaif said...

Demokrasi tidak berfungsi di kebanyakan negara yang mengakui Islam sebagai agamanya.
Ketidak pekaan tanpa keberdayaan untuk memenuhi fungsi sebagai warga yang dipelihara hak-haknya oleh undang-undang kita sendiri tidak menghormatinya lalu kita kehilangan tulang belakang untuk disandarkan ketika berhadapan dengan krisi kepercayaan.
Soalnya kepada siapakah warga Gazza dan Palestein lebih bersedia untuk memberikan kepercayaan?
Perpecahan kelian diagendakan !

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genocide is the systematic destruction of a people as a whole. The killing fields of Cambodia were a genocide. Darfur is a genocide. The deaths of less than 100 civilians in a conflict in which the government of those civilians not only permits but encourages rocket attacks on the civilians of another country is tragic, but not a genocide. It cheapens the concept and undermines an argument to employ a term that is not applicable and which is transparently made for emotional appeal. You and I will never agree on the underlying merits of the dispute, but we should at least be able to use words with a common meaning or there is no discussion at all.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

Dear Anon:

It was Vilnai who first used the term in reference to Gaza.

But I also argue it is not a genocide of numbers.

Isn't state-sanctioned blockade and siege of a people under occupation a modern-day form of genocide?

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genocide is a legal term, not a moral one.

There is no genocide occurring in Palestine or Israel.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This conflict will never end until Israel is re-locatedd to its real geographical power base - the USA. Dismantle the wailing wall and rebuild it in Texas.
The murderous behaviour of these Zionists turns my stomach and no-one can do anything about it because of the USA.

7:25 PM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...

Anon said, "For God's sake stop firing missles into Israel and demand that the Muslim world help you develope your nation...Your Arab brothers should have done it long ago."

Anon, your racism, let me count the suppositions...You assume that a majority is to blame for the actions of the minority. Hamas does not speak for all Gazans, and most Gazans don't want the rocket attacks. Yes, you will respond that Hamas was elected. Elected by a bare majority, which did not include the children. Yet for the action of a few, you would seek to blame the entirety. You appear to be comfortable with children being killed, because a few men are illegally firing rockets. By this reasoning, I, as an American, should be bombed for the unjust actions of my government in Iraq, which I wholly do not support. Perhaps you should join al Qa'ida, to punish the American people for what a few in our government have done?

Then, you speak of the Muslim world, as if the Palestinian people were all Muslim. True, the majority are, as Palestine was originally 20% Christian, and 90% of the more wealthy Christians have now fled under Israeli occupation and apartheid. But even so, you categorize a people as Muslim, and imply they should look only for their fellow believers in their faith for help.

Then you repeat this when referring to Arab brothers. Sure, Arabs and Muslims should help the Palestinians, and haven't done enough to do so. But I've also heard that Palestinians are humans. And perhaps, if I may be so bold, we should put humans first, and help people if they happen to also be human- regardless of race or religion. Israel has a responsibility to care for those within its land, and those who are its neighbors. It's not a matter of the UN. It's what YHWH said in the Torah. It's the declaration of Jubilee, and the command to care for the stranger and the alien, for "you were once a stranger and an alien in Egypt". Israel rejects the foundational scriptures that its claim to existence as a country are built on, and thus, in its opression of the poor and the stranger, acts to deny its own right to exist.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vilnai did not use the term "genocide." He used the word "shoah." The word means "disaster" or "conflagration." HaShoah refers to "The Holocaust."

It was unbelievably stupid and insensitive for him to use such a word, knowing that it could easily be construed by propagandists to say that "Israel is now enacting the Holocaust against Palestinians!" But no, he was not threatening genocide.

What he did say is that, if the Palestinians continue to fire rockets at major civilian population centers, then they will bring disaster upon themselves. And you know what, the Palestinians who fire those rockets DO bring disaster on themselves.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The term shoah does in fact mean disaster, destruction, catastrophe. What Vilnai meant is that the Hamas-led Gazans will bring upon themselves a greater destruction/disaster/catastrophe than that caused in Sderot and Ashkelon by the rockets launched into Israel.
No, I do not think that a state-sanctioned blockade etc. is a modern-day form of genocide, neither is it ethnic cleansing. It may be uncomfortable, but genocide it ain't, by any stretch of the imagination. It is the least Israel can do to stop the daily rocket shower. By the way, let it be known that the price of each Qassam is 500 Euros. There were days where the terror cells felt compelled to catapult as many as 20thousand Euros into Israel. All in all over 3 million Euros were dispatched mostly into civilian areas in Israe. I am sure that this money could have been better spent, but then who am I to argue with Khaled Mashaal, Haniyeh, and their ilk?
Back to genocide - apparently the population in Gaza manages to double itself every 15 years, despite the fact that you and Yassine are over in the US with your parents and children. By the way, you are a wonderful family, you have gorgeous children. Please make sure you enjoy them to the fullest while you can. Children have the nasty habit of growing up before you know it.
Wishing you all the best!

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is a hearfelt testimony and very sincere. I have a son who shares your son's name and I know the pain and worries of a parent. I am witnessing your suffering from the other side of the world and can appreciate that on the ground in Gaza and in southern Israel pain, fear and frustration cloud everything.

However horrible, this situation is really no different than any other chapter in the sad tale of the arab-israeli conflict.

You (I am referring to palestinians collectively) must understand that no matter how much you suffer or make your enemy suffer the pain and suffering will only end with a final political solution. Short of a complete military anhilation, the jews aren't going anywhere. They have no place to go, no one will have them. The world has already tried to kill them and they would sooner take down the entire temple over their head (sampson option)then suffer another genocide.

Your discussion about the reporting of palestinian suffering has merit. But to what end is this reporting? International opinion is essential just that - opinions. The world has remained at best silent and at worst complicit in almost every major genocide/ethnic cleansing (whatever horrible word you call it) from the Armenians to Darfur. The jews learned this lesson the hard way. The world could care less about them, and they in turn will continue to ignore international pressure.

The palestinians want a state and a homeland to raise their children in peace and prosper. Your options are to continue to cling to the hopes of one day blotting out Israel and establishing a purely arab state or to settle on the West Bank and Gaza and declare a lasting peace with Israel. If you choose the first option than the struggle will continue as underway ad infinitum. Both side will continue to suffer; death tolls and blog entries will continue unabated. There are no shortages of right wing Israelis who dream of a "greater Israel" in Judea and Samaria and would like nothing more than a continued conflict. The second option is painful and difficult but the only viable solution if Yousef is to see peace in his lifetime.

12:12 AM  
Blogger Mystique said...

oh dear....I don't read the papers much (this is why, I just see carnage everywhere and that really hurts me) so I don't know what's going on, really, what I do know are the views that any child's mind will have, that it is stupid to fight over land. And it is worse to pull civilians into it.
They published the first paragraph of this post in gulf news' blogosphere, and that passage by itself really hit me hard.
We who live in comfort and crib about the little things in life must look up to you and learn from you.

6:46 AM  
Anonymous Avinash said...

this post is translated in hindi... this is an indian langauge... plz see

3:19 PM  
Anonymous S. said...

Hi Miss,

I'm very touched by this post... Horrible but so true ! I just wanna ask you if i can translate it in french ? I think we've got to talk about all that ; and your point of view, as a gazaouite is very important.
My mail is on my webblog.
Hope you'll answer



10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Visitors may like to see how a Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff reflects upon the ongoing conditions in Gaza:

12:10 PM  
Blogger Halla said...

It is just sickening! very hard to watch, you feel so helpless

5:08 PM  
Anonymous tel aviv anon said...

If Israel is perpetuating a genocide in Gaza, they're doing a lousy job of it- doesn't the population continue to rise there, year after year?

8:14 PM  
Blogger Robby said...

I am sorry for you and your families suffering, it is sad.

When will your leaders stop being so stubborn and say those three words to stop the whole tragedy 'we recognize Israel'?

3:45 AM  
Blogger Persia said...

pretty impressive. thx god i found someone reporting from inside Gaza. what israelis do to you is really painful. but looks like the world takes it for granted that whatever isreal does is self-defense, what ever palestinians do is terrorism.
i hope for ur liberation. though with leaders who are either radical or corrupt its a bit difficult.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... are nothing more then a mouthpiece for the crazy hammas loonies and idiots...and liveing in america yet....crying your crocidile tears oner the suffering you creeps bring onto yourselves....lalia i know you wont print this in your blog,but i mean this for your eyes....why cant you see that what you are doing..teaching hate to little ones...bringing death and destruction to yourselves ..for what....such a could have peace now...just take a little less then everything...

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am only anonymous, b/c I don't have the time or the desire to create an account here.

How about the unreported amount of rockets falling on the Israeli cities of Sderot and now Ashkelon, on the surrounding kibbutzim and smaller towns? The World has looked away for the last 7 years as thousands of rockets kept falling on southern Israel. Somehow, you are not worrying about the newspapers underreporting the heavy psychological toll that these rockets have taken on the Israeli population in these towns. Those don't exist for you.

Death and suffering take toll on everyone, not just Gazans. Yet somehow, the suffering on the other side does not exist for you.

12:25 AM  
Blogger @bdul muHib said...


I'm sorry, but you are seriously confused, and I'd suggest you read more world news. Despite the much larger death toll in Gaza as compared to the rocket attacks on Southern Israel, the world press has a much larger focus on the rocket attacks, and barely discusses the atrocities committed by the IDF in Gaza. For instance, you point out the psychological impact of the rockets, and don't mention the psychological impact by the IDF, as well as the many, many deaths in Gaza.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous shameema said...

Laila, the world is better for people like you :)

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Tzipporah said...

the world is better off without adding to the allready stoked flames of hatred and destruction.

3:29 PM  
Blogger megoodgirl said...

iam praying so hard for the ppl of gaza.just reading the news is giving me nightmares.

8:26 AM  

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