Words of the Week: James Kirchick

“One of the greatest mass delusions of the 21st century is the belief that Israel is committing a genocide against Palestinians. This grotesque moral inversion — in which a genocidal terrorist organization that instigated a war with Israel by committing the largest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust is absolved of responsibility while the victim of Hamas’s attack is charged with perpetrating the worst crime known to man — began taking shape before Israel even launched its ground invasion of Gaza.

A charitable description of those imputing genocidal motivations to Israel is that they are ignorant, essentially believing the word to mean ‘large numbers of civilian casualties.’ (Here it’s worth noting that the United Nations, to little notice, has significantly lowered its estimate of the number of women and children killed in Gaza.) For others, accusing Israel of genocide is an emotional outlet for expressing outrage at such a horrific loss of life. A third, more pessimistic, characterization of the ubiquitous genocide canard is that it is only the latest iteration of the ancient antisemitic blood libel, which held that Jews murdered gentile children in order to use their blood for religious rituals.

College students and professional activists using overheated and imprecise language to convey their strongly held beliefs is hardly uncommon, and much of the intemperate language being directed at Israel and its Zionist supporters can be attributed to the hyperbole that increasingly characterizes our political discourse. What should worry us more is when people who have dedicated their lives to the written word manipulate language for a political end, one that is stigmatizing Jews.”

Source: James Kirchick, “A Chill Has Fallen Over Jews in Publishing” (The New York Times)

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