So, beginning with the introduction of this book, I was particularly drawn to the distinguishing between “genocide”–the deliberate killing of a race or ethnic group—and “genocidal acts”, or actions that demonstrate genocidal intentions such as coercively removing children of a specific group to a different group (Stolen Generation) or imposing eugenics on a specific group in order to prevent reproduction. According to Naimark, because they are devoid of the act of murder, the aforementioned acts are not considered as genocide by international courts (Naimark 4). Unless these acts are combined with the act of mass murder of a specific group, the court will not even view these acts of eugenics and forced removal as maintaining genocidal designs, systems, and/or consequences (Naimark, 4).
Are we waiting for the next genocide to happen? It seems to me that instead of preventing the suffering of individuals, The International Criminal Court is just standing by twiddling its thumbs willing to accept actions such as forced removal of children from their families and forced sterilization in order to discover some pattern is just a denial that nonviolent genocide can be just as effective as genocide which involves mass violence. And I doubt that ordering an ethnic, religious, or racial group to hinder their ability to reproduce or pass down their culture is unharmful to the cultural development of such groups, no matter how dressed up the language is so all groups apply.
Now I will transition to Chapter One. At first glance, I was a little surprised when Naimark actually cited the Bible as an example of genocide in the ancient world. Not many people use the Bible as a historical reference although I have heard it referred to as one. Having read the Old Testament cover to cover as a part of my development as a young Christian, I am familiar with the battles between the Israelites and various groups such as the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Amalekites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the name of clearing Canaan, otherwise known as the “land of milk and honey”. And while my unthinking mindset might have stated, “the Israelites killed these groups because they were wicked and unpleasing to God” and kept moving, Naimark frames his argument of genocide in the Old Testament as a subject that is difficult to for my religious cynicism to ignore. His depiction of the directives issued to the Israelites compel me to question if these genocidal attacks against aforementioned groups were actually sanctioned by God Himself or were they sanctioned by men in order to control the masses of Israelites. After all, the Bible, while conceived by God was written by man, making the words inside susceptible to perversion in order to enact their idea of society on the masses. And even God himself in the Ten Commandments said, and wrote on tablets: “Thou shall not kill”, though beyond those first ten commandments, there were also commandments that regulated interactions between men and women, as well as punishment for unbelievers. It’s not that I deny that God could have spoken to the Israelites and directed them to kill the Canaanites, the Hittites, and other groups, it’s just that, like in the Crusades and in case of Islamist terror, there is usually some perversion of the main holy text which serves to rationalize violence against those who worship differently or maintain a value system that is in gross disagreement with that of a Christian or anyone else. In any case, the adjudication of this topic requires more research, which hopefully, will be included in future posts.
If you would like to read up on the definition of genocide according to international law, here are some resources: