Too loose with ‘genocide’

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Genocide is a serious, major tragedy. It is a term with very serious meaning in the Jewish and American Indian communities. It is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.

All one has to do is look at the two maps published on the first page of Indian Country Today to realize the grim magnitude of Indian population losses in the New World. In the Basin of Mexico (today’s Mexico City), Native American populations dropped from about 1.5 million in 1519, the year of the Spanish conquest, to less than 200,000 by 1610 – a loss of 90 percent. I am sure every Native reader of ICT can provide numerous and equally horrifying examples from their own communities.

According to UN statistics, the population of Gaza in 1967 was 280,000; in 2006 the population was 1,480,200 – a 528 percent increase. If Israel is committing genocide, it certainly is doing a lousy job. And the Nazis really did not allow shipments of food and humanitarian goods into the Warsaw Ghetto; Israel allows these shipments on an almost daily basis.

Israel left Gaza in 2005, lock, stock, barrel, leaving the people and giving them the chance to build their own country. Instead, they fired more than 10,000 rockets at Israeli civilians over much of southern Israel. Israel, like any country, has the obligation to defend its citizens and is doing so now. Towns and villages have lived under constant threat. If some of those projectiles were crude and missed their targets, it was not for lack of trying. Their aim is to kill, maim and intimidate as many civilians as possible. Everything is fair game: homes, hospitals, schools, play grounds. The trauma this has created cannot be adequately described.

Stanley Heller, chairman of the Middle East Crisis Committee, has played very fast and very loose with the situation in Gaza. I hope he will not treat in the same way the Native Americans he urges to go out into the streets and protest.

– Dr. Gordon Bronitsky
Albuquerque