1947 Partition Plan, The Washington Institute

Al-Nakba, Genocide, and Textbook Cases

Jack F. Sigman, Ph.D. candidate,
Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Gratz College
May 24, 2024

As we celebrated the 76th anniversary of the creation and independence of the modern Jewish state of Israel, millions, if not billions, commemorated “al-Nakba” (the Catastrophe), a term for the events that occurred within British Mandate Palestine from late November 1947, the start of the 2nd Palestinian Civil War (the first was a strictly Arab affair between 1936 and 1939), and July 1949, when Syria was the last to sign an armistice agreement with Israel.

Initially, al-Nakba was described by American University of Beirut history professor Constatin Zureiq as the failure of the Arab militias, the Arab Liberation Army, and the armies of the regional Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria with some help from Saudi Arabia and Yemen) to stop the creation of Israel. The initial commemorations included denouncement of Arab leaders for their collective failure.

Since then, the definition has morphed into a weapon used against Israel and the Jews as a whole. Through the skillful use of propaganda, in the eyes of the Arab world and beyond, al-Nakba has become the equivalent of the Holocaust, the legendary number of “refugees,” 750,000, now has the same permanence as the accepted estimate of 6,000,000 Jews who perished during the Holocaust, and al-Nakba survivors, approximately 99.5% of the Arab population of British Mandate Palestine, are being held with the same esteem that we hold the remnant of European Jewry that survived the death camps, concentration camps, and years of hiding in attics and cellars, that survived the Shoah that ended the existence of 66% of European Jews, fully 1/3rd of the Jewish population on the planet.

Not content with this line of reasoning, the supporters of Palestinian Arab victimhood have gone on to demand that al-Nakba be recognized as a genocide. Why genocide? One reason is so that that the “civilized” world will turn its back on Israel as its creation was supposedly an illegitimate birth via the eradication of the supposed indigenous people living there, the Arabs.

International attorney and professor of law Francis Anthony Boyle proffers a reason for proving Israel committed genocide more emphatically in the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs back in 2000; “(a genocide conviction) would deliver yet another body-blow to Israel along the same lines as the major body-blow already inflicted on Israel by the creation of the State of Palestine in 1988. Israel has never recovered from the creation of the Palestinian state. So too, Israel will never recover from this genocide lawsuit brought against it by Palestine before the International Court of Justice.” Of course, no one seems to know what harm was done to Israel by Arafat’s unilateral declaration of independence on land he did not control nor resided upon, being in exile in Tunisia at the time.

The current accusations of genocide have just as little credibility as those I wrote about in my book seven years ago. The only difference is that back then, it took six months of research to generate enough accusations to fill 127 pages. Now, I can write 254 pages on 2 weeks’ worth of accusations. However, today I am going to discuss one notorious case; Raz Segal’s Jewish Currents article written six days after the genocidal events of 10/7 that were committed by Hamas, Islamic jihad, and hundreds of civilian Palestinian Arabs who saw an opportunity to kill Jews.

Background: Raz Segal is an Israeli. He is an associate professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University and the endowed professor in the study of modern genocide. Segal routinely writes what could be considered anti-Israel propaganda. In the Guardian (10/24/23) he complained that Israeli politicians were weaponing the Holocaust to justify its actions in Gaza, just as Putin did in his invasion of Ukraine.

Jewish Currents is a magazine devoted to anti-Zionist “progressive” politics and had published many articles in 2016 justifying support of the “Black Lives Matter” manifesto accusing Israel of committing genocide.

As for Israel utilizing Holocaust imagery, Segal complained that “a powerful state, with powerful allies and a powerful army, engaged in a retaliatory attack against stateless Palestinians under Israeli-settler colonial rule, military occupation and siege, is thus portrayed as powerless Jews in a struggle against Nazis.” Personally, I do not know any Israeli, nor any Jew who supports Israel, that portrays Israel’s retortion as powerless Jews in a struggle against Nazis. Rather, we see Israel understanding the origination and totality of the “Never Again” motto. In other words, never again will Jews be perceived as powerless in the face of those who would attempt to fulfill the goal of the Nazis. While the universalization of “Never Again” has turned it into a bromide, for Israel it is one raison d’etre among a few others.

Segal’s 10/13 article calling Israel’s just response to 10/7 a “textbook case of genocide” must be one of the most asinine genocide accusations of the 21st century, along with his insinuation that Israel was contemplating transferring the entirety of the population of Gaza into Egypt. I cannot imagine what textbook he is using. If it was not repeated in the LA Times, Times.com, and Newsweek, media propaganda outlets such as Democracy Now and Al-Jazeera, as well as several other publications, and as a reference in support of the Center for Constitutional Rights lawsuit against the Biden administration accusing it of abetting genocide, the essay would have just been another flash in the pan, ignored as early preaching to the anti-Israel choir.

In the article, Segal proudly admits to writing about Israel as a settler-colonial state (Israel is a settler-refugee state), that Israel distorts the Holocaust to promote its weapons industry, and that Israel weaponizes antisemitism to justify violence against Palestinian Arabs and to justify an apartheid regime (that does not exist). Further, Segal asserts that the declaration by the US that Hamas’ genocidal attack was “an act of sheer evil,” and the declaration by the EU that the action of Hamas reflected “an ancient evil,” dehumanized the Palestinian Arabs of Gaza and justified the widespread destruction of Gaza. It wasn’t Hamas’ genocidal murder and rape that justified the wholesale destruction of Gaza required to destroy Hamas underground network (while ensuring the survival of over 99% of the civilian population), according to Segal it was the reaction of western civilization that gave Israel justification.

Segal’s textbook case rests on the issue of intent. In fact, on May 3, 2024, New Jersey Spotlight News deliberately changed the accusation from a “textbook case of genocide” to “textbook case of ‘intent to omit genocide’,” a statement that appears nowhere in the original article. Segal uses the statements of Israeli politicians and leaders in the days immediately following 10/7. If you are old enough, please recall the 1988 debate between Governor Dukakis and Vice-President Bush when Dukakis was asked if he favored the death penalty if, hypothetically, his wife was raped and murdered. The governor said he was not taking the bait and that he opposed the death penalty all his life. I recall Bush later answering the same question at a rally or an interview. He replied that after he killed the ******, he would then worry about the death penalty.

On 10/7, an intimate part of Israel was raped and murdered. In the days following 10/7, what Israeli would not make statements that were so vehement that if genocide were committed, the statements would prove intent, and who could blame them for making such statements? But the fact is that after 8 months of brutal warfare against those who raped and murdered, less than 1% of the Gazan civilian population has died as collateral damage and as Hamas human shields, while 80% of Gaza has been destroyed, and while regrettable as every innocent life is precious, it is a testament to the care the Israeli armed forces take to minimize these regretful deaths. It is a textbook case of how to destroy a terrorist group while minimizing civilian casualties.

About Jack Sigman

Jack Frank Sigman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Holocaust and Genocide program at Gratz College in Melrose Park, Pennsylvania.

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