Narratives of Genocide from Rwanda to Palestine

Extermination operations. These dark chapters of human history are compelling evidence of human brutality and ruthless killing. The painful scenes of massacres against defenseless civilians, and the horrific pages that describe these horrors of killing, mutilating bodies, and destroying property, awaken burning questions in us, including: What drives individuals, institutions, and even governments to participate in manifestations of such cruelty?

Answers to these complex questions cannot be simply extracted from reality, but must also be explored in the maze of human emotions and motivations. The shocking features of massacres should not prevent us from questioning the logic of the perpetrators, their means of action and also their point of view regarding their goals and perceptions of the enemy. Despite the horror of the matter, we must acknowledge that these people are pursuing very specific goals, such as controlling new lands and possessing wealth, or seizing power, undermining a particular political system, and other things.

It is necessary to analyze the discourse of genocide to understand how some individuals, groups and bodies were able to promote ideas or trends that incite the killing or comprehensive destruction of specific groups of people. We must realize, above all, that the massacre stems from a mental process. It is a way to view the “other,” distort him, reduce his value, and destroy him before killing him. This complex mental process can be accelerated in times of war.


According to the definition of French historian Jacques Simelin, genocidal rhetoric represents a dark art of persuasion, and it consists of a set of speeches and communication strategies used by individuals, parties, or even states, with the aim of sowing hatred and justifying brutal acts of violence against a certain group of people based on factors, Such as race, religion, or national affiliation, and ultimately, paving the way for committing heinous acts against her.

Sometimes, hatred towards this “other” may become a means of responding to the trauma experienced by the group, and thus the idea of destroying the enemy becomes logical because it will strengthen the existence of the “we” and allow the suffering to end. The toxic speeches of politicians contribute to fueling manifestations of barbarism that no human mind can imagine, such as what we currently see in Gaza, and we have seen previously in southern Lebanon, Bosnia, Rwanda, and other places.

Propaganda, especially directed by the authorities, also plays a decisive role in directing public opinion, as it encourages perpetrators to repeat barbaric acts, and reinforces their sense of impunity due to the lack of a legal and moral deterrent, which increases their aggression and crimes.

Killers often use animal metaphors and similes to insult and degrade their victims. For example, in 1994, government forces in Rwanda exploited ethnic division in a malicious way to encourage genocide. The Hutus described the Tutsi tribes as “cockroaches, rats and lice” in preparation for their liquidation. The spread of fear and intimidation reached its peak with public speeches calling for the elimination of the Tutsis, as they They pose an existential threat.

We mention here the use of the famous Mel Collins Radio in Rwanda as a platform to spread hate speech, as it directly called for violence against the Tutsis and described them as traitors and unbelieving people, trying to restore the Tutsi monarchy and enslave the Hutu people.

As for Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant described the Palestinians as “human animals,” saying: “We are fighting animals and we act accordingly.” So did the Israeli journalist, Shimon Riklin, who was not shy about declaring his desire to see more war crimes against the Palestinians: “I cannot sleep without watching the houses of Gaza collapse. I want to see more and more houses, buildings and towers demolished. In the Torah, they sprinkled the ground with salt.” "I don't want there to be a place for them to go back to."

The proponents of genocide discourse also exploit existing divisive lines within societies, whether ethnic, religious, or cultural, intensifying existing tensions. By magnifying these divisions, they create the idea of “us versus them,” so eliminating the enemy becomes a matter of life and death.

Genocide discourse often claims false justifications, and its proponents work to create a narrative that turns them from executioners into victims, and they seek to gain international sympathy or mobilize members of society.

During the Bosnian War (1992-1995), genocidal discourse relied mainly on ethnic and sectarian arguments, and Serbian nationalists worked to create a negative image of the Bosnians, viewing them as Muslim attackers threatening the stability of Serbia, and describing them as Muslim invaders. This speech increased the fear of "Islamic infiltration" and gave the Serbian army and gangs justification to carry out massacres, cleansing operations, or rape crimes against innocent civilians.

Genocide discourse, according to Jacques Simelin, is usually governed by three themes that are strongly linked to violence against others: collective identity, the pursuit of racial or national purity, and the desperate desire to feel security.

Advocates of this discourse resort to historical, heritage, and religious elements to shape and manipulate collective memory with the aim of fueling public discontent and hatred, leading to encouraging acts of violence, especially during periods of crisis, so that individuals tend to take refuge in their common identity, sometimes abandoning their individual identities to enhance group cohesion.

The pursuit of “purity” is also linked to collective violence, and is manifested by classifying the “other” as impure, and invoking the dualities of cleanliness/filth, purity/impurity, and whiteness/blackness. As for the need for security and safety, it increases the flames of barbarism against others. Fear, whether real or imaginary, is a fundamental reason for the escalation of acts of violence.

In the context of the "Israeli"-Palestinian conflict that has been ongoing for 75 years, genocidal discourse is linked to the logic of "legitimate" self-defense, as "Israel" seeks to portray itself as a victim of ongoing acts of violence on the part of Palestinians, and that it is forced to use force to save "its citizens" and " Protect them from terrorism."

The Zionist project, in particular, employs the ideology of the Torah, and considers it a major component of Zionist thought and a basis for building a comprehensive identity. The crimes of genocide, committed by the Zionists, find an echo in the stories of the book, especially those that narrate what the ancestors did against other peoples (the Gentiles or the Goyim), and how they brutally worked to eradicate them.

We find, for example, in the first book of Samuel the words of the Lord of hosts: “Go and smite Amalek and completely destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. Kill man and woman, child and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Prohibition means the total annihilation of people and things.

As for the Amalekites, they were one of the peoples who inhabited the land of Canaan. The Zionist project projected the Amalek myth onto its current enemies, and the Palestinians and Arabs became the new Amalekites, who must be exterminated in order to build a “Jewish national state.”

Of course, the Zionists do not mind repeating the invasions of the past to achieve the goals of this project, and we hear a lot these days in their media talking about killing Palestinians and burning Gaza. One of the Israeli ministers went so far as to call for dropping a nuclear bomb on its people. According to researcher Issam Sakhnin, author of the book “The Holy Crime” (2012), most of the Torah’s stories fall within the framework of the genocide system. Worst of all is that the Hebrew Lord, “Yahweh,” is the one who calls on them to slaughter all other peoples, and stands by their side and fights on their behalf, and he is the one who granted them the land of Palestine in fulfillment of a promise he made to their ancestors.

But researchers specializing in language, history, and archeology refute the Zionist discourse that claims rights for the Jews in Palestine in order to justify violence and racism against the Palestinians. The most famous of them is the Lebanese historical and linguist, Kamal Salibi, who confirms in his book, “The Torah Came from the Arabian Peninsula,” that the events of the “Old Testament” Its scene was not Palestine, but rather took place in southwestern Arabia, because the overwhelming majority of Biblical place names do not exist in the occupied territories, and the few that do exist there do not match, in terms of event, with those mentioned by the same names in the Torah.

Al-Salibi defines the ancient “Israel” region, in which the children of Israel previously lived, in the land located on both sides of the southern part of the Sarawat Mountains, south of the Hijaz and Asir, from Taif down to the border with Yemen. This thesis undermines everything that the Jews claim about their historical right to Palestine.


Genocide discourse is, therefore, a dark force that ignores facts and manipulates human emotions with the aim of forming a narrative that justifies mass massacres and ethnic cleansing. Analysis of this discourse makes us realize that words may be destructive and have the same power as weapons, and are capable of causing great harm, especially in the era of modern technology, as the means of communication expand the scope of genocidal discourse, and propaganda, whether through traditional media or Internet platforms, allows the dissemination of messages. Hostile information, false information, and seditious speeches, quickly and effectively.

There is no doubt that a deep understanding of genocidal rhetoric is vital to preventing such crimes against humanity. There is no doubt that awareness, promoting critical public education, and creating counter-narratives based on scientific evidence will have a positive role in resisting this destructive manipulation.

From Salwa Dabouq



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