The Israeli-Palestinian Holocaust

By Eddie Cottle · 27 Nov 2012

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Picture: Rusty Stewart/Flickr
Picture: Rusty Stewart/Flickr

In 2008-09 Israel’s Blitzkrieg against Gaza resulted in the deaths of over 1400 Palestinians, four-fifths of whom were civilians and of which 350 were children. Amnesty International and other human rights groups had officially reported that Israel was in violation of international law as Israel had bombarded defenceless Palestinians with the white phosphorous bombs which caused most of its victims to be burned alive. Ironically in Greek, the word Holocaust means “sacrifice by fire”. Israel’s war crimes went unpunished and recently it attacked Gaza again with the same impunity. At least Palestinians were spared from the horror of white phosphorous or depleted uranium bombs for now largely because of the international outcry but not enough to save the oppressed Palestinians from the latest slaughter of some 165 people, mostly civilians. In Israel six people died three of whom were civilians.

Besides the targeted killings of civilians, what makes these attacks so ghastly and brutal is the fact that Israel has imprisoned the 1.7 million people of Gaza by surrounding them with a 7-9 metre wall over 360 square kilometres of land where they cannot escape the bombardments. This makes the former East German, Berlin “Wall of Shame” seem mediocre in comparison to the Israeli “Wall of Terror”. And if this mass imprisonment and torture of the Palestinians was not enough, Israel has become even more despicable through its economic blockade where it has rationed food supplies and calculated the calories allowable per person in Gaza to survive. The only word that can describe this inhume suffering and terror faced by the Palestinian people on a daily basis is holocaust.

The word "holocaust" was used in English to denote “great massacres”. But the term holocaust itself has been somewhat controversial since it offered a quite limited definition and scope of the suffering and violations of human rights experienced. In 1943 it was the lawyer Raphael Lemkin who invented the term "genocide," by combining "genos" (race, people) and "cide" (to kill). He campaigned for a legal definition which is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, where genocide is "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group". But since the 1960s, the term holocaust came to be used and abused by scholars and popular writers to refer exclusively to the genocide of Jews in Europe during the 2nd WW and which was popularised through the television series, “Holocaust” in the late 1970’s.

The Jewish-Nazi holocaust is claimed to be unique because of the large number of people killed - six million Jews. However, in the same period the Nazi’s systematically slaughtered 20 million Russians. The Belgian colonialists slaughtered over 10 million Congolese, the Ottoman’s slaughtered 1,5 million Armenians and the Japanese slaughtered some 10 million Chinese between 1937-1942. Between 1904–1907 in German South-West-Africa the first genocide of the 20th century was perpetrated against the Herero people of whom eighty percent of the total Herero population and 50 percent of the total Nama population were killed in a brutal scorched earth campaign led by German General Lothar von Trotha. The exclusive use and abuse of the term holocaust to refer to the large number of Jewish victims of Nazi Germany is therefore erroneous. But the Zionists with the blessing of the West and with the help of academia have created a historical amnesia thus making it possible to elevate the Jewish genocide above all other genocides in history. Through this well-funded ideological offensive backed by US imperialism of holocaust victimhood, Zionists have been allowed to “legitimately” colonise Palestine and commit an on-going genocide against the Palestinian people.

The Israeli regime uses similar methods as the Nazi oppressors, which included practises of collective punishment, racially based legislation, legalised mass torture and ethnic cleansing.

It is therefore not surprising that during the recent attack on Gaza that the Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai stated that Israel “must bomb Gaza back to the Middle Ages". Ariel Sharon’s son Gilad, a major in the Israel Defence Force reserves, in an op-ed piece for the Jerusalem post (18 November 2012) stated that Israel must “Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”

The very racialist-exterminationist ideology, and the founding of an exclusivist Jewish State is consistent with modern imperialism and has as its motive, accumulation through dispossession and its ultimate aim a protracted ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine and the building of a Jewish Empire dominating and controlling the Middle East.

Any resistance by Palestinians who are fighting for their liberation from the colonial state of Israel is denounced as terrorism not dissimilar to any other liberation movement including the ANC and Nelson Mandela who was only officially taken off the United States terrorist list in 2008.

The Palestinian Holocaust has the all the hallmarks of previous holocausts; the long-term use of state terror including the dispossession of 90% of the land, forcing of over four million Palestinians into ghettos with a Nazi style encirclement, ethnic segregation and ethnic cleansing forcing some five million Palestinians to live in exile, the geographically constrained movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank, the continuous expansion of Jewish only settlements in the West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian homes by Jews, the Jewish only roads and plethora of military check points and starving the people of Gaza. The ultimate aim is a “deliberate and systematic destruction” of the Palestinians as a national group.

The highly militarised society in Israel is endowed with a permanent ideology of warfare and an ideology of ethnic supremacy very much within the frame of holocaust elitism where it is possible to conduct an ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people and describe the holocaust committed as a war between states or something as ridiculous as a “conflict”.

What we are witnessing today is a living holocaust carried out under the auspices of the United Nations and the entire world where Europe and the Western world once again are fully complicit in this holocaust in the same way as they were with the Jewish Holocaust. The tragedy is that although the Palestinians were not part of the anti-Semitism of Europe and the West they are the final victims of Hitler’s Holocaust.

Cottle is Policy & Campaign Officer for Building & Wood Workers’ International, Africa and Middle East Region and a  Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

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27 Nov

Palestine's Holocaust

Hi Mr Cottle,

As I read your piece, mixed with interesting facts and fiction, I thought it was rather one sided, until I saw which cause you represent at the end.

Come on Eddie, this is not a balanced piece of work at all, ignoring all the historical facts of some 3000 years ago. The Walls built around Gaza to starve and kill the Palestinians in time of War is past far fetched, and you know it! Do you honestly and really know why those walls were built?

Your anti UN and USA undertones, let alone against a legal and legitimate Jewish State that Palestine hardly wants to recognize and Iran not at all, propagating its total extermination, makes one wonder why 7 million Jews are so determined (especially after the WWII Holocaust) to fight for survival, going back 3000 years, of similar atrocities committed by Palestinians against Jews by Saladin's predecessors and others.

I challenge anyone to come up with a balanced piece of work that does not belong to either camp. Just the honest balanced historical truth please. Any form of War is deplorable and always sad when it comes to defending your own people - cause if you don't, who will ?

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30 Nov

Pokko Comments on Palestinian "Holocaust"

Hi Pokko,

I am with you. I do not understand why do they continue to blame Israel for defending itself. Just after the birth of the nation, Israel Government offered all Palestinians residing in the new country to stay and be friends but the Great Mufti asked them to fly away so they (the Israel people) could be pushed to the sea. Israel have suffered attacks incessantly so why the outrage? and the same is repeated in the newspapers all around the world... thanks for make it clear to all..

Rory Short
3 Dec

Human Rights

The abuse of human rights is wrong, there is simply no justification for it even in retaliation for previous human rights abuses.

russell bootes
15 Nov


I don't believe in any god. Christians, Muslims, Jews and all who believe in gods are morons as far as I am concerned, but it is their right to be stupid as long as that stupidity does not harm others. To use religion as an excuse for evil is disgusting. To use evil (the Jewish holocaust) as an excuse to commit further acts of evil (the genocide of Palestinians) is beyond comprehension (more so when one takes into account the similarities between the two events).

The Israeli state is an abomination to all that is decent and their vile excuses for their actions constantly reminds me that god is without a doubt the single most evil thing ever invented by man.

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