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OpinionIsrael at War

The real genocides the world ignores

Instead of standing up to genuine crimes against humanity, the international community hurls blood libels at Israel.

The International Court of Justice courtroom at The Hague. Photo by Ankor Light/Shutterstock.
The International Court of Justice courtroom at The Hague. Photo by Ankor Light/Shutterstock.
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.

“Genocide” is a word that should never be used lightly.

According to legal scholars Amichai Cohen and Yuval Shany, the definition of genocide is “well settled” and “commonly agreed.” There is a consensus that “genocide involves killing members of a national or ethnic group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group and inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Despite the baseless accusations against Israel at the International Court of Justice, this is not happening in Gaza. Nonetheless, the ICJ blood libel is an object lesson in how the international anti-Israel mob works. Slandering Israel and Jews is a time-honored method of diverting attention from the depredations of others. It also erases the victims of these crimes without so much as a crocodile tear.

Here are some examples of such depredations:

Darfur, Sudan: In 2007, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell described the situation in Darfur as genocide. The U.N. estimates that by 2016, 300,000 people had been killed and there was credible evidence that the Sudanese government used chemical weapons against the local population. Since Feb. 2023, government-sponsored militias have killed an estimated 400,000 people through starvation and disease. Mass rape has also occurred. More than 2.5 million people have been internally displaced and over 200,000 have fled to Chad.

Rwanda: From April-July 1994, an estimated 800,000 people—one-tenth of the entire population—were killed and much of the remaining population displaced.

Bosnia: In 1992, more than 200,000 Muslim civilians were systematically murdered and two million became refugees at the hands of the Serbs. Rape was a systematic part of these atrocities.

Cambodia: From 1975-1979, 25% of the population died from starvation, overwork and execution under the Khmer Rouge.

East Timor: During a 24-year occupation by Indonesia that ended in 1999, more than 20% of the population was massacred and 80% of structures in the country were incinerated.

Guatemala: From 1978-1983, government forces carried out massacres and civilian executions of an estimated 200,000 people. There were at least 40,000 “disappearances.” The Maya population constituted 83% of the identified victims. The event is known as the Maya Genocide.

Armenia: From 1915-1916, between 664,000 and 1.2 million Armenians were killed  by Turkey, either in mass executions and individual killings or from the brutality and deprivation of forced deportations.

Add to that the horrific death counts that may or may not meet the precise definition of genocide. Approximately 500,000 Syrians, mostly Sunni Muslims, have been killed by dictator Bashar Assad’s regime, including through the use of chemical weapons. More than 11 million Syrians have become either internal or external refugees.

Nearly 400,000 have been killed in Yemen. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 5.4 million Congolese have been killed in a war that continues today, with Christians being disproportionately targeted. As of 2023, 187,000-210,000 are estimated to have been killed in Iraq and 236,000 in Afghanistan.

China gets special mention.

The country’s 1958 “Great Leap Forward” destroyed the agricultural system, causing a famine in which 27 million people starved to death. This was not directed at a specific ethnic group, so it may not qualify as genocide; but in 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called China’s treatment of its Turkic Muslim Uyghur population a genocide.

Findings by Genocide Watch bear him out:

Since 2017, between 800,000-2,000,000 million Uyghurs have been held in Xinjiang’s concentration prisons, commonly referred to as “reeducation camps.” Uyghurs are forced to participate in [Chinese Communist Party] indoctrination programs in which detainees are forced to abandon their Muslim faith and culture. The CCP forbids use of the Uyghur language and imposes Mandarin Chinese within these camps. Inside camps, CCP officials subject Uyghurs to physical beatings, sexual assault and gang rapes of women.

Despite all this, the international community prefers to focus on defaming Israel for daring to conduct a legitimate war of self-defense launched only after Hamas raped, tortured, mutilated and burned to death 1,200 Israelis and carried off 240 more as hostages.

One of the most powerful denunciations of this campaign of slander came from a country that actually committed a genocide: Germany.

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement last week, “In light of German history and the crimes against humanity of the Shoah, the German government is particularly committed to the [U.N.] Genocide Convention.” For this reason, he said, “We stand firmly against a political instrumentalization” of the Convention.

Acknowledging divergent views in the international community on Israel’s military operations, he nonetheless asserted, “The German government decisively and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide brought against Israel before the International Court of Justice. The accusation has no basis in fact.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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