As Israel’s brutal assault on the Gaza Strip enters its fourth month - with death marches, bombings of hospitals and schools sheltering displaced people, and massacres of hundreds of Palestinians becoming routine - the media landscape in the West is mired in the abstract intricacies of whether a genocide of words exists in pro-Palestinian rhetoric.
It appears that Israel’s actual genocide is secondary in importance to the imagined one conjured from between the lines of Palestinian speech. Why else have we been inundated with articles obsessing over the meaning of slogans and phrases, while thousands of Palestinian children are being bombed and starved to death?
Under “ordinary” circumstances, Palestinians must use their words with surgical precision, inserting disclaimers and covering all their bases in a futile attempt to avoid being accused of racism towards their occupiers, as even the most basic resistance methods - such as boycotts or protests - are regularly compared to Nazi-like behaviour.
But the level of censorship of Palestinian voices and perspectives reached a new dystopian zenith after 7 October, with mere displays of Palestinian identity and solidarity becoming grounds for persecution.
It seems that no matter what Palestinians say, or how they say it, it is always construed as a call for genocide or violence. This is not a case of miscommunication, but rather of wilful misinterpretation; there is no magical combination of words or slogans affirming Palestinian dignity or liberation that will ever be deemed acceptable.
This is merely another brazen attempt to silence Palestinians - one that becomes exceedingly clear when considering the lopsided scrutiny on Palestinian speech.
When it comes to genocidal rhetoric from Israelis, one needn’t twist any language or read between the lines. As unaccustomed as they are to even a fraction of the scrutiny Palestinians regularly receive, Israeli politicians use clear, unambiguous language, and proudly chart plans to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.