Day 77 roundtable: Gaza’s Christians; Craig Mokhiber on genocide

“[Israel has] the means to carry out genocide. And they’re deploying all of those means as we speak. Based on this, genocide scholars have these series of 10 steps that indicate genocide – all of them have been ticked off since October in one of the most clearly manifest cases of genocide that we’ve ever seen,” international human rights lawyer Craig Mokhiber told us on Friday’s livestream.

“Because there has been such a climate of impunity granted to Israel for decades, underwritten by the United States, the United Kingdom, some European countries as well, this has led to a situation where they believe they will not be held accountable,” he explained.

“And as such, they are declaring their genocidal intent openly, publicly and on the record since the beginning.”

Craig resigned in October from his position as the director of the New York office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in protest of the world body’s failure to adequately respond to the “textbook case of genocide” in Gaza.

He explained why UN officials, who are tasked with raising the alarm when there is a risk of genocide in order to stop it from happening, are abdicating their responsibilities.

“It’s like having a smoke alarm with no batteries, that’s locked in the closet, so it can’t make any noise,” Craig said.

“And that’s worse than nothing at all, in my view, because it means that when the alarm is rung, it’s going to be a political decision based upon triangulation between where the powers are. And if it’s an ally of the United States, for example, there’s very little hope that you will see a principled approach.”

He also reacted to the news that the UN Security Council passed a resolution that failed to call for a permanent ceasefire – under political pressure from the Biden administration.

“The US is engaged in a lot of what I’ve called fig leaf harvesting. And this is another fig leaf that allows them to avoid domestic and global condemnation for its complicity the genocide in in Gaza,” Craig said.

“There is no distinction between the way that Israel oppresses Palestinian Muslims and the way it oppresses Palestinian Christians,” psychotherapist and activist Hammam Farah told us later in the broadcast.

“We’re all one people. And we’re all united in the struggle for justice in Palestine, and for the struggle for the right to return and the end of the occupation, the end of apartheid.”

Hammam is based in Toronto, but was born in Gaza. He is part of the Christian Palestinian community in Gaza, and talked about Israel’s targeting of churches over the last 10 weeks.

He tells the story of his great-aunt, Elham Farah, who was killed by an Israeli sniper on 12 November.

The sniper shot her in the leg, but she was left to bleed out alone on the street. Israeli forces prevented anyone from rescuing her.

A week later, he said church workers went to retrieve her body.

“And they only found parts of her body, because it was run over by a tank. We don’t know if that tank ran her over while she was alive or after she died. We don’t know, and I don’t think we’ll ever know,” he said.

Two of his family friends, Nahida Anton and her daughter Samar, were also shot and killed by an Israeli sniper during an attack on the Holy Family Parish last week. The two women were walking to the adjacent convent to use the bathroom.

“I’ve seen pictures on social media circulating about what it was like last year, and I saw some relatives in those pictures,” Hammam explained.

“And family friends who were celebrating just last year, at this time, the lighting of the Christmas tree; and those pictures looked so festive, so joyous. There’s a smile on everybody’s face. And just the comparison between then and now – here we have the Christian community being expelled and murdered, and potentially extinct … just like everyone else is being murdered and being subjected to this genocide.”

And Jon Elmer analyzes some of the latest videos released by Palestinian resistance groups showing fierce battles against Israeli army units.

Watch the entire broadcast above or listen via Soundcloud below.


Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).