It’s rather unexpected to see a phrase like “When Genocide Is Permissible” in print, but even more surprising to see it at the top of trending subjects on social media.
The Times of Israel published an opinion piece with that title on Friday, written by Yochanan Gordon.
Gordon, a writer and sales manager for the New York-based 5 Towns Jewish Times, founded by his father, posed a question in the context of Israel having “its back against the wall” in fighting Hamas, but coming under immense international pressure because of the mounting civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip.
“We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?”
The full text of Gordon’s opinion piece is available below. But, you won’t find it on the Times of Israel website. It has been removed “for editorial reasons.” A spokesperson for the Times of Israel told the Independent his blog post was “damnable and ignorant” and that it breached the website’s editorial guidelines.
Gordon learned the Times of Israel took his post down when Global News contacted him Friday afternoon. He admitted the word “genocide” may have been a strong term to use, but said he wasn’t “necessarily” saying to do away with all Palestinians.
The 5 Towns Jewish Times —Gordon’s publication —also removed the post less than two hours after Global News spoke with Gordon and issued an apology that called his use of the term genocide “irresponsible.”
Gordon justified using the term saying the only way Israel can deal with the threat against it “is to do away with the root of the threat.” He clarified the “root of the threat” is Hamas.
“I just wish the people would wake up and smell the reality of what’s going on out there… and the world is just looking on, condemning Israel all the way through and it’s heading in a bad place,” Gordon said in a phone interview from the 5 Towns Jewish Times office.
“How are you supposed to deal with an enemy that goes out of its way and puts innocent civilians in the line of the fire, with tunnels going through their homes and rocket launchers in their homes? How do you deal with such an enemy?”
Gordon wrote news outlets —particularly BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera — all too quickly point out the number of civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip, But, he questions their innocence.
“But anyone who lives with rocket launchers installed or terror tunnels burrowed in or around the vicinity of their home cannot be considered an innocent civilian.”
He suggested watching “Fox News or other pro-Israel news channels” to see how “Israel has its hands tied” in this situation, adding there have been several incidents in which the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has “gone out of its way” to limit civilian deaths and not firing on targets where civilians are present.
“Fifteen hundred lives, if they’re innocent civilians, then it is a true tragedy. But the tragedy is not on Israel’s hands. The tragedy is perpetrated by Hamas,” Gordon said.
He referenced accusations that Hamas not only encouraged Gazans to ignore warnings of impending IDF attacks and act as human shields, but also physically abused civilians and forced them to do so.
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“But, then again… if people are sitting in homes and they pray in mosques that have tunnels going through there and rocket launchers there, and they didn’t heed the calls of the IDF to leave the area and they had an opportunity to do so, maybe that makes them complicit in the crime as well,” Gordon said.
Late Friday afternoon, Gordon wound up issuing a public apology for his post.
I never intended to call to harm any people although my words may have conveyed that message. With that said I pray and hope for a quick peaceful end to the hostilities and that all people learn to coexist with each other in creating a better world for us all.
Gordon also appeared to delete his Twitter account, although several fake accounts attributed to him popped out throughout the day.
Vox‘s Max Fisher wrote Gordon’s op-ed was “obviously an extreme position.”
“Both the Israeli far-right and Palestinian militant groups will at times advocate for the absolute elimination of the other side from the land; they just know how to do it in a way that won’t raise so many eyebrows,” Fisher concluded.
Here’s a look at how raised those eyebrows were on Twitter:
This is the full text of Gordon’s blog post “When Genocide is Permissible”:
Judging by the numbers of casualties on both sides in this almost one-month old war one would be led to the conclusion that Israel has resorted to disproportionate means in fighting a far less- capable enemy. That is as far as what meets the eye. But, it’s now obvious that the US and the UN are completely out of touch with the nature of this foe and are therefore not qualified to dictate or enforce the rules of this war – because when it comes to terror there is much more than meets the eye.
I wasn’t aware of this, but it seems that the nature of warfare has undergone a major shift over the years. Where wars were usually waged to defeat the opposing side, today it seems – and judging by the number of foul calls it would indicate – that today’s wars are fought to a draw. I mean, whoever heard of a timeout in war? An NBA Basketball game allows six timeouts for each team during the course of a game, but last I checked this is a war! We are at war with an enemy whose charter calls for the annihilation of our people. Nothing, then, can be considered disproportionate when we are fighting for our very right to live.
The sad reality is that Israel gets it, but its hands are being tied by world leaders who over the past six years have insisted they are such good friends with the Jewish state, that they know more regarding its interests than even they do. But there’s going to have to come a time where Israel feels threatened enough where it has no other choice but to defy international warnings – because this is life or death.
Most of the reports coming from Gazan officials and leaders since the start of this operation have been either largely exaggerated or patently false. The truth is, it’s not their fault, falsehood and deceit is part of the very fabric of who they are and that will never change. Still however, despite their propensity to lie, when your enemy tells you that they are bent on your destruction you believe them. Similarly, when Khaled Meshal declares that no physical damage to Gaza will dampen their morale or weaken their resolve – they have to be believed. Our sage Gedalia the son of Achikam was given intelligence that Yishmael Ben Nesanyah was plotting to kill him. However, in his piety or rather naiveté Gedalia dismissed the report as a random act of gossip and paid no attention to it. To this day, the day following Rosh Hashana is commemorated as a fast day in the memory of Gedalia who was killed in cold blood on the second day of Rosh Hashana during the meal. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over. History is there to teach us lessons and the lesson here is that when your enemy swears to destroy you – you take him seriously.
Hamas has stated forthrightly that it idealizes death as much as Israel celebrates life. What other way then is there to deal with an enemy of this nature other than obliterate them completely?
News anchors such as those from CNN, BBC and Al-Jazeera have not missed an opportunity to point out the majority of innocent civilians who have lost their lives as a result of this war. But anyone who lives with rocket launchers installed or terror tunnels burrowed in or around the vicinity of their home cannot be considered an innocent civilian. If you’ll counter, that Hamas has been seen abusing civilians who have attempted to leave their homes in response to Israeli warnings to leave – well then, your beginning to come to terms with the nature of this enemy which should automatically cause the rules of standard warfare to be suspended.
Everyone agrees that Israel has the right to defend itself as well as the right to exercise that right. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has declared it, Obama and Kerry have clearly stated that no one could be expected to sit idle as thousands of rockets rain down on the heads of its citizens, placing them in clear and present danger. It seems then that the only point of contention is regarding the measure of punishment meted out in this situation.
I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?