As the recent decision by the American Studies Association to boycott Israel shows, academic and other groups are buying into the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement in growing numbers. Like most such organizations, the ASA imagines it is taking a moral stand and is almost certainly unaware of the ultimate goal of the movement’s Palestinian organizers, for whom the campaign to delegitimize Israel is not an end unto itself. As Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote: “Slander is the prelude to murder.” Israel’s enemies demonize Israel as a necessary prelude to her annihilation. Stated simply, their goal is genocide.

What, after all, does Hamas intend in calling for the “obliteration” of Israel, in its charter? Aren’t the continual chants of “Death to Israel” by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and his supporters a call for genocide? What else does former Iranian President Ahmedinijad’s call for Israel to be “wiped off the map” mean if not genocide against its Jewish inhabitants? Unmasking the Palestinian goal of genocide is the key to preventing its actualization.

We undermine the moral certainty of those who parrot Palestinian demonization of Israel by asking: What is the moral difference between Nazi genocide against 6 million Jews and Arab attempts at genocide against the 6 million Jews of Israel? That the Palestinians have not succeeded in their ultimate goal of exterminating the Jews of Israel does not make their attempts any less heinous. Every time Israel’s enemies call for her destruction, we need to point out that they are in essence calling for genocide. 

Nor should we accept the characterization of such calls for genocide against the Jews of Israel as mere hyperbole. Israel’s enemies have gone well beyond advocating genocide against Israel. Palestinian Arabs have murdered 3,000 Israeli civilians and wounded 25,000 in a campaign of terror lasting well over a century. Since 1948, the armies of their Arab supporters have killed 20,000 and wounded 100,000 Israeli soldiers. Is there any doubt that every Jew in Israel would have been murdered had Israel lost the war in 1948, 1956 or 1967, or any of the wars of annihilation launched against her? There is no question but that the Palestinians and their allies would have fulfilled their vows of genocide against the Jews, as they in fact did on overrunning Hebron in 1929 and Gush Etzion in 1948. Every future Palestinian atrocity against Israel hands us an opportunity to point out that mass murder of Jews is not merely their tactic, but their goal.

Not only do the Palestinians practice and preach genocide against the Jews but, in a demonically cleaver twist, they also accuse the Jews of genocide whenever we defend ourselves against them. Many, especially in endemically anti-Semitic Europe, have proven all too ready to accept such transparent Palestinian slander against Israel at face value. European anti-Semites assuage their guilt by imagining that Jews in a position of power behave as wickedly as their forebears did during the Holocaust.   

A Palestinian movement identified with its genocidal goal will not be so readily embraced by misguided intellectuals in the media, academia and the arts. In doing so, European elites would no longer assuage their guilt over the Holocaust, but compound it. Their self-righteous hectoring of Israel would be replaced by the extreme discomfort of having to explain their support of a movement bent on genocide and they would soon find themselves a new cause célèbre.

The campaign to delegitimize Israel has succeeded until now because it follows the cardinal rules of propaganda: Boil the essence of your idea down to a simple, powerful, memorable slogan (in this case a single word: “occupation”), stay on message and repeat it at every opportunity.

I once observed Yasser Arafat’s response to an uncharacteristically difficult question in a TV interview. Ignoring the question completely, Arafat turned directly to the camera and simply said, “Occupation, occupation, occupation!” This slogan had nothing to do with the question nor is “occupation” the root cause of the conflict, but the consistent repetition of this slogan by Palestinian spokesmen over decades has been an extremely effective tool in demonizing Israel.

Occupation has become the lens through which most of the world now views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the root cause of Israel’s pariah status and ever-increasing isolation. Acceptance of the false portrayal of Jews as foreign occupiers in their ancient homeland is the reason that Jewish settlements there are viewed as a violation of international law. Occupation is the original sin justifying every Palestinian atrocity, in the minds of their apologists, as the understandable rage of an occupied people.  

Israel’s supporters have been spectacularly unsuccessful in attempting to counter this simple and effective slogan by resorting to necessarily more complex explanations of the historical facts. A far more effective tactic would be to encapsulate the true cause of the conflict into a simple, memorable message of our own: The ultimate goal of the Palestinian movement and its supporters is, and has always been, genocide against the Jews of Israel.

Accepting the enemy’s false definition of Jews as foreign occupiers, we lose the argument going in. We win the public debate by reframing the conflict around its true cause: the Palestinian campaign of genocide against the Jews of Israel. If we continue to allow the Palestinians to frame the conflict as a struggle for freedom from Israeli occupation the delegitimization of Israel will continue apace and ultimately lay the groundwork for their genocidal goals. If we remain apathetic in the face of Israel’s delegitimization, the next step will be genocide.

If Jewish history teaches us anything it is that we ignore at our peril those who advocate genocide against us. To paraphrase Hillel: If we don’t state our case who will? It is time that Israel’s supporters took a page from our Palestinian enemy’s campaign against Israel and boil our message down to a single, but in our case true, and even more emotionally powerful word, and repeat it at every opportunity. The answer to “Occupation, occupation, occupation” is “Genocide, genocide, genocide!”

Devin Sper of Scottsdale lived in Israel for 10 years and has a degree in Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 


(8) comments

Carl Goldberg

The author is absolutely correct to draw attention to the genocidal intentions of Israel's enemies. At the same time, he misses the big picture as well as the root cause of the conflict by focusing on the "Palestinians". The "Palestinians" are not alone. They define themselves as part of the Arab nation and the world Islamic community. Their fundamental and most important identity is Islamic, and this is true not only for the overtly Islamist Hamas, but also for Fatah. It is conceivable that the "Palestinians", as "Palestinians" could someday decide to live alongside a Jewish Israel. However, it is not conceivable for them as Moslems to coexist with Israel because the sacred doctrines of their religion command them to make war on the Jews and either subjugate them, as the Koran says, or kill them, as their prophet Muhammad says. Because we are dealing with a fundamentally Islamic religious war against the Jews, the "Palestinians" are inextricably linked to the rest of the Islamic world, none of which will agree to coexist with Israel. And, the Islamic world includes every mosque in the world, including the ones right here in Phoenix. To my knowledge, none of them has agreed to support Israel's right to exist, let alone denounced Israel's mortal Islamic enemies. The conflict between the "Palestinians" and the Israelis cannot be resolved on the Palestinian-Israeli level. In fact, because this is an Islamic holy war against the Jews, it cannot be resolved at all. That is the bitter truth.

Devin Sper

I do not accept the Jihadist interpretation of Islam as the only valid one, nor do I accept the Palestinian claim that their genocidal campaign against the Israel is that of all Muslims. Neither claim is true, or in our interest. To defeat the enemy we must divide, not unite, them.

Carl Goldberg

Mr. Sper, Whether or not you personally "accept the Jihadist interpretation of Islam as the only valid one", or "accept the Palestinian claim that their genocidal campaign against the Israel is that of all Muslims" is irrelevant to the conflict over Israel. What is important is how the "Palestinians" and the rest of the Moslem world perceive the conflict because they are the ones making the conflict. THEY quote their sacred texts in support of jihad and genocide against the Jews; and, if we are going to protect Israel, we need to take seriously what Israel's enemies say. If you think that you can divide Israel's enemies by claiming that they are wrong about their own religion and that you know more about Islamic doctrines than they do, then you are unrealistic. Where is there any movement within the Moslem world, including Moslem communities in America and Europe, which openly stands for recognizing Israel's right to exist? You may find literally a few individuals, but you will not find a movement. Why is that?

Devin Sper

Eliminate the Palestinian issue and Israel has no Islamic problem.

Carl Goldberg

Yes, just wave your magic wand, and "the Palestinian issue" will disappear! Presto!
When did this conflict over Israel become a "Palestinian issue" anyway? It wasn't a "Palestinian issue" in 1948 when the Arab countries invaded Israel. It wasn't a "Palestinian issue" when Arab countries made war against Israel in 1967 and 1973. Hizbollah is not "Palestinian". Israel's deadliest enemy is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Iranians are not "Palestinian". Al Qaeda et al are among Israel's mortal enemies, and they are not "Palestinian", either. The Egyptians and the Saudis want Israel destroyed, and they are not "Palestinian". How do you explain all of that? All of those non-Palestinian groups, like the Palestinian Hamas, justify their enmity toward Israel and the Jews in strictly Islamic terms. Why, in your opinion, are they doing that? Do you think that they are misinterpreting the doctrines of Islam which they quote all the time?

Devin Sper

Carl, Your tactic of declaring the entire Islamic world Israel’s eternal enemy is identical to that of the Jihadists and plays directly into their hands. Should Israel declare war on the entire Islamic world? Why should worldwide Jihadist be Israel’s responsibility? Most Jihadists are focused on other counties, let them deal with it, just as the United States has dealt with Al Qaida, the Russians have done in Chechnya, and the Chinese will now do with their Jihadis. The Palestinian’s represent the immediate existential threat to Israel, and Israel could eliminate this threat very quickly, if she had the will to do so.

Carl Goldberg

Devin, You seem to be under the delusion that what I say or what you say makes any difference to how the Muslim world relates to Israel. I did not declare the entire Islamic world to be Israel's eternal enemy; the Muslim world itself made that declaration. I am merely reporting it. If I say that they are wrong, they will not cease to be Israel's enemy. That being the case, we had better recognize that the Muslim word is Israel's enemy because it has declared itself to be, and it has supported its declaration with quotations from the Koran and Muhammad which Muslim communities in America and elsewhere support. This is not my opinion. This is fact. I cannot understand why you refuse to recognize it when the evidence is so plain. As for the "Palestinians", contrary to what you say, they are not the immediate existential threat to Israel. The Islamic Republic of Iran, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood are. Even the Israelis do not believe that the "Palestinians" are the immediate existential threat. If you were to somehow miraculously eliminate the "Palestinians" tomorrow, the rest of the Muslim world, with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood in the lead, would still threaten to destroy Israel and they would justify it on Islamic religious grounds.

Devin Sper


The Palestinian National Movement instigated every war against Israel, is the spark that keeps the fire burning, and the motive given by all the other actors you site, for their emnity. The Palestinians are Israel's nemisis and the death of a thousands cuts.

You (and the Jihadists) can pull anti-Semitic quotations out of the Koran, (in the same way that hostile statements towards gentiles can be found in the Torah and the Talmud). On the other hand, I am able to quote the Koran in support of the ancient Jewish connection, and even the Jewish right, to the Land of Israel. Which do you think is the more effective tactic in underminng Palestinian demonization of Israel and Muslim hostility?

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