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.
There is little that is more dislocating than witnessing the genocide of your own people: on Twitter, on Instagram, in waiting rooms at doctors’ offices, on the radio, and during all the mundane tasks of survival. There is little that is more demoralizing than watching the world deny a violence that is so simply seen, heard, and broadcast by the people experiencing it themselves.
I think that really exemplifies sort of the rules of genocide and how people talk about genocide. So I think of these rules- I kind of divide them into two categories- there are the rules that are about how the powerful get to use the term and get to exploit it; and then there are the rules that are about preventing the less powerful from talking about genocide and making use of it.
“In this moment Israel has targeted 29 UNRWA schools, eight of which were providing shelter at the time. Has targeted 12 out of 35 hospitals that are critical to ensure life. Has cut off water, has cut off electricity, has bombed humanitarian convoys, has prevented the creation of any humanitarian corridors. We must understand this as a genocidal campaign. And if we understand it as such, as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention, which has two critical elements; both genocidal intent, as well as specific underlying acts- which have been demonstrated exhaustively by legal scholars, genocide scholars, legal institutions- then we must also agree that there is no condition on how we apply ceasefire now. There is no legal or moral code that justifies genocide. Not in the name of self-defense, not in the name of National Security, not in the name of achieving any kind of resolution. There should be no equivocation on demanding an unequivocal ceasefire now. Not just to cease the hostilities but literally in order to stem a genocide.”
Over the last few days, we have witnessed Israel undertaking a crime of genocide against the on the Palestinian people in the besieged Gaza strip. Senior Israeli officials have made statements with genocidal intent and followed them up with actions that deliberately inflict on the Palestinian people conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction, amounting to the crime of genocide as defined in international law. This is not an isolated situation but is an extension of systematic grave injustices the Palestinian people have been subjected to, for over a century.
In thinking about Black and Palestinian solidarity since the 2014 Gaza bombings, one of the most exciting dimensions is how the genesis of a burgeoning movement against state sanctioned violence inside the US has intersected with the increased visibility and success of the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement. Aided by the coincidental timing of the Ferguson protests with Israel’s bloody assault on Gaza civilians last summer, many protestors experienced a convergence of struggles in which young people found themselves facing down military weapons, including tanks, armed assault rifles, Kevlar shod “soldiers”, and CS gas. The juxtaposition of images of human vulnerability in the face of overwhelming force, embodied by Israel’s carpet-bombing of residential areas spanning forty percent of Gaza and of armored vehicles advancing on young Ferguson teens in their own neighborhoods as they kneeled with their hands up, forged a lasting historical memory of the genocidal intent of using weapons of war against civilians. Indeed, at precisely the moment that members of Israel’s Home party openly advocated genocide through attacks on Palestinian women as “mothers of snakes,” African Americans began using the term to describe the state violence they were facing at the hands of law enforcement. In the ensuing months, genocide has become a lingua franca to express the plight of both African Americans and Palestinians. The victories of BDS have literally helped to lift the gag rule of both the mainstream press and particular arenas of social media thereby enabling much more unselfconscious discussion about the shared histories of the US and Israel as “racial states” and “settler societies.” In addition to genocide, recurrent themes are the shared experiences of statelessness, entrapment, and carcerality. This cross-fertilization of political culture and analysis is an incredibly exciting development that links both intellectual production and grassroots protest of African Americans and Palestinians.