GENOCIDE IN GAZA: Heinsohn’s Proxy War Against The Palestinians

“The atrocities committed by Israel is a genocide of a conquered people. Gaza is a concentration camp and no amount of PR can reduce the magnitude of this horrible crime against humanity and decency”.[1]

 

The ‘Youth Bulge’ theory that Gunnar Heinsohn feverishly promotes is far from legitimate in an analysis of any society, let alone a society like Gaza, which is riddled with poverty and war and whose citizens, as a result of the illegal Israeli occupation, have no freedom of movement. The theory suggests that in countries where at least 30% of the male population is aged between 15-29, there is a tendency for these young men to “eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society.”[2]  Even at first glance, this theory is clearly far too reductionistic and does not take into consideration the many complicated and interrelated factors that determine the make up of Palestinian society – for instance, the overriding impact of the Occupation on the very possibility of ‘acceptable positions’ in the first place. It is interesting to note that the ‘youth bulge’ theory has become highly influential on US Foreign policy with two key consultants to the US Government, Jack Goldstone and Gary Fuller, ardently supporting it.[3]   

While Heinsohn, in the most dubious manner, never cites his ‘statistics’ and ‘facts’, it is clear that his figures are intertwined with rhetorical accusations that have serious genocidal implications. For example, in his examples of the wars in Lebanon and Algeria, where birth rates fell significantly during the fighting, he asserts, “The warring stopped because no more warriors were being born”[4]. Juxtaposed to this questionable correlation, he contends, that with the ever increasing population of Gaza “the killing continues”[5].  No thought is ever spent on the context and diplomatic processes undertaken – as with Bush’s current support for the Gaza Operation – by national and international parties to reach this outcome. Heinsohn seems only concerned to disseminate his prejudice of the animalistic nature of the Arab. 

Heinsohn even goes as far as to unashamedly claim that the death toll in the Palestinian territories is relatively slight over the last 60 years when compared to the death toll of Muslims across the entire world over the same period of time. Yet, how can one even bring oneself to compare the entire Muslim world (currently 1.5 billion people) to a measly scrap of land on the Mediterranean coast?  The strongest feature of such an argument is the calculated ignorance of the reader who would assent to such spurious ‘logic.’

The argument that Israel does its utmost to spare civilian lives is wearing thin, especially in light of the recent UN proposal to investigate Israel’s war crimes[6], the refusal of many Israeli soldiers to fight in Gaza[7] and the condemnation of Israel by its most loyal ‘Zionist’ supporters[8] – not to mention the entire history of the Occupation, which is never mentioned by Heinsohn. For instance, with respect to the bombing of the UN School in Jabaliya, Israel had been given UN location coordinates, but this did not stop its fatal bombardment.  The cynicism of this attack – and its lack of even respect for the dead, many of whom were children – is exposed with Israel’s insistence that it attacked the school in response to shooting from militants.  Indeed, the UN insists that there were no militant fighters within the proximity of the school.  This attack alone left 42 dead, further reinforcing the fact that there are no safe havens for the rest of the Palestinians in Gaza[9].  Also, contrary to Heinsohn’s estimate of 10-15% civilian deaths, it has been estimated by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that at least 30% of all fatalities are civilians, and approximately 45% of casualties.

Part of Israel’s reasoning for this war has been, what it claims to be 8 years of missiles fired by Hamas.[10]However, one would have to question this on at least two levels. In the first instance, Israel only withdrew from Gaza in 2005. It would be clearly uncharacteristic of Israel to carry out this withdrawal, if i) Hamas was attacking Israel at the time ii) if there had not been a ceasefire being upheld at the time and iii) if Israel thought that this move would have jeopardised Israel’s safety.

It is also important, in the second instance, to note that in an analysis of the breaking of ceasefires, even up to this most recent incident[11], it is “overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in the conflict”[12], with 79% of all ceasefires being broken by Israel, 8% by Palestinians and 13% by both on the same day. In addition, Israel is more likely to break a ceasefire the longer it lasts, breaking 96% of ceasefires which lasted more than 7 days and 100% of which lasted longer than 9 days.[13]

Heinsohn throws out the further assertion, moreover, that “the reason for Gaza’s endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring”, as if it is a choice of the Palestinian people to live under continuous occupation, where they have restricted access to food, water and electricity, with Gaza’s borders shut off from land, air and sea access. The people of Gaza are refugees in their own land and as a result every new child will be born a refugee.  Indeed, he has the audacity to assert: “Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging tunnels, smuggling…”[14] Remarkably, Heinsohn is able to turn a humanitarian crisis – Gaza’a 45% unemployment rate, the highest in the world[15] – into a symptom of a degenerate Arab youth. The fact that Israel’s economic blockade, its repeated elimination of electricity and fuel sources, and its closure of 95% of all factories in Gaza[16], is totally neglected to be mentioned.

So what is Heinsohn’s solution to this ‘youth bulge’ that is feeding on international aid (sounds like ‘government handouts’ to ‘scroungers’)? Well, he directly offers a couple of practical solutions. Firstly aid must be cut off – the international community is urged by Heinsohn to have the courage to tell the Gazan’s to look after their own children and build their own economies. If only the Palestinians had such a preposterous luxury under the Occupation! Another recommendation is to export some of those young Palestinian men to North America and Europe. After all, “who would not want to get out of that strip of land”?[17] But, I have to wonder, if Heinsohn’s description of the Palestinian men and women were accurate, why would they want to give up all the aid they are getting and work for a living in their besieged land? We can also not ignore his calls to allow and support Israel’s freedom to defend itself, to let the killings go on, after all it can only benefit the predicament, as it purportedly did in Lebanon and Algeria when the warriors ceased to be born.

In response to the outrageous suggestions of Heinsohn and his extreme ‘bad faith’, I contend that the only authentic solution I can see, is for Israel to be made to abide by International law, so that it can be ‘saved from itself’[18] and encouraged to cling on to the last threads of the democratic values that exist in the Israeli community.  Such a turn by Israel to the neighborhood of legality would allow this relatively new country to begin to engage with its neighbors and in this way to begin to repair the damage to Israel’s legitimacy and its image across the world.  

What is most astonishing about this insensitive article is its overwhelming sense of fatality, with respect to the people and for the future of Palestine. There is no attempt at an illustration of the reality of the situation in Gaza, only an obfuscating of the unnecessary and avoidable suffering by associating it with characteristics of laziness, aggressiveness and greediness.  Indeed, Heinshohn’s cynicism even outdoes itself when he outrageously attacks the ‘NGO’s and social workers’ for perpetuating the situation of conflict for their own benefit. In his Malthusian pessimism Heinsohn is right about one thing, “the current situation can only get worse”[19] – if, that is, this kind of self-serving and genocidal theory continues to influence American foreign policy and its advocates are hired as their prize intellectual advisors.

 

 

[1] Bakhtiar, A. (10 January 2009). The Source of Arabs’ Shame: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2009/01/the-sources-of-arabs%E2%80%99-shame-egypt-jordan-and-saudi-arabia/

[2] Heinsohn, G. (12 January 2009). Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123171179743471961.html#articleTabs%3Darticle

[4] Heinsohn, G. (12 January 2009). Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. 

[5] Ibid.

[6] McGreal, C. (13 January 2009). Demands Grow for Gaza War Crimes Investigation. Guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/13/gaza-israel-war-crimes

[7] Soldiers Refuse to Serve in Gaza – Tel Aviv Protest. (8 January 2009). Israel Social TV.  http://www.tv.social.org.il/eng/stv-aza-refuseniks-8-1-09-eng.htm

[8] LeVine, M. (13 January 2009). Who Will Save Israel from Itself?. AlJazeera.net http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/war_on_gaza/2009/01/2009110112723260741.html

[9] UN Agency demands Israel Support Claims of about Militants at School.  (7 January 2009). CNN.com.  http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/01/07/israel.gaza.school/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

[11] LeVine, M. (13 January 2009). Who Will Save Israel from Itself?. AlJazeera.net

[12] Kanwisher, N. (6 January 2009). Reigniting Violence: How do Ceasefires End? Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-kanwisher/reigniting-violence-how-d_b_155611.html

[13] Ibid.

[14] Heinsohn, G. (12 January 2009). Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. 

[15] UN Report: AT 45%, Gaza Unemployment is Highest in the World. (28 July 2008). Haaretz.com http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1006282.html

[16] Ibid. 

[17] Heinsohn, G. (12 January 2009). Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. 

[18] LeVine, M. (13 January 20) ‘Who will save Israel from itself?’

[19] Heinsohn, G. (12 January 2009). Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel. 

 



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