FULL TEXT: “When Genocide is Permissible” by Yochanan Gordon

CONTEXT: As if Israel’s casual murders of children in Gaza weren’t enough – some Israelis are starting to explain why their actions are exclusively and supremely moral. Very recently, The Times of Israel carried a blog post by Yochanan Gordon titled “When Genocide is Permissible”.

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So incendiary was his line of argument that the newspaper was forced to take it down. They quickly apologized for the editorial oversight and discontinued the writer’s blog.

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But the Internet doesn’t forget. Nothing gets completely lost in this vast space of bits and data. In this short time, screen-shots and whole texts have been preserved and published. I, too, am putting it on my blog as evidence. Let this be a reminder of how quickly notions of racial / ethnic / religious supremacy leads to apathy, oppression and genocide. Let this be a reminder for those who care to reflect. (Adnan R Amin)

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[FULL TEXT BY YOCHANAN GORDON]

When Genocide is Permissible

Judging by the numbers of casualties on both sides in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less- capable enemy. That is as far as what meets the eye. But, it’s now obvious that the US and the UN are completely out of touch with the nature of this foe and are therefore not qualified to dictate or enforce the rules of this war – because when it comes to terror there is much more than meets the eye.

I wasn’t aware of this, but it seems that the nature of warfare has undergone a major shift over the years. Where wars were usually waged to defeat the opposing side, today it seems – and judging by the number of foul calls it would indicate – that today’s wars are fought to a draw. I mean, whoever heard of a timeout in war? An NBA Basketball game allows six timeouts for each team during the course of a game, but last I checked this is a war! We are at war with an enemy whose charter calls for the annihilation of our people. Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live.

The sad reality is that Israel gets it, but its hands are being tied by world leaders who over the past six years have insisted they are such good friends with the Jewish state, that they know more regarding its interests than even they do. But there’s going to have to come a time where Israel feels threatened enough where it has no other choice but to defy international warnings – because this is life or death.

Most of the reports coming from Gazan officials and leaders since the start of this operation have been either largely exaggerated or patently false. The truth is, it’s not their fault, falsehood and deceit is part of the very fabric of who they are and that will never change. Still however, despite their propensity to lie, when your enemy tells you that they are bent on your destruction you believe them. Similarly, when Khaled Meshal declares that no physical damage to Gaza will dampen their morale or weaken their resolve – they have to be believed. Our sage Gedalia the son of Achikam was given intelligence that Yishmael Ben Nesanyah was plotting to kill him. However, in his piety or rather naiveté Gedalia dismissed the report as a random act of gossip and paid no attention to it. To this day, the day following Rosh Hashana is commemorated as a fast day in the memory of Gedalia who was killed in cold blood on the second day of Rosh Hashana during the meal. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over. History is there to teach us lessons and the lesson here is that when your enemy swears to destroy you – you take him seriously.

Hamas has stated forthrightly that it idealizes death as much as Israel celebrates life. What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely?

News anchors such as those from CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera have not missed an opportunity to point out the majority of innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of this war. But anyone who lives with rocket launchers installed or terror tunnels burrowed in or around the vicinity of their home cannot be considered an innocent civilian. If you’ll counter, that Hamas has been seen abusing civilians who have attempted to leave their homes in response to Israeli warnings to leave – well then, your beginning to come to terms with the nature of this enemy which should automatically cause the rules of standard warfare to be suspended.

Everyone agrees that Israel has the right to defend itself as well as the right to exercise that right. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has declared it, Obama and Kerry have clearly stated that no one could be expected to sit idle as thousands of rockets rain down on the heads of its citizens, placing them in clear and present danger. It seems then that the only point of contention is regarding the measure of punishment meted out in this situation.

I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?

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8 comments

  1. Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live.

    Sadly this is not a symptom of insane extremism, but the logical outcome of adopting consequentialist moral codes such as utilitarianism.

    If the ends justify the means and all ‘good’ and ‘evil’ must be weighed and accounted against all other ‘goods’ and ‘evils’ it becomes inevitable that human lives themselves will come to have a specific, finite value. Then all that remains is to find something more valuable than human life and you can justify the most heinous crimes imaginable.

    A one thousand year Reich, a socialist workers’ utopia, eternity in heaven – all of these things are obviously worth more than a ‘mere’ life – or millions of them.

    According to Kant, the basis of immorality is to treat other human beings as a means to an end. So applying this simple principle shows that taking human life to attain your own safety – or the illusion of it – is always immoral.

    Every human holds an entire universe behind their eyes. To kill just one is infinitely evil. Someday you may find yourself in a situation where you do kill someone and perhaps it will even have been the ‘right’ thing to do under the circumstances. But never kid yourself that it was morally justifiable. It will always have been the result of your own fallibility, fear and weakness.

    • Sadly, Gaza is hardly an existential threat to Israel. The elementary rockets barely reach into the Israeli border. A total of 28 Israelis casualties have been reported in the past 14 years (in fact, Israeli PR machine has suggested that its Hamas rockets that, failing to reach Israel, are killing the children). And then, there’s the USA funded Iron Dome. So, I find the very premise deceptive.

      I don’t know, mate, I feel incapable of thinking straight on this …this so-called war where one side is blockaded, fed a scant ration, deprived of an army / navy / airforce – and the other side is a nuclear-power, bafflingly-wealthy and enjoying unwavering support of the developed countries. How is this about Morality and not about Religion? What would happen if Israel was Muslim and Gaza, Jewish?

      The only thing I know for sure, is, as you phrased it “Every human holds an entire universe behind their eyes.” And it kills me to see universes annihilated before they flourish. What a waste!

      • Sadly, Gaza is hardly an existential threat to Israel.

        Actually I think it is. Or rather Israel’s response to it is.

        Israel cannot maintain it’s regional military domination forever and every bullet it fires at Palestinians is a further wound to its chance of ever reconciling with its neighbours. I suspect that one day the “Tel Aviv Crater” will take its place alongside Auschwitz in the psyche of the world’s Jews.

        But whether you or I think Gaza poses a real threat to Israel is as irrelevant as whether we believe Hitler’s Reich, Marx’s Utopia or Torquemada’s Heaven were ever likely prospects. Utilitarianism is primarily a public morality – even Peter Singer admits he doesn’t apply it to members of his own family – so the final say on speculative outcomes is always given to powerful pundits and technocrats. Like Condi Rice with her “mushroom clouds above American cities” if Iraq wasn’t invaded.

        • Dear Cabrogal, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂
          I don’t know how you concluded Gaza is an existential threat to Israel. Perhaps, you have some information that I don’t. Or perhaps, you mean in the sense that Snowball was a threat to the Animal Farm. As a result of the conflict, more people were killed in Rafah yesterday than Israelis killed in the past 10/12 years. Who is threatening whom?

          I feel, the utilitarian view you discuss only considers Israeli utility and not that of the Palestinians or millions of Muslims grieving over the massacre. If the sphere of Utility were to be expanded to include Arab and other Muslim countries …it would advocate the annihilation of Israel. In fact, I feel a global measure of Utility would yield the same result (not that I think Utilitarianism is any decent code to adhere to).

          But to refocus on what’s afoot, I don’t think one needs to philosophize too far to realize there’s a genocide going on and that a Genocide is bad. And to me, acknowledging that wrong, and commenting on it, is never irrelevant.

          • Please reread my comment carefully. I think it addresses your objections to it.

            But to refocus on what’s afoot, I don’t think one needs to philosophize too far to realize there’s a genocide going on and that a Genocide is bad. And to me, acknowledging that wrong, and commenting on it, is never irrelevant.

            Agreed. But I also think it’s important to come to grips with the memes used to manufacture public consent for such behaviour. Otherwise you are just stamping on fires while the pyromaniacs continue to run riot.

  2. Noting the other story in the screen shot above.

    If the conflict between Israel and Palestine is ‘war’ – as so many Israelis insist – then how come when Israeli soldiers are captured they are never POWs but ‘victims of kidnapping’?

    • And let’s not forget that the latest case took place inside Gaza, while a military ground invasion was taking place. What did they expect? Open doors, kisses and baclava?

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