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Harvard academic accused of calling for Palestinian ‘genocide’ 1, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
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There have been severe denunciations from across the political spectrum for remarks made by Martin Kramer, a Harvard based American-Jewish academic. He is charged with making comments tantamount to calling for what some describe as genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

The crux of this speech is that Gaza’s population has risen significantly in recent years. This is partly due to ‘pro-natal’ subsidies given by the international community. This will lead to Gaza’s population doubling by 2030. This ‘excess’ of people means that life is cheap which, Kramer continues, fuels the culture of martyrdom that pervades Gaza. Ergo, if these ‘pro-natal’ subsidies are stopped by the international community, then this will slow population growth which will in turn begin to ‘drain the pond’ to borrow another neocon term.

Stephen Walt authored a superb retort to Kramer on his blog and concentrated on three points.

Firstly, he states that the 1948 UN definition of genocide includes “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.” Walt suggests that Kramer’s call to end such ‘pro-natal subsidies’ is “very close to that part of the definition” but that the term genocide in modern usage has much wider connotations and as such Kramer’s comments, whilst epically distasteful, probably ought not to be referred to as genocide.

Personally, I think that Walt is being rather kind when he refers to Kramer’s comments as being ‘very close’ to that aspect of the definition. For if controlling food supplies with a stated aim of slowing down birth rates does match that particular quote from the 1948 UN Genocide definition, nothing will. However, I agree with Walt’s conclusion that the term genocide has changed and evolved far beyond this aspect and carries with it far greater connotations today.

Secondly, Walt makes a devastating analogy. What if Ahmadinahad was fearful that Iran’s Jewish  population was growing too quickly and he thus sought ways to discourage Iranian Jews from having children? Kramer et al would be falling over themselves to denounce the Iranian regime as genocidal. Or if a Harvard academic noted that higher crime rates among some black communities meant that somehow seeking to limit their food supplies would be a suitable anti-crime measure. Even Fox would have to come out against that…well…

Thirdly, Walt notes the bitter irony that Kramer can make these comments under the banner of ‘academic freedom’ and he is thus, or should be, protected. Yet it is exactly this banner that Kramer, Pipes et al seek to dismantle for those with whom they disagree.


1. Day in the world of IR « Road to Academia - 3, March 2010

[…] Pseudo-academic, neoconservative Harvard Professor Martin Kramer is at it again. Stephen Walt is not buying into his demagoguery, and neither should […]

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