“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.” – Dante
I’ve tried many times to write about why I refuse to take what some of my American friends believe is a more “neutral,” or non-objective stance when it comes to Israel and Palestine, but each time I find myself frustrated by the options, and end up deleting the post. As you may or may not know, I subscribe to the theory that a bi-national (one-state) solution with complete and total equality for Israeli Jews and Palestinians is the right answer. I also write often from a very non-objective stance, because yes, I have a strong agenda: equality and human rights. And yes, I know and believe that Hamas has done some horrible things too (derivative of the situation that has existed in Gaza for over 60 years), and no, I won’t answer the “why do you care so much about Palestine/Arabs?” question because I think it’s stupid.
Here’s one of the many reasons I refuse to take a neutral stance: At the Herzliya Conference, Harvard Weatherhead Center Fellow Martin Kramer made a speech, later followed by a blog post, that referred to Gaza’s young male population as “superfluous young men.” You can view the video in its entirety there, but here’s the most important quote:
Aging populations reject radical agendas, and the Middle East is no different. Now eventually, this will happen among the Palestinians too, but it will happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies for Palestinians with refugee status. Those subsidies are one reason why, in the ten years from 1997 to 2007, Gaza’s population grew by an astonishing 40 percent. At that rate, Gaza’s population will double by 2030, to three million. Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim—undermine the Hamas regime—but if they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth—and there is some evidence that they have—that might begin to crack the culture of martyrdom which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men. That is rising to the real challenge of radical indoctrination, and treating it at its root.
It sounds like Martin Kramer, who refers to himself as an “authority on the Middle East,” just called for genocide against the Palestinian people. The international definition of genocide is as follows:
It defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” by (bold is mine):
* Killing members of the group.
* Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.
* Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
* Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.
* Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
From where I’m standing it appears that Martin Kramer quite clearly supported verbally, and possibly called for, imposing measures intended to prevent Palestinian births, in an effort to slow the Palestinian population’s rapid growth and thus prevent more “superfluous young men” from turning to extremism. Also known as incitement to genocide.
I’m not the first to say so – Ali Abunimah did here (as did the site he co-founded, Electronic Intifada), Media Matters’ MJ Rosenberg blogged it here, and Philip Weiss here. Of course, Kramer is aware of that, but rather than address the issues, he chooses to smear all of the aforementioned commentators as “people who daily call for Israel to be wiped off the map of the Middle East,” which could not be farther from the truth (I’m not entirely sure about Rosenberg, but Abunimah and Weiss are both supporters of a bi-national state in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians would both live equally–a main tenet of modern, secular, anti-Zionism efforts).
This is why I’m so frustrated. I honest-to-God simply do not understand how anyone–anyone–regardless of identity or belief, regardless of whether or not they support one state or two states, and regardless of whether or not they believe Israel is divinely the land of the Jews can believe that advocating against births within an ethnic community is okay. It baffles me.
So try, whomever you are reading this, for a moment, to simply forget everything else and answer this one question: Is calling for sanctions and diminishing birth rates amongst a single ethnic population supporting genocide?
If so, then please don’t remain silent.