How Zionism Uses Language for Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide Featured

By Gamal Khattab December 13, 2023 4250


The Zionist discourse seeks to establish the extermination of the Palestinians by denying their existence as a distinct nation or people. Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's statements exemplify this dehumanization through language.

By claiming that there was no such thing as Palestinians and that they did not exist, Meir attempts to absolve the Israeli occupation state of any moral responsibility for the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.

This denial of Palestinian identity serves as a fundamental pillar of the Zionist discourse. By erasing the historical and cultural roots of the Palestinians, Zionism aims to delegitimize their claims to the land and justify the occupation.

Meir's assertion that there was never a Palestinian nation reinforces this narrative, portraying the Palestinians as mere obstacles to be removed in the pursuit of a Jewish homeland.

The dehumanization of the Palestinians through language is a powerful tool used by the Zionist discourse to justify the ongoing oppression and violence against them. By denying their existence, the Zionist narrative seeks to erase the Palestinian people from history and perpetuate their marginalization.

This deliberate erasure of Palestinian identity is not only a denial of their rights but also a means to legitimize the systematic dispossession and displacement they have endured.

Dehumanizing Language

  Golda Meir's statements were not isolated incidents, but rather representative of a broader trend in Israeli political and military discourse. Throughout the decades of conflict, the Palestinian people have been dehumanized through denial of their existence and denial of their humanity. They have been portrayed as either non-existent or as a less civilized group deserving of death.

This dehumanizing language has been consistently used by Israeli officials, such as Menachem Begin and Rafael Eitan, who referred to Palestinians as "beasts" and "drugged cockroaches."

Systematic Approach

 The use of such language is not accidental, but rather follows a clear pattern that cannot be ignored. Even in recent years, high-ranking Israeli officials like Eli Ben Dahan, Yoav Galant, and Benjamin Netanyahu have continued to employ racist rhetoric to describe Palestinians. Ben Dahan likened them to animals, while Galant referred to the residents of Gaza as "human animals," justifying the deprivation of basic necessities. Netanyahu went as far as labeling the Palestinian resistance as "human monsters" who celebrate the killing of innocent civilians.

Dehumanization and Denial of existence

 It is ironic that this pattern of dehumanization and denial of existence has been historically used to justify colonialism, conquest, and even racial genocide. The Western colonial discourse, for instance, was built upon racial classifications that privileged the white race and legitimized their claim to lands across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. By employing similar tactics, the Israeli discourse perpetuates a dangerous narrative that not only undermines the rights and humanity of the Palestinian people, but also echoes a dark history of oppression and discrimination.

Racial Classifications Favoring White Race

 Throughout history, the pattern of dehumanizing certain groups of people and denying their existence has been repeatedly used as a means to justify colonialism and conquest. This disturbing irony becomes even more apparent when examining the Western colonial discourse, which heavily relied on racial classifications that favored the white race.

This discourse conveniently ignored the presence of indigenous inhabitants in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, allowing for the unjust appropriation of their lands.

Deploying Fake Social Sciences

 What makes this discourse even more insidious is its attempt to establish a pseudo-scientific and social foundation. In his thought-provoking book, "Zionism from the Point of View of its Victims," Edward Said highlights the role of the social sciences in serving imperialism. He argues that under specific historical circumstances, European imperialism in the nineteenth century manipulated science to reshape the world, a process he aptly refers to as "the distortion of Science."

Max Müller and Friedrich Schlegel

 Said delves into the development of colonial racial concepts, tracing their origins to linguistic principles and the theories of German linguists like Max Müller and Friedrich Schlegel. These concepts were then expanded into ethnic sciences, resulting in racial classifications that placed the white race at the top. By the mid-nineteenth century, these pseudo-scientific beliefs played a significant role in justifying European domination over non-European peoples.

This allowed the white colonizers to claim lands inhabited by those they deemed inferior races, disregarding the rights and existence of the indigenous populations.

Justifying Crimes

Edward Said's book delves into the imperialist perspective adopted by Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionist thought, towards the Palestinians. This perspective viewed the indigenous people as inferior "inhabitants" and extended to their relationship with the land. Similar to European colonialists, who considered the indigenous people of Africa, Asia, and the Americas as barbaric and less civilized, Zionism saw Palestine as an "empty" land inhabited by an inferior people.

This mindset justified the entitlement of the white/European man to dispossess the indigenous peoples of their lands based on Western standards.

 The echoes of these colonial ethnolinguistic metaphors can be observed in the speeches of Israeli politicians and media figures. These individuals often provide distorted justifications for the war crimes committed by the Israeli occupying state in the Gaza Strip. These justifications aim to avoid the restrictions imposed by international law, such as the distinction between combatants and civilians. For instance, Giora Eiland, a former head of the National Security Council and advisor to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, argues that the women of Gaza are all connected to Hamas and part of the organization's infrastructure.

This rhetoric attempts to justify the use of fuel and water shortages as a means to force Hamas' military leaders to surrender, disregarding the impact on innocent civilians.

Ingrained Imperialist Mindset

 The language used by Zionist thinkers and Israeli officials reflects a deeply ingrained imperialist mindset. It perpetuates the notion of superiority and entitlement, leading to the dehumanization and marginalization of the indigenous people. By employing these colonial ethnolinguistic metaphors, they justify the dispossession of land and the commission of war crimes. It is crucial to recognize and challenge these narratives in order to promote justice, equality, and respect for international law in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The occupation forces employ a combination of colonial metaphors and justifications to manipulate the truth and rationalize the killing of over 18,000 individuals, predominantly children and women, as well as the imprisonment of numerous Palestinians.

‘Security Prisoners’ Vs ‘Women and Children’

These actions are justified on the grounds that these individuals are considered to be of a "lower status" or even non-human. The Times of Israel, in its report on the recent prisoner exchange agreement between Hamas and Israel, exemplifies this linguistic and ideological structure by referring to Palestinian prisoners as "security prisoners (teenagers and females)," while describing Israeli detainees as "women and children." This choice of language reflects a disturbing disregard for the humanity of the Palestinian people.

Dehumanize Palestinian Martyrs

 This biased discourse also extends to the portrayal of victims. While the media portrays the Israeli casualties of the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation as individuals with personal stories and tragic circumstances, the Israeli and Western media tend to dehumanize Palestinian martyrs, who far outnumber the casualties on the Israeli side. The Palestinian victims are reduced to mere statistics, unworthy of further attention or empathy. This selective language and narrative perpetuate a harmful and unequal representation of the conflict.

Devaluating the Humanity of the “Other”

 Language has become a powerful tool in the war on Gaza, serving as a framework for the massacre and exposing the underlying colonial mindset. It not only justifies the military actions and atrocities committed by the occupying forces but also reveals a deeply ingrained doctrine that devalues the humanity of the "other." This doctrine, which views Palestinians as lesser beings and even denies their existence altogether, has become an integral part of the Israeli occupation state. Its influence may persist long after the occupation itself, perpetuating a system of oppression and dehumanization.