Can The Word ‘Genocide’ Be Obliterated From The Global Dictionary? – OpEd


Whenever I read or hear the word “ genocide” I cannot but shiver in my bones because of the unspeakable brutality the Pakistan dictator of Yahaya Khan’s regime had perpetrated on the unarmed Bengalis who had no similarity with the other part of Pakistan except religion i. e. Muslim.

The parts of Pakistan had no similarity in language, culture, or in any other respect. The result was the war of liberation of Bangladesh with the help of then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who with the help of the Soviet Union, a permanent member of the United Nations, used veto power till such time Yahaya Khan was forced to direct brutal commander of Pakistani army in East Pakistan Lt. Gen. A.A.K. Niazi in 1971, to Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, PVSM, then GOC-in-C, Eastern Command, accepted history’s greatest surrender since the end of World War-II.

Even today in my eighties, I consider Mrs. Indira Gandhi as the greatest humanitarian individual that the world has ever seen. Her untiring efforts released the imprisoned Bengalis from the brutal captivity of the Pakistani military regime. Innumerable books and articles have been written on the Bangladesh Liberation War. One more article by me will not make any difference. 

The world today is in the grips of an uncertain future and even scholars of different disciplines cannot predict what will happen in a few decades. Washington Post in a write-up ( 07-11-2023) titled Israel’s war in Gaza and the specter of “genocide” quoted that in condemning Israel’s actions, governments in Brazil, South Africa, and Colombia, among others, have all explicitly invoked “genocide” to explain their outrage. Israel’s overwhelming campaign against Hamas has led to the widespread devastation of besieged Gaza, triggering a humanitarian crisis. Israeli bombardments have now killed more than 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza”.

The write-up added its critics see the most powerful military in the Middle East, buttressed by the solidarity of most Western governments, perpetrating what may be de facto ethnic cleansing. “The war is one of asymmetrical counter-genocide,” wrote Martin Shaw, a distinguished genocide scholar, in New Lines Magazine. “Hamas’ killings of Israeli civilians constituted a wave of ‘genocidal massacres,’ localized mass killings whose victims were defined by their Israeli-Jewish identity.” On the other hand, Shaw added, Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza have “affected the whole population of the territory, far more extensively and deeply (except in a moral and emotional sense) than the Israeli population has been affected by Hamas’ violence”.

The Israeli attitude towards Hamas can be described as one bent upon the total destruction of Hamas and of Palestine. The Washington Post report earlier described the intent of prominent Israeli officials calling for not simply for the defeat of Hamas but for the annihilation of Gaza, the starving of its population, and the removal of Palestinians from some or all of its territory. The Israeli President suggested that civilians in the Hamas-controlled territory are not “innocent.” Such rhetoric has alarmed myriad international experts, many of whom contend that Israel is already potentially guilty of war crimes in its collective punishment of the Palestinians living in Gaza and the bombing of civilian homes. 

A group of current U.N. special rapporteurs on human rights in a statement called for a cease-fire.  U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his latest whirlwind tour of Middle Eastern capitals without clinching even a humanitarian “pause” in hostilities that could allow for more aid to enter Gaza or for the release of hostages. The Biden administration finds itself enabling and supplying an Israeli war machine bent on a “mighty vengeance,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put it, while also, in private dealings, trying to restrain Israel from exacting an even greater price on Palestinian civilians.

British newsmagazine The Guardian in a report from an Israeli source reportedly advocated the forcible and permanent transfer of all 2.2 million inhabitants. Cairo has been absolutely clear that this is a non-starter, not least because all foresee that Palestinians are unlikely to be able to return. Nor is there enthusiasm for another idea reportedly explored by the US and Israel, which would see regional powers take control temporarily, backed up by a multinational force, possibly including US and British troops. It is hard to see Western leaders opting to put their personnel in harm’s way. More plausible might be an Arab peacekeeping force, funded by Riyadh. The UAE has stressed that it is not pulling back from its normalization of ties with Israel, and the White House says that Saudi Arabia is still open to a deal. But politically, they could not sign up without a proper deal for Palestinians. 

All this led to the Palestinian Authority, whose prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, told the Guardian that it would not run Gaza without a solution for the West Bank. If the repeated invocation of the two-state solution by Western leaders in recent days was partly intended to deflect criticism of their failure to condemn the enormous civilian toll of Israel’s offensive, it also reflects a growing sense that there is no longer a choice. Mohammed Dahlan, sometimes cited as a possible, if controversial, future leader of the Palestinians, also laid out a postwar path to a future state this week. The terrain could not, however, be less promising or more treacherous. It is clear that it cannot be crossed under the current political leadership. The building of settlements has steadily increased since the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords signed in Oslo in 1993.

Since October 7th President Joe Biden has urged Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to rein in the settlers—in vain. Extreme right-wing settlers who hold key posts in Netanyahu’s cabinet seem to have no wish to calm things down.  Netanyahu’s current government has delighted the settlers by earmarking large sums for settler roads (from which Palestinians are generally barred) and by giving an ultra-nationalist settler who is the finance minister, extra power over planning regulations in the West Bank, though the last word on this still lies with Netanyahu and his defense minister. On the ground, settlers are rarely punished for initiating the violence.

Added to the Palestine issue is that in early this year President Vladimir Putin announced Russian suspension of its participation in the New START treaty.   The New START treaty was signed in Prague in 2010. It came into force the following year and was extended in 2021 for five more years after United States President Joe Biden took office. It caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them. Russia has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, with close to 6,000 warheads. 

Together, Russia and the United States hold about 90 percent of the world’s nuclear warheads – enough to destroy the planet many times over. Putin blamed Western nations for trying to ‘distract people’s attention’ with principles of democracy and freedom to defend their totalitarian values and they tried to distract people’s attention from corruption scandals … from economic-social problems. Putin put the responsibility on the West and Ukrainian elite.  He warned that the more the West sent weapons to Ukraine, the more Russia would have the responsibility of the security situation at the Russian border. 

The Western countries can be held responsible for the global insecurity mainly because of their support for Israel. It is not fully understood as the American people in particular, barring the older generation, are not particularly interested in Zionism. Regardless of Western support or otherwise of Zionism Israel has consistently gained the support of the West. As for the USA, a significant number of members of Congress are Jews who naturally support Israel and are immensely generous to open their purse for Israel.  Besides several Israeli Prime Ministers e. g. Golda Meir was an American. Benjamin Netanyahu also spent considerable time in Philadelphia where his father was a college Professor. He also has a degree from MIT.

On the Arab side both the sons of King Faisal were Princeton graduates while the mother of King Abdullah of Jordan was a British national. But due to the overwhelming support of the USA and other countries of the West a two-state solution, however attractive, would be difficult to achieve.   

Ambassador Kazi Anwarul Masud

Kazi Anwarul Masud is a former Secretary and ambassador of Bangladesh

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