“Israel Capitulates at the Start of International Court of Justice Genocide Hearing”

Yes, it would have been nice if the headline act had happened. I’ve been watching the International Court of Justice hearings on South Africa’s genocide charges against South Africa. As expected South Africa is laying out a compressed version of the devastating case it made in its filing.

One interesting wrinkle is at the top of the hearing, the registrar read into the record a new element submitted by South Africa, not contained in its 84 page case, that of a detailed list of the “provisional measures” that is it asking the court to impose on Israel. Recall that the form of this filing was an “Indication of Provisional Measures,” that is, that the evidence of genocide was so overwhelming that the Court should impose provisional measures with the intent of halting Israel’s genocidal conduct while the case continued on the normal (time consuming) course. This list is comprehensive and well thought out, ranging from a cessation of formal military and irregular forces action against Palestinian, ending conduct designed to cause physical and psychological harm and prevent births, to stop forced displacement, to provide access to food, medical care, fuel and other necessities of life to preserving evidence with respect to genocide and not restrict access to fact-finder regarding this type of evidence. This is an approximate recap; I will append a transcript of this section when one becomes available.

Israel does not have any good cards to play, not just with respect to the South Africa genocide case but in its campaign against Palestinians. It seems to be relying on the fact that no one has been able to stop the slow-motion extermination of Palestinians, and that all it needs to do is stay its vicious course of action. But that sort of win is not going to make Israel safer.

Israel is running into the considerable limits on its and US power, and the resulting costs. Israel looks unable to achieve its stated aim of destroying Hamas. Israel has pulled ground forces out of Gaza, in effect confirming that clearing Gaza of Hamas fighters is not its aim. As we have regularly pointed out, the lack of food shipments, limited water supplies. destruction of hospitals, and the flattening of shelter means everyone in Gaza will die in not that long a time in the absence of an intervention. But the Houthi blockade of shipping to and from Israel is damaging not just the Israeli economy (see reports of imminent food shortages) but global shipping, witness the hissy fit by the US and 11 other countries trying to intimidate the Houthis into backing down. But the Western threats are pure noise-making. It’s not realistic for a Western coalition of the willing to subdue Yemen, particularly with its stockpile of weapons to deploy against any landing parties. And if they could subdue the Houthis otherwise, they would already have done so.

Israel similarly has only lose-lose choices as far as Hezbollah in concerned. Their pattern of tit for tat attacks picked up in severity and a bit in range, leading to evacuation of border towns. Israel has committed to getting Hezbollah to pull back from the border…with no agreement from Hezbollah to do so and doubtful means to make that happen by force. Most experts believe that the Israeli army is so poorly prepared that were it to push into Lebanon, Hezbollah could and likely would occupy northern Israel, potentially as far as Galilee. Perhaps Israel hopes to pull the US in more deeply, but it’s not as if it would do any better with US help (Scott Ritter has stressed that war game have consistently shown the reverse).

Israel media and statements by official show the country is still operating on blood lust and not realism. The country’s statements so far suggest that rather than attempting a dignified response to the serious South Africa charges, Israel, in keeping with its refusal to file a written answer, looks primed instead in the hearing tomorrow to attack the legitimacy of the court and the charges. That would only serve to further isolate Israel, even if it plays well on domestic TV. Or perhaps is has made a nose count and has come to the same conclusion as Norman Finkelstein, that it will prevail because Russia and China will not vote for the South Africa charge due to their own exposure to similar filings (there is already a case against Russian lodged with the ICJ). In keeping, CommonDreams posted a new piece on Israel’s continued insistence that it is perfectly within its rights to eradicate Palestinians. From the piece:

Two Israeli lawmakers from right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party doubled down Wednesday on calls to destroy or depopulate Gaza, prompting an admonition from the country’s attorney general on the eve of an emergency hearing in the South African-led genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

In an interview with Hakol Baramah radio, Deputy Knesset Speaker Nissim Vaturi said he did not regret his November call for Israel to “stop being humane” and “burn Gaza now.”

“I stand behind my words,” Vaturi said, according toThe Times of Israel. “It is better to burn down buildings rather than have soldiers harmed. There are no innocents there.”…

Meanwhile, Haaretz reported that Danny Danon, a former United Nations ambassador now serving in the Knesset, said in a Wednesday radio interview that Israel must “not do half a job” in Gaza.

That, Danon said, means “voluntary migration” of Palestinians from Gaza—a euphemism, critics say, for an ethnic cleansing campaign akin to the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” in which more than 750,000 Arabs were forcibly expelled from Palestine during the war to establish the modern state of Israel in 1948.

In November, Danon co-authored a Wall Street Journal opinion piece suggesting the ethnic cleansing of some of Gaza’s population to Western countries that would accept the refugees.

Admittedly, only one of the two of the officials is calling explicitly for genocide, although as we have observed, ethnic cleansing when so far no country is willing to enable the Israel scheme means its continuing program to make Gaza uninhabitable amounts to the same thing.

Israel is presumably running a “How many divisions does the ICJ have?” calculus. The ICJ is toothless and the UN, which would be the venue for action, compromised. From a new article by CAGE:

The ICJ is unlikely to make a decision on whether Israel is carrying out genocide for several years. This week’s hearing is only to determine whether it should make an interim order for Israel to halt its offensive and withdraw from Gaza. Even if it were to do so, the ICJ has no effective means of implementing the order save by way of a resolution from the UN Security Council. The US has vetoed Security Council resolutions critical of Israel no less than 89 times and is unlikely to veer away from its function as Israel’s political shield. Like Russia in relation to the ICJ ruling on its invasion of Ukraine, the US has itself refused to comply with ICJ judgments against it in cases brought by Nicaragua (1986) and Iran (2018).

In recent decades, we have witnessed the demise of the so called “rules based international order“ because the UN Security Council has failed to effectively intervene to prevent acts of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and against the Uyghurs in China. On the contrary, the Security Council itself voted to impose genocidal sanctions on Iraq causing the deaths of approximately half a million children, a price deemed ‘worth paying’ by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. More recently, international institutions have failed to hold senior political figures such as Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, and George Bush, the architects of these invasions, accountable, raising serious questions about their credibility. Too often they serve to uphold Western domination rather than to deliver justice.

Again in theory, a preliminary ruling by the ICJ against Israel could pave the way for criminal cases in the International Criminal Court. It is over my pay grade as to who would have the standing to file them (correction: refer cases, the ICC is a criminal court and so does not take up filings by independent parties). But as we have seen with the ruling against Putin, key countries, including the US, do not recognize the authority of the ICC. So the effect even of (seemingly unlikely) ICC rulings against key Israeli leaders would be to limit there travel.

Could a ruling for South Africa give new grounds for reversing anti-BDS laws in the US? For challenging the very aggressive campaigns against shows of support for Palestinians in the US? It may be the biggest practical effect of a ruling for South Africa would be to further undermine Israel’s legitimacy in the US. But how many Palestinian lives would that save?

Update, 11:10 AM: I missed an additional example of Israel officials defying the ICJ to Do Something about their genocide operation. This one is arguably important since it’s a member of the government, and not a legislator:

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I went to UN Web TV, although it took a bit of poking to get to the right place: https://webtv.un.org/en/asset/k11/k11gf661b3. Today’s was useful, if predictable. I wondered if there would be any time for the judges to question the South Africa attorneys presenting the case. That did not happen.

      For me, the big reason to watch live (aside from regarding this case as historically important and also feeling value in bearing witness) is to be able to properly register the degree of contrast with Israel’s arguments and how its lawyers comport themselves in their presentation tomorrow.

      1. JBird4049

        Thanks for that link.

        The ICJ hearing is more dry than what I remember of the Nixon hearings that my Mom forced me to watch, but it is more important, I think.

      1. ChrisRUEcon

        Gonna tune into MSDNC/CNN tonight just to confirm … and see what they’ll be discussing … oh lemme guess … #OrangeManBad

      2. Ludus57

        A lawyer friend of mine has just informed me that the BBC have broadcast the Israeli submission live today, but there was no live broadcast of yesterday’s South African submission.
        We can draw our own conclusions.

    2. Lena

      zagonostra’s link is from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) News site on YouTube. That is how I watched today’s hearing and will watch tomorrow’s. If you cannot watch live, the recorded version is also available through SABC News on YouTube.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I noted that too in spite of the fact that it has been shown to be trumped up bogus charges. Norman Finkelstein also mentions that Russia is facing charges in the IJC lodged by the Ukraine but Russia can prove that they limit themselves to military strikes whereas the Ukrainians resort to genocidal actions with the Belgograd strikes the latest example. So if Norman Finkelstein thinks that both China and Russia will refrain from voting against Israel, then I would not bet the bank on this. It could go either way here. Both countries though may not want to be seen protecting Israel like the west is and allowing the present genocide to continue. That would put them in the same sinking boat as Israel and the US.

      1. John Webster

        The Judges are obliged (*sic) to consider the legal issues BUT I will be surprised, especially in light of the massive international reaction to the Israeli genocide, if Russia and China sit on their hands on this issue. Politically it is in their interest – bot short and long term – to support the S. African case. What it will demonstrate is a need for PROPER enforcement and a new model for the UN. The time is right for this as the US hegemon begins to decline.

        1. John k

          … a new model for un…
          Or, a new un for global south (the rest). The world seems to be rapidly splitting into 2 camps. Many of the rest might conclude the un, with its single great power veto, is so ineffective as to be worse than useless. How about a site in Persian gulf, say Qatar?

      2. CA

        China has supported the sovereign rights of the Palestinian people for many years and has continually, formally, asked that the violence against Gaza be ended. I cannot imagine any diplomatic hesitation by China now. Importantly, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, a close friend of China, is supporting the South African case and of course South Africa is a close friend of China.

        Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iran are now full members of BRICS, while Algeria is a partial member.

        1. Cantstandya

          China and Russia abstained rather than vetoing the Sec Council’s demand for the Houthis (Ansar Allah) to stop fucking with israeli bound ships. Also Russia has greenlit Israel’s bombing of Syria for years now. These things are a little more complicated than two firm camps.

      3. Milla

        Finkelstein is an expert on Israel, not on international law or the UN. Craig Mokhiber or Francesca Albanese would be better authorities on this topic. I recall Mokhiber stating in a recent Electronic Intifada interview that he thought the ICJ is altogether a more rigorous and serious court compared to the ICC. For example it’s currently reviewing the Venezuela-Guyana dispute. He also said that the ICJ’s expediting the case indicate that it may wish to render a judgement before a changeover in court composition in February, so we may see a judgment very quickly.

        While Russia and China have substantial commercial interests with Zionists, their geopolitical allies are pro-Palestine with the possible exception of India (though even the Modi government appeared to be walking back their support of Israel in recent weeks), a far higher proportion of their population are Muslim rather than Jewish (Jews are practically non-existent for China and I read that something like 120,000 self identified Jews currently live in Russia, versus tens of millions of Muslims in both), and their border areas in Central Asia are Muslim.

        They appear to still prefer to not rock the boat and keep to a 1967 two state formation in the hopes of establishing an eventual modus vivandi with the West, but there’s really not much support to argue that Russia and China are pro-Israel.

        1. Will

          Being elected to the ICJ is usually the end point of a long career in international law (often in academia), not a mid-career stepping stone for a government bureaucrat. In short, I agree that Finkelstein’s analysis based on geopolitical considerations is not entirely applicable.

          Also, there are many legal scholars that reasonably argue there is no such thing as international law as there is no international government, courts or police, etc. In that view, the ICJ is more akin to a permanent arbitration panel for settling contract disputes than a court of law. A judge elected to the ICJ is more likely to be in the opposite camp. Thus, having spent a lifetime devoted to shoring up arguments for the existence of international law, there’s hope that this will lead them to decide based the merits of the present case rather than bow to pressure from their national government and harm the international law project.

        2. Milla

          I made a mistake to attribute to Mokhiber an interview with Michael Lynx and another one confusing provisional ruling with final ruling. He expect the provisional ruling to come out quickly but the final ruling to take several years to come through. Just listened again and it’s very very good.


      4. nippersdad

        “Both countries though may not want to be seen protecting Israel like the west is and allowing the present genocide to continue. That would put them in the same sinking boat as Israel and the US.”

        I was actually surprised to see Russia vote against the Houthis yesterday. On the one hand, the Law of the Sea on passage through straits is pretty iron clad against them, but their rationale for abrogating it were sanctions on Israel for their genocide in Gaza; the moment they got their cease fire they downed sticks, only to pick them back up when the cease fire ended.

        Which begs the question of which laws take precedence, Geneva Convention requirements of states to do whatever is necessary to enforce things like Humanitarian law conventions or the ability of Israel to import Fritos.

        It didn’t seem like all that hard an equation, and I was surprised that Russia fell for the bait.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that in that UN vote that both China and Russia abstained which leaves more options for them, especially if there are any negotiations to be done.

          I just checked and it says that ‘The vote was 11-0, with Russia, China, Algeria and Mozambique abstaining.’


          But I think that it is still just a big bluff as the UN has no intention of invading Yemen or doing a massive aerial bombardment.

        2. myru

          I think on the Bab el Mandeb straits, Yemen and Djibouti are inmuch the same position as Turkeye is re: passage through the Dardanelles/Sea of Marmara/Bosporus: the strait is so narrow that it lies entirely within the territorial waters of Djibouti and Yemen, and like Turkeye they thereby derive rights to monitor, permit, and refuse passage, especially of military shipping of belligerents in a war.

          1. nippersdad

            Turkey has a special treaty, the Montreux Protocol, that overrides the Law of the Seas as regards the passage of ships through straits. They can close the Dardanelles to warships during times of war. Neither Yemen or Djibouti have anything like that. I guess they just never had the kind of military that could demand one. The relevant law is under section 2 transit passage:


            But the law that governs passage of straits pretty much gives all the power to those who can take it from whomsoever has decided to be in charge of protecting marine commerce. Up until now Yemen just hasn’t been in that position.

            1. myru

              Thanks, nippersdad, for the better information! but even learning that the Law of the Sea carves out that singular Turkish prerogative in the Montreux Protocol, I’m still wondering, kind of generally — is the interest of a State in regulating the passage of vessels through national territorial waters extinguished just because two bodies of international waters are separately contiguous to those territorial waters? Where are disputes over the Law of the Sea adjudicated? and are all UN member states bound by it?

              I guess, as you say, it is in reality a question of power…

      5. hk

        What is more, I’d imagine that Russia and China will want to what constitute legitimate state/military actions and what goes too far, whereas Western “human rights” orgs love to conflate everything for political convenience. Israel is doing a good job showing what is unacceptable and why the Western “rules based definitions” have no place in real “courts.”

        1. jrkrideau

          Ah yes. If memory serves those vehicles were claimed to be a gathering of Nazi militia, Aidar or First Sector, or something like that.

      6. Kouros

        I dont know why Finkelstein things that way. He very likely discounts the large muslim populations in both Russia and China, and the stark message an abstention would send to these minorities: You Are Next if you don’t behave…

        Let’s wait and see…

    2. CA

      That the fictional “Uyghur genocide narrative” would be raised in relation to the daily witnessed tragedy of Gaza is distressing:


      January 3, 2024

      Xinjiang’s Urumqi sees record number of tourists in 2023

      URUMQI — Urumqi, capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, welcomed a record-breaking 100 million visitors in 2023, local authorities have revealed.

      According to data from the municipal culture and tourism bureau, the city raked in over 100 billion yuan (about 14 billion U.S. dollars) in tourism revenue last year, marking a historic milestone.

      The past year witnessed the establishment of 41 new homestays in Urumqi, bringing the total to 324. The city hosted more than 12,000 cultural activities and introduced hundreds of shows, including concerts, dance dramas and children’s plays, said Hai Yan, an official with the bureau.

      These efforts, coupled with the development of a comprehensive transportation network, including highways, railways and airports, have facilitated convenient travel and efficient logistics…

        1. Kouros

          Yeah,”The UK-based unofficial tribunal says the Chinese government’s alleged forced birth control of Muslim Uighurs amounts to genocide.”

          There is a Serbian analyst publishing at Strategic Culture, that put a microscope on all that. This record is trully tainted.

        2. jrkrideau

          The UK-based unofficial tribunal…

          Yep, I am definitely going to take the word of a self-appointed “tribunal”.

          It gets even better: Adrian Zenz testified. Zenz is a dedicated “Christian” whose god-given purpose is to free China from (Godless?) communism.

    3. Kouros

      Somebody posted yesterday a statement from Volkswagen, which has a factory in Xinjiang, that they have seen no evidence of slave labor there.

      1. CA


        December 6, 2023

        Audit finds no ‘forced labor’ in Volkswagen’s Xinjiang plant: company

        An audit on Volkswagen’s jointly owned plant in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region found no indications of any use of forced labor, the automaker said on Tuesday.

        The audit was carried out by Loening – Human Rights & Responsible Business GmbH, among the site’s 197 employees in SAIC-Volkswagen (Xinjiang) Automotive Co, a 100 percent subsidiary of the SAIC Volkswagen Co.

        The audit work encompassed on-site document checks in Urumqi city as well as interviews with staff and executives of the legal entity in Xinjiang.

        Several on-site inspections, including walkabouts of the outdoor premises of the plant were also part of the auditing process.

        As of November 1, 2023, the legal entity had 197 employees, of which 150 employees are of Han ethnicity, accounting for 76.1 percent, and 23.9 percent of employees belong to ethnic minorities including Uygurs.

        Loening said that the employees are qualified, having worked in the company for a long time of up to 10 years, have a low work intensity and are being remunerated above the average in the region. Overtime work is next to non-existent.

        There were no indications of any use of forced labor among the employees at the plant, it said.

        Data collected shows that all employees have signed employment contracts with the joint venture, with no agency contracts, and have been employed at the plant for more than four years, and 76 percent having worked there for 8-10 years.

        Reuters reported that earlier this year, Volkswagen investors demanded that the automaker request cooperation from SAIC to conduct an independent audit of labor conditions at the Xinjiang plant…

      2. CA


        Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

        This is an absolutely extraordinary series of tweets by Adrian Zenz, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation employee at the origin of the “Uyghur forced labor” allegations.

        He responds to the results of the audit Volkswagen commissioned independent German auditing firm Loening to perform at its Xinjiang site, where they checked the contracts and salary payments of all 197 employees, as well as conducted 40 interviews. They found “no sign of forced labor” and were “unable to identify any special security measures”

        ( https://barrons.com/news/no-sign-of-forced-labour-at-xinjiang-site-says-vw-b60c4c4c ).

        So Mr Zenz’s challenge is “how do I square this circle?”… And he chooses to do so in the most extraordinary way, by basically arguing that employers in Xinjiang just cannot ascertain whether they have forced labor in their ranks. They can’t because “workers in Xinjiang’s forced labor systems have contracts [meaning they can resign], and a number of them earn a decent wage”. So even though you pay your workers well and put them on flexible work contracts, it means nothing. According to Zenz you can’t even ask your employees about it because it’s “profoundly unethical to attempt to interview Uyghurs in Xinjiang”.

        Which is an extraordinarily convenient answer to all these companies finding no trace of forced labor in Xinjiang ( Volkswagen wasn’t the only one, numerous other companies performed audits which yielded no result, like Sketchers:

        https://about.skechers.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/SKECHERS-USA-STATEMENT-UYGHURS-March-2021.pdf ).

        Basically: “you find no trace of forced labor because it’s impossible for you to know”.

        So what does “forced labor” mean if the people concerned earn decent wage and are on normal employment contracts?

        According to Mr Zenz it means “social stability through full Uyghur employment and having them work in settings that can be much better controlled by the state”…

        12:07 AM · Dec 7, 2023

  1. Aaron

    Can anyone shed light on the interesting clothes the south African lawyers were wearing? One old British man seemed to be wearing a pink flag draped over his shoulders and tied in the front. What is the significance of this manner of dress?

    1. nippersdad

      The lawyers representing South Africa are from a variety of states, and it appears that they are all wearing the traditional garb of the legal profession in their home states. The SA contingent appears to be wearing the SA flag around their shoulders, and the guy in pink appears to be wearing the “silks” type of robes still used by some countries in the British Commonwealth.

  2. Alan Roxdale

    Israel is presumably running a “How many divisions does the ICJ have?” calculus. The ICJ is toothless and the UN, which would be the venue for action, compromised. From a new article by CAGE:

    An ICJ ruling against Israel would do more long term damage to the state’s reputation than all the Hezbollah/Hamas/Syrian/Iranian divisions put together. As a still predominantly colonial project, Israel like South Africa and French Algeria before it relies on its public perception in the home country (in this case the US) as much as it does on its own army or economy. An ICJ ruling down the line could not just tarnish its image, but cause an unpleasant “tin-pot” smell in the nostrils of the elite classes running the US which no amount of PR deodorant will mask. The nature of the political relationships being what they are, that would be tantamount to disaster for Israel in its current form. I think Thomas Friedman is a pretty good bellwether here.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I did make that point at the end….but we have a very controlled press here. I said long ago that Israel faced generation risk in the US. Peter Beinart wrote an important article in 2004 (no typo) that young Jews did not identify with Israel. Israel should have recognized despite the power of The Lobby that it needed to secure its position (with respect to its neighbors) pretty pronto because at some point the backing of its big patron would wane. But look at the firing of the Harvard president. I don’t think an ICJ ruling against Israel would have changed that outcome. The erosion will not happen quickly.

      1. Carolinian

        It may happen more quickly than they think. The stealth nature of the lobby here has always been its biggest asset. Americans themselves live in isolation even if it seems to those paying attention that our government is virtually controlled by a variety of foreign interests. After Ukraine (perhaps more because of the money spent) and now this polls show the public increasingly consider foreign affairs an important campaign issue. Meanwhile the Israel defending MSM have their lowest approval ratings ever.

      2. John k

        Yes, not quickly, and imo us will not substantially change policy this decade, regardless which of the likely us candidates win this year. But if ICJ rules there is likely an ongoing genocide underway, many Jews that were torn in two directions might decide they can no longer support Israel. Plus a large number of non-Jews, too.
        I wonder how important it would be to China and Russia to change us internal thinking on this matter, and whether they are consulting with each other and/or BRICS on their votes.

      3. Lysias

        Harvard President Claudine Gay was forced to resign because her serial plagiarisms made it impossible to defend her in academia.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Oh, come on. If you believe that, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. The proximate cause is not the operative cause.

          Billionaire Bill Ackman led her ouster. He accused her of racism against white people. Please tell mw what that has to do with plagiarism. There had been pressure to get her removed, as with the UPenn president, and Harvard initially stood behind Gay (I received the memo and it did not read at all like the usual kiss of death “X has our full confidence” sort of statement). But those who were upset over her still being in place found a new cudgel.

          From the Guardian:

          Chief among the campaigners celebrating the resignation of Claudine Gay as president of Harvard University was a man who arguably did the most to push Gay, Harvard’s first Black president, out the door: Bill Ackman, a billionaire hedge-fund manager and Harvard alumnus.

          Ackman, who accused Gay of antisemitism and plagiarism, was a major player in what increasingly became a rightwing campaign against the Harvard president – who said many of the attacks against her were “fueled by racial animus”.

          In the past month alone, the 57-year-old has tweeted about Gay, Harvard, or both, more than 100 times to his 1 million followers. On Tuesday, he topped that with a rambling 4,000-word X post about “racism against white people”; universities’ efforts to increase diversity; and accusations that student groups were “supporting terrorism”.


          1. skippy

            There is a colloquialism in Oz that covers this in all its iterations – fill in the blank ethnic minority group “cladding”.

            But yeah [kids say today], seems the whole diversity thingy was a sham to start with, Dem party liberal guilt complex trying to cram round pegs through square holes for stylized votes and the entire thing was front run for profit. Per se in the 80s the attempts to get minority construction small Caps, State or Fed funded projects was just window dressing. The big players went to the small Caps and set them up or if one got a contract on there own would shoulder tap them. Hence the small caps were just the ones issued funds to flow across their balance sheets and then off to the real bosses.

            So in retrospect a lot of people are in places [wink] due to this dynamic. Gay seems to have been a ideological target by by the same sorts that set up FEE et al back in the day, different day same stuff. All made more possible due to the privatization of academy [for profit] and its reliance on mostly old boy $$$$$.

            Its hilarious … I used to show my fellow execs and social equivalents some of my old military photos … when the moment was right … just to diminish the prospect of dealing with silly antics by others …

            As always amends …

    2. Fazal Majid

      One example of the side-effects: in France, the Loi Gayssot makes it a criminal offense to deny a genocide recognized by UN or French courts, it was used for the successful prosecution of Bernard Lewis for denying the Armenian Genocide.

    3. Feral Finster

      As long as the United States is willing to bribe or bully opponents of Israel into silence, Israel could not care less about the ICJ or its reputation.

      For that matter, Americans don’t care about the ICJ either.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        i’m likely the only one within at least 50 miles whos even aware of whats happening in the hague, today.
        if it aint on fox(80%, out here) or msdnc(maybe 10%), with the remainder at cnn…nobody knows.
        and thats just among the maybe 40% of genpop in my county that pay attention to the news at all.

  3. NN Cassandra

    It occurred to me, given how things are going, if whoever ends up owning that plot of land, will not regret his victory, as climate change will make it uninhabitable anyway. Maybe God really loves Jews and the expulsion was in accordance with that sentiment, but people being impatient fools couldn’t hold it for couple thousands years and went back just in time to see with their own eyes why they shouldn’t. Certainly would make great Biblical story.

    1. Milla

      I have occasionally pondered about whether the forced Palestinian diaspora might play a role in the long term preservation of the Palestinian identity. However, the short to medium term benefits to control of historic Palestine are pretty clear. They control Jerusalem, which could be a huge tourist draw for Muslims and Christians, there’s the vast offshore gas reserves with a ready market in Europe, and the Palestinians would be well placed to resume their historic role as facilitators of trade between East and West.

      One thing coming out of the recent Gaza conflict that really surprised me is just how insanely well educated the population is. It seems like every death report includes doctors, engineers, journalists, etc. Even people working menial jobs often appear to have university degrees. The diaspora are often highly credentialed doctors and professionals. It could certainly be that they are disproportionately targeted or simply in the best position to tell their stories, but it also seems likely that the highly educated Palestinian population would be in a great position to quickly take advantage of their position as a key node of trade in EurAsiaAfrica.

  4. Es s Ce tera

    I wonder if there are good legal grounds for considering Israel and the US to be co-belligerants, one and the same.

    1. nippersdad

      I saw an interview on Judge Napolitano of Max Blumenthal yesterday in which he said that an amendment had been drawn up for the court that does just that. I was hoping to see that reported here, but I guess it will be presented at a later date.

      1. flora

        an aside: Napolitano will be interviewing Mearsheimer this afternoon. Wonder how Mearsheimer will analysis this ICJ case.

        1. Bruce F

          Mersheimer was interviewed for an hour plus by two academics a couple of days ago, and he talked at length about the ICJ case. He basically didn’t hold out much hope of anything coming out of the court, thinking that US/Israel would do everything they could to get the case “thrown out”. Failing that they would just ignore the results.
          The talk was part of a series titled “Gaza in Crisis: A Collaborative Teach-In Series” on the YouTube channel Jadaliyya.

          Jadaliyya is run and produced on a primarily volunteer basis by an editorial team and an expanding pool of contributors committed to discussing the Arab world and the broader Middle East on their own terms. Where others see only a security threat, conflict, or data on a graph, we see a region inhabited by living communities and dynamic societies. Jadaliyya generally does not provide honoraria for published articles.

    2. Will

      Article V of the Genocide Convention requires parties to enact legislation and basically make the Genocide Convention part of their domestic laws. The US has done so and conspiracy is an enumerated offense.


      Interestingly, the motion brought in November by human rights groups in the US to stop the supply of weapons to Israel doesn’t rely on domestic law to argue complicity but international law and cases previously decided by international courts and tribunals.

      Article about the court case:


      The pleading itself. See specifically pages 20 to 25 regarding America’s obligation under international law to stop genocide and it’s complicity.


      1. Es s Ce Tera

        “The Genocide Convention was also ratified by the United States in 1988, via legislation cosponsored by then-Senator Joseph Biden…”

        I didn’t know this about Biden and I assume this is probably in response to the Serbian genocide which saw Slobodan Milosevic tried for genocide.

        From Wikipedia:

        “The International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded separately that there was no evidence linking him to genocide committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the Bosnian War, but did find that Milošević and others in Serbia had violated the Genocide Convention by failing to prevent the genocide from occurring and hold those involved accountable.[15][16]”

        Welp…..the failing to prevent genocide argument won’t work for Netanyahu. Guess he wasn’t taking notes.

        I wonder if defanging the Israeli supreme court was part of a premediated plan, a necessary preliminary step for Netanyahu to proceed with his latest genocidal push.

        1. disillusionized

          No I believe it was in response to a Reagan gaffe relating to a visit to a German cemetery and the graves of members of the waffen ss.

          The bitburg controversy, though when one reads it, it does seem like a wholly confected scandal.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    I write as someone who espouses: Fiat justitia ruat caaelum / Let justice be done even if the heavens fall.

    Yet I note in the quote above about the “iconic” Madeleine Albright, inspiration to bourgeoises everywhere, that the death of a half a million children isn’t a genocide, not even a mass murder. Justice is what is wanted by the victors, and the vanquished are left to mourn.

    As to this post? The problem has to do with supranational bodies like the ICJ, which has no viable enforcement mechanisms. The UN is hamstrung–“peace-keeping” forces are what the victors decide the peace should be. The ICC will try the monsters from countries that have been vanquished. But the big monsters? I’m sure Antony Blinken sleeps well at night, even after his required dose of Pepto-Bismol.

    The South Africans aren’t in a position to curb Israeli behavior. Nor should they have to be, in a sense. But the idea of an international community with international bodies with power remains. I’m not arguing for war: I’m arguing that the South Africans are on the side of what’s right at a time where there is no mechanism to end the war and punish warmongers.

    Further, as Yves Smith notes, the consequence of a ruling, some time down the road, against Netanyahu is that he won’t be able to go to Curaçao on vacation. No wonder Madeleine Albright remains iconic.

    As to the last paragraph: Question 1, the answer is no. Question 2, during the current McCarthyist scoundrel time, the answer is no. How many deaths does the U.S. government want in Palestine? Some convenient number. Business as usual.

    1. Carolinian

      But Israel has always been a PR project above all else. While some Israeli leaders like to pretend they don’t need the rest of the world or even the US (“we’re not the 51st state”) reality says otherwise. This is why BDS is so dangerous to them and why, perhaps, they think they have to roll the dice on eliminating Palestinians altogether with the ultimate “fact on the ground.” History is not on their side.

        1. Carolinian

          Of course that’s not true at all and every gratuitous accusation of antisemitism by Israel or its proxies is PR.

          And their “naked force,” which doesn’t even seem to be succeeding against Hamas in Gaza, is courtesy of US supplied 2000 lb bombs.

          The force itself is PR since one justification cited is to make nearby countries afraid of Israel. Oct 7 put a big dent in this.

          So that’s why history is not on their side. The “lifeboat” is rocking dangerously and Jews around the world are likely to decide they are a lot safer in their current countries.

    2. Milla

      One thing that a pro-Palestine verdict could change is to bolster the legal position of Palestine solidarity protesters within the Western countries. For example, the anti-BDS laws wouldn’t simply be unconstitutional but against international law. Ditto any company or NGO supporting Israeli genocide. Could they be taken to court in a different jurisdiction based on the ICJ ruling and perhaps use the ICJ ruling as an affirmative defense (such as in the case of Ebit Systems protestors).

      1. Feral Finster

        Good luck enforcing laws that people of influence and authority don’t want enforced. Those laws are simply ignored.

    3. myru

      Perhaps the most significant material, tactical effect of the SA case at the ICJ is its contribution to denying the Atlanticists their claim to being champions of an ‘international rules-based order’. It is increasingly clear to the global majority that the BRICS momentum demonstrates far more faithful adherence to the rule of law through common international institutions, than the G7 can even allow. Decisively stripping this legitimating claim away from the Western bloc equates to many army divisions entering the geopolitical struggle on the side of the Global South.

  6. Aurelien

    On the ICC point, no-one can “file charges” against an individual (and remember the ICC deals with individuals, not states.) Art 13 of the Statute gives three basic ways in which an investigation can be opened:

    “(a) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the
    Prosecutor by a State Party…”
    (b) A situation in which one or more of such crimes appears to have been committed is referred to the
    Prosecutor by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations; or
    (c) The Prosecutor has initiated an investigation in respect of such a crime…”.

    But notice that this is a general investigation into allegations relating to a particular situation. The ICC might conclude that there was no evidence to justify an investigation as one side had asked, but that there was paradoxically enough evidence to justify investigating the side that had made the reference. Before the Prosecutor can investigate , or before any charges can be brought, the Pre-trial Chamber also has to be convinced.

    As regards the larger question, the problem is not really enforceability, or the weakness of institutions. It’s the divisions between, and even within, states in the international system. If an institution was to issue an enforceable order against Russia over Ukraine, or against, say, Orban’s Hungary, I suspect that people here would be among the first to protest.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Russia and Hungary aren’t bombing people to steal their land while openly gloating that they are committing genocide. At this stage of the game I see little difference between the IDF and the German Einsatzgruppen of WW2 except that most of the killing is being done from the air. They have gone beyond war crimes to crimes against humanity and even if it does not look likely at the moment, there will be consequences for them. Bad ones-


      1. hk

        There is one difference: Einsatzgruppen did not gloat publicly (at least not the way Israeli leaders are doing) that they are doing God’s work (literally).

      2. Aurelien

        All that may be true but your opinion doesn’t matter and neither does mine. The merits of the case are irrelevant in the case of an enforcement mechanism, what matters is just the balance of political power, as we saw in the case of the Security Council and Libya in 2011. If you give an organisation an enforcement capability, then there will be political competition to use it, and politics will decide who gets enforced. Hungary for crimes against humanity against homosexuals? Iran for genocide against the Shia minority? As I tell students, be careful what you ask for, you might get it!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      My bad re use of language. I keep forgetting (due to the loopy ruling against Putin) that the ICC fancies itself to be an independent prosecutor. But is there no mechanism for the referral of cases, as for instance Federal agencies regularly do with our Department of Justice? And if so, who (as in what bodies) can refer them?

      1. Will

        In law school, I took part in the Jessup International Law moot court competition. Mostly because if we managed to win at the national level, there was a trip to the international finals in DC. The year I participated was when the ICC came into operation and so naturally the case focused on ICC jurisdiction, genocide and war crimes. Never in my worst nightmares did I think any of that would have any bearing on real life events but here we are. (Also, how is it 20 years later already???)

        Israeli is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC. (It signed but like the US withdrew its signature.) So while the Rome Statute does have a referral mechanism (as per Article 13(a) quoted by Aurelien), it doesn’t matter here. Which is why South Africa is having to resort to enforcement of the Genocide Convention, which Israel signed and ratified in 1950.

        Then there’s the question of whether Palestine could bring a case before the ICC for acts committed on its territory. It claims to have signed and ratified the Rome Statute, and on that basis has referred cases to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) in the past. But the question is whether it is a state at all and thus capable of being a State Party to the Rome Statute.

        The question of Palestinian statehood likely also bars use of Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute which allows for ad hoc ICC jurisdiction if a non-State Party makes a declaration accepting jurisdiction.

        All sorts of thorny jurisdiction issues, which is the usual starting point for any international court case. Here’s an interesting paper examining jurisdiction following the 2008-09 Israel-Gaza/Hamas conflict. Seems pretty good but I need a nap before getting in the weeds. Fog is rolling back in so apologies for any incoherence above.


        1. Aurelien

          Well, don’t forget that the previous ICC prosecutor has already said in 2019 that she had obtained a jurisdictional ruling from the Pre-Trial Chamber that Gaza was within the Court’s jurisdiction. Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute in January 2015, and the ICC has actually been conducting investigations on the ground for several years.
          The only bodies that can refer cases to the ICC, as set out above, are the UNSC and a State Party (which includes Palestine.) This was a bitterly-fought issue at the Rome Statute negotiations. This doesn’t mean that the Wollongong Green party can’t write to the Prosecutor and demand an investigation, but “refer” is used in a special sense here, of placing an obligation on the Prosecutor.

          1. Will

            Your link goes to a statement by the Prosecutor re her conclusions and that she has asked for the Court to confirm she is correct. Perhaps you forgot to share the link with the Court’s decision on this matter? Until then, I’ll rely on the ICC’s website, which unfortunately does not list Palestine as a State Party.


          2. Will

            Here’s the link to a press release regarding the 2021 decision confirming the ICC has territorial jurisdiction over Gaza and the West Bank.


            As to the present conflict, 5 State Parties (including South Africa) referred the matter to the Office of the Prosecutor on November 17th. It’s being included in the investigation opened on March 3, 2021, after the above confirmation was received, to possible violations of the Rome Statute since June 13, 2014. The current Prosecutor put in place a dedicated team to handle the investigation in June 2021, so hope things will move more quickly than these things usually take.


  7. zach

    Clickbait article title FTW!! Count me as one who followed the link hoping that peace might finally have broken out. Dirty tricks…

    “But the Western threats are pure noise-making.”

    I agree in theory, but if I’m the western power’s war machine, I would start looking at peripheral zones (Afghanistan, Armenia, Kurdistan etc.) where perhaps I think I could exert pressure on Iran without crossing any escalatory boundaries. Force Iran to defend their whole map, as it were, in order to disrupt their support role in the Levant to create space and time for Israel. Whether or not it would work… well, we’ve seen these guys do dumber things!

    “Most experts believe that the Israeli army is so poorly prepared…”

    I think this is a dangerous line of thought. I understand that Israel and Russia is not necessarily an apples to apples comparison, but a lot of “experts” were saying the same thing prior to Feb. 2022. I wouldn’t underestimate the fighting spirit of a native force if they can be made to feel that their homes and families are in jeopardy – look no further than what 30-50k Hamas fighters have been doing in maximally adverse conditions in Gaza. Best to respect your enemies abilities at all times – a not insignificant reason why Russia has fared comparatively well in their conflict.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Sorry, bad me! But the point, which I should have made explicit, is that that’s about what it would take for South Africa to succeed in stopping the massacre of Palestinians.

      1. zach

        An important point, my apologies for compelling you to point it out so pointedly, and thank you for clarifying for this fool!

    2. nippersdad

      “I wouldn’t underestimate the fighting spirit of a native force if they can be made to feel that their homes and families are in jeopardy…”

      I think that would bring into question the amount of pain a society can take. Russia can take the kind of pain that would have been unendurable for other countries in WWII; they lost 27 million people in that conflict. In that they are more comparable to the Palestinians rather than the Israelis. The Palestinians have been losing people for seventy years now and are still fighting.

      Could Israel do that? If they cannot even publicly acknowledge how many troops have been killed and wounded in the present conflict lest they lose legitimacy for the war, I kind of doubt it.

    3. Skip Intro

      A consideration in parallels between Israel and Russia are logistics and supply lines. If Israel continues to alienate and attack its neighbors, it will basically be besieged, and subject to attrition. Increasing pressure of many types will be applied to all of its supply lines. Even if they hold out long enough to complete the ‘final solution’ of the Gaza problem, they will not just be able to continue as an apartheid theocracy, or maybe as a state/colony at all.

      1. zach

        Fair, but Daddy Uncle Sam still controls the Mediterranean. Turkiye talks big but, perhaps, in this case we should still think of them as Turkey (this is not intended as a dig against anyone of Turkish descent). If push comes to shove, my money’s on “Them” not sacrificing the Levant for Ukraine.

        Logistics are the key, but if Mr. Martyanov will still on occasion give his grudging respect for the competency of the US Navy, i don’t think it’s a bridge too far (if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor…)

        As far as state failure, according to the news Israel is a basket case, but I maintain my belief that there are enough important world players that have a vested interest in the continued existence of the Israeli state, either for economic, cultural-religious, or military-technical reasons, that that eventuality belongs to a different timeline. For instance, witness the other comments awaiting Russia’s and China’s vote with baited breath…

        But, aint no one around enjoys being proven wrong more than me. Who’s to say?

  8. Rain

    I dont expect Russia or China to vote against, only Russia has a case against it, but I read the submissions (posted on the ICJ site) which are so flimsy, and the Russian submission is a very thorough legal argument. The “dissenting opinions” were also interesting being critical of both Ukraine and the 30-odd countries supporting statements.

    And the uygher issue in China is up there with malicious gossip. The only “evidence” is some incidents with racist local cops, and what country can say they dont have regions where the cops are racist pigs?

    But at this stage, the ICJ can determine a in a couple weeks for interim measures for ceasefire and humanitarian aid, it would still take the UNSC vote to enforce it, and even then Israel can ignore both… I wonder if they will show up wearing their yellow stars?
    not sure what the US might do, might go for “plausible deniability” with an abstention to try and save face.

    But the case has garnered a lot of media attention, a lot more than other conflicts, and at the very least its another brick in the wall around Israel and will incentivise marches, boycotts etc, and another blow to Bidens approval rating.

    I feel sorry for Americans this year, not a great “democratic” choice.. coin-toss between Biden or Trump *groan*.

      1. Rain

        If South Africa gets 8-7 or better of the judges, for ‘interim measure’ of a ceasefire etc while they consider the case for the next 2-4 years…

        But that ICJ judgement on interim measures (in 2 weeks) then goes to the UNSC to vote on the interim judgement for ceasefire… will the US veto a ceasefire again at the UNSC or go for a face-saving abstention?

        Remember the last UNSC vote was 13 for ceasefire, 1 abstention and US with its lonely veto…

      1. cousinAdam

        A fine Yiddish phrase for this is “Tochos ein Tisch!” (sp?) Roughly, “put your a*s on the table!”

      2. John Merryman

        How deep does that go?
        The fallacy of monotheism is that ideals are not absolutes. Truth, beauty, platonic forms are ideals. The creed, code, heroes, narratives at the core of every society are ideals.
        On the other hand, the universal is the elemental, so a spiritual absolute would be the essence of sentience, from which we rise, not an ideal of wisdom and judgement, from which we fell. More the light shining through the film, than the story playing out on it.
        Democracy and republicanism originated in pantheistic cultures. Ancient Israel was a monarchy. Rome adopted Christianity as state religion as the Empire was rising from the ashes of the Republic. The Big Guy Rules.
        When the West went back to democracy and republicanism, it required separation of church and state, culture and civics.
        Now the only core principle is profit.

  9. cousinAdam

    I think Yves’ final paragraph deserves amplification – the BDS movement against South African apartheid snowballed sufficiently to persuade both sides to sit down at the negotiating table and, IMHO set the stage for the Truth and Reconciliation process that followed. The AIPAC-fueled anti-BDS laws on our books should be struck down as an embarrassment to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. IMHO. Also, it’s high time that the U.S. ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights!

    1. Aurelien

      My recollection at the time is rather different. The BDS movement had some limited impact, but largely on the English-speaking White population, mainly in the business community, who were more internationally-minded anyway. For the average Boer farmer van de Moewe, as well as for the Afrikaner government, the BDS movement was simply more proof, if that was needed, of the extent to which the international conspiracy to destroy the last Christian and democratic state in Africa, directed from Moscow, was now all-embracing, and so they’d just have to fight harder. In fact, the BDS movement strengthened support for apartheid: English-speakers, who had traditionally voted for the United Party, defected in droves to the National Party during the 1980s.

      Three things really caused the transition. One was the level of violence in the country. One was the end of the Cold War, and the end of Soviet and allied military and political support for the ANC. Suddenly, the most fundamental building block of the apartheid mentality had disappeared, and the enemy had gone away. The last was the cost, both human and financial, of the war in Angola, where the Cubans were giving the South Africans a very hard time, and which was becoming unsustainable by the end of the 1980s. After some preliminary talks, De Klerk decided to gamble on un-banning the ANC and the Communist Party, releasing Mandela, and offering a few token concessions in return for effectively the continuation of the status quo.But he was comprehensively outmanoeuvred by the ANC, and wound up giving away almost everything. (Mind you, Mandela gave away a lot as well.)
      Whatever their theoretical attractions, sanctions are almost always a bad idea in practice.

  10. ISL

    There likely will be, IMO, long-term effects from this case in terms of economic isolation of Israel. The Houthi’s (with arab support) can keep up their blockade until Israel economically collapses as it is self-sufficient in nothing. And I agree completely with Yves, the US Navy would have done something at this point – instead it runs out of AD missiles and has to retreat. And without incoming medicines where will the Israeli rich get their medical treatment? Only in the US, but that is a long flight for emergency surgery.

  11. Zuluf-4

    I don’t think Israel even cares anymore what the UN or the international community thinks, if they ever did, they are just going through the motions. And let’s remember a majority of Israeli’s support what is happening in Gaza, from what I understand about 1% think a ceasefire is a good idea – they just think it’s a good idea, they’re not actually calling for one.
    Also I am curious if the use of nuclear weapons have been factored into any of the war games Ritter talks about Israel losing. I don’t think Israel would hesitate to use them for a second if Hezbollah overran the north. Something else to keep in mind is Israel has always desired southern Lebanon up to the Litani river, so this is not just about containing Hezbollah. If Israel gets away with the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, doing the same thing in southern Lebanon is going to look very tempting.

  12. Not Moses

    Just a superficial view: The negative global media press coverage that this filing by South Africa is and will be causing is monumental. There’s plenty of video of Netanyahu calling for the annihilation of Palestinian terrorists – all of them. It could/ will lead up to a near complete boycott of Israel, the most potent weapon that Israel can’t afford. So, even if it were to take a couple years for a full guilty verdict, Israeli blood rivers from the massacres will stop.

    The fact that Israel is finally before the International Court of Justice for genocide, is a major loss for Israel and the Lobby. As Biden’s polls remain underwater -and more to the point, his “democratic” re-election cost is estimated at $2B – according to the WaPo, he’s having donors to the WH to reassure them. No doubt, his plan here is to lead a global PR Israeli defense campaign. Antony Blinken said yesterday to NBC: Israel has an “obligation to defend itself” – from babies, toddlers and children, no doubt. Another WaPo story about a university student that was abducted by the IDF, killed his dementia suffering grandfather. Let’s see how the networks open their broadcasts tonight.

    The legal machinations, I will leave up to international law experts.

  13. Savita

    Yves, you wrote:

    ‘It’s not realistic for a Western coalition of the willing to subdue Yemen, particularly with its stockpile of weapons to deploy against any landing parties. And if they could subdue the Houthis otherwise, they would already have done so.’

    How would you feel to interpret the present aerial bombardment ( supposedly ‘precision’ ) of Yemen now started, in context of the above?

    Most commentators are probably aware of the following but as a contribution:

    In 2004 the ICJ ruled that the occupation of Palestine, the Wall, and annexation were all illegal.
    Following from this, it also ruled Israel, being illegal occupiers, have no right to self-defence, and certainly not
    on illegally acquired territory. I wish these facts were more widely disseminated.
    Puts the events of 7/10 into another context.

    As an afterthought: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his Labor Government , of Australia refuses to
    take a position on the ICJ application. Well, at least they let us know.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      My point was the Houthis cannot readily be beaten, any more than the Afghanis.

      You comment is an assignment, a request/demand I address a separate topic. That is a violation of site policies.

Comments are closed.