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Policide is a neologism used in political science to describe the intentional destruction of an independent political and social entity, such as a city or nation. Sometimes the related word "politicide" is used in this meaning.[1] The term is used with some regularity within political science, generally to refer to a policy of destruction that falls short of genocide or ethnocide.


Writer Michael Walzer credits the origin of the term "policide" (here, meaning the "destruction of a state's independence") to Abba Eban, Israel's foreign minister in 1967.[2]

Similarly, professor Steve J. Stern has adopted "policide" to mean the destruction of political life itself. Stern describes the term as an extension of a family of terms including homicide, patricide, tyrannicide, genocide, democide, and ethnocide. Stern uses the term "policide," rooted in the Greek term polis (πόλις) for "city-state" or "body politic," in order to describe what he characterizes as "a systematic project to destroy an entire way of doing and understanding politics and governance" in Chile under the governance of Augusto Pinochet.[3]


  • In Circle of Goods, Tressa Lynn Berman describes United States policy towards Native Americans as a historical process shifting from ethnocide into "policide."[5]
  • The term "policide" frequently arises with respect to the intention to eradicate the state of Israel. Yossi Beilin discusses Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's use of the term to describe the Palestine Liberation Organization's claim that it is dedicated to the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel.[6] Netanyahu has continued to use the term in his writings and speeches, for example writing that "Arafat pursues a goal of 'policide' - the destruction of the Jewish state, by employing the means of suicide and mass terror".[7] The declared intention of Hamas,[8] Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah[9][10] and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad[11] is the destruction of Israel and this had led to claims that Arab/Muslim groups support the notion of policide regarding Israel.[12][13]
  • Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling uses the term in his book Politicide: Sharon’s War Against the Palestinians and in various articles. He defines "the politicide of the Palestinian people, a gradual but systematic attempt to cause their annihilation as an independent political and social entity." This he believed has been present throughout Israel's confrontations with the Palestinians, but was epitomised by the thoughts and actions of Ariel Sharon.[14]
  • The city of Nishapur, a Persian city in modern-day Iran, was sacked and destroyed by the Mongols in 1221. In retaliation for the death of the son-in-law of Genghis Khan, around 1.75 million inhabitants of the city were systematically killed. A great number of their skulls were reputedly piled in pyramids outside the city walls.[15]
  • The term has been used to describe the destruction of the system of apartheid in South Africa.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary in its entry for politicide notes the first usage as: 1968 Y. HARKABI Fedayeen Action & Arab Strategy 11/2 The Arabs' objective of destroying the state of Israel (what may be called a 'politicide') drives them to genocide.
  2. ^ Walzer, Michael. Just and Unjust Wars. 2001-03-31: Basic Books. p. 52. ISBN 0-465-03705-4. ... the destruction of a state's independence (a crime for which Abba Eban, Israel's foreign minister in 1967, suggested the term 'policide'), accessed 10-24-2006 through Google Books.
  3. ^ Stern, Steve J. Remembering Pinochet's Chile. 2004-09-30: Duke University Press. pp. 32, 90, 101, 180–81. ISBN 0-8223-3354-6., accessed 10-24-2006 through Google Books.
  4. ^ Treat, John Whittier (1996-05-01). Writing Ground Zero. University of Chicago Press. xii, 10, 38, 399. ISBN 0-226-81177-8., accessed through Google Books 10-24-2006
  5. ^ Berman, Tressa Lynn (2003-01-01). Circle of Goods. SUNY Press. pp. 65–66. ISBN 0-7914-5535-1., accessed through Google Books 10-24-2006
  6. ^ Beilin, Yossi (2004-05-01). The Path to Geneva. RDV Books. p. 56. ISBN 0-9719206-3-X., accessed through Google Books 10-24-2006
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "A viable Palestinian state..." Die Welt. January 1, 2006. Archived from the original on February 7, 2006.
  9. ^ Little choice for a defiant Israel Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, by Andrew Markus, The Age, July 15, 2006
  10. ^ United Nations Document A/54/723 S/2000/55, citing Washington Post, 1 January 2000 Letter dated 25 January 2000 from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General Archived 10 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine Accessed August 17, 2006
  11. ^ NBC News NBC News
  12. ^ Aryeh Stav, Nativ Magazine, November 2003, "Archived copy" (in Hebrew). Archived from the original on 2007-04-27. Retrieved 2006-10-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Grant Barrett politicide in the Double-Tongued Dictionary Archived 2013-01-13 at Archive.today cites the following sources:
    • 1972 S. Abdullah Schleifer Journal of Palestine Studies (Winter) "Fedayeen Through Israeli Eyes" p. vol. 1, no. 2, p. 99: The insistence by the guerrillas that they are struggling to destroy the Zionist state and the Zionist-structured society that generates such as state is turned by Harkabi into a concept of "politicide" (an impressive-sounding concept applicable to the aims of any valid liberation movement, e.g. against Rhodesia and South Africa).
    • 1975 Irving Spiegel New York Times (Oct. 20) "Criticism in U.S." p. 6: Rabbi Alexand M. Schindler...said that the Arab and third-world nations voting for the resolution "made a fateful and ominous decision to take the road of rhetoric, politicide and bigotry rather than the road of needed economic and social change which can come only through consensus, cooperation and decency."
    • 2004 Lindsay Talmud openDemocracy (Apr. 27) "From the sublime to the ridiculous": The overall plan—now the most fundamental element in Israeli government policy and viewed by many Israelis as a legitimate attempt by their government to reconcile the irreconcilable demands of security, the settlers and democracy—is perceived by the Palestinians as "politicide"—a term Baruch Kimmerling coined to describe "a gradual but systematic attempt to cause their annihilation as an independent political and social entity." It is bound to be resisted, fiercely.
  14. ^ Baruch Kimmerling Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War Against the Palestinians defines politicide as "the dissolution of the Palestinian people's existence as a legitimate social, political and economic entity." reviewed in the Journal of Third World Studies, Spring 2006 by Abraham, A J, whence the quote is sourced.
  15. ^ Clark, Josh. "The Truth About Nishapur". HowStuffWorks.