Sunday, February 12, 2012

Incitement to genocide? Whatever ...

David Keyes

Incitement to genocide? Whatever ...

In 2006, the satirical humor magazine The Onion ran a hilarious yet typically outrageous article headed, “Hamas calls for ‘Giant Summit’ with all Israelis.” They made up fake quotes by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh calling for “all living Israelis” to gather for a “final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.” He continued, “I give my word that the Israeli people shall have their cries for peace heard for miles around the world. [I] would be very surprised if the entire process took longer than a couple of hours.”

Oh, and “every Israeli will also be marked with a six-digit protection number.”
The article concludes by saying that Hamas has already gone to significant lengths to ensure that Israeli Jews will be able to attend the summit, including transportation via specially chartered freight trains. “Very much like cleansing fire, the summit will wipe the slate of Arab-Jewish relations utterly and irreversibly clean,” Haniyeh’s fake quote continued. “By the end of our negotiations, those who walk out of the summit will be very pleased. With the blessing of Allah, we will soon see every last obstacle standing in the path of harmony exterminated. Like the filthy dogs they are.”

It’s funny because it’s true. Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran use blood-curling, incendiary and genocidal rhetoric daily. Then they claim it is all in the name of peace and justice. Useful infidels in the West immediately rush to explain the nuance of the rhetoric, typically in three stages:
1) Context: Incitement to genocide, while most unfortunate, cannot be seen in a vacuum. It is often a reaction to a complex political situation which has to be understood.
2) Minimization: Incitement to genocide should not be taken literally. After all, it is just heated rhetoric voiced for internal consumption.
3) Casualness: Even if incitement to genocide is literal, they don’t have the power to carry it out. So stop making such a big fuss.

I once asked a renowned journalist about the Saudi textbooks that call Jews and Christians apes and pigs. “You’ve got to understand,” he said, “while I don’t condone it, it is a reaction to one hundred years of violence.”

When I questioned an Al Jazeera correspondent about Hamas’ routine calls to “kill the Jews ... down to the very last one” -- to cite just one example by Hamas Parliament Deputy Speaker Ahmad Bahr -- he replied: “What Hamas usually means when it says ‘Jews’ is ‘settlers.’” As if that was somehow better. But more to the point, Bahr said “Jews,” not “settlers.” He’s a big boy. He can say what he means. What will it take for us to believe what Hamas actually says?
I have very little nuance when it comes to state-sanctioned incitement to genocide. You’ll pardon my simplistic worldview.

David Keyes is the executive director of Advancing Human Rights and co-founder of He can be reached at