MIGHT ISRAEL BE an evil nation? It is a question I admit to asking myself. Am I on the wrong side of history? Liberals tend to question themselves — they question their ideas and their allies. I have always considered Israel a friend. Might I be wrong?
Well-meaning people have been wrong before. Peter Handke, a writer whose early work was important to me, somehow convinced himself that Slobodan Milosevic was falsely accused of war crimes in Bosnia.
THE TOTAL NUMBER of Israelis and Palestinians killed, in over half a century of conflict, is approximately 15,000. This includes all of the fatalities on both sides. The great majority of these have been armed enemy combatants.
I urge you to check these numbers for yourself. They are academically sound — we have nowhere near the uncertainty that we have regarding, for instance, Stalinist Russia.
GENGIS KHAN IS in fact an interesting choice. He is not just any murderous figure. Even among the most homicidal rulers, he occupies a special position. We know that Stalin admired him immensely, and for good reason: Until Stalin arrived, Genghis Khan was almost certainly the most prolific murderer in history. He may still be. If you discount the famine under Mao, Genghis Khan may be responsible for more deaths than Mao and Stalin combined: some say 40 million people.
THE GENOCIDE LIBEL can be innocent. I truly believe this. Many people simply do not have the relevant information. Not everyone can be expected to do historical research, and when quasi-respectable historians promote a lie, it is hardly a sin to believe them. An appalling number of decent people truly believe that Israel is committing genocide.