Genocide Language

October 23, 2023 3 mins to read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A few years ago, my friend Brian Butler and I released a podcast series on the history of genocide called “Never Again, Again.” One of the key takeaways of that series was how, although we wring our hands and cry never again after these tragedies, history keeps repeating itself. Genocide and ethnic cleansing don’t arise out of mere policies and politics. They arise out of the sinful and fallen human heart.

We are watching history repeat itself once again in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The worst approach we can take to this conflict is perceiving either side as the “good guys.” Both sides have committed atrocities. Neither side is exempt. This is the way wicked systems and men operate. They oppress, defile, and brutalize others.

Yoav Gallant, Minister of Defense, State of Israel

In the first week following the savage and brutal Hamas invasion, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoval Gallant ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip, with “no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed.” He added, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”

The sad irony is that Israel, a nation birthed out of the sins of the Holocaust during World War II, is using the same language of genocide toward its enemies. During that time, the Nazis described Jewish people as “rats.”

Cartoon depicting Jewish refugees as rats, thrown out of Germany and Nazi occupied territories, denied entry to Europe, published in an Austrian newspaper Das Kleine Blatt in 1939.

The Holocaust Memorial describes the ten stages of genocide. All ten stages are significant to what we observe in Gaza today. Significantly, stage 4 is “dehumanization.” It is necessary to turn people into the “other.” They are not human but something else. They are something less than human.

As we watch the violence unfold and escalate in Gaza and the broader Middle East, Christian believers should be cautious of attributing moral high ground to wicked men and systems. There are no good guys here. Both sides have committed evil. Evil does not justify evil. It only accelerates it.

There is a higher plane from which we can observe this conflict. It is from the Biblical perspective. We ought to recognize evil on both sides of the conflict and do not fall into the trap of taking sides. As Paul wrote in Romans 3:

 “There is none righteous, no, not one;

There is none who understands;

There is none who seeks after God.

They have all turned aside;

They have together become unprofitable;

There is none who does good, no, not one.”

 “Their throat is an open tomb;

With their tongues they have practiced deceit”;

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

Destruction and misery are in their ways;

And the way of peace they have not known.”

 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:10-18 (NKJV)


The Language Being Used to Describe Palestinians is Genocidal (The Guardian)

Less than Human, The Psychology of Cruelty (NPR)