Palestinian rioters confront IDF soldiers at the Gaza border, (Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib) (Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib)
Palestinian riot on Gaza border

Pro- and anti-Israel human rights lawyers shoot down the pro-Palestinian attempts to smear Israel with the term ‘genocide’ and say emphatically: It’s not happening.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Experts in human rights may not agree on the Israeli-Arab issue, but they are indeed in agreement that Israel is most definitely not committing genocide against the Palestinians.

The abuse of the word “genocide” peaked during fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror group in Gaza this month, with the Network Contagion Research Institute reporting that at one point tweets including the words “Israel” and “genocide” were shared more than 2,000 times per hour, the Jewish Telegraph Agency reported.

One tweet about “the ongoing Israeli genocide in Palestine” was shared more than 3,700 times

Human rights experts, however, say that use of that word in this case is simply a lie.

Prominent left-wing human rights lawyer Sari Bashi was a co-founder of the organization Gisha, whose goal is to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.” A Yale-educated lawyer who clerked for the Israel Supreme Court, Bashi’s comments carry weight in the human rights community.

“There’s a tendency for people to take words that are strong and to use them to describe actions they find objectionable, whether or not they fit,” Bashi told JTA. “I think people often throw around strong terms. I don’t think you hear international lawyers or human rights groups issuing reports analyzing why it’s genocide, because it’s not.”

Bashi said that because people are angry at what was happening in Gaza, they were just looking for language and wrongly latched on to the term “genocide.”

The term got lots of press recently when Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo issued a public apology for misusing the word because “it’s not accurate, it’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify anti-Semitism here & abroad.”

While anti-Israel advocates try to convince their followers that Israeli policy in Gaza is “like” genocide, Jewish and Israeli human rights lawyers on the left and right of the political spectrum are saying the misuse of the word is “ridiculous” and “baseless.”

Michael Sfard, a prominent left-wing human rights lawyer in Israel says, however, that using the term “genocide” is just plain wrong.

Israeli policy “doesn’t even begin to meet the threshold of what genocide is, and I think it cheapens the very important and grave concept of genocide,” Sfard said.

“First and foremost, in order to commit the crime of genocide, one needs to have an intention to exterminate, in whole or in part, a group,” Sfard said. “And in the 30 years of my activism and more than 20 years of litigation, I haven’t seen a shred of evidence that Israeli officials and decision makers hold such an intention.”

And, of course, the word “genocide” for Jews invokes chilling visions of the Nazi extermination of the Jews, something that simply cannot be compared to the Palestinians, whose population has been increasing for years.

“Specifically picking the crime the Jewish people have suffered, perhaps more than any other people in history, is not only to accuse us of a great crime but to negate our suffering as a people,” said law professor Eugene Kontorovich.

The United Nations defines “genocide” as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” That’s clearly impossible given that the Palestinian population has grown to record numbers after Israel gained control of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria in 1967.

The increase in the recent abuse of the word genocide also corresponds with the frightening rise in anti-Semitic attacks against Jews in America and around the world.

“Connecting invective that we’re seeing in online spaces to the real-world violence that we’ve seen is difficult to gauge,” said Oren Segal, the director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. But, he added, “When you portray your opponents as those who are engaging in the worst types of crimes against a people, you’re going to create anger against those people you are accusing of doing that.”

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