The Genocidal Language Behind Israel’s Intent in Gaza

Long before Oct. 7, the Zionist-Israeli discourse was always that of racism, dehumanization, erasure and, at times, outright genocide, writes Ramzy Baroud.

Lt. Col. Raphael Eitan, on left, with other Israeli commanders, visiting IDF and U.N. soldiers in Lebanon, June 1982. (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

By Ramzy Baroud
Common Dreams

“(Tutsis) are cockroaches. We will kill you.”

Arabs are like “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

The first quote was a line repeated frequently by the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines, a Rwandan radio station, which is largely blamed for inciting hatred towards the Tutsi people.

The second is by former Israeli army Chief-of-Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan in 1983, speaking at an Israeli parliament’s committee.

Rwanda’s hate-filled radio station operated for only one year (1993-94), yet the outcome of its incitement resulted in one of the saddest and most tragic episodes in modern human history: the genocide of the Tutsis.

Compare “Radio Genocide” to the massive Israeli-U.S.-Western propaganda, dehumanizing Palestinians almost with identical language to that used by Hutus’ media.

Many seem to forget that, long before the Gaza war on Oct. 7, and even long before the establishment of Israel itself in 1948, the Zionist-Israeli discourse has always been that of racism, dehumanization, erasure and, at times, outright genocide.

If one is to randomly select any period of Israeli history to examine the political discourse emanating from Israeli officials, institutions and even intellectuals, one is to draw the same conclusion: Israel has always built a narrative of incitement and hatred, thus making a constant case for the genocide of Palestinians.

Only recently, this genocidal intent is becoming obvious to many people.

“There is… a risk of genocide against the Palestinian People,” the U.N. experts said in a statement on Oct. 19. But this “risk of genocide” is not born out of recent events.

Indeed, effective political or military actions anywhere in the world hardly take place without an edifice of text and language that facilitates, rationalizes, and justifies those actions. Israel’s perception of Palestinians is a perfect illustration of this claim.

Prior to the establishment of Israel, Zionists denied the very existence of the Palestinians. Many still do.

When that is the case, it becomes only logical to draw a conclusion that Israel, in its own collective mind, cannot be morally culpable of killing those who have never existed in the first place.

Even when Palestinians factor into the Israeli political discourse, they become “bloodthirsty animals,” “terrorists,” or “drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”

It would be too convenient to label this as just “racist.” Though racism is at work here, this sense of racial supremacy does not exist to merely maintain a sociopolitical order, in which Israelis are masters and Palestinians are serfs. It is far more complex.

As soon as Palestinian fighters from Gaza crossed into the southern border of Israel, killing hundreds, not a single Israeli politician, analyst, or mainstream intellectual seemed interested in the context of the daring act.

The post-Oct. 7 language used by Israelis, but also many Americans, created the atmosphere necessary for the savage Israeli response which followed.

The number of Palestinians killed in the first eight days of the Israeli war against Gaza has reportedly exceeded the number of casualties who were killed during the longest and most destructive Israeli war on the strip, dubbed “Protective Edge,” in 2014.

Gaza crisis, July 2014. (Charity Organisation, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

According to The Defense for Children International–Palestine, a Palestinian child is killed every 15 minutes, and, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 70 percent of all of Gaza’s casualties are women and children.

For Israel, none of these facts matter. In the mind of Israeli President Isaac Herzog, often perceived as a “moderate,” the “rhetoric about civilians not (being) involved (is) absolutely not true.” They are legitimate targets, simply because they “could’ve risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime,” he said, referring to Hamas.

Therefore, “It is an entire nation out there that is responsible,” according to Herzog, who promised payback.

Ariel Kallner, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, explained Israel’s goal behind the Gaza war. “Right now, one goal: Nakba! A Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948,” he said.

Gallant and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Tel Aviv on March 9, 2023. (DoD, Alexander Kubitza)

The same sentiment was conveyed by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the man responsible for translating Israel’s declaration of war into an action plan: “We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly,” he said on Oct.  9. “Accordingly,” here, meant that “there will be no electricity, no food, no fuel. Everything is closed.” And, of course, thousands of dead civilians.

Since Israel’s top political authorities have already declared that all Palestinians are collectively responsible for the Oct. 7 events, this means that all Palestinians are, per Gallant’s assessment, “human animals,” deserving no mercy.

Expectedly, Israel’s supporters in the U.S. and other Western countries joined the chorus, also using the most violent and dehumanizing language, thus cementing mainstream Israeli political discourse among ordinary people.

Jan. 25, 2020: Former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

U.S. presidential hopeful Nikki Haley told Fox News on Oct. 10 that the Hamas attack was not just on Israel but “is an attack on America.” It was then that she made her sinister declaration, while looking directly at the camera,

“Netanyahu, finish them, finish them… finish them!”

Though U.S. President Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not use the exact same words, they both made comparisons between the Oct.7 events and the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The meaning behind this requires no elaboration.

For his part, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham rallied American conservative and religious supporters, declaring on Oct. 11, also on Fox News,

“We are in a religious war here… Do whatever the hell you have to do… Level the place.”

Much more, equally sinister language was — and continues — to be uttered. The outcome is being broadcast around the clock. Israel is “finishing off” the Gaza civilian population, it is “leveling” thousands of homes, mosques, hospitals, churches, and schools. Indeed, it is producing another painful episode of the Nakba.

From Golda Meir’s “Palestinians did not exist” (1969) to Menachem Begin’s Palestinians are “beasts walking on two legs” (1982), to Eli Ben Dahan’s “Palestinians are like animals, they aren’t human” (2013), to numerous other racist and dehumanizing references, the Zionist discourse remains unchanged.

Now, it is all coming together, the language and the action are in perfect alignment. Perhaps, it is time to start paying attention to how Israel’s genocidal language is translated to an actual genocide on the ground. Sadly, for thousands of Palestinian civilians, this awareness is simply too late.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of six books. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappé, is Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out. His other books include My Father was a Freedom Fighter and The Last Earth. Baroud is a non-resident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA). This is his website

This article is from Common Dreams.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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21 comments for “The Genocidal Language Behind Israel’s Intent in Gaza

  1. RWilson
    October 27, 2023 at 21:38

    The language clearly reveals the mindset. Zionist policies and actions are repeatedly justified by reference to their 3000 year old legend in the Bible. As others have noted, especially relevant today is –

    “In the cities of the nations that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not leave alive anything that breathes.” – Deuteronomy 20:16.

    This course of action flows directly from the belief stated in the Talmud that only Jews have human souls, and all others are literally animals. This is explained by Jewish Israeli scholar Israel Shahak in his book
    Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

    Applying logic to these archaic, barbaric, false, pre-civilization premises leads Zionists to equally archaic, barbaric, false, pre-civilized conclusions. But when people grow up steeped in such beliefs, and form strong emotional attachments to them, it is virtually impossible to have a rational discussion with them. Their brain simply does not process information that conflicts with these deeply entrenched beliefs. The plainest facts and logic will appear to them as irrational gibberish. Hence they become extremely frustrated and angry.

    With discussion closed off, they may require an intervention to prevent them from harming others and themselves.

  2. wildthange
    October 27, 2023 at 21:12

    The language of wargasms, genocides, and pogroms over the ages for cultural hatreds to power the profit motives of war by use moral religious tines of evil and evildoers.

    The military industrial protection racketeering system has to be defused of human civilization is to survive. Instead we seem to be thrilled by the excitement of explosions and destruction used by some to amass profit in reconstruction. How will we reconstruct human civilization at this point in destructive capability and stress on our planet’s environment. The chosen planet for human evolution.

  3. bardamu
    October 27, 2023 at 19:43

    Just wondering, as I read this, at my naivete and that of other young Americans in the wake of the second world war, as we asked ourselves how Germans could have tolerated the buildup of Nazism and the holocaust.

    I guess there is a kind of karmic force in ignorance: if one does not know, if one cannot feel, if one cannot say, one is free to stumble into the lesson realtime.

  4. GC
    October 27, 2023 at 19:29

    Are the Geneva Conventions no longer a thing?

  5. Dan A Goldstein
    October 27, 2023 at 14:24

    Stop bombing densely populated civilian areas, Israel. You’re killing thousands of innocent Palestinians, including thousands of children. The Israeli Air force & the IDF are employing the language of mass murderers from time immemorial. For example: “Human Shields.” That’s like saying the Poles used human shields near their government buildings when the Luftwaffe bombed Warsaw in 1939. The language of those who inflict genocide must never be “normalized.”

    I want to address the looming Israeli ground invasion while I’m at it. Perhaps, aside from the fact Israel is understandably obsessed with getting their hostages back, Israel’s military leaders are just a bit apprehensive of the prospect of fighting Hamas in the mountains of rubble created by Israel’s barbaric air strikes: the “Stalingrad Syndrome,” if you will. In any case, with every sortie the Israeli air force launches against Gaza, the prospect of getting the hostages back alive diminishes. Hmmm…. despite Joe Biden’s indefensible opposition to a cease fire, a pause in the savage bombing campaign is desperately needed, for the sake of Israelis AND Palestinians.

  6. Eric Foor
    October 27, 2023 at 14:01

    Niki Haley’s statement that “the Hamas attack on Israel is an attack on America” belies the underlying fact that AMERICA IS NOW OWNED BY ISRAEL. Zionist are imbedded in the entire US deep state and our intelligence services. They own our President and our Congress. In their judicial capacity, they have passed laws in almost every state to make it illegal for an American citizen to boycott Israel as a personal protest to their “religious” apartheid policies.

    Zionist are not simply dual citizens. However they may profess themselves to be American citizens their core allegiance is first and foremost to Israel…and they have absolutely no respect for our Constitution. Americans that support Israel should be aware that Israel has no Constitution…as well as no stated territorial borders. Without a written statement of purpose or territorial borders Israel is free to pursue it’s secret selfish goal of a “Greater Israel”. Their grand ambition that will expropriate parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

    If our Constitution begins with the words: “We The People”….what words do you suppose the Israeli Constitution would begin with?….That’s why they don’t have written Constitution! That’s why they are legally free to terrorize their non-Jewish neighbors to accomplish their secret purpose…. for a land for “Jews only”. America please WAKE UP… Don’t any of us recall our own sordid history of bigotry, discrimination and signs that read “Whites only”. We are clearly standing on the wrong side of history…again.

    WAKE UP AMERICA! We do not live in a country that supports Israel. AMERICA HAS BEEN ANNEXED BY ISRAEL! The Zionists have become our masters. How come there is zero push back to the suggested 14 billion dollars aid to Israel? OBVIOUSLY WE HAVE BECOME ISRAEL….but only as long as our tax dollars have any value…and we can still provide bombs, rockets and fighter jets. Israel is not America’s ally. That was made clear on June 8th, 1967….look it up. We are only Israel’s tool. Ask yourself: Who benefited from 9/11? We have been at war with the enemies of Israel ever since…but how has that benefited America?

    Let’s take our country back. Let’s get on the right side of history. NO MORE SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL.

    • Rafael
      October 30, 2023 at 02:36

      You have it exactly backwards. The US owns Israel (its “unsinkable aircraft carrier”), and has owned it for at least 50 years.

      Ukraine has been receiving far more funding from the US than Israel. Does this mean it’s really Ukraine that owns the US? Or does it mean both Ukraine and Israel are mercenary states with the same commander?

  7. Guy St Hilaire
    October 27, 2023 at 11:54

    The grooming actions of the media , all pretty well owned by the same group,has done a real number of the Western world with the Evangelical Christians singing from the same song/ hymn book .Will we ever become truly human and stop killing each other for ideological ,political and religious dogma. The voice of reason has been drowned out by fanaticism on all sides .May God help us all .

  8. Randal Marlin
    October 27, 2023 at 11:50

    Listening to the highly, and justifiably, emotional speeches by PLO envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, and Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan, I came away feeling a numbing sense of the tragedy that has unfolded in Gaza, along with the shock to the Jewish community worldwide from the recent murderous Hamas crimes against (many) civilians.
    Ambassador Erdan’s speech makes Israel’s continuing bombings understandable but not justifiable. They might be justifiable if they could be seen as the only way to prevent further murderous attacks on Jewish people —who have been victimized through pogroms and hate propaganda for many centuries. But killing innocents is not the way to combat the social forces that have been behind those attacks. It simply reinforces those social forces.
    At this stage, the USA needs to save Israel from itself, ensuring that water, food, and medical relief gets through immediately to the suffering and dying Gazans, while using its ample resources to assist Israel against further atrocities from its enemies.

    • Nyah
      October 27, 2023 at 15:41

      None of those atrocities allegedly committed by Hamas have been substantiated. They are spread to elicit anger and calls for revenge. If you care about justice, it would be best not to allege that they happened.


      • Randal Marlin
        October 28, 2023 at 09:33

        To say “some” or even “many” of the atrocities allegedly committed by Hamas have not been substantiated, is defensible. What you say: “None of those atrocities allegedly committed by Hamas have been substantiated,” is indefensible.

    • Gypsy
      October 27, 2023 at 19:17

      If Israel blames the total population of Gaza for. “not rising up against Hamas”, then Hamas can rightfully accuse the entire population of Israel for not rising up against the murderous policies of Zionism.

  9. Drew Hunkins
    October 27, 2023 at 11:47

    The sick and disgusting Israeli leadership is not content to commit genocide in real-time against thousands of innocent Palestinians. They’re attacking everything in sight in order to bait Tehran into a response.

    The sociopathic creepy sadists are putting us all on the brink of a catastrophe of epic proportions. We must call a spade a spade: the Zionist power configuration in Washington must be called out and challenged immediately!

  10. susan
    October 27, 2023 at 11:23

    “Hell is empty and all the devils are here!” William Shakespeare

  11. Rudy Haugeneder
    October 27, 2023 at 11:18

    Last of the Mohicans?

  12. October 27, 2023 at 10:28

    “Long before Oct. 7, the Zionist-Israeli discourse was always that of racism, dehumanization, erasure and, at times, outright genocide.” WAY long before! Thousands of years before. True Zionism is commanded (not suggested) in The Torah at Deuteronomy 20:10-17.

    “As for the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing to survive. Instead you must utterly annihilate them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites” [the people of Jerusalem] (Deuteronomy 20:16-17).

    • Lois Gagnon
      October 27, 2023 at 16:45

      As far as I’m concerned, the Bible is a blood soaked apologia of genocide. Can we please move on from such antiquated garbage?

  13. mary-lou
    October 27, 2023 at 10:25

    chilling description of the psychopathy of Israel as a nation (not only its current leadership) – hxxps://

  14. October 27, 2023 at 10:22

    “Long before Oct. 7, the Zionist-Israeli discourse was always that of racism, dehumanization, erasure and, at times, outright genocide.” WAY long before! Thousands of years before. True Zionism is commanded (not suggested) in The Torah at Deuteronomy 20:10-17.

    “As for the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing to survive. Instead you must utterly annihilate them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites” [the people of Jerusalem] (Deuteronomy 20:16-17).

    Please watch “Thou Shalt Not Kill … Whom? at:


  15. Vera Gottlieb
    October 27, 2023 at 10:10

    Oct. 7th is but the latest in a long, long string of israel’s shenanigans to which, shamefully, the Western world has kept turning a blind eye. It started even BEFORE the founding of this nation.

  16. Lois Gagnon
    October 27, 2023 at 09:12

    The US and its pathetic vassals are all onboard for Palestinian genocide. Where is the ICC? Oh yeah. Arresting African leaders who do the bidding of Africom. Never again they said. Yet it goes on and on.

Comments are closed.