Skip to Content

Coffee House

No, John McDonnell’s accusations of genocide against Palestinians are not ‘justifiable’

10 August 2018

4:36 PM

10 August 2018

4:36 PM

The Labour Party’s war on the Jews grows more lunatic by the day. The Daily Telegraph reports that shadow chancellor John McDonnell gave a speech in 2012 in which he accused Israel of attempting a genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

According to the journalist responsible for the story, when Labour was contacted for a comment a party spokesman defended McDonnell’s charge as justifiable.

The real story here is not that John McDonnell believes the Jewish state is engaged in the destruction of another people but that a Labour Party spokesperson, instead of saying ‘FFS, let me get back to you’, agreed with this assessment. Presented with McDonnell’s outrageous position, the Labour Party officially adopted it there and then and spun it to a reporter.

Israel-haters delight in lobbing every obloquy imaginable at the Jewish state but genocide is a particular favourite. The reason is that the term was devised by a Polish Jew, Raphael Lemkin, whose entire family was wiped out in the Holocaust.

Lemkin advanced the concept of genocide and drafted its definition in the wake of the Shoah to prevent another such exercise in racially-motivated mass murder. The origins of the term would not have been unknown to McDonnell. He is not a clever man but he’s not a stupid one either.


During a November 2012 rally, the Telegraph quotes McDonnell as saying:

‘Nobody can speak without expressing some form of solidarity with the people of Gaza… as the children are murdered and the bombs are flying from Israel. I think it’s absolutely critical now that we use every platform we can to expose what’s going on, which is effectively an attempt at genocide against the Palestinians.’

The context was Operation Pillar of Defence, a week-long Israeli air offensive against Hamas-run Gaza which had been bombarding Israel with rockets. In McDonnell’s eyes, though, Jerusalem was not engaged in a defensive campaign but ‘effectively an attempt at genocide’.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide — drafted by Lemkin — defines it as engaging in any of the following ‘with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group’: killing members of the group, causing them serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting on them conditions calculated to achieve their partial or complete physical destruction, acting intentionally to reduce their rate of childbirth, or forcibly removing their children to another group.

McDonnell’s accusation is an obscenity, turning the charge of mass extermination back on the victims of the largest mass extermination in history. Yet it must be rebutted because he is no longer some backbench crank. This is the man Labour MPs want to see in 11 Downing Street; just fourteen months ago, every last one of them campaigned to make him Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The first imputation is that of intent — the Jewish state, McDonnell wishes us to believe, is motivated by extirpative design. Not only is there no evidence for this — no Zionist Wannsee Protocol, no apparatus of extermination — there is a wealth of evidence to the contrary. Israel has recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation, negotiated with its representatives and signed agreements to accord the Palestinian Authority and those under its governance autonomy from civilian political rule by Israel. Israel has on several occasions offered the Palestinian leadership final status peace agreements that would give the Palestinians self-governance on the West Bank and in Gaza. The policy of successive Israeli governments, a policy accepted by Benjamin Netanyahu in his 2009 Bar Ilan speech, has been the creation for the Palestinians of a historical first: their own sovereign state called Palestine, something which has never existed before. Not only that, but Israel concedes that this entity should be constructed on territory that, biblically and historically, was the cradle of Jewish civilisation. Israel could about-face on all of this and still it would not be proof of genocidal intent yet the sheer extent to which Israel has gone to free the Palestinians from its control — even executing a population transfer of Jews out of Gaza — underscores the wanton dishonesty of McDonnell’s assertion.

We might say this, too: If the Israelis are pursuing a Palestinian genocide, they are not very good at it. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the worldwide Palestinian population grew eight-fold between Israel’s independence in 1948 and 2011. Under the British Mandate of Palestine, there were 1.4 million Arabs; by 2010, there were 5.5 million living between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. If anything, Zionism has contributed to the sustainability of a Palestinian population in the territories by delivering in Israel an economic powerhouse whose benefits have spread far beyond the Jewish people.

None of this excuses the circumstances in which many Palestinians find themselves living, circumstances for which the PA, and, yes, Israel are to blame. However, these circumstances are not the creation of an Israel bent on Palestinian genocide but the bitter fruits of a miserable 70-year war. These fruits Israel attempts to sweeten by transferring food and medicines to the West Bank and Gaza. It is a grim holding pattern but it is not genocide.

The blithe fashion in which concepts like genocide are tossed around by Israel’s enemies betrays the extent of their extremism. They want Israel to be genocidal. They need it to be. They so despise the idea of Zionism that they will not settle for Israel being merely wrong or cruel or even wicked. The only way to show these Jews the error of their ways is to show them that they are the Nazis now.


Show comments
Close