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'When Genocide Is Permissible': The Unsettling Op-Ed That Never Was

The Times of Israel newspaper published and then removed an op-ed written by Yochanan Gordon with the stunning headline “When Genocide Is Permissible.” Yikes.
August 1, 2014, 7:40pm

A screenshot of the op-ed before it was taken offline. Via

The Times of Israel has removed an op-ed written by Yochanan Gordon with the stunning headline “When Genocide is Permissible,” which posited Israel would be morally right if it decided killing all members of Hamas was the only path toward sustainable peace in the region.

Gordon’s article was also taken down from 5 Towns Jewish Times, an Orthodox Jewish news website for which Gordon is listed as a sales manager and that is apparently run by his father. The op-ed appeared on the Ops and Blogs section of the Times’ website, where the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported Gordon had immediate posting rights. Miriam Herschlag, the publication’s opinion editor, said Gordon uploaded his article independent of any Times staff.

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“The blog post, which was both damnable and ignorant, was uploaded by a blogger,” Herschlag, told the JTA. “It was removed by the Times of Israel for breaching our editorial guidelines. The blog has been discontinued.”

Available on Mondoweiss, the full text of Gordon’s op-ed has also been captured by Twitter users and is being shared with a tone of incredulity and, in some cases, outrage. In his piece Gordon argued that, while many in the international community agree that Israel has the right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas, the “only point of contention is regarding the measure of punishment meted out in this situation.” For Gordon, that measure of punishment is apparently the complete destruction of Gaza and the genocide of Hamas.

“I will conclude with a question for all the humanitarians out there,” Gordon wrote. “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly stated at the outset of this incursion that his objective is to restore a sustainable quiet for the citizens of Israel. We have already established that it is the responsibility of every government to ensure the safety and security of its people. If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?”

In addition to the remarkable irony of a Jewish man calling for the killing of an entire group of people, Gordon’s op-ed includes a strange reference to NBA basketball. And at some point the nature of war changed, something Gordon just recently became aware of.

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“Where wars were usually waged to defeat the opposing side, today it seems – and judging by the number of foul calls it would indicate—that today’s wars are fought to a draw. I mean, whoever heard of a timeout in war? An NBA Basketball game allows six timeouts for each team during the course of a game, but last I checked this is a war!”

A war in which one side is demonstrably outgunned and has resulted—overwhelmingly—in the death of Palestinian civilians, many of them children. As of this writing 1,372 Palestinians, 56 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians have been killed in the conflict.

Gordon’s other blog posts on The Times’ website are still available. In one, titled “Israel and its War Against Evil,” Gordon blames the media for not exposing the good deeds performed by the Israeli Defense Forces, including the evacuation of a Gazan woman and her family from an area that was later bombed.

That international media outlets haven’t reported on such events, Gordon wrote, is indicative of their “fear of making Israel look like the moral army, absolved of any disproportionality that it really is.”

In similar fashion to others who have blamed the media for what is seen by some as pro-Palestinian coverage, Gordon added, “Clearly, these stated commentators have distinguished themselves as pursuing anything which makes Israel look like the aggressor—which is patently false.”

In that same post, Gordon mentions “Obamas [sic] Muslim upbringing” as being somehow indicative of the fact “that most civilized people may have a different understanding of the word building.”

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Alan Elsner, vice president of communications for J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy group, was floored by the content of Gordon’s article when reached by phone Friday afternoon.

“This is so far out there it is beyond belief,” Elsner said. “Speaking as the son of a Holocaust survivor, let me just say that genocide is never permissible. To even ask that question is beyond the pale. If the question is to defeat the ideology—and the ideology of Hamas is certainly reprehensible—I can support that.”

Attempts to reach Gordon and other staffers at 5 Towns Jewish Times were unsuccessful, but a statement on the site says the article “dealt with the question of genocide in the most irresponsible fashion.”

“The piece should have been rejected out of hand by editors but escaped their proper attention,” the statement reads. “We reject such a suggestion unequivocally and apologize for the error.”

As of just after 3 PM EST Gordon had deleted his Twitter account, but another account purporting to be Gordon tweeted: "Disappointed in Times Of Israel for caving to pressure, deleting my article "When Genocide Is Permissable." [sic] The tweet included a link to a PDF copy of Gordon's piece.

UPDATE: Gordon has posted an apology on the 5 Towns Jewish Times website.

Justin Glawe is a freelance journalist based in Peoria, Illinois. He writes about crime there, and recently launched a reporting project that will address issues of child welfare on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation.