The ICJ could go either way on genocide

Don’t dismiss a down and out country. South Africa as a proxy of Iran can make bad mischief for Israel

“What kind of people are we that we have to justify ourselves before them? And who are they to demand it of us? What is the point of this whole comedy of putting an entire people on trial when the verdict is known in advance? How does it benefit us to participate voluntarily in this comedy, to brighten up these villainous and humiliating proceedings with our speeches for the defence? Our defence is useless and hopeless, our enemies will not believe it.

No, this is not a voice mad at Israel for defending the claim of ‘Genocide’ at the ICJ on January 11, 2024. It is the voice of the early Zionist leader Vladimir Jabotinsky appealing to hapless Russian Jewry in 1911.

The new aspect which makes the Jews on trial a travesty is that the accuser can’t possibly be in dispute with Israel. A poor powerless country separated from Gaza by the continent of Africa is by definition a non-player. To paint the absurdity in purple, Israel is accused of genocide by a failed state with close ties to real live perpetrators of genocide. Down and out South Africa ticks every box to get ‘failed state status’: “A government too weak or ineffective to provide public services; has widespread corruption and criminality, refugees and sharp economic decline. /characteristics-of-a-failing-state-politics-essay.php

If we are defined by the company we keep, South Africa’s government (to all intents and purposes a criminal syndicate) can be defined as a fourth proxy of Iran. While Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis do the military bidding of the mullahs, it complements the terror tripod with “Lawfare”  (war through international law). South Africa’s ruling party which Mandela once headed has  embarked on a gambit at the ICJ  to give Hamas respite from war, enabling it to rebuild and perpetrate another Oct 7 pogrom – as it has publicly sworn to do.  The pieces fit like a kiddies’ puzzle.

The week before South Africa despatched a crack team to The Hague to argue a case of genocide committed by Jews, it hosted a Sudanese warlord connected to pukka genocide in Darfur. To add the Hollywood touch, the mass murderer known as Hemedti then visited the genocide museum in Rwanda. Weakening the taboo and body of law meant to deter genocide is all in a day’s work for the country’s ruling cabal. According mass murderers diplomatic honours is what South Africa does when it is not taking Israel to court. A senior Hamas official, Bassem Naim, got the treatment and, after the formalities joined a different sort of Mandela – a raving antisemitic grandson – to lay a wreath at a statue of the icon who, if he stood for nothing else, stood for peace and reconciliation. Hamas laying flowers at Mandela’s feet: as absurdities go they do not get more bizarre than that.

Iran’s go-between is a dark character in the cabinet of President Ramaphosa, with his own scandalous background. Mrs Naledi Pandor gives substance to the lore that the face is a mirror into the soul. A black convert to Islam, Pandor talked with Hamas on the phone ten days after it perpetrated the bloodiest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas claimed that she congratulated it on a successful Oct 7. A week later she made a whistle stop visit to Tehran. And at this point things get conspiratorial.

Before the hideous Pandor met the mullahs, her ANC party was bankrupt and about to be liquidated. Lo and behold, on her return from Tehran it announced that that the money woes were no more. Not only could the party pay off debts, it now had a treasure trove to devote to the court application and hearing in The Hague. So it proved. A big contingent of jurists and hangers-on was despatched to convince the ICJ that Israel has genocidal intent. Attila the Hun would not have got the rapturous welcome home the delegation got.

South Africa’s game plan is what? What it can’t be is to win a long winded case; years may go by before the ICJ makes a final ruling. Hence the ‘Lawfare’ gambit – seeking an interim order. Anyone could discern that the team went to The Hague to bluster, not to argue a coherent case. South Africa’s ploy was to get the court to rule that its claim was “plausible” enough to impose “provisional measures” –meaning an order on Israel (not Hamas) to stop fighting.

A word of warning in this regard: if the ICJ could rule that ‘Palestine’ is a “plausible” country the bar is very low for it to rule that South Africa presented a “plausible” claim that Israel is conducting a genocidal war on Gaza. For Iran’s terror proxy this ruling would be worth a million Hamas-made rockets. At this very moment the “Breaking News” announcement is probably on the blocks:


No one will care if down the road the court dismisses the case. In sum, the cynical gambit has a good chance of coming off. We can’t dismiss the malign effects of such a ruling. Even a down and out country can make terrible mischief for Israel:

One, it could fracture international support for Israel. Already the Biden White House looks skittish.

Two, it could demoralise Diaspora communities by stigmatising Israel as a state on trial for genocide.

Most concrete of all, a court order to suspend the attack on Gaza, though unenforceable, would entangle Israel in all manner of diplomatic traps and trickery.

One can’t dismiss even a final ruling that Israel has genocidal intent. The problem is that the definition of genocide is loose enough to apply to any conflict one cares to pick.

In the UN Convention genocide is defined by any one of three acts intended to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. :

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

In The Irony of “Genocide” the writer fusses  over ,

The key phrase in Article II, repeated twice, is “in whole or in part.” What exactly does it mean to intend to destroy part of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group? Well, since those fighting in the ranks of Hamas are indisputably part of the Palestinian people, it could mean that (trying to destroy Hamas) could be construed as genocidal. And one could say the same thing about the Greeks fighting the Persians at Thermopylae, the English fighting the French in the Battle of Hastings, and the Allies fighting the Germans in World War II. All were doing so with the intent to kill, harm, or expose to risk of death part of a national or ethnic group.”

“Siege warfare, a common military strategy, is fought precisely for the purpose of inflicting “conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction in whole or in part” of the besieged.”

To take one example known to me, during the 2nd Boer War the Boers besieged the town of Mafeking, knowingly depriving the small town’s white and black residents of sustenance that could endanger their lives, to say nothing of causing them “serious bodily and mental harm.” Were the Boers guilty of genocide? According to the UN Convention they were. Indeed, says the writer,

“The killing of even a handful of people can theoretically be a genocidal act according to accepted legal interpretations of the Genocide Convention.”


Nice if you can get it. The gambit to stop Israel’s war on Hamas is not, at its core, a legal threat. It is a military threat to the IDF campaign, and longer term an existential threat to Israel. But, cries the incensed support base of Israel, ‘The emperor has no clothes!’It’s the height of hypocrisy for South Africa to accuse Israel of genocide when it cohabits with the genocidal rulers of North Korea, Russia, Hamas and Iran.

But the Emperor doesn’t need clothes. He needs to get dressed. The leaders of the free world must clothe South Africa in the getup of an agent of global terror.

About the Author
Steven Apfel is an authority on anti-Zionism and a prolific author of fiction and non-fiction. His blog, ‘Balaam’s curse,’ is followed in 15 countries on 5 continents.
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