The Conceptual Poverty of "Crimes Against Humanity"

There is, unfortunately, nothing more human than most of the things called inhuman. That’s why in Jewish tradition “crimes against humanity” are thought of as crimes against divinity.

A school destroyed by Russian bombardment in Lysychansk, Ukraine shown on Sunday, June 5, 2022. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES.

A school destroyed by Russian bombardment in Lysychansk, Ukraine shown on Sunday, June 5, 2022. MARCUS YAM/LOS ANGELES TIMES.

COLUMN
June 8 2022
About Philologos

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.

There is something troubling about all the words that have been spilled over the question of whether Russia’s brutal war on Ukraine constitutes “genocide” or merely “crimes against humanity.” The suffering of tens of millions of Ukrainians who have been killed, wounded, displaced, traumatized, and economically ruined will not be made more or less by what we call the Russian assault on their country.

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More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Russia-Ukraine war