Cleveland Peace Action (CPA) condemns, without reservation, the acts of violence and repression committed by Israel against the people of Palestine. Many of those who wish to defend the actions of the Israeli government contend that the term “genocide” only refers to mass killing and therefore does not apply. CPA points to the fact that the term “genocide” was first used in 1944 by Professor Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish legal scholar who wrote in 1945, Genocide: A Modern Crime. In his book, Professor Lemkin writes: “Genocide does not necessarily signify mass killing. More often it refers to a coordinated plan aimed at destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups so that these groups wither and die like plants that have suffered a blight.”
He goes on to write that: “The end may be accomplished by the forced disintegration of political and social institutions, the culture of the people, their language, their national feelings and their religion. It may be accomplished by wiping out all basis of personal security, liberty, health, and dignity. When those means fail, the machine gun can always be used as a last resort. Genocide is directed against a national group as an entity and the attack on individuals is only secondary to the annihilation of the national group to which they belong.”
Since Professor Lemkin first coined the term, genocide is now seen by historians, scientists, and other scholars as a separate category of collective violence aimed at the erasure of the identity and security of ethnic, religious or other national groups. Many scholars now agree that from 1947 until the present, Israel has used ethnic cleansing of Arab villages, as well as the murder of civilians as exemplified by the mass killings at Deir Yasin. More than 700 Arab villages were destroyed with the consequent forced transfer of more than 750,000 Arabs. Many now live in refugee camps while their homes and farms were either confiscated by the Israeli government or given to Israeli families. In 2014, Israel bombed Gaza for almost 50 days resulting in the murder of 2,300 people, 600 of whom were children. The bombings also destroyed schools, hospitals, roads, bridges and other key elements of civil society in Gaza. Seeking to justify this killing, Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked posted a statement on Facebook in 2014 claiming that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy.” She also called for the military destruction of Palestine, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” Ms. Shaked’s FB post also called for the killing of Palestinian mothers, “who give birth to little snakes.” Not to be outdone, Moshe Feiglin, who was deputy speaker of the Knesset at the time, called for concentration camps in Gaza.
Cleveland Peace Action asks the question: “When will the killing and oppression stop?” When will the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union cut off all financial and materiel assistance to Israel until the genocide stops and the indigenous Palestinian people enjoy a life of dignity and security. How many more Palestinians will be killed before the international power brokers realize that Palestinians are also human beings. We say emphatically: “No rights for Palestine? Then no aid for Israel.”