Justifications for destroying a people

Vladimir Putin speaks at a televised press conference broadcast in Ukraine, February 25th, 2022.  (credit: Igor Golovniov / SOPA Images / Sipa USA)
The arguments Russia’s government deploys to dehumanize Ukrainians are strikingly similar to the ones Israel’s government uses to dehumanize Palestinians.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents | Mar 8, 2022

Official Russian and Israeli discourse differs in at least one important way. Putin argues that Ukrainians are really Russians, who must be dominated and absorbed. Meir and Netanyahu never argued that Palestinians are really Israelis or Jews.

In the days since Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Ukrainians and their supporters have been lionized for the same forms of resistance to oppression for which Palestinians are routinely condemned. Western television networks have approvingly broadcast video of Ukrainians assembling Molotov cocktails. Governors who signed legislation penalizing boycotts of Israel have promoted boycotts of Russia. When Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last month that he would join a session of the United Nations Human Rights Council because “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underscores the Council’s mission to promote human rights and respond when they are violated or abused,” the Palestinian American writer Yousef Munayyer noted that the US had left the Council because it “didn’t want to see accountability for human rights abuses and violations of law committed by Israel.”

Late last month, a tweet circulated that purported to show a Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier. It called the girl’s behavior “courageous” and included the words “Pray for Ukraine.” The Palestinian American journalist Mariam Barghouti noticed the error. “This is Ahed Tamimi,” she wrote, “a Palestinian standing up to an Israeli settler soldier trying to steal the lands of her family in Nabi Saleh . . . She is indeed brave. Just not Ukrainian.”

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