This planned deportation is the latest in a long line of historical injustices the Jewish state has perpetrated since 1948. It puts Israel in a place of dishonor alongside states whose history includes genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the deportation of refugees and asylum seekers. But unlike in the past, when mass expulsions took place in situations of war or violent conflicts – which obviously did not grant legitimacy to crimes against humanity – this time the circumstances are different. This time, it’s only the desire to keep the Jewish state forever pure.
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A party with members in Israel’s government has just endorsed a plan to force Palestinians out of their homeland. A prominent Holocaust scholar previously called the plan potentially genocidal and likened the values of its chief proponent to those of the Nazi SS. Yet the European Union, which claims a moral mission to combat extremism, racism and xenophobia, is refusing to condemn it.
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It’s hard to believe that an elected representative of a party in the governing coalition could raise the option of genocide if the Palestinians don’t accept the terms he’s willing to offer them: either emigration, or life under an apartheid regime based on principles of Jewish law, which would be even worse than the one that existed in South Africa. Smotrich, a deputy speaker of the Knesset, is the most senior government figure to date to say unabashedly that the option of genocide is on the table if the Palestinians don’t agree to our terms – and it’s clear they won’t agree.
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…the term has been put to the critical test by legal experts and researchers, because it is often used as a euphemism for cases that should actually be labeled genocide.
The phenomenon of ethnic cleansing is not easily defined. On one hand, it is different from applying pressure to emigrate and population transfers; and on the other, it is also different from genocide. There is widespread agreement in the research field that ethnic cleansing is a form of forced migration — which can become violent and murderous — of an unwanted population from a specific territory because of a racial, ethnic, religious, political, strategic or ideologically based hostility.
This is exactly what happened in 1948.
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Colonial dispossessors always expected the natives to play the game, i.e. to agree to the seizure of their lands and possessions, to loyally serve the settlers as manual laborers, and so on. As long as they behaved, their existence was tolerated. But the Jewish settler cannot, over the long term, tolerate the existence of the Palestinian “native,” not just because the latter refuses to play by the rules and responds with violence, but because his physical existence is a constant challenge to the main question: Who is the true native of this land?
As a result, the final objective of the settler ideology in the territories is not the Palestinians’ obedient submission to Israeli brutality, but their total disappearance. In instances of colonialism where there were fewer components of identity and messianic faith involved, it still ended in expulsion or genocide. The reality in the territories is sliding toward this danger. There are enough West Bank settlers working to make that moment happen.
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