Dear Media: Quit ignoring the genocidal rhetoric coming out of Israel
Remember how the media freaked out when Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared his desire to “wipe Israel off the map”? Despite it being an inaccurate translation, the western media never misses an opportunity rehash that remark. Similarly, whenever Hamas makes a vile remark about Israel, mainstream outlets amplify it the world over to make certain that everyone understands that Israel is deeply hated by violent brown folks with funny beards.
Given the media’s obsession with negative comments about Israel, I’m curious to understand why the increasingly genocidal rhetoric of Israeli officials and public figures over the last week has been completely ignored.
With Israel well into it’s sixth day of bombing the densely populated Gaza Strip, you would think that rightwing Knesset member, Michael Ben-Ari, calling on Israel to “erase” Gaza—then equivalent of a US Senator demanding we eradicate the entire Afghan population—would be newsworthy. But it’s not.
You would think that Rabbi Yaakov Yosef (son of Israel’s former Chief Rabbi) blessing IDF soldiers to “learn from the Syrians how to slaughter the enemy” would warrant a sentence or two in the New York Times or the Washington Post. But nothing.
You would think that the incitement of war crimes by Israel’s transport minister, Israel Katz, who said “we must detach from Gaza in a civilian manner – electricity, water, food, and fuel,” might make the evening news. Yet the Electronic Intifada was one of the only outlets that seemed to care.
And it’s not like there’s a shortage of Israeli genocidal rhetoric to report on. For example, yesterday in the Jerusalem Post, Gilad Sharon, son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon, wrote, “THE DESIRE to prevent harm to innocent civilians in Gaza will ultimately lead to harming the truly innocent: the residents of southern Israel.” Apparently, dead Palestinian children in Gaza were never “truly innocent” to begin with, like 10-month-old Hanen Tafesh. Why? Because, as Sharon so kindly enlightens us, “The residents of Gaza…elected Hamas.” In that case, suppose the four small children killed in an Israeli airstrike that took out 11 members of the Al-Dalou family have only themselves to blame for being born in Gaza where Hamas is in charge. Rather than waste time avoiding civilian casualties, Sharon argues, “We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza.” After all, “The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too,” says Sharon.
Michael Ben-Ari, the Knesset member I mentioned earlier, is also of the opinion that civilians in Gaza are fair game. Ali Abunimah reported the translation of his comments in the Electronic Intifada:
“Brothers! Beloved soldiers and commanders – preserve your lives! Don’t give a hoot about Goldstone! There are no innocents in Gaza, don’t let any diplomats who want to look good in the world endanger your lives[;] at any tiniest concern for your lives – Mow them!,” Ben-Ari was quoted as saying by the website HaKol HaYehudi.
As is usually the case with racists, Ben-Ari has demonstrated a pattern of bigotry. According to Abunimah, “Ben-Ari is also notorious for his incitement against Africans and for his hatred of Christians. In July he tore up a New Testament, calling it “abominable” and threw it in the trash.”
Abunimah, one of the few people documenting this dangerous rhetoric, also wrote about a protest in Tel Aviv, where a group of Israelis showing their support for their country’s attack on Gaza chanted statements like:
“They don’t deserve to live, they need to die”
“May your children die, you dogs”
“Now we want to go back there [to Gaza] and kick out all the Arabs.”
“The people demand more shooting”
“Muhammad is dead”
Racism was also on display at Haifa University, where 1,300 students gathered to support the Gaza Assault. A number of hate groups and extremist leaders attended the rally which featured calls to expel the school’s Arab students and chants of “Death to the Arabs.”
In a recent blog post, Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss described similar sentiments among Israelis in Jerusalem and areas in the line of rocket fire:
Several people offered genocidal statements unprompted. What is the solution to Gaza? “Long term? I don’t think you should write it down,” Debbie, an Australian who had emigrated to a town near Gaza, said. “Push delete on Gaza,” said a 22-year-old man standing on a hill in Sederot overlooking Gaza.
“Gaza need to disappear,” said Chen, 23, a clerical worker in a doctor’s office in Ashkelon. “Disappear?” “Yes, kill them all. Of course. One time, and that’s it.” She dusted her hands together. “Nobody’s good there.” Her coworker, Miri, 52, nodded agreement.
Yesterday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that 90 percent of Israeli Jews support Operation Pillar of Defense. Given the kind of anti-Arab racism and propaganda peddled by the Israeli government over the decades, this comes as no surprise. Still, it should at the very least raise red flags when coupled with the incitement of murder by prominent Israeli figures. Instead, the international community gives Israel free reign to hate and kill Palestinians and then acts surprised when an entire family is massacred.
But never mind that, let’s get back to what’s really important: Rumor has it that Hamas just talked some serious smack about Israel!