Cheryl Levi

The Topsy-Turvy World of the Hague

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On January 11, the case in the ICJ (International Court of Justice) at the Hague against Israel will begin.  South Africa has officially sent an 84-page document accusing the state of Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people.

When I first heard of this claim, I was immediately struck by what seemed to me an obvious question  – Why South Africa?  What does South Africa have to do with the war in the Middle- East?  And how can the state that is synonymous with apartheid and corruption accuse the only democracy in the Middle East of genocidal intentions? A small amount of research revealed the truth.

First, South Africa has a long history dating back to Nelsen Mandela, of connecting to the PLO and what they consider to be the plight of the Palestinians.  They feel like their former apartheid state is somehow similar to the state of the Palestinians.  It’s a strange claim (that has spread throughout the world) considering Israel gives equal rights to all of its citizens regardless of their religion or race.

But that is not the only reason South Africa has decided to make claims of genocide against Israel.  In a January 5, 2024, Arutz Sheva article, attorney Yifaa Segal, formal director of the International Justice Forum, explains that in the past few years “extremely negative groups with many problematic figures have taken over there (in South Africa), including a foreign minister who converted to Islam and maintains connections with all the bad players possible, such as Iran, jihadi groups, and Hamas…Iran considers it another tool to be used in the fight against Israel.”

Iran continues to extend its tentacles throughout the world.

But there is still more to this story.

This is an election year for the rulership of South Africa’s national congress, the ANC.  Understanding the general sympathies of South African people towards the Palestinians, its leader, Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned Israel’s actions and decided to close its embassy in Israel and break all ties. In the end, everything comes down to politics.

And there is more. South Africa wants to be perceived as a major international player, and it has fallen from grace on the international stage.  South Africa refused to arrest Omar al-Bashir the Sudanese dictator, despite the arrest warrant issued by the ICC (the International Criminal Court of the Hague).  As part of the ICC, South Africa was required to do so.  So, to better its reputation in the international world, somewhat ironically,  South Africa has decided to bring Israel to the Hague.

It’s an upside-down world we live in when a country tries to improve its reputation that has been destroyed because of its refusal to uphold decisions rendered by the Hague, by bringing Israel to the Hague and accusing it of genocide.

And yes…there is still more to this story.  South Africa is a member of BRICS, an international organization started by Brazil, India, China, and Russia, whose first summit took place in Russia in 2009.  It has since expanded to include the countries of South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Emirates.  Judging by its members, we can conclude that it’s a less than respectable organization.

The goal of the organization is to strengthen its bloc politically and economically and weaken the influence of the United States and other Western countries throughout the world.  Their last summit was in – you guessed it – South Africa.  Putin decided to attend this South African conference online.  He was limited, you see, because the ICC, the criminal court at the Hague, had issued a warrant against him because of his actions in the Ukraine.  Russia, China, Iran, and all their proxies in BRICS decided that they should bring  Israel to the Hague and accuse it of genocide so that they could weaken the moral standing of Israel, the United States, and all the countries in the West.  South Africa was more than happy to do their bidding.

The irony, of course, is that the verdicts of the courts at the Hague are being ignored by the very same people who are using this court system as tools to further their aims.  Once again, this could only occur in the topsy-turvy world we all find ourselves living in.

So, why is Israel participating in this game?  Firstly, Israel feels that it has a role in promoting the genocide convention that was first passed in light of Nazi crimes.  I don’t believe that anyone has missed the cruel irony of accusing the victims of  Nazi genocide of committing genocide.  It stings.  And the claims need to be disproven.

Secondly, Israel believes it has a strong case against the claims of genocide.  And frankly, it does.  If Israel wanted to wipe out the Palestinian people, or even a large portion of the Palestinian people, this war would be over.  In the first week, Israel would have carpet-bombed Gaza, killing anyone and everyone in its path.  Instead, at its own risk, Israel has sent tens of thousands of flyers to warn the Palestinians to leave dangerous areas, it has created humanitarian corridors for Palestinians to escape, and it has provided several tons of humanitarian aid.  Moreover, Israel has not played out this war through the safety of its air force.  It has ordered its soldiers to fight a dangerous house-to-house ground invasion, in order to protect Palestinians, even though it puts the lives of its own soldiers in jeopardy.  There is clearly no genocidal intent reflected in Israel’s actions.  Sure, certain politicians have thumped their chests and made stupid remarks about the Palestinian people.  However, the remarks of individual politicians and cultural figures do not reflect the intent of the country.  Their actions do.

Although Israel clearly believes that arguing against the claims of South Africa (the proxy of Iran, Russia, and China),  will ultimately benefit them, others disagree.  Some feel that if they lose, it will appear in bold letters on the front page of the New York Times, but if they win, it will be buried on page 11 as a short one-paragraph column that few read or even give credence to.  Ultimately, it’s the media that will decide if it was worth it, and that does not bode well for Israel.

We won’t know for years if Israel made the right decision, but what we do know is that this case could only be brought in a world where good is evil and evil is good.  The day genocidal autocratic governments like Russia, Iran, and China and jihadi terrorist groups like Hamas accused Israel, the only democratic government in the Middle East, of genocide, was the day our world found itself drowning in a sea of moral contradictions.


About the Author
Cheryl Levi is a writer and a high school English teacher who lives with her family in Bet Shemesh, Israel. She has a master's degree in medieval Jewish philosophy and has written numerous articles about faith crisis in Judaism. Her book, Reasonable Doubts, was published in 2010.
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