Jean Pierre Braun

Why I am so angry today

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Since the beginning of the war, there have been days of calm, days of anguish, days of satisfaction (few) and days of anger. This is one of them, a day when for many Israelis it is difficult to contain our feeling of outrage, of anger, of rage. Here is why. This is a partial list, in no particular order.

Anger topic number 1: The warrants requested by the ICC against Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant. The charges against Israel are: (causing) death, starvation, and great suffering. This whole thing is completely illegitimate in so many aspects, it is hard to figure out where to start. While at this time, these are only warrant requests issued by Karim Ahmad Khan, the ICC chief prosecutor, all experts agree that these requests will be granted and that actual warrants will be issued.

This is the first time ever that such warrants are issued against the leaders of a democratic country. This is the first time ever that such warrants are issued against a country that was savagely attacked and who is waging a defensive war. Of the three arguments against Israel, DEATH can easily be dismissed given the non-credible aspect of the Hamas statistics, and the incredibly low ratio of civilian to terrorist’s casualties. STARVATION can be dismissed altogether: there is no such thing in Gaza. Still, along the way, the role of Hamas in preventing the humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza should be exposed. GREAT SUFFERING is an argument with no substance given Israel’s enormous efforts to inform the Gaza population of upcoming Tzahal action, given also the implementation by Israel of safe corridors, safe areas of rest, field hospitals, management of humanitarian aid into Gaza (including lately, at Gaza’s request, Nutella, Coca Cola, and other luxury goods..). To be complete, warrants were also requested against Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed al-Masri, Hamas’s military chief, and Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s political leader. By comparison to the charges against Israel, the charges against Hamas are orders of magnitude more tragic, they also are fully documented, in fact, Hamas is still bragging about their inhuman crimes and exactions. But here is something that makes all of us here in Israel particularly angry: throughout this whole procedure, the ICC is placing on the same level a democratic country (Israel) and the worst terrorist organization the world has known since WW2: Hamas. Karim Khan is assuming a moral equivalence between the only democracy in the middle east, a country that saw horrors no-one could ever imagine, and Hamas, the proud perpetrator of these horrors, or as the ICC proceedings mention: “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault”. This latest statement by the ICC is akin to accusing Hamas of genocide.

There is also an issue of jurisdiction that the ICC seems to conveniently overlook. The ICC has jurisdiction over its 124 member states. Israel is not a party to the ICC and questions its jurisdiction. The so-called “State of Palestine” was admitted into the ICC as a member state under a dubious process that circumvented many of the rules and regulations of the institution. Gaza under Hamas rules has no status whatsoever with the ICC. At play here is not the State of Palestine or its non-democratic government, it is not Gaza as a country, it is the Hamas, a terrorist organization. On the other side is Israel, a legitimate, internationally recognized, democratic country, but who is not a party to the ICC.  One can therefore wonder what business has the ICC to insert itself and to assert authority over such a conflict? The ICC does not have a leg to stand on with regards to jurisdiction.

This action by the ICC against Israel is also a very dangerous precedent setting that will have dire consequences throughout the world for many years to come. Any country who finds itself attacked will not be able to defend itself without running the risk of the ICC issuing warrants for the arrest and potential imprisonment of its leaders. The three criteria leveraged against Israel today (death, starvation and suffering) are so vague, so ill defined, than surely the ICC can make use of them over and over. Any war, even defensive, waged ethically and with care, will necessarily cause deaths, suffering and pressure on the food and utility supply. This is a monumental gift from the ICC to all terror organizations worldwide. This is a severe warning from the ICC to the leaders of the democratic world: we can and we will come after you as we please and when we please.

Finally, the sensitive topic of bias against Israel must be examined. Over the years, most countries investigated by the ICC were not democratic states. ICC’s actions resulted in a very small number of indictments, themselves followed by an even smaller number of arrests and imprisonments. Previous proceedings against Israel were dismissed based on the fact that Israel has an independent, trustworthy judicial branch capable and willing to prosecute any crime committed in or by the country. Yet, this time, whereas Israel is the obvious victim of a brutal attack by Hamas, whereas Israel is waging a defensive war, whereas Israel’s armed forces have investigated and punished all crimes or alleged crime committed by its soldiers, and whereas a collection of Arab organizations are pounding the Israeli civilian population non-stop with tens of thousands of bombs, rockets, drones, missiles, etc., the ICC, against all logic and in a completely illegitimate context, is seeking to issue warrants against the democratically elected leaders of Israel. This is obvious anti-Israel bias, aka anti-Zionism, aka antisemitism. This makes me and most of Israel very angry! It is somewhat reassuring to see England, the USA, Czechia, and others reject the despicable ICC actions against Israel. In Israel, Knesset members overwhelmingly signed a condemnation of the ICC with the exception of some labor party members and of all Arab Knesset members. We are taking notes! Finally, it is absolutely appalling to see France rush to express its full support of the ICC and of the warrants against Israeli officials. Shame on you Mr. Macron, Shame on you France!!!

Anger topic number 2: The protests that we saw in the months prior to October 7th have restarted, more radical and violent than ever. One may say: this is democracy and free speech in action. Maybe, but I do not think so: these protests are anti-democratic in nature and instead of promoting free speech, they project distorted messages and false pretenses.

Here is what makes me angry: We have a government that has been democratically elected, and which enjoys one of the strongest (i.e. more stable) majority in the history of the country. Yet, the protesters, and first and foremost their leaders are not willing to accept the will of the people. They will go to almost any length to topple the Netanyahu coalition and its government. Since they do not have the pretense of the Legal Reform to fuel their hatred anymore, they had to chose another topic. This time it is the release of the hostages. Their tactics are the same: harass government members, blockade Netanyahu’s residences, force street closures, stop traffic, slander almost anyone who is not on their side, and, at the end, demand exactly the same thing: Netanyahu’s departure from the political scene. At face value, they seem to be genuinely motivated by the release of the hostages. In reality, I believe this is just a pretense to justify their revolt. The hostages’ families are in an incredibly difficult situation, a mix of sadness, anger and hope. Feeding them false expectations is the last thing they need. And yet the leaders of the protest movement are demanding that Israel stops unconditionally the war today, claiming that all the hostages would be immediately free after that. In other word they want Israel to surrender to Hamas. If this is part of their strategy to get rid of Netanyahu, this is vicious and criminal: I guess they speculate that if the country stops the war as they suggest, the coalition in power in Jerusalem will disintegrate, Bibi will lose his job and they will walk into power with ease and glory. Well, it seems that even their champions are not subscribing to their theory. Gantz and Eisenkot have both said that stopping the war at this time is not possible. So much for that theory. As for deceiving the hostage families at a time of maximum stress and sadness, it is simply unforgivable. I for one will not forget this atrocious behavior. I will not be the only one. Our democratically elected prime minister enjoys a comfortable majority at the Knesset. In spite of the incredible difficulties and challenges the country is facing, he is conducting the war, the economy, the country, in the best possible way (given the circumstances) and the majority of Israelis recognize it and support him.

Anger topic number 3: The Gantz Ultimatum (funny how that sounds like the title of a Ludlum novel). For some reasons that are difficult to understand, Benny Gantz went on to the medias to present a strongly worded ultimatum to Netanyahu: Either you follow exactly what I say on the six points of this ultimatum, or, by June 8th, we will leave the war cabinet and we will form a new government. Pardon my English, but these six points are nothing but “motherhood and apple pie”. Here they are:

  1. To bring the hostages home.  2. To dismantle the rule of Hamas, to demilitarize Gaza, and to ensure Israeli security control.  3. Alongside Israeli security control, to form a US-European-Arab-Palestinian administration that will run civilian affairs in the Gaza Strip and work on the post war Gaza without Hamas or Abbas.  4.To return the resident of the north to their homes by September 1.  5. To advance normalization with Saudi Arabia.  6. To adopt a plan for Haredim in Tzahal

1,2, and 6 are already being worked on diligently. 5 depends in a large part on the goodwill of our ex-best-friend Biden. 4 is also obvious, except that the date may be unrealistic. 3 remains as the main question mark: Is it really in Israel’s interest to have such a broad coalition as Gaza’s civilian administration? And can we find the partners willing to get involved in what can be a very messy situation? This is not something new, just discovered by Benny Gantz, the government under Bibi’s leadership is actively debating this issue. In the end, Gantz himself recognizes that this point 3 is the only one that counts and on which the entire ultimatum rests. This seems a little cavalier an argument to base such a strongly worded ultimatum on. In fact, Gantz does not have a leg to stand on in this confrontation: If he and his friends leave the war cabinet, nothing will happen. Bibi will still enjoy his majority of 64 at the Knesset. Only Gantz and his friends will lose: their job, their image, their reputation. Unless of course Gantz struck a deal with Biden. Here is a possible scenario: (this is Biden speaking, hypothetically) “You help me with my reelection campaign by adopting my plans for the future of Gaza and the rest of the occupied territories (I desperately need a big win like this), and I help you get rid of Bibi: I delay the weapons shipments for the moment, the war turns sour for Israel, Bibi is put in difficulty and loses his coalition, then you step in as the savior and the weapons shipments resume.” I sincerely hope this is not the case, for this would be a tragic, unforgivable betrayal in the part of an ex-Chief of Staff. Well, in any event, so far, this is not working: in spite of the shipment’s delays, Tzahal continues to operate at full steam and is still able to inflict heavy loses to our enemies. It may very well be that, at the end, the ultimatum falls apart with no other consequences. So again, why did Gantz have to antagonize a large portion of the population at this very sensitive time for no serious reason? Did he hope to scare Bibi? I am not sure, but I know that he made me very angry.

In conclusion, while there are reasons to be angry, there are also reasons to be optimistic. The G.d of our forefathers is watching over His People and miracles do happen. The people of Israel can be seen arguing endlessly, sometimes forcefully, but when the going gets tough, all Israelis are united in a way our enemies can never understand. Solidarity among Jews worldwide and Israelis is an amazing, heartwarming phenomena unseen anywhere else. And even though this war is draining the country’s resources, the economy is one of the strongest in the world. Let us thank Hashem for all these sources of optimism, let us pray for a successful end to this war in due time, for the release of all hostages, and for the safe return of all our soldiers.

About the Author
Jean Pierre Braun is a retired Silicon Valley CEO now living in Jerusalem. Born in Paris, Jean Pierre immigrated to the USA after completing its Electrical Engineering degree in France. Besides being a serial entrepreneur, Jean Pierre was also the founder of a unique, very successful Silicon Valley Synagogue, and upon his return to France became Vice President of a local CRIF branch, and the President of the Rachi community in Grenoble. A father of 3 and grandfather of 10 ב'ה, Jean Pierre and his wife Annie made Aliyah in 2016.
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