Jan 31, 2024

Meet the Washington Post’s Leading Apologist for Israeli Genocide

Photograph Source: Lance Cheung, U.S. Department of Agriculture – CC BY 2.0

Ruth Marcus is the Deputy Editorial Page Editor for the Washington Post, and a regular oped writer for the paper.  Marcus is an attorney, who decided to remain in journalism rather than practice law.  She identifies herself ideologically and politically as a liberal and as a Zionist.  In her most recent oped (“U.N. court’s ruling on Israel and Gaza is a perversion of justice”) she referred to herself as a “proud Jew,” who was no supporter of the “Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ultra-Orthodox and settler allies.”  Her oped, however, is an apology for Israel that accepts virtually every Israeli argument against accusations of genocide in Gaza.

Marcus falsely argues that Israel has “taken extraordinary steps to prevent civilian casualties and otherwise mitigate the suffering of innocents.” The facts on the ground argue the opposite.  More than 70 percent of Gaza’s homes have been destroyed and more than half of its buildings have been damaged or destroyed.  Much of the water, electrical communications and health care infrastructure that made Gaza function is beyond repair.  Only a handful of Gaza’s 38 hospitals can accept patients.  Two-thirds of Gaza’s school buildings have been damaged or destroyed, as have several churches and more than 100 mosques.

The brutal bombardment that caused this destruction is consistent with the remarks of an Israeli military officer who warned recently that “Whoever returns here, if they return here after, will find scorched earth.  No houses, no agriculture, no nothing.  They have no future.” Official Israeli statements and the actions of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) demonstrate the intention to ensure that Gaza will never be habitable again.  Even worse, the Israelis have destroyed shelters, even those they have directed Palestinian civilians to occupy, and they have destroyed more than a dozen Gaza cemeteries.

Marcus takes issue with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which charged that “some of the acts…committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the [Genocide] Convention.”  Marcus attacks the Court for focusing on “a few statements by Israeli officials in the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7” that were consistent with genocidal intent.  In fact, there are numerous examples of such statements at every level of Netanyahu’s administration, the Israeli government, and an Israeli society that treat the Palestinians as less than human.  This has been true for the past fifty years, starting with Prime Minister Golda Meir’s dismissal of Palestinians as “roaches.”

Marcus also claims there have been Israeli efforts to “mitigate civilian harm by warning them through leaflets, radio messages and telephone calls of impending attacks,” and its “facilitation of humanitarian assistance.”  Marcus couldn’t be more wrong.  What is particularly sinful is the Israeli efforts to cut off electricity, water, fuel and food to a trapped Palestinian population of 2.2 million, and to attack the very shelters that they have been told to occupy.  The blockade itself is consistent with the war crime of collective punishment.

Marcus’s claims of Israeli warning is belied by a particularly savage attack in October, when the Israelis used 2,000-pound bombs that killed and wounded nearly 400 civilians in an effort to kill a senior Hamas commander.  An Israeli spokesman acknowledged that no warning was given because “that would have allowed” the commander to escape.  The IDF killing of three Israeli hostages who were trying to escape Hamas demonstrated that the white flag of surrender and raised hands mean nothing to Israeli soldiers.

Marcus echoes the Israeli representative to the Court who claimed there was “scant evidence” of genocidal intent in comparison to the ICJ’s finding regarding Myanmar’s treatment of the Muslim Rohingya, which took two years of “meticulous collection of evidence.”  I would argue the opposite.  It’s our knowledge of Myanmar and the Rohingya, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Armenia that compel us to compare Israeli savagery.  If we merely research and study the problem for the next two years, there may be no Gaza to examine and many more Palestinians who have been killed or placed in refugee camps that have existed since the original Israeli displacement of Palestinians 75 years ago.

One of Marcus’s most bizarre comments is that “Killing civilians…undermines [the interests] of Israel.”  If so, how does one explain the killing of so many innocent civilians and children.  Even Marcus acknowledges that the Genocide Convention requires “both acts and intent.”  And the acts must cause “serious bodily or mental harm,” and the deliberate “inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”  That is exactly what we have been witnessing on a daily basis for the past four months.

The last line of Marcus’s oped is particularly egregious.  She argues that Israel is being treated differently for the same reason that “necessitated the existence of a Jewish state to begin with.”  In other words, she echoes the standard Israeli response that any criticism of Israel is simply another form of anti-semitism.  Sadly, we are witnessing a text book case of genocide.

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