UN Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, International Criminal Court Prosecutor, International Court of Justice President: Investigate the Possibility that Israel is Committing the Crime of Genocide Against the Indigenous Palestinian People.
“For them, our very existence intimidates them and our artwork humanizes us- Palestinians- and this does not serve their purposes. They want us to be portrayed as we are in the media- terrorists, people throwing rocks- this is the picture that they have in mind, and that’s why they didn’t like this piece of artwork. And I also think it comes as part of the genocide that Israel is committing against Palestinians, which comes at all levels. So we have the daily killings, demolitions, evictions, land theft, burning of trees, and all of that. And then we have a different level which is a cultural genocide, where they steal our food and they attack our art. They don’t want the word ‘Palestinian’ to be heard in the western world.”
“We are delighted to report that Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has removed a display of artwork designed by children from Gaza.” That was the summary of a news report published on the homepage of the pro-Israel group, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI). The group is credited for being the party that managed to successfully persuade the administration of a hospital in West London to take down a few pieces of artwork created by refugee children from Gaza.
… As ridiculous as this story sounds, it is, in fact, the very essence of the anti-Palestinian campaign launched by Israel and its allies worldwide. While Palestinians are fighting for basic human rights, freedom and sovereignty as enshrined in international law, the pro-Israel camp is fighting for a total and complete erasure of everything Palestinian. Some call this cultural genocide or ethnocide.
One of the most interesting aspects of this conversation on language is that the Hebrew language has been used by the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948 as the language of oppression. In the minds of Palestinians, anywhere in Palestine, Hebrew is rarely the language used to communicate culture, literature, social coexistence and such. Instead, every military ordinance issued by the Israeli army, including closures and home demolitions, let alone the proceedings of military court hearings, and even the racist anti-Palestinian chants in football stadiums, are communicated in Hebrew. …BDS does not target Israelis as individuals and, under no circumstances, does it target Jewish individuals because they are Jews, or the Hebrew language, as such. Israel, on the other hand, continues to target Palestinians as a people, downgrades their language, dismantles their institutions and systematically destroys their culture. This is rightly referred to as cultural genocide, and it is our moral responsibility to stop it.
The fact that the Israeli occupation systematically deprives Palestinians in the Jordan Valley of their right to education creates an entire generation ignorant of their history and cultural identity. Ruining Palestinians’ cultural identity and attempting to erase the collective memory that connects them as a people with other Palestinians is another way, in which Zionism aims to eliminate the native Palestinian people. This amounts to a policy called ‘cultural genocide’. The Right to Education Campaign aims to create facts on the ground to save Palestinians’ cultural identity from obliteration.
Trump’s decision additionally violates United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 497, both of which the United States supported and both of which are binding. It also violates Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, which the Supreme Court has found to be enforceable domestically, and the International Court of Justice’s “Wall Decision.” Under international human rights law, it validates Israel’s systemic human rights abuses in the occupied Golan, including institutionalized discrimination, land expropriation, and cultural genocide.
Demonization and dehumanization are two of the key preconditions for genocide. Unfortunately for Dareen, her story demonstrates all too well Raphael Lemkin’s definition of ethnocide, which is a form of genocide that aims at eradicating the culture and language of an indigenous people. Mao Zedong did just that in Tibet in the 1950s. This in fact, raises the issue of Israel as an entity that is currently committing a slow genocide against the native people of the land. It should be accountable for this. The dire situation in Gaza, where the disenfranchised Palestinians have reached their nadir, living in subhuman conditions under a belligerent siege violently maintained by a country that massacres them, reflects the apartheidistic, genocidal mores of Israel.
The president of Arab American University, a private institution based in the West Bank city of Jenin, condemned Israel’s closure of the college. Ali Abu Zuhri argued it was an attempt to impose new facts on the ground aimed at changing the cultural and historical identity of Jerusalem… Israel’s closure of Hind al-Husseini college “is one more manifestation of Israel’s relentless assault on Palestinian education and culture, a systematic assault that is tantamount to cultural genocide,” Nada Elia, an organizing committee member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), told The Electronic Intifada.
The confiscation and theft of Palestinian cultural heritage are part of Israel’s attempts to erase Palestinian memory and cultural identity…
As US legal expert David Nersessian notes:
“Cultural genocide extends beyond attacks upon the physical and/or biological elements of a group and seeks to eliminate its wider institutions… Elements of cultural genocide are manifested when artistic, literary, and cultural activities are restricted or outlawed and when national treasures, libraries, archives, museums, artifacts, and art galleries are destroyed or confiscated.”
These discourses of cultural cleansing and cultural genocide suffer from their focus upon the symbolic cultural heritage, which solely refers to one layer of urban destruction, the deliberate destruction of cultural artefacts. In other words, it focuses only upon the buildings whose loss is judged to be a cultural loss. However, the urban environment normally experiences more widespread destruction than these symbolic buildings. From the Bosnian history of cultural destruction it is evident that hundreds of other types of buildings were subject to destruction–for example, houses in Mostar Old Town and in many of the villages in Bosnia. The same can be noted in the Palestinian history of urban destruction–for example, Nablus old town (more details on Nablus are analyzed in Chapter 6). Indeed, urban destruction encompasses buildings that have no distinctive cultural value, or are of distinct cultural provenance. Thus the interpretation of urban destruction as an attack o cultural heritage provides only a partial (though striking) account of the destruction of the urban environment in Bosnia among other cases; it does not account for the scare of destruction or targeting of buildings that are not recognizable as such symbols of culture. Thus, cultural cleansing and cultural genocide are only partially reflecting the process of urban destruction; they reflect the destruction of cultural artefacts, but this destruction does not take place in a pure form or apart from the destruction of other types of urban environment.