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History As It Happens

Nov 21, 2023

Partisans and activists on either side of the Israel-Hamas war are lobbing allegations of genocide against the other. Some respected legal scholars and historians are also weighing in, however, in an effort to elevate a debate that can easily turn ugly. After all, there's no more serious crime than genocide, which is "the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." The memory and history of the Holocaust also are being invoked, as Israel's critics accuse the Jewish state of committing the same crime the Nazis perpetrated against the Jews during the Second World War. In this episode, historian Dirk Moses delves into the thorny moral and legal questions surrounding genocide. He offers a counter argument: the genocide debate obscures the development in modern warfare of the legalized killing of civilians as states pursue "permanent security."