It is Time to Stop Mincing Words. This is Genocide.

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

genocide /jĕn′ə-sīd″/


  1. The systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of a national, racial, religious, or ethnic group.
  2. The systematic killing of a racial or cultural group.
  3. The systematic killing of substantial numbers of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status, or other particularity.

About a week ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible”. He was referencing this:

“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have,

and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass”. (1 Samuel 15:3)

As of this writing, more than 400 children in Gaza have been slaughtered every day for 25 straight days by Israeli air strikes. Thousands are dying under the rubble and from malnutrition, lack of water and lack of medicine due to Israel blockading the walled in enclave, which has essentially been an open-air prison since 2007. According to the charity organization Save the Children, more children have been killed in the Gaza Strip from Israeli airstrikes and its restriction of clean water, medicine and food over the last three weeks than in every other armed conflict annually since 2019.

Thousands of human beings are literally being starved to death, deprived of water, and bombed incessantly at this moment, with almost full support and assistance of Western governments like the US, Canada and the EU. Read that statistic over a few times if it didn’t cause you to tremble in horror. This is not a natural disaster; it is a human-made catastrophe. And while others may shy away from calling it out for what it obviously is, I will not. This is GENOCIDE.

There has been enormous public condemnation of the atrocities carried out by Hamas on October 7th. But little to nothing has been said in mainstream media or from politicians concerning the scores of Palestinian civilians killed by Israel prior to that horrendous day. Few to none of them discuss the violent pogroms routinely carried out by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank against Palestinians. Or the daily persecution and dehumanization Palestinians suffer from the IDF via checkpoints and night raids. And there is little to no context given regarding how this has all come about in the first place.

The open-air prison of Gaza has been blockaded by Israel, and to a lesser extent Egypt, for 15 years. This is not to excuse Hamas, a brutal, fundamentalist political entity largely which was bolstered by Netanyahu in order to weaken the secular Palestinian Fatah Party and weaken the Palestinian Authority. But Israel exerts almost full control over the borders and air space of the besieged enclave. And it subjects its captive population to routine drone surveillance and indiscriminate bombings. And Gaza was already becoming virtually unlivable long before the unfortunate events on October 7th due to successive Israeli bombings of water treatment and other essential infrastructure. Life in the occupied West Bank wasn’t much better. Effectively a Bantustan, the West Bank is a place where the Palestinian population is routinely terrorized by illegal Israeli settlers and IDF raids and subjected to home demolitions, checkpoints and military rule.

For decades, there has been much spoken about the so-called “two state solution.” But one look at a map and how much land the Palestinians have lost over the past 75 years puts this ridiculous pipedream to rest. There are at least 700,000 Jewish settlers in the Occupied West Bank. And they enjoy full protection from the IDF, as well as full rights as Israeli citizens. Their Palestinian counterparts do not. They are subjected to Israeli military rule. The Palestinian Authority essentially as a proxy government which brutally administers the dictates of the apartheid regime.

So, when the idea of a one state solution is scorned, it becomes easy to show that there already IS one state: Israel. And it is an apartheid regime which has afforded one group of people rights, privileges and respect, while another set of people have been treated, at best, as second-class citizens (Palestinians living within Israel’s borders) or, at worst, non-citizens subjected to military rule and without any say in how they are treated or governed (Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Palestinians living in blockaded Gaza). But now, the regime is beginning to “take care” of its Palestinian problem, once and for all. And we are running out of time to stop a cycle of slaughter all too familiar throughout human history.

Without a doubt, there has been horrendous rhetoric from both sides. Yet Israel is the only side that possesses an army, navy, air force and nuclear weapons. It is the only side with unequivocal support from the US, EU, Canada and the UK. It is the only side that is exempted from disparaging descriptors like terrorist, despite scores of instances of Israeli settler terrorism against Palestinians with IDF military complicity. Of course, there are clips of idiotic protestors chanting “Gas the Jews” and this should be unequivocally condemned. But politicians, talking heads and most news sites seldom show the yearly ritual of extremist Israelis in Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs” as they march through Palestinian neighbourhoods attacking anyone they suspect as being Arab. How often do they talk about Israeli settlers burning a Palestinian family to death in their home? Or chanting “Ali is on the grill” in reference to a Palestinian baby burned to death by settlers?

The difference in these instances is that only one side is given deference in the Western media. And only one side has enormous power to carry out such odious intentions. That side is Israel. And the language of annihilation extends all throughout its government and culture. Officials and religious leaders have been casually referring to the Palestinians as “a cancer”, as “vermin”, or as “human animals”. A group of rabbis and doctors have recently advocated bombing hospitals in Gaza. And now the Prime Minister is invoking scripture as a justification for genocide.

None of this is new. Israel was founded on the racist precepts of settler colonialism. And today we see how this has evolved into apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Israeli textbooks for children often depict Palestinians as primitive, backward or terrorists. As a problem that Israel only tolerates out of its beneficence. And it was only a few years ago where the Israeli state was found to be sterilizing Ethiopian women in the country without their knowledge or consent.

Of course, Israel should not be singled out as the only nation committing these kinds of abuses. Certainly, the US, Canada and European countries have had similar racist trends and policies. And Arab nations are rife with human rights abuses. But Israel has received a special kind of immunity when it comes to its ongoing, decades long, experiment in settler colonialism. And that experiment seems to be reaching its apex with alarming speed.

So far, apartheid has been a useful term for explaining decades of discrimination, segregation and separate legal systems for separate peoples. It has been useful in advocating for one secular, state where Jews, Palestinians and everyone in the land can live with dignity and equal rights. But this term is not useful now. It is time for us to stop mincing our words. It is time (past time, in fact) to call out Israel for its intent. Because that machine has already started grinding. And while diplomats and journalists argue over terms, whole generations of Palestinians will be erased from the earth within weeks by a state hellbent on genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Kenn Orphan is an artist, sociologist, radical nature lover and weary, but committed activist. He can be reached at