Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Tom Cotton calls for mass slaughter of Palestinian citizens in Gaza


U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, the war-hungry neocon from Dardanelle, is a rigid ideologue. The guiding light of his ideology is violence.

Following the unspeakably horrific attacks on Israeli citizens by Hamas militants on Oct. 7, Cotton made sure to reach for the most outrageous rhetoric he can find (a level of murderous rhetoric you can find among the far right in Israel, but which is anathema to most Israeli citizens). It is very human to want revenge; it is very like a demagogue to use that natural emotion to fuel calls for yet more brutality on a grander scale.

“Bounce the rubble” is a reference to a quote from Winston Churchill during the Cold War: “If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.”

In other words, Churchill was remarking that at a certain point, destruction becomes nihilistic and pointless. That’s precisely what Cotton wants.

To be perfectly clear: The violence perpetrated by Hamas was unspeakably awful. For me, the wait to hear back from a friend in Jerusalem was excruciating (she’s okay). I watched the videos of children in fear or indiscriminate killing at a music festival with absolute horror. Two of my paternal great-great-grandfathers were rabbis in the Ukraine. But being half-Jewish gives me no special lens. Just being a human is enough to be morally appalled. I hope that I might extend that same sense of basic humanity to any innocent victim of violence.

But to cast every citizen in Gaza as a target for revenge, as Cotton does, is its own horror.

Here is the definition of genocide in Article II in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, enacted after World War II:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

To seek to “bounce the rubble” in a narrow strip of land densely packed with two million people is a call for death on an unthinkable scale. Roughly half of those citizens — around a million — are children under the age of 18. Cotton is declaring that all of those two million people are targets for revenge — not because of anything they’ve done, but simply because of who they are. (This, of course, was a guiding principle for Hamas.)

Tom Cotton calls for mass slaughter of Palestinian citizens in Gaza

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