The UN’s definition of genocide from Resolution 260 of 1951 is as follows:
any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
• Killing members of the group
• Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
• Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculate to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
• Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
• Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
Israel has never acted to destroy the Palestinians as a people. Actually, the Palestinians didn’t even view themselves as an independent people from their respective Arab states until 1963 when the Palestinian Liberation Organization was formed.
While there is controversy about the cause of movement of Arabs from Israel regarding the numbers who left (1) voluntarily, (2) because their fellow Arab invading armies urged them to leave so they’d be able to return after Israel was destroyed, (3) because they were scared of Israeli defense and the casualties of war, or (4) they were forcibly removed from their land by Israeli forces, most agree that the movement of populations included an approximately equal number of Jews expelled from Arab lands as there were Arabs who left pre-1967 Israel. By the end of the 1948 war there were 156,000 Arabs still in Israel, along with 757,000 Jews. In 2014 there were 1.73 million Arabs (Druze [8%], Christian [9%], and Moslem [83%]) in pre-1967 Israel along with 6.1 million Jews.
There was never “ethnic cleansing” in Israel – a volatile term used only to incite. The simple growth of the populations of both Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Israel, including Gaza and the West Bank clearly disputes any such labeling of Israeli actions. But there have been attempts at ethnic cleansing in Palestinian territories – the Palestinians have made it clear that no Jews may remain in Gaza or the West Bank if the two-state solution is ever implemented. Furthermore, a few years ago the Palestinian Authority Court ruled that “the sale of Palestinian land to Israelis is punishable by death.” [Haaretz September 20, 2010]
The Christian populations in the Palestinian territories has not diminished because of Israeli actions. In 2011 the Jewish Council for Public Affairs put out a “Background Paper: The Palestinian Christian Population” detailing population growth.** Here are the numbers of the Christian population in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza from 1945 to 2007, according to this paper:
See our previous blog post on the Christian population growth in Israel – an entirely different story than in the Palestinian territories. According to the official Israeli Census Data, the Christian population grew by 454 percent from 1949 through 2014:
|Year||Israeli Christian Population|
Regarding Christian-Muslim relations more broadly, see Ettinger’s briefing.
Those who were living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank prior to the 1948 wars were able to keep their homes. The Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war were kept in squalid camps by their Arab confreres, even in Gaza and the West Bank. When Israel re-conquered the Gaza Strip and West Bank during the 1967 war they did not force out those who were currently living there. More on the Palestinian refugees can be found here.
Finally, Arab Israelis who were living in what is currently Israel were given full citizenship rights in 1948 (though admittedly they may have been treated like less-than-full citizens with various policies – not unlike has occurred in most western nations since the 1500s).
As the figures cited above show, probably the biggest argument against the case for “genocide” is the simple increase in the number of Arab-Israelis and non-Israeli Palestinians that live in Israel proper, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip (which has not been under occupation by Israel since 2005). Official Israel census data can be found here. A nice summary of Israel and Jewish demographic data can be found here. The data about Palestinians is more difficult to ascertain, as the numbers are manipulated for political reasons. The CIA Factbook on the West Bank and Gaza indicate populations estimated at 2.8 million and 1.9 million respectively.
By the way, most Palestinians who claim “indigenous” population status were actually immigrants from other parts of the Levant: what are now Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and other states from which most Palestinians immigrated to Palestine after the Jews started re-settling the area during the Zionist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
**The weblink to this publication is not always reliable; a full copy is available through this pdf link: JCPA Background Paper on Palestinian Christians 7.3.