Israel and the Palestinian ‘womb’: Racism by numbers rears its ugly head by Dr. Osama Tanous


“Regarding the matter of population growth and the more problematic population, we face a kind of paradox. On the one hand, we understand that the birthrate is decisive – the Arab womb; and on the other hand, we encourage it with all the child allowances. That’s why I think we should consider a child allowance that is regressive: the first child receives one, the second child receives one, perhaps the third child; the fourth child does not, and the fifth child perhaps triggers a fine. We have to figure out something.”

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Israeli leaders lit the match that burned baby Ali Dawabsha by Rania Khalek

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In Israel, killing Palestinians and advocating for genocide builds political careers.

Violent demagogues occupy key positions in government, not in spite of their anti-Palestinian incitement or the killings they have perpetrated, but because of them. After endorsing a call last June for Palestinian mothers to be slaughtered in their beds to prevent them from birthing “little snakes,” Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked was rewarded by being appointed justice minister…  Eli Ben-Dahan, the settler rabbi in occupied East Jerusalem who decreed that “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human,” is Israel’s recently appointed deputy defense minister. He is now in charge of the “Civil Administration,” the name Israel gives to the military body that rules Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. It is no accident that clerics like Ben-Dahan have been largely silent about baby Ali. After all, they inspire an extreme messianic, eliminationist version of Judaism that drives settler violence… Politicians that rule a society where Palestinian babies are routinely called a “demographic threat,” and where many joyfully celebrate their slaughter, cannot claim innocence and purport to be “shocked” when settlers burn Palestinian children alive.

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Israel’s War on Palestine: It’s Bad, but is it Genocide?

Photo by Charles Davis

“It’s important to remember that you don’t need millions of dead bodies and a Nazi industrial system of extermination to constitute genocide under the relevant convention,” writes Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a Washington-based media watchdog. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines “genocide”as inflicting on a group “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” As the very title of the treaty suggests, a genocide need not be anywhere near completed—the destruction need not be “in whole”—for genocidal behavior to merit the label. What matters is the motivation, not the body count.

“While conflict has many causes, genocidal conflict is identity-based,” says the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, an expert on such things. “These conflicts are fomented by discrimination,” as well as “hate speech inciting violence.”

Now, consider: Israel is a state that openly discriminates on the basis of identity, denying Palestinian refugees the ability to visit their old villages in what is now Israel while granting citizenship to anyone with a Jewish mother who wants it. Israel is a state where the deputy speaker of parliament openly calls for replacing the indigenous population of Gaza with Jewish settlers, and where a leading newspaper just published an article titled “When Genocide Is Permissible.” It’s the sort of place where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feels comfortable calling the 20 percent of the population that isn’t Jewish—the indigenous people who weren’t pushed out—a “demographic threat” to apartheid, their continued reproduction posing a serious challenge to continued ethnic supremacy west of the Jordan River. So why are people afraid to use that word: “genocide”?

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