There is another sign of genocide: a certain perverse delight that perpetrators take in imagining a brave new world to flourish where their mass murder is clearing the ground.
Tarik Cyril Amar (@TarikCyrilAmar) is a historian from Germany, currently at Koç University, Istanbul, expert on Ukraine, Russia, and Europe, and the author of “The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv. A Borderland City between Stalinists, Nazis, and Nationalists.”
Cross-posted from Tarik’s Substack Blog
For almost two months now, the apartheid state of Israel has been conducting another genocidal assault on the Palestinians. Its leaders, political and military, have repeatedly been explicit about their intention to commit this crime; its forces are carrying it out in a manner unmistakable to any observer whose mind and soul are not rotten by indoctrination, conformism, and the indifference of the cowardly. The West serves as accomplice.
Regarding the above, there is nothing left to discuss. There is nothing left to prove either. The facts are all around us, of the same weight as “water is wet.” If you still do not share that sense of the real world and expect yet another attempt to make the willfully blind see, you can stop reading here. I have no time for you.
If, on the other hand, you are still with us, then let’s talk about something that is insufficiently understood and exposed. As we know from honest experts, such as Raz Segal and Craig Mokhiber, Israel’s attack is a textbook case of genocide. It fulfills the various criteria established, above all by the UN Genocide Convention of 1948, to an extent that makes you wonder if the Israeli regime is trying to win a prize for literalness in crimes against humanity.
Yet there is another sign of genocide that can be observed historically. This sign does not feature in official definitions, but it is clearly also present now in the Israeli case: a certain perverse delight that perpetrators take in imagining a brave new world to flourish where their mass murder is clearing the ground.
Historically, we can find this practice, for instance, in how European invaders, settlers, and ethnic cleansers envisaged their remaking of America once the “natives” would all be gone. In 1830, genocidaire-in-chief Andrew Jackson congratulated himself before the US Congress that his policy of “Indian Removal” was enabling Mississippi and Alabama “to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power.” [President Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress ‘On Indian Removal’ (1830) | National Archives]
In 1841, poster boy extraordinaire of right-wing liberalism, Alexis de Tocqueville went explicitly genocidal when thinking about how France should subjugate, settle, and reshape recently invaded Algeria. He recommended “to ravage the country,” that is, devastation as a policy; to destroy harvests, that is, to use famine as a weapon; and to obliterate “everything that resembles a permanent aggregation of population or, in other words, a town.” [On Tocqueville in Algeria and epistemic violence | Racism | Al Jazeera] All of this in order to dream about a future model colony, built, by the way, on what we now call apartheid.
The examples could be multiplied around the globe. This type of thinking was neither marginal nor rare among colonialists and imperialists. On the contrary, it was mainstream and widespread. But the single most brutal and, as it were, thorough example is to be found – where else? – in Germany. During World War Two, Nazi Germany combined its relentless campaigns of mass murder, genocide, and ethnic cleansing, including the Holocaust, with wide-ranging and elaborate plans for the future. The single most prominent scheme of this kind was called “Generalplan Ost” (General Plan East).
Strictly speaking, the Generalplan Ost was not a single text, although a text under that title did exist. Rather it was a set of documents evolving between 1939 and 1942. Think of it as an ongoing genocidal discussion between Nazi experts in how to conquer, clear, and then develop “Lebensraum.”
That latter aspect was crucial: The Plan was also a giant record of Nazi dreams, a sort of collective journalling of genocidal minds. Model farms, frontier zones of militarized settlers, networks of towns, cities, and roads laid out according to up-to-date urban and spatial planning – in short, a landscape of fascist wish-fulfillment built on mass graves.
And that brings us to the genocide that Israel is currently committing against the Palestinians. On one side, many observers have noted that Israel does not seem to have a clear plan for Gaza after its forces will be done with their mass murder campaign. That may not be quite true: There was – or still is? – a very concrete plan, namely, to kill enough Palestinian by starvation and bombing to drive the survivors into Egypt or even farther away. That particular plan may very well fail, however. Israel has the capacity to commit genocide, for a while at least, but it probably lacks the power to win on its own terms.
Be that as it may, some Israelis are still very good at dreaming about the post-Palestinian-genocide future. Take Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy. He has shared his fantasies about what to do with Hamas’s tunnels on X. Levy believes that “one day” after Israel’s “inevitable victory” these tunnels could become international tourist attractions “like the Churchill War Rooms or the Paris Catacombs.”
Clearly, no one has told Levy that Churchill emerged as victor and that the Paris Catacombs were used by the French Resistance against the Nazis. (Eylon, I must be honest with you: You would not pass my history class.)
Instead, let’s ask what sort of vision we are looking at here: Levy is enjoying a trip down anticipation lane, when Gaza will be so scrubbed of resistance that the remnants of its last holdouts will be pure, if perhaps somewhat uncanny entertainment. Let’s also note that Levy is dreaming of international tourist attractions. Obviously, he has not yet processed that most of the world is aghast at Israeli crimes and unlikely to buy tickets.
Here’s another example: On the large’ish X account of Malkah Fleisher, a short video depicting the devastation in Gaza came with the jolly comment that
Gaza was “getting an upgrade.”
This particular tweet was then deleted and replaced by another one complaining about the harsh responses triggered by the first one (perpetrators and their fans love to imagine themselves as victims), praising the Israeli forces who brought that ruin, and once again, speaking of something or other now “flourishing.”
What’s left to say? These are only two, almost random illustrations of the phenomenon of genocidal dreaming as it is now – I guess – “flourishing” against the background of the slaughter of Palestinians, often children. Others can be found. Bizarre jubilation at the prospect/fantasy of turning all of northern Gaza into a futuristic luxury development has been spotted as well.
One thing remains to be added: If you feel offended, disturbed, unpleasantly poked in your inner safe zone by the fact that something Zionists are now doing resembles something Nazis (and others) have done before, do not complain to the author of these lines, but to those Zionists. Because they are making this happen.
And if you are one of them, I hope you will face justice one day. We all have our dreams.