Israel Seen as Even More Likely to Launch War with Lebanon as Fate of ICJ Suit Uncertain Due to China and Russia Doubts

Events have gotten ahead of my drafting. I planned to launch at the customary before 7 AM East Coast time, when news is breaking that Israel is indeed attacking Lebanon, even as Tony Blinken was set to visit today… you will see below, to talk Israel out of this sort of thing. So unless the latest salvo can be depicted as proportionate to the strike on Mount Hermon (more on that soon), we may be seeing the start of an Israel war with Lebanon:

Back to the earlier text:

It seems important to keep the focus the escalating Israeli war against Palestinians, more than this humble site can do via its Links feature alone. But at the same time, the conflict has moved into a Grand Guignol phase, where there are so many daily horrors that fall into established patterns that it becomes hard to keep track individually, with the cumulative effect numbing.

Being outraged, even if you could maintain the choler, seems inadequate compared to the viciousness of Israel’s campaign and the despicable glee way too many Israeli officials and members of the public exhibit. And the usual relief valve of writing Congresscritters is so clearly pointless as to confirm the sense of futility in the face of this smug savagery.1

Despite the appearance of a horrible sameness, pressures are building, at the presumed Israel assassination of Hamas leaders, notably deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri, in Beirut attest. Hezbollah responded, as promised, by taking out a major Israeli electronic surveillance post near the Lebanon border, at Mount Hermon. The Times of Israel reported that the IDF admitted to damage to the “air traffic control” site. Defense Security Asia was more descriptive:

Hezbollah launched a barrage of more than 60 rockets at the Meron military base situated atop Mount Jarmak in northern occupied Palestine, one of the most crucial military installations belonging to Israel Defense Force (IDF),

The IDF’s Meron base is regarded by observers as one of the most critical Israeli military installations with Israel’s high-ranking military leaders are known to frequent the base for operational command.

The rocket attack on this significant Israeli military facility commenced at 8 am local time and lasted for several hours.


This weekend, Tony Blinken engaged in yet another Middle East tour, allegedly to try to prevent an escalation of the war, revealing US impotence, complicity, and cowardice. It’s hard to take American finger-wagging and empty virtue-signaling seriously. As an example, the BBC reported Palestinians must be able to stay in Gaza – Blinken. From the article:

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Palestinians must not be pressured into leave Gaza, and must be allowed to return to their homes once conditions allow.

Mr Blinken condemned statements by some Israeli ministers, who called for the resettlement of Palestinians elsewhere.

The US official was in Qatar on his latest Middle East tour.

His comments come following reports that dozens of people were killed at a refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Footage from Jabalia shows bodies lying in the rubble of a destroyed building – many of them women and children.

Blinken must believe everyone in the Middle East is a fool to try that sort of thing with a straight face. So why is Israel still destroying hospitals? Still killing civilians willy-nilly, actively though strikes and more passively through starvation and disease, the latest being a Covid outbreak? So yes, they get to stay and die in place due to US inaction.

A new piece the Washington Post describes how the US is worried about Israel broadcasting plans to expand the conflict…even as Blinken is making his tour to try to get Middle Eastern leader to exercise restraint. A cynic might wonder if this was intended to assist Israel in its next phase. It’s not as if Israel’s intent to take the conflict to Lebanon were a secret. Alastair Crooke has been discussing it for over a month, based on public statements by Israeli leaders to clear Lebanon near the border so as to calm the nerves of settlers and facilitate their return. From the Post:

In private conversations, the administration has warned Israel against a significant escalation in Lebanon. If it were to do so, a new secret assessment from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) found that it will be difficult for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to succeed because its military assets and resources would be spread too thin…

An aside: Scott Ritter has reported that Israel lost its two previous war games agains Hamas and Hezbollah, even with US assistance, so this inability is hardly news. The one thing that Israel has going for it, as Ritter and more explicitly Aurelien (in comments) pointed out is that Lebanon as a country is in terrible shape and the last thing they need is a war. So despite Hezbollah being in better fighting form than it was in 2006 and beat Israel in the end, the broader societal costs are dangerously high. The flip side is Alexander Mercouris has argued that countries that win wars, even with great loss of manpower and infrastructure, emerge stronger. But is Lebanon, even if it were to march into and hold Galilee, too close to being a failed state for that to apply?

Back to the Post:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive Monday in Israel, where he will discuss specific steps to “avoid escalation,” his spokesman Matthew Miller said before boarding a plane to the Middle East.

“It is in no one’s interest — not Israel’s, not the region’s, not the world’s — for this conflict to spread beyond Gaza,” Miller said. But that view is not uniformly held within Israel’s government.
Since Hamas’s October assault, Israeli officials have discussed launching a preemptive attack on Hezbollah, U.S. officials said. That prospect has faced sustained U.S. opposition because of the likelihood it would draw Iran, which supports both groups, and other proxy forces into the conflict — an eventuality that could compel the United States to respond militarily on Israel’s behalf.

Officials fear that a full-scale conflict between Israel and Lebanon would surpass the bloodshed of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war on account of Hezbollah’s substantially larger arsenal of long-range and precision weaponry. “The number of casualties in Lebanon could be anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 and entail a massive evacuation of all of northern Israel,” said Bilal Saab, a Lebanon expert at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think tank.

Hezbollah may strike deeper into Israel than before, hitting sensitive targets like petrochemical plants and nuclear reactors, and Iran may activate militias across the region. “I don’t think it would be limited to these two antagonists,” he said.

The Post also reports that Israel was itching to attack Lebanon shortly after the October 7 Hamas raid, based on the view that an uptick in Hebollah strikes into the Israel border area (which I understand normally are at a low level, tit-for-tat basis). The US was so concerned that the article says Blinken was calling Israel three times a day to try to deter them. So apparently Blinken is not completely useless.

The Cradle, in West scrambles to deter Israel from war on Lebanon, added:

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell visited Lebanon on Sunday to meet with top Hezbollah officials, while the top US diplomat, Antony Blinken, is set to travel to Tel Aviv for talks with the Israeli leadership on Monday.

Borrell met with the leader of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc in Lebanon, Mohammad Raad, whose son, a Hezbollah fighter, was killed in an Israeli strike on a home in southern Lebanon in November…

However, Blinken recently used emergency authorization to bypass the US Congress and send additional munitions to Israel that would be crucial in any broader war with Hezbollah. Blinken and others in the White House have repeatedly said they would put “no red lines” on Israel’s use of US weapons despite widespread accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

The Houthis in Yemen are standing fast to their demand that they will interfere with shipping to and from Israel until the genocide stops. Maritime Executive reports that “international coalition forces” prevented two Houthi attacks on Saturday. But as I read it, one “attack” was a single drone, which seems inadequate to amount to an attack. Perhaps a surveillance device? Or an isolated drone to get the Western ships to waste a missile or two?

But to a so-far apparently neglected issue about the pending International Court of Justice case filed by South Africa contesting Israel’s genocide weirdly is how the case will be decided. Israel is in a lather about the filing and has been having its ambassadors exert pressure (how exactly?) for various states to make declarations opposing the South Africa case. There has mainly been a dearth of official pronouncements, although Bolivia has announced it is supporting South Africa’s claim. It turns out that sort of thing matters because the vote process is political.

Below Norman Finkelstein counts noses as to which states acting as judges are likely to vote. His discussion is short but the bottom line is for South Africa to prevail on this action, it needs 8 of 15 votes. So an abstention amounts to a vote for Israel.

Finkelstein contends that Israel is likely to win because Russia’s and China’s votes against Israel are almost certain to be necessary for South Africa to prevail. Finkelstein argues neither will want to support the South Africa case because the same genocide convention being used against South Africa could be turned on them. I see Russia as separately likely to abstain due to Putin’s past support of Israel.

But if this is how the votes wind up breaking, it would seriously call into question the BRICS talking point of BRICS being more virtuous than the old colonizers. Upstanding conduct and being a global power do not mix well.


1 Writing to the press might not be quite as pointless, given that they are smaller organizations than governments and are not used to receiving a raft of letters critical of their coverage. An obvious point of entry is their silence about the systematic murder of journalists.

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  1. .human

    “…for a man who wishes to profess goodness at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.” — Niccolo Machiavelli

  2. w

    I see Russia as separately likely to abstain due to Putin’s past support of Israel.

    It is a very solid case of genocide and I’m not sure any past “friendship” – if there was one – can justify to turn a blind eye.

    Same for the approach of Normal Finkelstein: Genocide claims against Russia or China are clearly not as seriously backed by undeniable fact as the case for Israel is. If that was not the case then the matching indictment through ICJ would have been issued a long time ago. So I don’t think either Russia or China will fear voting yes.

    Also because declaring this genocide claims receivable will trigger a massive embarassment to US and all its allies.

    And last but not least, allowing this case to proceed might in effect force US to agree to a ceasefire at the UN, which is something that both Russia and China clearly want. Maybe I’m naive here but it’s their nation’s interest to have the Palestinian issue solved.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Putin was one of the few people that Netanyahu was able to call outside the US and EU after October 7. There are also (or perhaps were, a lot may have left) Russian Jews who went to Israel, so Russia has complicated interests. Putin and Russian diplomats have been very careful not to use the G word or even (at least as far as I have seen) accuse Israel even of ethnic cleansing.

      And what does embarrassment get you? As the wags say, that plus 25 cents buys a subway token. The US has already been “embarrassed” by having to veto a series of Security Council resolutions calling for a cease-fire. And pray tell what difference has that made?

      Russia wining versus Ukraine will destabilize US hegemony. Israel losing territory versus Lebanon will weaken US hegemony if that were to happen. The US being unable to contain the Houthis and shipping disruptions will weaken US hegemony. An ICJ ruling will not. The ICJ has no enforcement authority. It takes further action by the Security Council to achieve that…and the US will veto. Or other action, like economic sanctions….which we know does not work. The Houthi attempt at a blockade is about as effective as you can get in that vein.

      Another reason for Russia largely avoiding the topic is Russia was also accuses of sufficiently indiscriminate attacks in the Chechen wars, including the second when Putin was president, so as to amount to collective punishment. See for instance:

      1. Polar Socialist

        The few studies (those are few and a far between) I could find of the bias of ICJ judges have found that while the judges do tend to favor the country that “sponsored” them to the court, they do not otherwise vote according to any political or regional alignments or alliances.

        Not saying these old studies have any predictive power in today’s world, but they do provide some room for speculation that the judges in this case may not vote according to their national government’s interest, but more along the consensus of the court.

      2. Dissident Dreamer

        I saw, via Korybko, that Lavrov had drawn a parallel between Russia and Israel in that both are demilitarising and deradicalising their opponents.

        While I can see why Russia wouldn’t want to compare itself to Palestine in its comparative helplessness it seems to me that both were facing existential situations and were provoked into taking military action.

        It does seem that Putin is a Zionist at heart, not quite at the Biden level perhaps but still.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Not quite so simple. Russia was pushed into taking action in the Ukraine lest there be US nuclear-tipped missiles stationed there before too long. In Israel, it was the Israelis that were pushing the Palestinians into an existential fight for their lives. With Putin holding back, it opens up the possibility that Russia will be the one to work not some sort of settlement and not the US as usual.

          1. Polar Socialist

            You mean Russia tried as much as possible to use the Oslo accords to ensure just peace, while Israel went it’s way to make sure the Minsk agreement(s) were never implemented in any way or form.

            Or was it the other way around? I may have my Western driven “feel-good” initiatives mixed up… /s

            1. Offtrail

              Supporting Palestine against Israel in the Gaza conflict ere is not a “Western-driven ‘feel-good’ initiative”. It’s the response of anyone with a heart and brain. And the “West”, led by the US, is hardly participating in that “initiative”.

              1. Polar Socialist

                You are absolutely correct. I was referring to Oslo accords, though, not the current support of Palestine.

          2. Dissident Dreamer

            I’m not sure what your point is here Rev.

            My angle on the existential threat to Russia is about Crimea. US nukes in Ukraine is bad but there’s plenty of nukes aimed at Russia. US battleships in Stevastopol is another thing entirely, putting them in charge of the Black Sea and severely crimping Russia’s access to the world, dropping them quite a few rungs down the superpower ladder.

            I once saw Russia as the saviour of Palestine but it seems like hopium these days.

      3. EMC

        I don’t have any statistics – perhaps someone does – but there is a significant population of Russian Jews living in Israel, as there is a significant population of Jews living in Russia. It is reasonable to surmise dual Russian/Israeli citizenship in both populations, as well as many families of Russian Jews split between the two nations. While only touched upon here, this has to be a significant domestic consideration in keeping a step back and not taking a definitive stance.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t know how generous right to return rules are in Russia (as in most EU states allow grandchildren of their citizens to obtain citizenship). Most of the “Russian” immigrants were Soviets in the kibbutz days of Israel. But Putin sees himself as a defender of ethnic Russians.

          1. EMC

            In the post-Soviet 90s, Israel had the second largest Russian emigre diaspora, after the US. Apologies for not having sources to quote, but my understanding is the influx of Russians altered the Israeli dependency on Palestinians for basic labor, thus mitigating any need they had for accommodation to the Palestinian population. Israel was also a destination of Russians fleeing at the beginning of the SMO. A quick google just told me there are 1,200,000 Russian speakers in Israel, comprising 15% of the population. I have no idea about Russian repatriation laws, but it seems likely to be generous, especially given their long standing demographic issues. This must have a huge bearing on Russian/Israeli relations in general, so much more so now.

      4. w

        And what does embarrassment get you? As the wags say, that plus 25 cents buys a subway token.

        As a non English native speaker I like a lot the aphorism yet I must once again disagree with you Yves. My perception of the US soft power is how the western aligned media narrative can be shaped to manage consent for whatever project or support.

        It’s easier when you can build some JamesBondesque villain figure such as Putin, Xi or other of that sort.
        However when you are officially accused of supporting genocide by a supranational structure that has not been (yet) destroyed by the media you control, it’s another story. (and I recognize they’ve already started this by stating that ICJ is politicized)

        Ok, embarrassment does not and will not result in immediate consequences, yet in the long term i think it will.

        Once again am I being too naive ?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The EU is still very much on the US side, despite the fact that dogged loyalty to the US is impoverishing the continent. The US soft power in the Middle East was never as much as the US fancied it to be. Its sway there depended on the appearance of prowess. China has been making big investments in Africa for many many many years so US influence there was in serious decline and fell further as a result of blowback from sanctions on Russia (loss of Russian fertilizer) and the US refusal to make carveouts.

          So this soft power business is considerably exaggerated and IMHO mainly a Europe/UK phenomenon, to pretty up their vassal status. And the most important implement of soft power is Hollywood and music, maintaining the out of date appearance that America is rich.

      5. cousinAdam

        Generally concur with your observations about Russia’s careful diplomacy. Karlof1 and I independently came to the same conclusion that dual citizen Russian Israelis might do well to emigrate to Ukraine-it would help with the population drain and they might be useful in purging the Banderite factions from what will be left of the country after repatriation of the Russian oblasts.
        In a recent YouTube interview, Prof. Hudson emphatically pointed out that Israel is the Unipolar Hegemon’s “land-based aircraft carrier” in the Middle East – to ensure that “the spice must flow”. Meaning, diplomatic protestations notwithstanding, that the munitions will flow. That said, I wouldn’t discount the effectiveness of an invigorated BDS effort. An ICJ finding of ethnic cleansing, genocide and /or apartheid actions the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank will carry much weight in the multipolar RoW. Celebrities, athletes and other ‘influencers’ boycotting South Africa led to respected institutions and then manufacturers joining in until Afrkaaners had to sit down at the table and ultimately end apartheid. IMHO. To reiterate John and Yoko, “War is over, IF you want it”. Wishing y’all a Hopeful New Year!

        1. plurabelle

          Zelensky shows that just because one is Jewish doesn’t mean one would rein in the Banderites. Israeli Zionists went to fight with Azov batallion and other neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and now Ukrainian mercenaries are fighting with the IOF in Gaza. An influx of Zionists into Ukraine is likely to strengthen the Banderites. 97-98% of Jewish Israelis support the genocide in Gaza. Russian Israelis are no exception.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            More immediately, to prove your point, Zelensky’s one time patron, Ihor Kolimoisky, is Jewish and was deeply involved with some of the Banderitie groups. One explanation from a YouTuber (can’t recall which one) was that Kolimoisky wanted muscle and didn’t care about much else.

      6. Kouros

        Russia and China have signifficant Muslim populations that would be extremely pissed if their respective countries abstain. The message, internally would be that they themselves could be opened for genocide by the majority…

    2. ISL

      Since President Putin is already indicted by the ICC for removing children from a war zone and returning them to their parents who emigrated to Russia, Not sure that Russia has as much to lose.

      WRT China, Even the US now only claims China is doing cultural genocide (I claim exporting the new Barbie Movie is equivalent), so again, China has perhaps less to lose.

      Russia might, though, prefer to abstrain to preserve an ability to talk to both sides.

      In any case, Russia and China will prefer to abstain if not needed. The question is what happens if it does come down to insufficient votes to convict.

      I am heartened by how serious Israel is taking it. Perhaps it gives a red card to arrest Israeli plutocrats when they travel for medical care.

  3. vao

    What we can expect is that the conflict in Syria will again flare up strongly, as soon as those elusive so-called “opposition militias”, prodded by Israel and the USA, renew their attacks against the Syrian government and its Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian IRGC supporters. As a matter of fact, there have been some recent actions there by the remnants of Daesh.

    As far as the ICJ, the ICC, and the international convention against genocide go — this war in Palestine will probably discredit and delegitimize all those instruments of international public law once and for all. Diplomatic cynicism will remain, but at least there will be less hypocrisy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘As a matter of fact, there have been some recent actions there by the remnants of Daesh.’

      It is true that without the presence of the US troops in Iraq and Syria, that ISIS would have been obliterated ages ago. As for Israel’s relation to ISIS, Richard Medhurst noted that ‘Don’t you find it weird Al Qaeda and ISIS have never attacked a single Israeli asset, building, or person?’

      So mysterious…

      1. Polar Socialist

        I recall ISIS did once, by mistake, fire on Israeli side of the Syrian-Israeli border. But they apologized very, very quickly.

        1. The Rev Kev

          You recall correctly. Normally what would happen is that when the Syrian Army were pressing ISIS fighters too hard, that the ISIS fighters would lob a mortar round or two onto Israeli land. The Israelis would then retaliate of course – against the Syrian army. The Israelis would also interfere with Syrian communications as well to help ISIS fighters. But there was one video that came out showing the border region and Israeli soldiers were greeting ISIS fighters there like they were brothers. Very illuminating.

          1. nippersdad

            Thank you for this. This is new information for me, and it puts the two bombs going off in Iran in a new perspective.

  4. ciroc

    Why should Israel, which is already fighting Hamas, turn against the more powerful Hezbollah? To prolong the war. Netanyahu does not want a quick victory, and he knows that only a never-ending war will protect his position. He is killing Palestinian children to fuel the conflict between Jews and Arabs. So the real criminals are not Israel as a nation, but the dictator and his cronies.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Netanyahu could not take this course without having the support of a decent-sized swathe of Israel’s leadership. Several commentators have pointed out that Netanyahu is less radical than others in his Cabinet and the Knesset, as in getting rid of Netanyahu will not result in more moderate policies. They could actually become worse.

      Recall he is already heading a coalition government and thus is not a decider.

      Recall also the Knesset meeting under Al-Aqsa mosque where they declared not just that Temple Mount was their land (as in the mosque would be taken and razed) but that Greater Israel (beyond Israel’s current boundaries) was also their land and they would take that too. This I took as a general but serious expression of aspiration.

      See here for background:

      And see Alastair Crooke from November (emphasis mine):

      So, the call is heard for “Israel” to ‘take’ Lebanon up to the Litani (a key water source) — and ‘serendipitously’ the Israeli air force has begun operating up to 40 kms inside Lebanon. Cabinet members now openly speak of the IOF needing to turn its attention to Hezbollah once Hamas has been ‘obliterated’.

      The northern border inevitably is heating up. Hezbollah is using its more sophisticated, and more lethal weaponry against IOF positions in northern “Israel” as the ‘rules’ of engagement continuously blur. And “Israel” is responding, with attacks shifting ever deeper into South Lebanon (ostensibly to strike at Hezbollah’s rear infrastructure).

      Last night the Israeli War Cabinet voted for striking a major blow at Hezbollah — but Netanyahu demurred. The US reportedly suspects that “Israel” is provoking Hezbollah, hoping to entice the US into a war on Lebanon.—nakba-doctrine

      1. ciroc

        I must admit that I made the mistake of thinking that a country created by the Zionists is a country occupied by the Zionists.

  5. The Rev Kev

    With SecState Antony Blinken due to visit, could it be that the Israelis will initiate some attack in Lebanon and then demand that he publicly come out with an official statement on behalf of the White House backing Israel’s actions – and thereby leaving the door open for the US to militarily support more attacks? At this stage, nothing less that getting the US military involved in an expanded war will save Netanyahu’s bacon. Just wait until Netanyahu goes to Washington this year and does a Zelensky with a beggar’s bowl.

      1. nippersdad

        It has looked like a case of timewasting for the benefit of Israel while also providing an exercise in CYA when implicated in the war crimes Israel is being credibly accused of. It is hard to make the case that you are looking for a way out when the Houthi’s have already provided one.

        The ceasefire a few weeks ago showed exactly how what Blinken is seeking could be secured when all parties downed weapons during the period of the ceasefire. That the State Department has defied Congress and signed off on a weapons transfer since then shows this to be a lot of Kabuki theater. It is just bad cops all the way down.

  6. Dissident Dreamer

    Profoundly depressing.

    In my apparently infinite naivety I assumed the ICJ would decide on the facts and the law. So much for that and so much for “international law”.

    Finklestein seems to assume that Russia and China believe they would lose their cases at the court if they were to come up or at least that they wouldn’t want the arguments to be aired. It seems to me that the arguments against them would be far weaker than those against Israel although I suppose they might consider a “no” vote to be some kind of insurance.

    It also seems odd to me that both would eschew the opportunity to be seen as moral leaders for the RoW but I have to admit that Finklestein is better placed to judge than I am.

    I will continue to hope although what I thought of as a slam dunk now looks like a long shot.

    The idea that the world will officially approve what’s going on in Palestine is simply unacceptable to me.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The ICJ already has an arrest warrant for Putin who did not travel to a BRICS meeting in South Africa to avoid putting S.A. into a bind. My gut is the S.A. suit is about the nail in the coffin of soft power Western entities. The US, at least no time soon, isn’t going to put Netanyahu in a place where he might get arrested.

      1. Dissident Dreamer

        I think that was the ICC rather than the ICJ both from memory and because the first is about countries and the second about people.

        I’ve read plenty about the ICC being in the pocket of the US, not least here at NC, but not so much about the ICJ which led me to think an honest verdict might be possible.

        If Finklestein is right then South Africa has badly miscalculated given that a vote that says Israel has done nothing wrong will strengthen western soft power and leave Israel to do whatever it wants.

        1. nippersdad

          Perhaps I am also naive, but I tend to see the case in the same way that you do. Finklestien may be overly cynical about this, because it would represent an opportunity to back a fellow BRICS member in front of the RoW in showing how weak the cases against both Russia and China actually are, and why. This would bolster efforts to create an alternative to the UN that is actually based upon international law.

          The ICJ has had a front row seat in seeing how delegitimized both the Security Council and the ICC have become, and that is a good argument for their not delegitimizing themselves in the same way.

          There is also the case that this war could easily spill over into Syria and Iran, projects Putin has spent a lot of time on and may not want to see degraded.

          And, finally, however Putin may want to show Russia as a neutral arbiter in the conflict, the case is solid. In this case neutrality is in conflict with legality. He is a lawyer, after all, and has shown himself to hew closely to the law when it suits him. In this case there would be a lot to suit him in that it takes the Ukraine war off the front page while still bleeding the Golden billion.

          As Russia goes so would China. After having spent so much time finding peace between SA and Iran, would they want to be on the wrong side of the Muslim Street that they have been courting? I think this is a larger issue for them than just ducking and covering from any potential backlash from a delegitimized body would suggest.

          Jeffrrey Sachs says that the ICJ has nothing on China…

          …and even the partisan Ukrainian press openly shows that the case WRT Russia is politicized….

          …so this looks more like an opportunity for them than anything else. I would give Finklestein two more votes in favor of South Africa, Malaysia and Turkey..

          1. Dissident Dreamer

            Thanks nippersdad. I agree with everything you say here and throughout this thread, particularly about the need for an alternative UN and this:

            And, finally, however Putin may want to show Russia as a neutral arbiter in the conflict, the case is solid. In this case neutrality is in conflict with legality.

    2. Taufiq Al-Thawry

      So more of a thought than a deeply substantiated argument…

      I actually cannot see Russia or China naively believing that an abstention would buy them any favor if/when the US felt it advantageous to drag them before the ICJ. It’s been far too established the US is both “non-agreement capable” and willing to exploit any opportunity to poke their rivals in the eye. To abstain now, only to be put before the court to defend themselves in the future, seems both plausible and embarrassing if they thought they were making diplomatic chess moves.

      Finally, what makes the potential tit-for-tat end there. As a notable aside – South Africa’s filing makes clear the distinction definitionally between “genocide” and other war crimes like “collective punishment” and “ethnic cleansing”. But if the US were to take Russia and/or China to the ICJ for any of the above, it seems to me that it’s all too obvious to follow up and charge the US for their vast war crimes in the Iraq War at a minimum.

      I think it’s very possible that, as JW notes below, the calculation may be to further isolate the US in this precise moment where the microscope is firmly upon their support/involvement in the genocide

  7. JW

    I think Finkelstein is wrong here. China and Russia have every reason to politically isolate the USA.

    1. hk

      More important, I don’t think SA would have brought the case without carefully consulting Russian and Chinese diplomats. As others have pointed out, ICJ is a formal UN body, not like the ICC which has, eh, a more interesting legal and historical foundation. Also, SA case is, as I understand it, largely built on the words of the Israeli leaders and much more objective evidence, in line with a laws-based rather than “rules”-based order, in line with Russian and Chinese arguments about how international order should be run.

  8. Socal Rhino

    Hezbollah and its allies almost certainly have planned for a possible widening of the war. I wonder what surprises they have in store as counters. The world has apparently been surprised by the successful Houthi actions to block shipping, are other asymmetrical actions planned? I think that’s the more interesting question.

    1. Ferencvaros

      I’m confused. Are you critical of Israel for starting a war with Lebanon or you think Hezbollah is provoking Israel ?

  9. TomDority

    Mass human rights violations, torture, war crimes and genocide are never justified in my thinking – and the excuses made, the maneuverings and secret actions to justify the same are equally as bad. But I guess, one would have to admit ones culpability and mistakes leading to the developments of these humankind atrocities – our apparent human nature towards violence and dominance over others of our species. Maybe it’s just a weird proclivity, a way of political artistry by politicians to ensure a leadership role by using, what seems to be, the lure of car crash like spectacle or outrageous conduct to gain audience and support… media exposure, a circus for entertaining the bored masses, a way to set stage of heroics for the non-heroic….no matter how extinction defying, until the unknown future, as it is indicating, stamps us all out.

    Sorry for the referral to heroics, heroes and all that.
    I will not be voting for either Trump or Biden or others claiming to keep me safe, telling me how they are the brave and will make things great, or defending me against whatever threat of-the-day to democracy and this republic exists –
    I believe, despite the daily news, that a human decency does pervade in most and that a Republic or Democracy best defense to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” and other (I think) proven maxims;
    “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” -Alexis de Tocqueville

    . “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” -George Orwell

    “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

    It goes on and on – a little bit of history repeating

    1. Jams O'Donnell

      “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite . . .”

      Fortunately or unfortunately for the rest of the world, the US has not had an educated citizenry (or for that matter, government) for at least the past 40 / 50 years now.

      Consider this quote from an American education expert:
      “The US has never been first in the world, nor even near the top, on any international tests. Consistently over the past half century, American students have typically scored near the median at best, but most often being in the bottom quartile. The historical record indicates that American elementary students are only average at best, their performance degrading year by year until high school seniors perform last in almost all international tests. The International Science Studies that began in high schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s found that 14-year-olds were below average and seniors scored last of all countries. In the International Mathematics tests that began in the 1960s, American high school seniors scored last of all nations. In the 1982 International Mathematics Study, high school seniors placed at the bottom on almost every test. In terms of the PISA tests, American students – placing last – are simply following the pattern that has been consistent for the past 50 years or more.”

      And a quote from one news report: “In October of 2013 a new global report issued by the OECD found that Americans ranked well below the worldwide average in just about every measure of skill. In math, reading, and technology-driven problem-solving , the United States performed worse than nearly every other country… The US would have looked even worse if China had been included in this study. In basic literacy – the ability to understand and use basic written text – 80% of Americans reached only a level 2 out of 5. And in math and numerical proficiency, using numbers in daily life, they are worse … and 10% scored below level 1. Technological literacy and ability were worse too. In problem-solving in a technological environment and the use of “cognitive skills required to solve problems”, the Americans were at the bottom.” And that bottom is in math, vocabulary, language usage and technology, with Chinese students far surpassing the Americans even when using a language that is not their own.

      You could also add Geography and foreign History to the above mentioned areas of study, with the same results.

      1. GF

        Thanks for the post. It’s all going according to plan. The USA wants only the elites’ children to be educated to a level that competes with China et al. The other 80-90% of the US population are educated just enough to do the bidding of the elites in a satisfactory manner.

        1. hk

          The trouble is that a lot of elites’ children are dumb (if only b/c there aren’t that many smart people, period.) so the elite education doesn’t help things much–see Sullivan, Jake. It would be better if the smart people were drawn from the broader population, but we can’t have that…

          1. undercurrent

            Just what are smart people? And please don’t say that the road to hell is paved with smart people. A wag might say that it’s those smart people who do, indeed, pave the road to hell with, well, not so smart people.

    2. hk

      ” Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks–no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea.”

      James Madison, at the Virginia Ratifying Convention. A useful counter to Federalist #10 which gets too much attention for its own good.

  10. Aurelien

    OK, let’s remind ourselves of what’s what. The ICJ exists to settle international legal disputes between states: it has no jurisdiction over individuals, and its judges and staff have no expertise in criminal law. Under Art IX of the Genocide Convention,

    “Disputes between the Contracting Parties relating to the interpretation, application or fulfilment of the present Convention, including those relating to the responsibility of a State for genocide or for any of the other acts enumerated in article III, shall be submitted to the International Court of Justice at the request of any of the parties to the dispute.”

    This is entirely different from the provisions of Art XVIII (recourse to the Security Council) and has nothing to do with the ICC, which judges individuals, and not states, under criminal law procedures. So effectively, South Africa has one interpretation of the behaviour of Israel under the Convention, and Israel has another, and the judges are supposed to decide who is right. Theoretically, for example, since Israel is obliged under the Convention to “prevent and punish” (Art 1) not just genocide itself, but “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” (Art III (c)) then anyone in Israel who has been calling for genocide should have been arrested and charged by the Israeli government, under its obligations in Art VI. Since this has not happened, the ICJ could find that Israel is in breach of its duties under the Convention. But what then? Well, SA appears to be relying on Art 41 of the ICJ Statute which says that

    “The Court shall have the power to indicate, if it considers that circumstances so require, any provisional measures which ought to be taken to preserve the respective rights of either party.’

    It’s a clever idea, but since the “parties” are SA and Israel, it’s hard to see how this could have any practical effect, especially as there is no enforcement.

    In fact, it’s hard to see how the ICJ, an organisation with no expertise in criminal law, could even make a determination about genocide, since the question depends entirely upon convincing evidence of what was in the mind of the person who committed, or ordered, the killings or other genocidal acts. Recall that the Elements of Crime in the ICC statute for Genocide are:

    “The perpetrator killed one or more persons.
    2. Such person or persons belonged to a particular national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
    3. The perpetrator intended to destroy, in whole or in part, that national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as
    4. The conduct took place in the context of a manifest pattern of similar conduct directed against that group
    or was conduct that could itself effect such destruction.”

    This is a mess, however lawyers may like to play with the ideas (and it should be said that the SA submission is very good.) But it’s a natural consequence of a Convention whose purpose was entirely political, being used as a basis for criminal prosecutions, which is why the (few) successful prosecutions for Genocide have involved effectively ignoring what the Convention says, and making stuff up. But here, we’re in the different area of international law, and I couldn’t be surprised if the ICJ were simply to say, after some deliberation, that it simply wasn’t in a position to make a judgement for want of evidence. Remember, the ICJ is not going to find Israel “guilty” or “innocent,” (that’s criminal law, and states can’t be guilty of individual criminal acts) but only of failing in their duties under international law.

    1. Polar Socialist

      I’ve understood that South Africa is not asking the ICJ to find if Israel is performing a genocide – which, as you say, ICJ might be unable to decide on – but to decide on whether South Africa’s or Israel’s interpretation of genocide is valid within the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which both parties are signatory so ICJ indeed has jurisdiction here.

      That, I believe, is the South Africa’s game here: South Afric and Israel are in a disagreement regardin a UN convention, and they’re asking the matter to be settled. As it happens, if South African interpretation wins, then it follows that Israel is in dire violation of the aforementioned convention, but of course that is not on trial here, just resolving a simple disagreement between two parties is all.

      I may well be mistaken, though, and the [family blogging] application for instituting proceedings is 80+ pages long, written in the diplomatic dialect of legalese. But it does at try to assert ICJ’s jurisdiction in chapters 8 to 17.

      1. Aurelien

        I think that’s right as far as it goes, but the SA application also asks the Court to establish Israel’s “responsibility for violations of the Genocide Convention; to hold it fully accountable under international law for those violations” as well as in the short term to “protect the Palestinian people in Gaza by calling upon Israel immediately to halt all military attacks that constitute or give rise to violations of the Genocide Convention.” That seems top me to go an awfully long way, when you consider the limited scope of the ICJ Statute. But in any event, IANAL, and we shouldn’t get bogged down too far in detail. I wanted to distinguish the two types of legal process here: the ICJ is essentially about the resolution of interstate quarrels, and here SA is using the Statute in, let’s say, an imaginative fashion, essentially as a way of putting pressure on Israel politically. But any criminal charges against individuals are an entirely different affair, and we are nowhere near that.

    2. Socal Rhino

      I think this is less about the potential for an unenforceable judicial decision and more about Israel’s reputation (and that of its patron). Not in a warm and fuzzy sense but perceptions of invulnerability or vulnerability.

      1. nippersdad

        There are many ways to enforce a judicial decision. If the court finds for South Africa and issues a stay on Israel from continuance of the genocide then it would give political cover to all of those other states that trade with Israel, and an international coalition of the ROW just might engage in the kind of BDS movement that brought down South African Apartheid. Things like that are actually required under the convention by all signatories, and they cannot fight everyone. Plus, as you say, it would be a stick in the eye of those countries that supported Israel, something a lot of countries would enjoy doing at this point.

        Their (Israel, US, Britain, France…) economies are already hurting, and that could not help them one iota.

    3. Victor Sciamarelli

      Thanks for your informative post. However, you state, “…the question depends entirely upon convincing evidence of what was in the mind of the person who committed, or ordered, the killings or other genocidal acts.”
      In his Substack piece, John Mearsheimer says the SA application makes clear “what was in the mind” and he wrote, “The application provides a substantial body of evidence showing that Israeli leaders have genocidal intent toward the Palestinians. Indeed, the comments of Israeli leaders – all scrupulously documented – are shocking. One is reminded of how the Nazis talked about dealing with Jews when reading how Israelis in “positions of the highest responsibility” talk about dealing with the Palestinians. In essence, the document argues that Israel’s actions in Gaza, combined with its leaders’ statements of intent, make it clear that Israeli policy is “calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.”
      He continued, “In short, the application makes clear that what the Israelis have done in Gaza since 7 October is a more extreme version of what they were doing well before 7 October.”
      Genocide in Gaza —

      1. Aurelien

        This argument amounts to saying that something called “genocide” is happening, although no particular individual or individuals can be pointed to as both having (1) committed or ordered the acts and (2) at the same time manifested an intent, provable to criminal standards, of destroying another group “in whole or in part.” “Genocide” in that case becomes as abstraction, like “evil” or “sin.” Statements by themselves don’t mean anything unless it can be shown that the authors also committed or ordered criminal acts personally, and actions by themselves don’t amount to genocide unless their authors personally displayed an intent to destroy a group to a criminal evidence standard of proof. Which is why all successful genocide prosecutions have pretended that these problems don’t exist, and just made stuff up.

    4. Kouros

      The ultimate point is a lot of egg on Israel and US (and everyone who provided weapons to Israel and incited to genocide/ethnic cleansing) followed by within their own jurisdictions court cases based on ICJ findings…

  11. Victor Sciamarelli

    Anybody who follows events in the ME knows that Gaza was practically unlivable before 10/7. Obviously, that’s one reason 10/7 happened. I can’t even imagine what the place is like now.
    Moshe Dayan once said, “Our American friends offer us money, arms, and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice.”
    Blinken and Netanyahu might welcome these rockets from Hezbollah as long as they’re not landing in downtown Tel Aviv. The minor damage helps Israel project some moral equivalence to events and lend support to its self defense narrative.
    Escalate the war in an election year? Even if the US stays out, it sounds too risky. If Israel starts losing, will Biden remain on the sidelines for long?
    Lastly, I don’t think Blinken is a fool but I don’t think he’s fully capable of making independent judgments either.

  12. Carolinian

    A couple of relevant links. This one says Lebanon war less likely

    New Patrick Lawrence says US policy is drifting along in a dream state disconnected from reality so anything is possible.

    Lawrence makes a big point out of the media role in all this and I think that’s right. Perhaps the strongest case to be made for a Trump return is that the press hates him and arguably the only time in recent decades that they truly performed their claimed “truth to power” role was with another president they hated: Nixon. And Nixon hated them.

    Not that Watergate times were good times but it beats having a ruling class marching lockstep toward Armageddon and doing so based on a propaganda version of the world that they themselves believe.

    As for Putin we’ll see what happens. I think he will vote yes.

  13. CA

    January 4, 2024

    Genocide in Gaza

    I am writing to flag a truly important document that should be widely circulated and read carefully by anyone interested in the ongoing Gaza War.

    Specifically, I am referring to the 84-page “application” that South Africa filed with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 29 December 2023, accusing Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. It maintains that Israel’s actions since the war began on 7 October 2023 “are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic … group in the Gaza Strip.” That charge fits clearly under the definition of genocide in the Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.

    The application is a superb description of what Israel is doing in Gaza. It is comprehensive, well-written, well-argued, and thoroughly documented. The application has three main components.

    First, it describes in detail the horrors that the IDF has inflicted on the Palestinians since 7 October 2023 and explains why much more death and destruction is in store for them.

    Second, the application provides a substantial body of evidence showing that Israeli leaders have genocidal intent toward the Palestinians. Indeed, the comments of Israeli leaders – all scrupulously documented – are shocking. One is reminded of how the Nazis talked about dealing with Jews when reading how Israelis in “positions of the highest responsibility” talk about dealing with the Palestinians. In essence, the document argues that Israel’s actions in Gaza, combined with its leaders’ statements of intent, make it clear that Israeli policy is “calculated to bring about the physical destruction of Palestinians in Gaza.”

    Third, the document goes to considerable lengths to put the Gaza war in a broader historical context, making it clear that Israel has treated the Palestinians in Gaza like caged animals for many years. It quotes from numerous UN reports detailing Israel’s cruel treatment of the Palestinians. In short, the application makes clear that what the Israelis have done in Gaza since 7 October is a more extreme version of what they were doing well before 7 October.

    Fourth, the South African document emphasizes that there is no reason to think this genocide is going to end soon, unless the ICJ successfully intervenes. It twice quotes the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 25 December 2023 to drive that point home: “We are not stopping, we are continuing to fight, and we are deepening the fighting in the coming days, and this will be a long battle and it is not close to being over.” Let us hope South Africa and the IJC bring a halt to the fighting, but in the final analysis the power of international courts to coerce countries like Israel and the United States is extremely limited.

    Finally, the United States is a liberal democracy that is filled with intellectuals, newspaper editors, policymakers, pundits, and scholars who routinely proclaim their deep commitment to protecting human rights around the world. They tend to be highly vocal when countries commit war crimes, especially if the United States or any of its allies are involved. In the case of Israel’s genocide, however, most of the human rights mavens in the liberal mainstream have said little about Israel’s savage actions in Gaza or the genocidal rhetoric of its leaders. Hopefully, they will explain their disturbing silence at some point. Regardless, history will not be kind to them, as they said hardly a word while their country was complicit in a horrible crime, perpetrated right out in the open for all to see.

  14. Bippity Squick

    Mount Meron is within Israel as of the 1949 UN Demarcation Line. (Do people disregard the boundaries of any other countries out of convenience when it suits a cause?) Moving on, Israel “loses” every war game because Israel (like the US) trains while simulating catastrophic systemic failure to create something worth studying.

    The one thing to know about Netanyahu is he is not a risk taker, to his detriment as a leader. A fix is always in with him. So, if Foggy Bottom publicly announces Blinken’s going to Israel, then Israel has already shelved an offensive, in exchange for something, for the moment. Netanyahu is not audacious in his gambits (that would be Ehud Barak). Netanyahu’s surgical operations are performed with a hammer not a scalpel. But everything Netanyahu hits is a military objective according to Hague Convention IV – Laws and Customs of War on Land.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, and Israel is pretty much universally believed to have shelled a residential neighborhood of Beirut before Hezbollah shelled Meron, which is the name of an airbase (the “Mount” is Hermon). Last I checked, Beirut is within Lebanon’s internationally recognized borders. Your point?

      Regarding war games, that is not what Scott Ritter says, and he has extensive experience with the IDF. He made clear that it is particularly pathetic to be unable to win your own war games. And he has separately, with detail, described how the IDF is a third tier military.

      Your last para is laughably false. Please read the South Africa ICJ foiling, or the overwhelming evidence on Twitter of civilians slaughter in Gaza. As Israel’s crimes mount, it’s hasbara is becoming more and more lame.

      1. gk

        I think your Xitter links confused you a bit. I served for a few months at the Meron base. This was over 40 years ago, but I doubt the mountain moved. Anyway, here are the details:

        Mount Meron is the highest mountain in pre-1967 Israel, and is the site of the Northern Command airforce control base (not an airbase, as nobody in their right mind would land on a mountain). It is in pre-1967 Israel, and (I think) even within the 1947 partition boundaries.

        Mount Hermon is the highest mountain in current Israel, used (I think) mainly for espionage. It was occupied from Syria, and I don’t think the Palestinians claim it.

        Anyway, you don’t have to trust me. Here is a link with an amazingly detailed view of the base. It looks good enough for aiming missiles at (and may well have been used for this purpose). You can zoom out and explore exactly where it is with respect to the borders etc.

  15. Eclair

    Thank you, Yves. We now know the difference between the ICC and the ICJ. Short version: ICC deals with people, ICJ, with nations.

    The US is not a party to the ICC because: The Constitution. Russia, China and India are not parties to the ICC, along with a number of smaller countries.

    A list of people indicted by the ICC starts in 2005 with Joseph Kony, an Ugandan ‘militant,’ and ends in March 2023 with Vladimir Putin, a Russian President. In between are 50 people, almost all of whom are African. Until the most recent indictments of five Russians. But, I guess, Africans and Russians are Bad Guys by definition.

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ), on the other hand, seems to keep a low profile, even on internet search engines, which keep spitting out links on the ICC. But, the ICJ occupies a really cool Gothic building in The Hague. A cursory search seems to indicate that they have been working on the Venezuela-Guyana dispute (remember that from before October 7?) since …. 2018. Yawn.

    The ICJ website is bursting with information on the new filing. Naptime is over!

    Apologies for my cynicism. Whining about the hardships of viewing daily videos of dead babies, mass graves, men paraded in public in their underwear, bombed cities in ruins, pales besides the the daily life of the Palestinians who are experiencing these horrors in person. But this is tearing apart our already fragile nation. I keep pinching myself: America the great and good, is an enabler of an ongoing genocide. (OK, the US hands are not clean and we have perpetrated and/or ignored some ethnic cleansings in the past.) We supply bombs (and other higher tech stuff, thank you very much Google and Amazon) to the Israelis, who then murder women and children, smash their homes and churches and hospitals, and our politicians justify it with po-faced lies.

    These acts, and whether we accept the lies and the cover-ups, or whether we face the reality that the US has become the Evil Empire, seems to me to be the big question in the 2024 election. As for voting to Save ‘Democracy,’ why? So we can plaster it over the facade of a nation that is fatally infected, at the top, with the pox of greed, corruption and venality.

    1. nippersdad

      “The US is not a party to the ICC because: The Constitution.”

      Which brings up an interesting question, for me, anyway. If the ratified treaties are enfolded into the Constitution, why wouldn’t the courts that enforce them also be by implication? Would it not be unConstitutional to ignore the court that presides over your Constitutional duties under those laws? The case could be made that supporting a court system outside of US jurisdiction would erode American sovereignty, but that was also the case for giving international courts (ISDS) jurisdiction over trade deals like NAFTA.

      When does it become a moot point that if you are a signatory to the laws governed by the court you are also by extension a member of the court whether you have chosen to sign on to it or not?

      1. Carolinian

        From what I read the whole concept of “international law” has only existed since WW2 and Nuremberg. For sure there were such things as the “Geneva Convention” before that and the Nazis even abiding by these rules in their prison camps for Westerners. But after WW2 it was also claimed that the age of imperialism was over after two horrific World Wars and we’ve seen how that worked out. Given the current elite enthusiasm for rolling back the clock why would they care about international law? Israel has ignored it from day one establishing the all important “it’s ok if we do it” principle (because they were actually striking a blow against prejudice with their Jewish state don’t you see).

        In the fifties scifi The Day The Earth Stood Still the man from outer space threatened to put robots in orbit who would automatically zap any signs of violence from the inhabitants below. He said it was how the rest of the Universe kept peace. Opposed to this is Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game where the rules were stated succinctly: “everybody has their reasons.” We are living in that second movie.

        1. nippersdad


          We have ratified things like the Geneva Conventions and the convention on Genocide, so who is required to rule on such things is a Constitutional issue whether one likes it or not. Whether or not we sign the Rome Statute seems kind of moot. We are still governed by their decisions, we just won’t have any institutional input.

          1. JonnyJames

            On the other hand: the US routinely ignores the law and makes a mockery of it. Besides, who can enforce any law that the US violates? Congress can simply ignore it.

            Tony Blair, Bush Jr. and the gang were never held to account, and they are wealthier than ever before. The TBTF banksters were rewarded for their crimes and no one was held to account. These are just a few examples.

            1. nippersdad

              I hear you, but at what cost?

              Every time they have done that it has been at great cost to the very elites that have done it, to the point where they are downright despised here in the US, itself, by the bases of both legacy parties. It is unbelievable to me how fast the US and its’ allies have fallen into disrepute on the world stage.

              I can’t say that I am sorry to see it. I remember writing op-eds for my local paper against going into Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, Now that the grave is well in sight, I have to wonder how much longer this can be continued.

  16. JonnyJames

    “…despite Hezbollah being in better fighting form than it was in 2006 and beat Israel in the end, the broader societal costs are dangerously high. The flip side is Alexander Mercouris has argued that countries that win wars, even with great loss of manpower and infrastructure, emerge stronger. But is Lebanon, even if it were to march into and hold Galilee, too close to being a failed state for that to apply?…”

    Just to clarify: Lebanon has been a “failed state” for a long time (that’s a whole other book). It seems safe to say that any organized action coming from Lebanese territory is solely Hezbollah, not Lebanon as a state actor. Does anyone have an idea of how much Lebanese state resources, if any, might be mobilized to support Hezbollah?

    Although a stronger force than in 2006, Hezbollah’s ability to conquer and hold a chunk of Israeli territory is unprecedented and I would say unlikely. Hezbollah is prepared for an Israeli incursion, and inflict heavy damage.

  17. nippersdad

    The Pope weighs in again:

    A whole lot of talk talk, but when will he do that which is actually within his power to do? He could make his point much more effectively were he to just excommunicate Biden, Pelosi and any other Catholics he can find in support of Israel, and then make them question why.

    If AIPAC can make Judaism relevant (however dishonestly), why does the Pope think he is in any less of a position to do so?

    1. JonnyJames

      That would be something: a public excommunication of Biden and any other RC in Warshiton who supports the genocide of Palestine. Although the pope has no divisions or missiles, he could at least, as you say, do something except empty hand-wringing and PR statements.

      1. Lorna MacKay

        Back in the Middle ages, the Pope not only excommunicated Catholic Monarchs, but also their subjects, who then put pressure on their rulers. Imagine if the Pope not only excommunicated Biden and US lawmakers supporting the genocide, but all USA Catholics!

    2. vidimi

      he’s also a head of state so he could also sign on to south Africa’s case. Alas, he has no moral leadership.

  18. furnace

    Thanks for the excellent post. To me (and frankly, at this point anyone with a moral conscience and a brain) the matter is clear: it’s genocide. The ICJ motion is nice and to me seems more of a posturing by the rest of the world (especially given it was South Africa who put it forward) against colonialism and genocide than really any attempt to stop the genocide, since what would even be done? It’s clear that the Israeli leadership (and the population, for what it’s worth) doesn’t give a rat’s ass about what the rest of the world thinks.

    The problem is, South Africa thinks with legal motions, whereas Hezbollah “thinks” with missiles and a very capable army. It is clear that the IOF is getting trounced by the Resistance in Gaza, with estimates of more than 10 thousand disabled soldiers already. If they can’t conquer Gaza, how in the hell are they going to beat Hezbollah? Also, a general conflagration will obviously become an immediate jihad with people all over the Arab (and Turk) itching to serve: I read in a Telegram channel, I think “The Mediterranean Man”, who is Egyptian, that the soldiery really wanted to go to war against Israel, and was only stopped by the leadership. Though I of course can’t confirm this, if a general conflagration breaks out, what’s to stopping more Arabs from feeling that they really are being humiliated by little Yemen’s valiant efforts and should join the fight however possible?

    Israel could have, frankly, existed just fine with their pre-67 conquests. I believe now that Israel is a dead man walking, and the end results won’t be pretty.

  19. nippersdad

    Alistair Crooke just pointed out that Iraq has sent a ballistic cruise missile into Haifa in retaliation for the US assassination of their militia leader Abu Taqua.* A little Googling confirms this. One has to wonder how many cruise missiles they have, and if they could shut down the Haifa port with them. That would be huge.

    * Around the twenty six minute mark

    1. hk

      This is getting into a weird territory in terms of international law: US is occupying Iraqi territory without consent and is now engaged in actual acts of aggression against them. So are we at actual war with Iraq again, then? (Rhetorical question)

  20. Expat2uruguay

    Chinese and Russian ships are currently able to pass the Babel Mandeb without Houthi attack. I wonder if that could change based on how the countries vote in the ICJ?

  21. Ferencvaros

    Russia doesn’t want anything to do with the international justice system as it may have own problems there. China less so.

  22. vidimi

    if South Africa loses the case and Israel can continue its murder spree with no consequences it will be one of the most despiriting things yet. Any country voting against SA will have to think about how this will look when a million or more Palestinians will be martyred and Israel does the same to the West Bank.

  23. toska niemand

    i hope that the south african case against israel fails. thus when israel is experiencing the same thing then they will reap what they sowed and nobody will stand up for them.

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