Court of Injustice - With a Side of Nuance

Like many of you, I watched intently this morning as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague announced its decisions on a preliminary injunction in South Africa’s heinous ‘Genocide’ case against Israel. I was struck by several things that happened and one that did not.

First, let’s recognize a fact. Among the key examples in the International Holocaust Remembrance Association’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism - a definition accepted and used by dozens of democracies around the world, and hundreds of local governments and academic institutions - is the application of a different standard to Israel’s actions than that applied to other countries.

The UN Convention on Genocide (1948) was formed based on a definition created in 1944 by Rafael Lemkin, a Polish-Jewish lawyer who fled Europe just ahead of the Holocaust, and was enabled as a direct result of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people. It was supposed to set objective criteria, applicable to any acts by anyone that met its definition.

The Genocide Convention is being utilized against Israel to a standard that exponentially greater and more definitive potential violators have not been held to. The act of bringing this case and the act of hearing it meets the IHRA definition. Consequently, EVERY SIGNATORY OR ADAPTOR OF THE IHRA DEFINITION SHOULD BE LOUDLY CONDEMNING SOUTH AFRICA AND THE ICJ. The US, Germany, and others have already done so. More should follow.

This being said and understood, I was attuned to the nuance with which the court made its decision on a preliminary injunction. In the negative column, it didn’t dismiss the case outright. It found that there was reason to investigate Israel, based on some public statements by Israeli leaders, communication from the UN, UNRWA, and WHO (all notoriously silent about October 7th, torture, murder, rape for months), statistics on death and injury provided by the Hamas ‘Ministry of Health’, and other provisional evidence. It agreed to hear the case, which will take years before it comes to a conclusion on the merits.

But South Africa was seeking a preliminary injunction with the key demand that the court call for a unilateral ceasefire. The court led off its statement with a call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli hostages held in Gaza. It did demand that Israel do more to safeguard human life in the combat zone, that it creates circumstances conducive to more humanitarian relief, that it preserve evidence of any IDF actions that may violate IDF rules of engagement or other laws. All of this was expected, and in any case is in Israel’s self-interest to do.

Here’s what the court did NOT do. It did not call for a ceasefire or any other language demanding a cessation of hostilities. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. IF it had an interest in pointing to its likely verdict, and if that likely verdict was that Israel was in violation, the court would have had to demand a ceasefire to maintain any credibility. It did not do so. In not doing so, it implicitly recognized Israel’s right to defend itself.

The starting point here is an act of antisemitism as defined in the most widely accepted definition of it. The end point is a call for the immediate release of the hostages and a rejection of a demand by the corrupt, murderer and rapist embracing, failing regime in South Africa to help its terrorist friends in Gaza evade the IDF.

Did you have any expectation that international organizations like the UN and its various tentacles would side with Israel or even treat it with marginal fairness? I did not. I still do not. Rejecting the ceasefire call was the only way for the ICJ to have an ounce of credibility and relevance among the world’s democracies. I suppose, for now, we’ll have to be satisfied with an ounce.