The ICJ's genocide travesty
What's on trial in The Hague is international "human rights" law itself
People are understandably reacting with astonishment and disgust to the obscene Soviet-style show trial now under way at the International Court of Justice in which Israel is being accused of genocide against the Arabs of Gaza.
It is indeed a surreal and Orwellian spectacle. Israel is the victim of attempted genocide by Hamas and its patron, Iran, which openly declare their intention to erase every Jew from the planet and wipe Israel off the map.
Israel has gone to war in Gaza solely to prevent the genocide of its people after the depraved atrocities of October 7 and the declared intention of Hamas to repeat these again and again until Israel ceases to exist. The destruction and suffering in Gaza are indeed distressing and regrettable; but that is the inevitable price to be paid even in a just war, waged as Israel is doing purely out of defensive necessity against a vicious and fanatical aggressor. As any country is entitled to do under international law, which Israel is following by the book.
Israel goes to greater lengths than any other country to reduce the number of civilian casualties among its enemy population. It does so even at the cost of its own soldiers and even where, as in Gaza, Hamas have deliberately sited their missiles and infrastructure of genocidal warfare among Gaza’s homes, hospitals and schools. They do this in order to cause civilians to die in large number, and thus provoke the world to blame Israel for taking the only available recourse to defend its people against mass murder.
This is the cynical strategy now being deployed at the ICJ’s kangaroo court in The Hague. The argument to which the ICJ — on past form — is likely to be all-too receptive effectively casts the attempted genocide by Hamas as self-defence and Israel’s defence against that murderous onslaught as “genocide”.
The case would bring the ICJ into total disrepute if it actually had any reputation to defend. It does not. Despite its pretensions to being a court of law, it is in fact a theatre of partisan political activism. It squats at the vortex of the legal and moral black hole that is international “human rights” culture.
Laws draw their legitimacy from being passed by nations rooted in specific institutions, history and culture. Without the anchor of national jurisdiction, laws can turn into instruments of capricious political power.
The ICJ has no such national jurisdiction but is made up of many nations. That’s why, from its inception, it was in essence a political court. That’s why it’s an existential foe of Israel — the principal target of some of the world’s many human rights abusers, who have grasped that international law provides them with a potent weapon.
Along with other supposed progressives, western “human rights” lawyers have been notably subdued since the Hamas pogrom of October 7. In that onslaught, Palestinian Arabs murdered, tortured, raped and beheaded more than 1200 Israeli victims and took 240 hostages, more than 130 of whom remain in Gaza’s underground dungeons and who are all too likely to be enduring horrific ill-treatment — those who are still alive.
“Human rights” lawyers maintain that international laws prohibiting genocide and crimes against humanity will hold war criminals and genocidists to account, and as a result will also help prevent such atrocities from taking place. The October 7 pogrom has exposed this core belief to be a murderous fantasy.
International law did not deter Hamas then and clearly will not deter it from repeated onslaughts in future; nor will it deter Hezbollah, Iran or any other rogue actors intent upon perpetrating evil in the world. Instead, as we can all see from the black farce being staged at the ICJ, it is being used against the Israeli victims of genocide to accuse them falsely of the very crime to which they have been subjected — in order to give the genocidal aggressors of Hamas a free pass and help them in their goal of destroying the Jewish state.
Moreover, this grotesque moral inversion is hardly a surprise in the world of “human rights,” where Israeli culpability for “oppression” of the Palestinian Arabs is a given — along with the corresponding indulgence granted to those Arabs for their murderous attacks on Israelis which is deemed to be justified “resistance”.
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, raged yesterday:
All the UN bodies and its institutions have become weapons against Israel in the hands of Hamas terrorists. How is it possible that the Convention for the Prevention of Genocide, which was adopted after the Holocaust, is currently being used in the UN against the Jewish state, while it is serving Hamas, which is working to destroy Israel?!
How indeed. I explained here in August 2019 how “human rights” law had become such a travesty of its foundational ideals. Reflecting on the silence of the international community over the war crimes being committed by terrorist groups in Gaza which were then firing thousands of rockets at Israel and launching aerial incendiary balloons in order to murder Israel civilians, I wrote:
The failure of the United Nations to enforce international law against such brazen aggressors indicates, however, something deeper than its endemic bias in favour of its non-aligned members and its resulting tendency to side with tyrannies and rogue regimes against those they want to destroy.
International human rights law was developed by people who were appalled by the world’s paralysis in the face of antisemitic pogroms in Eastern Europe, through which several of them lived, followed by the Nazi Holocaust.
As detailed in James Loeffler’s riveting and important book, Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century, Jewish lawyers, jurists and other activists sought to fashion international human-rights law into a defence mechanism to protect powerless minorities.
The process through which it became a weapon to be used against the Jewish people is, as Loeffler recounts, a tragic history.
At its heart lay a fatal contradiction. Activists such as Hersch Lauterpacht, an eminent British lawyer who had been born in Lvov, and oil tycoon Jacob Blaustein, the legendary head of the American Jewish Committee, thought the way to save Jews and others from oppression by dictatorial regimes was to use international law to trump national sovereignty by holding oppressors to account through international tribunals.
Others, however, such as the Lithuanian-born lawyer Jacob Robinson fruitlessly warned that for the Jewish people this was a trap. He understood it was only national sovereignty that would safeguard diaspora Jews. “The basic guarantee of Jewish freedom is the democracy of the country where the Jews live,” he maintained.
He also understood that, by superseding national sovereignty, the universalist doctrine of human rights was innately hostile to Jewish particularism as expressed through the Zionist dream of recovering the Jewish national homeland.
As Loeffler relates, this fundamental flaw inevitably turned the United Nations – the designated vehicle of international human rights – into a mortal enemy of Zionism and the Jewish people.
In 1960 the Soviet Union, recognising the opportunities offered to it by “decolonisation” around the world, pushed through the United Nations a resolution that effectively turned international human rights from being a check on state power into a vehicle for anti-colonial nationalism, positioning the USSR as the leader of the global anti-colonialist movement.
This paved the way for what was described as “an all-out assault on Israel based on the theme of anti-colonialism”. In 1962, after an epidemic of swastikas appeared across Europe, an attempt to include antisemitism in the new UN anti-racism law was rebuffed by freshly independent African and Arab states.
These denounced “Zionist expansionism” as the antithesis of human rights and declared that any talk of antisemitism was a Zionist plot.
The stage was set for the increasing demonisation of Israel tied to the dominance of international human rights doctrine, marked by the milestone 1975 UN resolution declaring “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”.
The world body turned into this Orwellian weapon against justice and the innocent because the pioneers of international human rights law got a number of crucial things badly wrong.
They failed to grasp that the world was mainly composed of tyrannies, that these would therefore dominate the United Nations, and that antisemitism was a unique phenomenon that would never be eradicated.
They failed to grasp that the uniquely particularist Jewish people would always be in the crosshairs of a universalist ideology such as international human rights.
They failed to grasp that the key factor in any fight against tyranny or antisemitism is the will to engage in such a fight. Absent that, human rights law is worse than useless; it provides an alibi for indifference and hands evil people a lethal weapon to use against the innocent.
In other words, the foundational ideas of international human rights law have themselves acted as an incendiary balloon. They have created a global scorched wasteland of innumerable innocent victims before deflating into useless detritus, which remains unnoticed by those still blinded by a naive and self-destructive ideal.
No wonder “human rights” lawyers and activists are now so silent. The savage butchery of Israelis by Hamas, the dehumanisation of those Jewish victims by western “progressives” and now the grotesque show trial to which Israel is being subjected for trying to protect its people from further genocidal attack all constitute indeed a scorched moral wasteland to which “human rights” culture has reduced the once-civilised world.
My most recent exclusive post for subscribers was the final chapter of my book, The Sex-Change Society, which I was serialising for my premium list. This is how the piece begins:
You can read my most recent post that’s available to everyone, on how schoolchildren and being indoctrinated to hate Israel, if you click here.
And you can always access the links to all my work by visiting my website here.
One more thing…
This is how my email posts work.
There are two subscription levels: my free service and my premium service.
Anyone can sign up to the free service on this website. You can of course unsubscribe at any time by clicking “unsubscribe” at the foot of each email.
Everyone on the free list will receive the full text of pieces I write for outlets such as the Jewish News Syndicate and the Jewish Chronicle, as well as other posts and links to my broadcasting and video work.
But why not subscribe to my premium service? For that you’ll also receive pieces that I write specially for my premium subscribers. Those articles will not be published elsewhere. They’ll arrive in your inbox as soon as I have written them.
There is a monthly fee of $6.99 for the premium service, or $70 for an annual subscription. Although the fee is charged in US dollars, you can sign up with any credit card. Just click on the “subscribe now” button below to see the available options for subscribing either to the premium or the free service.
A final point…
If you purchase a subscription to my site, you will be authorising a payment to my company Dirah Associates. In the past, that is the name that may have appeared on your credit card statement. In future, though, the charge should appear instead as Melanie Phillips.
And thank you for following my work.