Dr. Dabbs – Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
The media uses the term “genocide” quite frequently

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Mass media frequently uses terms such as ‘genocide’ with considerable liberty. Admittedly, words have power, and incendiary terms like genocide, war crimes, and violations of international law pack a certain viscerally compelling gravitas. Recently, ‘genocide’ has been used to describe the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Genesis of Conflict and Genocide

The argument could be made that the current sordid state of affairs in the Middle East all started back in the 18th century BC. Abraham is considered the patriarch for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. There were some fairly egregious domestic disagreements between Abe’s wife Sarah and his handmaiden Hagar over the respective half siblings Isaac and Ishmael that never really got fully resolved.

That admittedly oversimplifies the situation. However, fast forward 3,800 years and the fire that sparked so long ago still burns brightly even today. In case you haven’t noticed, Jews and Muslims don’t get along terribly well. For the most part, we Christians, at least after the Crusades ended in 1291, just seem to be along for the ride. It’s obviously more complicated than Abraham’s tawdry marital squabbles, but that really is kind of where it all began.

Roots and Ramifications

Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
The Romans occupied the Levant for more than 600 years.

The Romans sacked Jerusalem in AD 70 and subsequently dispersed the Jews. Isaac’s progeny lived as a diaspora around the globe for nearly two millennia. Then Adolf Hitler murdered six million of them during World War 2, and the whole world seemed to collectively gasp. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, a great many Jews returned to the Holy Land and won a vicious war for independence in 1948. They have been fighting on and off ever since. 

There have been countless examples of war carving up national borders in the past two centuries. Several such conflicts are simmering today. Generally, once the bullets stop flying things eventually kind of find their level. But not here.

The Lay of the Land

Today, the Palestinians are cooped up in Gaza and the West Bank (Obviously so named because this piece of land occupies the west bank of the Jordan River. The nation of Jordan is on the other side.) The Israelis hold some really prime real estate in between. The Palestinians are none too happy about that. Everyone and their grandmother has tried to broker a lasting peace deal over the past half-century to no avail. The place is still just a mess.

Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
Seyyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei serves as Iran’s supreme religious leader. This furry homicidal nutjob actively promotes terrorism around the globe. If you struggle to tell the good guys from the bad in this place I’m afraid I just can’t help you.

Everybody hates everybody. Whenever they are not actively fighting, the combatant factions are stockpiling weapons in anticipation of the next inevitable opportunity to go all kinetic on each other. Throughout it all, the United States has traditionally backed Israel, while the religious fanatic psychopaths in Iran bankroll terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. These days Joe Biden’s mob seems a bit conflicted.

Current Affairs

Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
The bloodthirsty maniacs who murdered more than 1,200 Israelis on Black Sabbath just aren’t wired the same way we are.

The Israelis call 7 October 2023, Black Sabbath. That’s when Hamas terrorists launched a coordinated attack against Israeli military and civilian targets around Gaza. The final toll included some 1,200 Israelis and unfortunate foreigners dead, with around 240 taken hostage.

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Not satisfied to just machinegun unarmed civilians at a peace concert, Hamas operatives raped, pillaged, and tortured like it was the freaking Dark Ages. I’d give you some details, but I’d sooner not be responsible for putting those images into your mind. You can find all that ghastly stuff easily enough online. Suffice it to say, lots of bad people have been compared to Hitler. On 7 October, Hamas did things that would give the alpha Nazi Reinhard Heydrich pause.

Day of Terror

In the immediate aftermath, the Israel Defense Forces launched a coordinated air and ground assault against Hamas targets in Gaza. The rub is that Gaza is only twice the size of Washington DC. Packed into this tiny little space are more than two million Palestinians. Hamas themselves claim to have honeycombed this particularly congested real estate with some 311 miles of subterranean tunnels filled with weapons as well as extensive logistics and command and control facilities. The resulting fight has been untidy to say the least.   

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
In taking the fight to Hamas, the Israelis have leveled large swaths of the Gaza Strip. Tragically, that happens when bloodthirsty terrorists intentionally hide among a large civilian population.

No sooner had the screaming stopped on 7 October did the Palestinians begin protesting the Israeli counterattack. Their political demonstrations have been well-organized and liberally distributed around the globe. They often involve burning stuff and destroying things. 

Israel, not unreasonably, alleges a pro-Palestinian bias in such hallowed spaces as the United Nations and liberal American college campuses. A common refrain is that the Israelis are committing genocide in Gaza. I thought it might be a healthy exercise to explore what that word really means.

The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
Words can indeed be quite powerful. Deftly wielded, they can precipitate some of the most egregious behavior.

Etymology, as defined by Wikipedia, is the scientific study of a word’s origin and the evolution of its meaning over time. Distilled to its essence, etymologists trace the foundational basis of words in the pursuit of pure, uncorrupted meaning. The time-tested definition of genocide is the deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the purpose of exterminating that nation or group.

The war in Gaza is not genocide. The war in Gaza is just good old-fashioned war, albeit in a very congested space. That’s not meant to minimize the suffering. The normal sort is still plenty horrible, but we really need not embellish things with superfluous literary theater in an effort to make them seem worse than they already are. 

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
There is just no way to make war in a heavily populated city easy, comfortable, or nice. Whether it is Nanking, Dresden, Hue, Mogadishu, Mosul, or Gaza, urban warfare is invariably horrible.

Still Not Genocide

War in a built-up area like Gaza is the targeted destruction of both military facilities and supporting infrastructure along with, according to Hamas, some thirty thousand dead Palestinians as of this writing. How many of those were civilians and how many were Hamas fighters is innately unfathomable, but everyone agrees that this astronomical figure includes an absolutely sickening number of children. However, this still does not meet the threshold of genocide. 

Genocide in this case would be carpet bombing refugee camps and machinegunning the survivors. It would be poisoning the water and salting the fields. It would be sealing the borders with the intent of watching the inhabitants cannibalize each other and then starve. That’s not what is happening in Gaza, but we do have some relatively recent examples of the real deal.

The Rwandan Genocide: A Case Study

Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
The Rwandan Genocide was unimaginably horrible.

A lyrically bloody subset of the protracted Rwandan Civil War unfolded for 100 days between 7 April and 15 July 1994. A Tutsi rebel group called the Rwandan Patriotic Front invaded northern Rwanda from bases in Uganda in 1990. Majority Hutus ran the government. The minority Tutsis didn’t care for that.

The Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana subsequently died in a plane crash under suspicious circumstances, and his followers went absolutely berserk. Over the next three months, Hutu militias systematically murdered at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. That simply breathtaking bloodletting actually met the textbook definition of genocide.

In Perspective

Let’s put this in perspective. My thriving little community of Oxford, Mississippi, has a population of around 26,000 people. The Rwandan genocide would be like murdering every man, woman, and child in Oxford thirty times over…in 100 days. That’s some 8,000 fresh corpses per day. A further 200,000 Hutus died when the surviving Tutsis finally gained the upper hand and chased them into Zaire and the Congo.

To make this event even more incomprehensible, a shocking lot of the killing was done with machetes. It has also been estimated that as many as half a million women were raped. I would characterize the event as inhuman, but, sadly, it was actually quite very human. It is just that we humans suck, like a lot.

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the subject, and I can’t find anything separating the Rwandan Hutus from the Tutsis that might justify any serious acrimony, much less unfettered slaughter.

This is Really And Truly Genocide

Here’s the truly heartrending part. Tutsis and Hutus are all drawn from essentially the same stock. They speak the same language. They attend the same churches. Historically, Tutsis have been herders, while Hutus have raised crops. However, there is more money to be made in livestock, so the minority Tutsis are typically the more affluent of the two groups. The Hutus are generally poorer, but there are more of them. Their society, politicians, and media inflamed passions between the two groups right up until somebody grabbed a machete. Methinks there might be a cautionary tale buried in there someplace for modern-day Americans as well.

The slaughter in Rwanda was indeed genocide. Six million Jews rounded up and gassed before being burned in crematoria, that’s genocide. What is happening in Gaza is just run-of-the-mill war. It is uniformly horrible, but it really isn’t all that special when viewed through the blood-sotted lens of human history.

Ruminations on Conflict and Killing

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
This is German-Israeli tattoo artist Shani Louk. Hamas terrorists murdered her on October 7th and then drove around Gaza with her naked corpse in the back of a pickup truck like some kind of deer.
Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
As near as I could tell, nobody ran out to try to help this poor woman as Hamas paraded her naked body through the streets of Gaza.

Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to make the distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people. He rightly states that their war is with the terrorists, not the Gazans as a whole. However, the animals who perpetrated Black Sabbath filmed most everything. One of the more compelling images was that of a naked German-Israeli woman named Shani Louk paraded through the Gazan streets in the back of an open pickup truck. Rank and file Palestinians did not rush to her aid or try to stop the macabre spectacle. They chased after the truck by the hundreds spitting on the poor woman’s cooling corpse. Shani Louk wasn’t a soldier or a politician. She was just some kid at a rock concert.

3--Will-Genocide: The Etymology of Mass Murder
Folks have been fighting over this hallowed piece of dirt since the dawn of time.

Concluding Thoughts

It really all turns on your particular perspective. The Israelis state they are avenging mass murder. The Palestinians claim Black Sabbath was little more than a prison break. Right, wrong, or otherwise, both groups assert a claim on the land that spans millennia.

A substantial fraction of the planet is currently verklempt over the death and destruction the Israelis have wrought in Gaza. However, It seems to me that every one of those dead Palestinian civilians would still be alive today had Hamas not stormed across the border on October 7 and murdered 1,200 Israelis. It also seems like releasing the remaining hostages might be a great place to start putting a bow on this thing. Amidst all the hand-wringing in the mass media about the legitimate horror in Gaza I hear precious little about that.

There is a spiritual and moral rot in that place that now spans generations. I am at a loss as to how to remedy that. The hatred runs so deep and has reigned supreme for so long that it would now take literal generations to mitigate. Peace could still break out in that wounded part of the world, but that would take a legitimate miracle. 

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  • George M. HOOD April 29, 2024, 10:36 pm

    My dear Doctor Dabbs: not since the late Dick Metcalf penned some of his ever-so-erudite columns have I agreed more. Your analysis of the situation is exactly what I would have written if I possessed your intelligence and mastery of our language. I am enraged by the college kids who are protesting against Israel. Where in Hell were they when the terrorist murderers invaded the Jewish community and slaughtered civilians! I believe the United States exhibited unbelievable restraint in the time following September 11, and I feel the same about Israel in the current time. The only thing I might have done differently would have been to simply put overwhelming forces on the ground whence the killers came, rather than use heavy ordnance. But I am merely an 86-year-old Marine, and my thought processes are frequently other than practical. Thank you, Dr. Dabbs, not only for this article but for every one you have ever produced!

  • Calvin Wing April 21, 2024, 10:43 am

    Up front I want to state that I’m not anti semantic.
    In the post war era Great Britain tried desperately to keep the Jews from recreating a Jewish state in the region. Prior to the Creation of Israel Jews and Muslims lived peacefully for centuries in the region.
    Could it be that the British were rather far thinking in their efforts to keep the region non secular?
    There’s no doubt that the area is the homeland of the Jews. And there is historically the fact that Islam has taken control and pushed its beliefs onto every country it expands into (the USA included).
    Thomas Jefferson as President trying to deal with the Barbery Coast issue sought counsel and received the advice that the only way to deal with the Muslim issue was to kill them all – genocide. That would not have been a good way to start the nation but oh what problems it would have solved.

  • Bob W March 15, 2024, 4:21 pm

    It may not be genocide yet but talk to any Jew in New York and they will tell you they would love nothing more than to see every Palestinian dead. So just give it time.

  • Frank March 14, 2024, 11:40 pm

    There will be peace in the Middle East when the Prince of Peace takes His place on the Throne in the Temple. I believe it’s going to happen sooner than most think.

    Great article, Will.

  • Gabe March 13, 2024, 4:24 am

    My wish is world peace. I wish the rifles were all for hunting. My hobby is hunting and I wish the guns in the world to be just for hunting, like mine. By the way, I can recommend you a great rifle scope, which is CVLIFE 1-8×24 rifle scope. It helps me hunt a lot. https://www.cvlife.com/products/cvlife-bearpower-1-8×24-rifle-scope-with-30mm-cantilever-mount

  • Mark N. March 13, 2024, 12:04 am

    Instances of genocide dot the historical landscape. The Athenian Greeks, faced with multiple revolts in the various islands of its far flung empire, invariably voted to invade, kill all the men, enslave the women and children, burn down every building, and salt the fields. Raping and pillaging were acceptable forms of military activities. The various conflicts erupting after the breakup of Yugoslavia involved mass murder of unarmed civilians with the intent to eliminate the opposing groups, lots of rape, neighbors slaughtering neighbors, all because one or the other belonged to the wrong ethnic group. Although Turkey denies it to this day, the slaughter and forced removal of the Armenians has been labeled a genocide. ISIS killed tens of thousands, but that is not precisely a genocide, because they sought to kill anyone and everyone who was not Shia, a goal that it could never have hoped to achieve. Then their were the Romans, and their suppression of all things Carthage, which included the usual siege, starvation, pestilence, and after promising to let the Carthaginians survive if they surrendered, promptly slaughtered the men, raped and pillaged, torched the city, and salted the fields. I suspect the same befell Troy–more than once.

    Aren’t we a lovely bunch of creatures?

  • Jim March 11, 2024, 8:55 pm

    Hitler committed genocide against 6 million Jewish.people. What Israel is doing is defending a terrorist group named Hamas.

  • KuhnKat March 11, 2024, 7:56 pm

    ” In case you haven’t noticed, Jews and Muslims don’t get along terribly well.”

    I won’t call this a lie, but, when did the Jews ever start the fight against the Muslims?? I don’t know everything so maybe I missed a few times…

  • Larry March 11, 2024, 4:29 pm

    I’m so glad you took the time to write this. You lay bare the lie that the leftists continually use against Israel, namely, that a genocide is taking place in Gaza. War sucks; it always has. Calling it genocide is a classic use of The Big Lie technique as promulgated in Mein Kampf. Unfortunately, much of the world has fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.

  • Jim March 11, 2024, 1:54 pm

    To the single point that releasing the hostages would go a long way toward bringing temporary piece to the Strip: They cannot release the hostages without the world finding out how immorally corrupt these savages are. By now, the ongoing rape, sodomy, and dismembering of hostages would cause pause in even a 30-year-old, 8th-year “student” at Berkeley.Jim

  • Ryan Kephart March 11, 2024, 1:34 pm

    Good article!

    I say we should warm up the B-52’s and make a really big parking lot in Gaza.

    Later dudes

  • Rock March 11, 2024, 11:15 am

    Folks, evil is REAL and it is in our faces like never before. Biden and his democrats calling ILLEGAL INVADERS “newcomers” and opening the gates for them. Simply national suicide.
    As to Israel, the issue was settled one thousand years before Christ came. The Palis claim to be descendants of the Philistines. Read of it in the book of I Samuel, when David and Goliath faced off.
    8 Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 10 Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” 11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified. As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
    50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
    51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine’s sword and drew it from the sheath. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.

  • Jerry March 11, 2024, 10:31 am

    Two points.
    I have tried to pay attention to the news, and you brought up many points i have myself used in arguments with the jewhaters (who claim they are not antisemetic!) Except you missed one; the avowed purpose of hamas is the elimination of all israelis and jews, which very much IS genocide in intent.
    Second, the news at the time of hutu vs tutsi, filtered down to the detail that tutsis had acquired positions of power, and used that leverage on their poorer relatuves, so that when the british pulled out, the power differential set up more abuses, and then revenge.

  • ROBERT A JOHNSON March 11, 2024, 10:01 am

    Blood letting has been in the mid east from the beginning of time. It hasn’t changed. Great read Dr D. Israel, needs to leavel the land to the river and no rebuild.

  • Cz March 11, 2024, 9:33 am

    As an aside, FDR and Winston Churchill were both extremely antisemitic, both could have disrupted rail car deliveries of Jews to some of the worst concentration camps and both were instrumental in actively hindering the ability of Jews to flee Hitlers Germany. I’m not sure about Churchill but FDR was also a real racist against black people, yet Dems revere that man.

  • AK March 11, 2024, 8:54 am

    Excellent article as always.
    One correction. The Roman suppression of the 1st Jewish Revolt in 70 AD resulted in destruction of the Temple and murder of the Jewish priestly class; Jews still remained in Israel.
    It was the Third Jewish Revolt, (after the Kitos War, 115-117 AD) named for the revolutionary mystic Bar Kochba, 132 AD, that resulted in the complete expulsion of Jews from Israel and the subsequent near-1,900-year Diaspora, until the 19th century Zionist Movement and the founding of Israel in the aftermath of WWII.

  • Bob March 11, 2024, 7:43 am

    Well put, Will.

  • Alex March 11, 2024, 7:38 am

    The American academia and media is being funded to create this fake Palestinian narrative. All the demonstrations are also very carefully coordinated and funded. Obviously the casualty numbers are false and the democrats in this country are all too concern about staying in power and that means publicity speaking and shaming the Israeli government. One thing for sure, is that out of this conflict the Jewish community might have finally learned that the democrats are not their friend.

  • Lancealot March 9, 2024, 4:59 pm

    Thank you Dr. for another great article! I’m glad someone who is concerned about truth and what words actually mean has taken some time to write something about this conflict. Thank you for your common sense and rational thinking.

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