Could it be that die-hard Israel bashers are realizing that the “Israel Apartheid” ploy is a kite that just won’t fly? This might explain why the Media Review Network’s Firoz Osman, one of the most vociferous local proponents of the analogy, has now chosen to go a step further. According to him (, 10 March), Israel is no longer ‘merely’ guilty of apartheid but of the ultimate crime against humanity – genocide. This means that in his view, Israel is carrying out a deliberate programme of mass extermination against the Palestinian people, specifically those living in Gaza.
As defined by the United Nations Genocide Convention, genocide constitutes “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”. The Convention itself was established in 1948 following the annihilation of three-quarters of European Jewry by Nazi Germany during World War II, but since then further acts of genocide have occurred. Africa has endured a number of such catastrophes, the worst being the mass slaughter of an estimated 70% of the Tutsi population (between 500 000 and a 1 000 000 souls) in 1994. Seven years into the civil war in Syria, the death toll is approaching the 400 000 mark. This is horrific enough, but in Rwanda more than double that number died in a mere three months. That, in all its unspeakable awfulness, is genocide, the ultimate depths of cruelty and evil that the human race is capable of descending to.
How does any of this accord with what is happening in Gaza? Well, when Israel captured the territory from Egypt in the 1967 Six Day War, the population according to a census at the time was 354 700. If genocide really did occur subsequently, that figure today would naturally be much smaller. In fact, Gaza’s population increased more than five-fold over the next five decades and it now stands at just under two million. In 2017, its growth rate was a healthy 2.33%. In the West Bank, the Palestinian population has likewise increased dramatically since the area came under Israeli control. If Israel really is bent on committing genocide, it is doing a stunningly bad job of it.
Getting down to specifics, Osman alleges that Israel, amongst other diabolical crimes, is keeping Gaza in a permanent state of siege, depriving its people of food, medicine and other necessities, maintaining an illegal naval blockade, carrying out unprovoked military onslaughts that destroy infrastructure and kill innocent civilians and using the beleaguered territory as a testing ground for trying out new weaponry that is then sold to other tyrannical regimes that are oppressing Muslims. Responding to so unhinged a farrago is not easy, but one might just as well start with the ‘siege’ canard. The defining feature of a siege is that it involves hostile forces attempting to seize control of a specific place, be it a fortress, town or territory. It is about one side seeking to force its way in while the other tries to keep it out. A completely different scenario prevails in the Gaza-Israel case. Israel’s unilateral military withdrawal in 2005 was followed by Hamas seizing complete control of the enclave and embarking on an extended series of attacks against Israel. Well over 12 000 missiles have been fired at Israeli towns, and scores of infiltration tunnels have been built with a view to carrying out terrorist attacks. In response, Israel has had to institute a naval blockade (quite legally), introduce anti-missile defense systems, carry out targeted attacks to destroy tunnels and missile sites and begin building an underground wall to prevent further tunneling. This is not a case of Israel trying to break in to Gaza (something it is able to do very easily) but to keep those who seek to harm it out. If anything, it is Israel that is under siege.
Simmering tensions on the Israel border have on three occasions erupted in outright conflict. Contrary to what Osman implies, all three were provoked by Hamas and other Islamist groupings, with each outbreak being preceded by continual cross-border rocket barrages. targets. Hamas, as a matter of strategy, has carried out its attacks from densely populated civilian areas, making civilian casualties in the event of Israeli counter-attacks inevitable. It has further consistently violated internationally brokered ceasefires. Whatever hardships Gazans face – and they are indeed grave – is due to the actions of their own leaders, who instead of using Israel’s withdrawal to build a peaceful, functioning society chose instead to pursue a self-destructive war of aggression.
That Firoz Osman has resorted to levelling ludicrous charges of genocide against Israel might be indicative of the frustration he and his ilk are feeling over how ineffectual their efforts to turn Israel into an international pariah have been to date. The extraordinary growth that the Israeli economy continues to make is one indication of that, as is the fact that Israel today has diplomatic relations with more countries than at any other time in its history. By and large, the global community is not buying in to the apartheid analogy, which is hardly surprising since that analogy quickly falls apart when subjected to even a cursory analysis.
This response has of necessity been limited to answering the scandalous ‘genocide’ charge that Osman levels against Israel. Space unfortunately does not permit dealing with his many other outrageous claims, such as that Israel came into being through a deliberate policy of massacre and ethnic cleansing and that it is “fabricating terror alerts and manufacturing false flag operations” to stir up Islamophobia around the world. The Media Review Network has never made a secret of its being a South African-based lobby for Hamas, and Hamas itself remains what it has always been, a totalitarian, unapologetically Islamist movement committed to the total annihilation of the Israeli state by any means necessary. No lasting peace agreement between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours will be possible so long as extremists like this continue to dictate the course of events.