Israel Cannot Hide From the UN Court

U.S. military force is useless or worse in sustaining regimes that lack broad international support and legitimacy,  writes Jeffrey Sachs.

Sun rising behind Long Island City and the sculpture, “”Good Defeats Evil,” by Zurab Tsereteli in the north garden of the U.N. headquarters in New York, 2020. (UN Photo/Manuel Elías)

By Jeffrey D. Sachs
Common Dreams

It is easy to be cynical about the international rule of law. No sooner had the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against the Palestinian people than the U.S. State Department declared,  “We continue to believe that allegations of genocide are unfounded and note the court did not make a finding about genocide or call for a ceasefire in its ruling…” 

Israeli leaders declared the case to be “outrageous” and “anti-Semitic.” 

Yet the risks for Israel of the ICJ ruling, and its follow-up in the next year or two, are profound. If Israel spurns the Genocide Convention, it imperils its place within the community of nations. 

True, the ICJ provisional ruling by itself will not end Israel’s war in Gaza or perhaps the mass killing of the Palestinian people, already at 26,000 and rising, with 70 percent women and children. 

The ruling by itself will not end U.S. complicity in Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians. Israel could not fight the war in Gaza one more day without the U.S. providing the munitions and other military support. 

Yet the ruling has started the clock on Israel’s future. If Israel continues to act with impunity and finds itself declared as genocidaire in the ICJ’s final ruling, Israel will become a pariah state. Young Americans in particular will pull the plug on U.S. backing for Israel. Israel will stand utterly alone, condemned by the world. 

Most of the 193 governments in the United Nations already disdain Israel’s behavior. Most see a country that has occupied the neighboring territories of Palestine for 57 years (since the 1967 war), that has scorned and failed to act on dozens of votes by the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly, and illegally and blatantly settled more than 700,000 Israelis in the occupied territories. 

Most U.N. member states hear clearly the expressions of visceral hatred by many Israeli leaders toward the people of Palestine. For example, the statement by Israeli President Isaac Herzog blaming all of the people of Gaza, as cited by the ICJ; and they understand clearly the intention of today’s Israeli government to occupy Palestine and rule over the 7 million Palestinian Muslims and Christians living in Israel and Palestine today. 

Apartheid Rule

Some of South Africa’s legal time on Jan. 26 for the ICJ order on an  indication of provisional measures in Pretoria’s genocide case against Israel. (ICJ)

South Africa brought the ICJ case against Israel in part because it knows murderous apartheid rule when it sees it, and it sees apartheid rule in Israel’s ongoing domination over the Palestinian people. 

Israel has so far not been deterred by global opinion because of its nuclear weapons, its messianic zeal and most importantly, the military, financial, and public backing of the United States, including its votes in the U.N. Security Council and General Assembly. 

Moreover, the U.S. and Israel have acted on the belief that the offer of U.S. money and weapons systems to the Arab nations would induce them to turn their backs on Palestinian people. 

Israel and the U.S. act with supreme arrogance, believing that military might makes right and that money talks. 

Yes, Israel also acts out of fear of the Palestinians, but that is the overbearing and grossly unjustified fear of the underdog, the conquered, and the displaced. By recognizing and making peace with an independent state of Palestine, Israel would remove the hate and humiliation that fuels support for Hamas, and thereby diminish the threats that lead to Israel’s own fears. 

Israelis should understand that the U.S. cannot — and will not — save Israel in the long run. It will not do so any more than America has “saved” South Vietnam; Iran after the U.S.-U.K. coup in 1953; Afghanistan after 2001; Iraq after the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003; Syria after the U.S. attempted overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in 2011; Libya after the NATO overthrow of Moammar Qaddafi in 2011; or Ukraine since the U.S.-led coup in 2014. 

US Debt, Ukraine & Military Adventures

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Kiev on Nov. 20, 2023. (President of Ukraine, Flickr, Public domain)

American military force is useless or worse in sustaining regimes that lack broad international support and legitimacy. America tires of each misguided military adventure and moves on, and will eventually do so vis-à-vis Israel if Israel becomes a pariah and outlaw state. 

Nor will U.S. money and weapons systems carry the day with the Arab neighbors. 

The U.S. is at the end of its financial largesse. The U.S. public debt is already 122.9 percent of GDP and rising rapidly. There is no consensus in Washington, D.C. on how to stabilize the U.S. budget, but one point is clear: large support for foreign countries will not be part of the bargain. 

The cutoff of U.S. financing for Ukraine, despite the intense lobbying by the politically powerful military-industrial complex, is a vivid case in point. Even access to advanced U.S. weapons systems will not persuade Arab nations to abandon the cause of a Palestinian state. 

In any event, Russian, Iranian, North Korean, Chinese, and other advanced weapons systems will be on highly competitive offer in future years, and with better financing terms. 

At the moment, the Israeli public ardently backs Israel’s brutality and slaughter in Gaza. The public is gripped by a combination of overwhelming fear, religious zealotry and state propaganda. 

Israelis widely believe that the Arab nations are implacably out to destroy Israel. They do not travel in the Arab countries and do not know or understand the attitudes and policies of those neighboring societies. They do not attend to the statements of Arab and Islamic leaders calling for peace based on the two-state solution because Israeli mainstream media, like U.S. mainstream media, is in the grips of relentless state propaganda, brain-deadening patriotism and relentless war-mongering. 

Israeli society is immeasurably traumatized by the Nazi Holocaust, which remains the central fact of modernity and memory of every Jewish family of European roots in any part of the world. 

An eventual finding by the world’s highest court that Israel itself has now become a perpetrator of genocide will therefore shake Israeli society to the roots and will rupture Israel’s social contract with world Jewry. At that very painful and very dire stage, Israeli public opinion may begin to reconsider its current assumptions. 

Yes, despite the ICJ ruling Israel’s killing goes on, but under greatly heightened legal and political scrutiny. Every Israeli murder in cold blood, every bombing of a hospital, every destruction of a Palestinian school or university, every Israeli denial of food and water for Gazans, will be meticulously recorded by South Africa’s superb legal team, and by highly respected legal institutes around the world, including the Center for Constitutional Rights and Law for Palestine. All will be duly conveyed to the ICJ. 

Palestine will survive the current horrific ordeal, deeply wounded but with strong worldwide backing. 

Israel’s future, by contrast, hangs in the balance, as it could soon find itself banished by the community of nations as a stark violator of international law. 

Israel urgently requires leaders who embrace international law over military force, humility over arrogance, and peacemaking over brutality. And Israel — no less than the United States — must come to understand the self-destructive futility of deploying military force to deny justice and political rights for the Palestinian people.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed The Earth Institute from 2002 until 2016. He is also president of the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development.

This article is from Common Dreams.

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

11 comments for “Israel Cannot Hide From the UN Court

  1. Georgie
    February 2, 2024 at 16:16

    Let us examine the current version of the “two state solution”

    The Palestinians must be “disarmed”. The Palestinian State is completely denied any ability to defend itself. The USA and Israel insist that the Palestinian State must be helpless and defenseless and unable to in any object or oppose anything that Israel desires.

    The Palestinian State will be a dictatorship. Biden and Blinken have been traveling trying to find a dictator who will accept the position. The words “democracy” and “self-determination” are completely absent from any plan for a Palestinian State.

    When the Americans say “Palestinian State” and “Two State Solution”, they envision a Palestine completely under their control, always following their commands, and who’s general task is to crush any opposition from the Palestinian people. The see a Dictator who keeps those “human-animals” under control, and who thus lets the Trump-Biden Deal of the Century progress without any pesky complaints from the people with a boot on their neck.

  2. Georgie
    February 2, 2024 at 16:10

    “Israel Cannot Hide From the UN Court”

    Doing a good job of it so far. And have been for decades. When has Israel ever obeyed a UN order or resolution? Does anyone every pay any attention to reality any more? Reality is that Israel laughs in the face of the UN, and has been doing that for decades.

  3. Michael H
    February 1, 2024 at 21:17

    I will never, ever knowingly do business with any Israeli company, brand or individual ever again. Not in any capacity, not ever. Israel has gone way too far and are beyond redemption. I’m appalled at how the US and many other governments have either supported mass murder or turned a blind eye to it. I’m appalled that the US and Europe is so willing to flirt with region-wide war or worse, and it is evident that international Zionism has taken a death grip on the scrotums of many elected officials. Shame on them.

  4. Adam Gorelick
    February 1, 2024 at 18:25

    Israel’s future is likely a bleak one, as it – like the U.S.A. – plunges deeper into an abyss of it’s own making by using brutal force in stead of diplomatic options to address “the Palestinian problem.” It will be fascinating to witness what must be the most propagandised society in the world, with the United States in close second, have to face realities that will present themselves in shock waves. Is there a more extreme example of a people and nation so entirely dependent on masturbatory lies and rationalizations for their/ it’s very existence ? While every country has a mythicized version of it’s history and character, 98% of Israelis cravenly cling to their Zionist creation story – heavily reliant on Holocaust exploitation – with it’s weird broth of adolescent self-righteousness and narcissism, ignorance, blind terror and savage loathing of the other. When the near inevitable time comes, in which the apartheid state is supplanted by a one {or two}state democracy, large numbers of the current generations of Zionists will probably flee in horror. But a new generation, not propagandised from infancy, could mirror the younger generation of American Jews who see through the flimsy edifice of Zionist mendacity and manipulation. Israel’s Zionist experiment- like it’s defacto inspiration, Nazism – can’t move to the exclusive residence of history too soon.

  5. SH
    February 1, 2024 at 12:36

    “By recognizing and making peace with an independent state of Palestine, Israel would remove the hate and humiliation that fuels support for Hamas, and thereby diminish the threats that lead to Israel’s own fears.”

    Problem is, Jeff, Israel has made it quite clear now and for some time that it will not “allow” a Palestinian State alongside the Jewish State of Israel …

    For quite some time, as the 2 state idea was being “entertained”, it was claimed that it was the Palestinians who “refused” to negotiate – meanwhile the Israelis were steadily encroaching on, taking over, Palestinian land, kicking them out, etc.etc. – the 2 state bit was a fig leaf giving Israel more time to carry out its ethnic cleansing – (just as the “talks” in Ukraine were stalled to give the US etc. more time to arm to kick out the Russians, “shucks it worked so well in Israel, let’s do it here!”)

    Sorry Jeff, but that 2 state thing, if it ever had a chance, has been so discredited, mangled, and basically made practically impossible. Just as in SA, there was no movement for “2 states” where no one could credibly claim those “bantustans” could form a State, Palestine has been chopped up so badly that Palestinians are living in their own “bantustans” which are getting smaller and smaller all the time ….

    “From the river to the sea”, Palestine, shall be free – is a phrase uttered by both sides – but not until “both” sides intend that freedom be extended to all sides, will there be freedom for any side …

    But until they get there – the killing must stop – as one side is attempting to wipe out the other side and we must not be “accomplices” in the attempt

  6. Jan
    February 1, 2024 at 12:23

    It is amazing that intelligent people can continue to support a two-state solution. How would a Palestinian state ever be anything but an apartheid bantustan? Why are we not demanding majority rule in Palestine, as we did in South Africa?

  7. BettyK
    February 1, 2024 at 11:23

    I hope Jeffrey’s predictions come true because Israel has become what it despised.

  8. Hester Eisenstein
    February 1, 2024 at 11:21

    Bravo to Jeffrey Sachs for this excellent analysis.

  9. Vera Gottlieb
    February 1, 2024 at 10:07

    israel can’t go on hiding behind the H0locaust and the world. Sooner or later the Zionist Nazis will have to face ‘the music’.

  10. TDillon
    January 31, 2024 at 19:42

    Force may be useless in the long run, but the ever-controlling “Neocons” are nevertheless pushing the US into an insane war with Iran for Israel. Here’s a comprehensive, blunt assessment of the impending tragedy, including that which could befall US citizens on US soil. Col. Douglas Macgregor interviewed by Clayton Morris, starts at 39:10 of video.
    Here we go! Biden decides to launch WAR with Iran, but when? | Redacted with Clayton Morris

    The “Neocon” grip on America’s government and press needs to be broken as soon as possible to save America from a devastating catastrophe.

    • Jack Lomax
      February 1, 2024 at 17:10

      Of course the zionistic grip of the Neocons over all government issues in the Disunited States of America needs to be broken but writing is easier than doing so since the richest people in the world are the small group of Zionists who have been in control economically and politically since at least the late 19th century. And incidentally they also control the UK.

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