The Electronic Intifada 22 February 2010
A fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Martin Kramer, has called for “the West” to take measures to curb the births of Palestinians, a proposal that appears to meet the international legal definition of a call for genocide.
Kramer, who is also a fellow at the influential Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), made the call early this month in a speech at Israel’s Herzliya conference, a video of which is posted on his blog (“Superfluous young men,” 7 February 2010).
In the speech Kramer rejected common views that Islamist “radicalization” is caused by US policies such as support for Israel, or propping up despotic dictatorships, and stated that it was inherent in the demography of Muslim societies such as Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip. Too many children, he argued, leads to too many “superfluous young men” who then become violent radicals.
Kramer proposed that the number of Palestinian children born in the Gaza Strip should be deliberately curbed, and alleged that this would “happen faster if the West stops providing pro-natal subsidies to Palestinians with refugee status.”
Due to the Israeli blockade, the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza are now dependent on UN food aid. Neither the UN, nor any other agencies, provide Palestinians with specifically “pro-natal subsidies.” Kramer appeared to be equating any humanitarian assistance at all with inducement for Palestinians to reproduce.
He added, “Israel’s present sanctions on Gaza have a political aim — undermine the Hamas regime — but if they also break Gaza’s runaway population growth, and there is some evidence that they have, that might begin to crack the culture of martyrdom which demands a constant supply of superfluous young men.” This, he claimed, would be treating the issue of Islamic radicalization “at its root.”
The 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, created in the wake of the Nazi holocaust, defines genocide to include measures “intended to prevent births within” a specific “national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”
The Weatherhead Center at Harvard describes itself as “the largest international research center within Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences.” In addition to his positions at Harvard and WINEP, Kramer is “president-designate” of Shalem College in Jerusalem, a far-right Zionist institution that aspires to be the “College of the Jewish People.”
Pro-Israel speakers from the United States often participate in the the Herzliya conference, an influential annual gathering of Israel’s political and military establishment. This year’s conference was also addressed by The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and, in a first for a Palestinian official, by Salam Fayyad, appointed prime minister of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority.
Kramer’s call to prevent Palestinian births reflects a long-standing Israeli and Zionist concern about a so-called “demographic threat” to Israel, as Palestinians are on the verge of outnumbering Israeli Jews within Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories combined.
Such extreme racist views have been aired at the Herzliya conference in the past. In 2003, for example, Dr. Yitzhak Ravid, an Israeli government armaments expert, called on Israel to “implement a stringent policy of family planning in relation to its Muslim population,” a reference to the 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel.