Global South Takes Israel to Court

The Ukraine War and Israel’s genocide in Palestine have both accelerated the decline in the authority of NATO countries, writes Vijay Prashad. 

Tarek al-Ghoussein, Palestine, “Untitled 9” from the series “Self Portrait, 2002.”

By Vijay Prashad
Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

On Jan. 11, Adila Hassim, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, stood before the judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and said:

“Genocides are never declared in advance. But this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts.”

This statement anchored Hassim’s presentation of South Africa’s 84-page complaint against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Both Israel and South Africa are parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The filing by the South African government documents many of the atrocities perpetrated by Israel as well as, crucially, the declarations of intent to conduct genocide made by senior Israeli officials.

Nine pages of this text (pp. 59 to 67) list “expressions of genocidal intent” made primarily by Israeli state officials, such as calls for a “Second Nakba” and a “Gaza Nakba.” (Nakba, which means catastrophe in Arabic, refers to the 1948 expulsion of Palestinians from their homes that led to the creation of the state of Israel).

These chilling declarations of intent have appeared repeatedly in the Israeli government’s speeches and statements since Oct. 7 alongside racist language about “monsters,” “animals” and the “jungle” to refer to Palestinians.

In one of many such instances, Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Oct. 9 that his forces are “imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly.”

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, another advocate from South Africa, described these words as a “language of systematic dehumanisation.”

This language, alongside the character of Israel’s assault — which has thus far claimed over 24,000 Palestinian lives, displaced nearly the entire population of Gaza, and plunged 90 percent of the population into acute food insecurity — should provide a sufficient basis for the accusation of genocide.

It is fitting that Adila Hassim’s first name means righteousness or justice in Arabic and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s first name means trustworthy in Xhosa.

John Halaka, Palestine, “Memories of Memories,” 2023.

At the ICJ hearing, Israel was unable to respond credibly to South Africa’s complaint. Tal Becker, a legal advisor to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spent his entire presentation trying to indict Hamas, which is not a party to the dispute. It was Hamas, Becker said, that created the “nightmarish environment” in Gaza — not Israel.

After Israel made its case, the 15 ICJ judges began their deliberations. The presentations on Jan. 11–12 were merely the prima facie hearing to ascertain whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a trial, which — if it happens — would likely take years.

However, South Africa asked the court to apply “provisional measures,” namely an emergency order from the ICJ judges calling on Israel to stop its genocidal attack on Palestinians. This would be a significant blow to Israel’s already diminished legitimacy as well as the legitimacy of its major backer, the United States of America.

There is considerable precedence for this measure. In 2019, Gambia was able to get the court to order provisional measures against the government of Myanmar for its attacks on the Rohingya people. The world awaits the court’s verdict. 

SA Also Prepares Case vs US & UK

Ibrahim Khatab, Egypt, “Do What You Want Under the Trees,” 2021

The day before the hearings began, the U.S. released a statement saying “allegations that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded.”

Once more, the U.S. government fully backed Israel, intervening on its behalf not only in words but by providing arms and logistical support for the genocide. That is why South Africa is now preparing a filing against the United States and the United Kingdom to be submitted to the ICJ.

While the ICJ held its hearing, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told the press that the U.S. will “continue to supply [Israel] with the tools and capabilities they need,” which it did — again — as recently as Dec. 9 and 29, when it transferred additional arms to Israel.

When asked about loss of life concerns within Congress, Kirby said that “we still see no indication that [Israel is] violating the laws of armed conflict.”

Kirby, a former admiral, acknowledged that “there are too many civilian casualties.” However, rather than calling to end attacks on civilians, he said that Israel must “take steps to reduce that.” In other words, the U.S. has given Israel the green light and carte blanche support, and arms, to do whatever it would like to Palestinians.

When the people of Yemen, led by Ansar Allah, decided to block the movement of ships to Israel through the Red Sea, the U.S. formed a “coalition” to attack Yemen. On the day of South Africa’s presentation at the ICJ, the U.S. bombed Yemen.

The message was clear: not only will the U.S. provide unconditional support for the genocide; it will also attack countries that try to put a stop to it.

Worldwide Protests

Shaima al-Tamimi, Yemen, “So Close Yet So Far Away,” 2018.

The atrocities perpetrated by Israel, as well as the resistance of the Palestinian people, have moved millions across the world to take to the streets, many of them for the first time in their lives.

Social media, in almost all the world’s languages, is saturated with content decrying Israel’s terrible actions. The focus of attention does not seem to be diminishing, with 400,000 people marching on the U.S. capital last weekend in larger numbers than ever in the country’s history.

The increasing fervour and scale of these demonstrations have provoked concerns in the Democratic Party that U.S. President Joe Biden will lose not only the Arab American vote in such key states as Michigan, but that liberal-left activists will not support his re-election campaign.

Chie Fueki, Japan, “Nikko”, 2018.

The Geopolitical Shift

Over the course of the past two years, from the start of the Ukraine War until now, there has been a rapid decline in the West’s credibility. This drop in legitimacy did not begin with the Ukraine War or genocide in Palestine, though both events have certainly accelerated the decline in the authority of the NATO countries.

Ansar Allah spokesperson Mohammed al-Bukhaiti posted a video of a pro-Palestine march in New York that is perhaps indicative of the mood in most of the world and wrote:

“We are not hostile to the American people, but rather to the American foreign policy that has caused the death of tens of millions of people, threatens the security and safety of the world, and also exposes the lives of Americans to danger.  Let us struggle together to establish justice among people.”

Since the start of the Third Great Depression in 2007, the Global North has slowly lost its control over the world economy, technology, science, and raw materials. Billionaires in the Global North deepened their “tax strike,” siphoning a large share of social wealth into tax havens and unproductive financial investments.

This left the Global North with few instruments to maintain economic power, including the ability it once held to make investments in the Global South.

Later this month, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research will release a new dossier, “The Churning of the Global Order,” and a study, “Hyper-Imperialism: A Dangerous Decadent New Stage,” which detail the maladies of the present and the new mood created by the rise of the Global South.

The ICJ complaint filed by South Africa and backed by several Global South states is an indication of this mood.

Athier Mousawi, Iraq-Britain, “A Point to A Potential Somewhere,” 2014.

It is clear to most people in the world that the Global North has failed to address planetary crises, whether the climate crisis or the consequences of the Third Great Depression.

It has tried to substitute reality with euphemisms such as “democracy promotion,” “sustainable development,” “humanitarian pause,” and, from U.K. Foreign Secretary David Cameron and Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, the ridiculous formulation of a “sustainable ceasefire.”

Empty words are no substitute for real actions. To speak of a “sustainable ceasefire” while arming Israel or to speak of “democracy promotion” while backing anti-democratic governments now defines the hypocrisy of the Global North’s political class.

German Genocides

On Jan. 12, the German government released a statement saying that it “firmly and explicitly rejects the accusation of genocide that has now been made against Israel.”

In line with the new mood in the Global South, the government of Namibia reminded the Germans that they had “committed the first genocide of the 20th century in 1904–1908, in which tens of thousands of innocent Namibians died in the most inhumane and brutal conditions.” This is known as the Herero and Namaqua genocide.

Germany, said the government of Namibia, “is yet to fully atone for the genocide it committed on Namibian soil.” Therefore, Namibia “expresses deep concern with the shocking decision” of the German government to reject the indictment of Israel.

Israel, meanwhile, says that it will continue this genocide for “as long as it takes,” though its already tenuous justifications continue to deteriorate with increasing rapidity.

Behind this violence is the waning legitimacy of the NATO project, whose sanctimonies sound like nails being dragged across a bloodied chalkboard.

Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is an editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations.  His latest books are Struggle Makes Us Human: Learning from Movements for Socialism and, with Noam Chomsky, The Withdrawal: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the Fragility of U.S. Power.

This article is from Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

Views expressed in this article may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

7 comments for “Global South Takes Israel to Court

  1. Em
    January 21, 2024 at 09:24

    Ukraine, the loser of the war it was provoked into undertaking, by the same hegemon unreservedly standing behind the Israeli genocide being perpetrated against the Palestinian people, is attempting to imitate the successful guerrilla tactics of the Palestinian military wing, against its longtime oppressor, in the territories Ukraine lost to Russia.

  2. Robert
    January 21, 2024 at 08:15

    I have little hope that a United Nations associated court is going to rule against a western government. My view is that the entire UN is beyond reform and that the Global South countries need to build a new alternative from scratch. A very big task for certain, but doable. It would have to start within the BRICS organization but could include non BRICS countries in some form of membership. For anyone still hopeful that the current UN can be reformed, ask yourself this question: what has the UN done to identify, disclose to the world, and appropriately punish the perpetrator of the bombing of the two gigantic underwater gas pipelines majority owned by Russia?? Can the current UN be reformed? You have your answer.

    • Em
      January 22, 2024 at 08:36

      Let’s get real with a legitimate questions:
      The Global South and a more unified fraternity, outside of the UN will be more capable of mustering the might to rule against the hegemon from within?
      From where will a diluted UN substitute get the necessary power to veto the one major military obstacle, without going to war against it and finally ending all life on earth?
      Difficult to hear no doubt?

  3. Selina Sweet
    January 19, 2024 at 19:18

    It is as if the USA government rejects its own people with the unlimited support it continues to give to the monster named Israel. A marriage more powerful than one to climate amelioration, health care for all, killing the obscene wealth gap, and all other measures relating to improving the well being of us all. Astonishing, the shallow view Biden, Sullivan, Nuland, and Blinken apparently hold that what the citizens clamor for is insignificant. That their shutting out our voices will cause No wounding to the collective and will yield no fall out deleterious to the government’s designs with Israel nor to future electoral wins.. Such ignorance seems a kiss of death to the USA democracy, especially to the remnants left of it.

  4. Jeff Harrison
    January 19, 2024 at 17:37

    The Israelis learned a powerful lesson from Europe before and during WWII and now they visit those evils, not on the Europeans that visited them on the Jews, but rather on otherwise innocent populations.

    • Grau MD
      January 21, 2024 at 06:55

      SHIT ,as has been amply reiterated ,always runs down hill.

  5. January 19, 2024 at 16:17

    Corrected comment:

    The Global South, led by South Africa but backed by the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and others, is coming into its own, not only in terms of economic growth and comparative political power, but in terms of morality, the Global South is coming into its own after so much suffering, abuse and exploitation by neoliberal northerners bereft of mirrors who thus see themselves as the gods’ gifts to the world and expect to retain that status until history’s end. Hopefully the Global South will be successful and even more, hopefully the Global South will remain true to the ideals it now shares among its peers rather than become like those in the purported west whose time has passed, the walking dead whose decline they refuse to acknowledge or to understand and thus, zombie-like go crashing about destroying everything in their paths. It is entirely possible that the International Court of [purported] Justice will once again side with its masters and that justice will once more be denied, as it was to the millions of Jews brutalized, not only by the Nazis but for millennia by all of Europe and more recently by the United States as well, … brutalized until it was too late to do anything other than cast the blame elsewhere, ironically, in Palestine, where for generations prior to the Zionist invasions, Jews, Christians and Muslims shared exemplary coexistence. But the latest savagery in Palestine has opened eyes and the cultivated deceit and deception which for two century’s has dressed evil in sheeps’ clothing has become glaring, so glaring, that its utility may finally have run its course. Whatever happens in that purportedly sacrosanct tribunal, we in the Global South and many individuals of both intellect and conscience even in the Global North, if not their purportedly democratic governments, know the truth, and hopefully, we will all act on it. Act on it if only by imposing our own economic sanctions, whether collectively as states or individually as people, on the monsters massacring people, directly (Israeli Zionists) and indirectly (think the US, UK and Germany) and by refusing to ignore the reality from which the Western media shields its own citizens, making them willing accomplices to continuous depravity. Bless you South Africa, and bless the members of the Global South, like the Republic of Colombia, who have formally elected to back your efforts to see right and justice prevail.

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