AS’AD AbuKHALIL: Arabs Divided on ICJ Ruling

The liberal Arab camp thinks the ICJ ruling will lead to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian question, while the popular camp has lost faith in international organizations, including the ICJ.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arriving in Cairo for a. peace summit on Oct. 21, 2023. (GovernmentZA, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0)

By As`ad AbuKhalil
Special to Consortium News 

Israel will forever be stained with the label of genocide and its supporters will always be accused of supporting genocide after the International Court of Justice ruled last month that there was prima facie evidence to put Israel on trial for genocide. 

Even powerful foreign lobbies will find it difficult to remove the stigma. This is not lost on U.S. citizens who have spent untold millions of dollars and have heard too many lies to continue supporting an image of moral superiority. 

If an Arab country rather than South Africa had brought the charge of genocide, the U.S., and other Israel supporters would have easily dismissed it, pointing to a sordid record of human rights violations and repression by that government.  

But this was South Africa which, given its own record of human rights adherence since the end of apartheid, and high standards of democracy and equality embedded in the South African constitution, has emerged as a moral leader not only of developing countries but of the world.  South Africa is a moral superpower, while the U.S. has been reduced to a mere bully.

South Africa now leads the “Free World”  and not the U.S., NATO and its coalition of former colonial powers.  South Africa is the new superpower, without nuclear weapons. Its soft power is not the same as America’s, which camouflages naked aggression and the subjugation of other countries. 

Arabs Divided

There are two camps on ICJ ruling in the Arab world. The liberal intellectuals who are funded by Gulf despots and/or NATO governments/Soros insist that Arabs should never abandon their belief in the “international community” (a code word for the genocide axis of NATO) and in international law and human rights.

It is essential for this camp to push Arabs away from belief in the efficacy of armed struggle and resistance. It wants to undermine resistance movements in the Middle East by maintaining that there is a “peace process” and that the West — yet again — is serious this time about reaching a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue. The camp regards the ICJ ruling as yet another opportunity to reach justice peacefully through international organizations.

The other camp, which speaks more for free Arab public opinion, regard the notion of international law and human rights as tools and even Western government tricks to solidify their domination over people of the South.

They want to tranquilize and delude them into thinking justice can be restored through international fora. The fact that a month after the ICJ ruling, Israel continues its genocide in Gaza, and Western governments continue to endorse and sponsor it is testimony to the limitations and even the impotence of international organizations.

Hamas’ Popularity

The rise of the Hamas phenomenon is a manifestation of the popularity of belief in armed struggle. Arabs have spent years suffering from Israeli aggression and occupation while being deceived by the presence of a so-called “peace process” that would solve the Palestinian problem.

Many Arabs on the other hand are celebrating the World Court’s denigration of Israel by pinning the genocide label onto its war on Gaza.

And for the first time, genocidal statements by Israeli leaders (those statements go back to even before the founding of the apartheid state) are being used as legal evidence of intent to commit genocide under international law.

But Arabs are accustomed to the U.S. shielding Israel from all forms of international legal accountability. From the U.N. General Assembly Partition Plan of 1947 — when the U.S. bullied and bribed other countries to produce the desirable vote (see Walid Khalidi, From Haven to Conquest) — to the recent court order in The Hague, the U.S. usually resorts to bribery, trickery, pressure, intimidation and threats of sanctions against states and individuals to get what it wants.

Participants arriving for a special meeting in observance of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on Nov. 29, 2023. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

It didn’t escape Arab attention that not a single Arab state dared submit the petition to the World Court because they feared the wrath of the U.S. and its subservient Western allies. Jordan initially expressed willingness to issue a supportive document at The Hague but later seemed to equivocate, according to this report.  

Even the Palestinian Authority (which relies on NATO governments’ funding and Israeli-collected tax revenues) obediently followed U.S. orders regarding the PA’s repeated threats to challenge Israel in international institutions and fora.  

Arabs have been jubilant that Israel finally earned its genocide marks, even if the court did not rule that Israel has indeed committed acts of genocide. But that the court requested that Israel prevent the occurrence of genocide and to submit a report in that regard after a month, indicates that a country that was declared by David Ben-Gurion to be “a light unto the nations” is now regarded as a moral pariah — perhaps not by Western governments but by most developing countries and large swaths of Western public opinion.  

State reactions to South Africa vs. Israel at the ICJ. (Alonso Gurmendi, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The Tide Has Turned

When I first came to the U.S., all demographic segments of the American population identified with Israel over the Palestinians by a ratio of 6-or-7-to-1.  Today, the youth of the U.S. are split in support between Hamas and Israel. Those numbers were unthinkable only 40 years ago.

The South African case against Israel broke through a thick wall of Western protection of Israel. It is a precedent that can’t be reversed.  Israel won’t be able to wash off the stigma of genocide, no matter how many resolutions are produced by the U.S. Congress. People around the world understand that Congress is subservient to AIPAC.   

South Africa stood up against U.S. hegemony and opened the road for China, down the road, to muster more courage in standing up to U.S. control of international organizations.  

Yet, there is a need for caution.  Firstly, the ruling did not make much sense.  It cautioned Israel against perpetrating genocide, but it did not call for a ceasefire.  It also left it for Israel to report on its own genocide.  Genocide is too serious a breach of international law that the court should have assigned a special, outside commission to adjudicate the matter and not leave it to the goodwill of Israel.  

Despite South Africa’s courage and the ICJ’s willingness to investigate the charge, Israel was protected by the Western coalition that ludicrously maintained that the statements of Israeli officials (in which clear genocidal intent was registered) should be dismissed because they did not represent official policy.  

Imagine if the Nazi statements about Jews were dismissed at Nuremberg because this or that Nazi official did not represent official policy.  Certainly, the president of Israel and the minister of defense are much higher in the echelons of the government hierarchy than Eichmann was in the Nazi regime. 

The ruling is just one more sign that the international order set up by the U.S. after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. is coming apart before our eyes.  The system of Western hegemony and injustice must be dismantled for the sake of world peace and justice, and only the Republic of South Africa could muster the courage to breach it.  Even China and Russia fell short of this.   

South Africa’s representatives on left, Israel’s on right, 15 judges in foreground on Jan. 11 during public hearings at the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, on genocide charges against Israel. (International Court of Justice)

For propaganda purposes, the U.S. throws the charge of genocide against its enemies even when no evidence exists.  No Arab, indeed no reasonable human being, would ever take seriously the U.S. charge that China has been committing genocide against Muslims.  

In Gaza, we now have clear photographic evidence of genocide. We “know it when we see it” in the words of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart on pornography.  

The preliminary ruling by the ICJ (the final ruling may take months and years, with the U.S. working to make sure it doesn’t come sooner) is a political milestone, not an international juridical one.

On Goes the Killing

The genocide in Gaza continues unbated after the ruling and the Israeli government — by virtue of unconditional Western support — does not show any restraint whatever in the wake of the ruling.  

But South Africa showed that the West is not the world’s destiny: the Western monopoly over international morality has to end for the sake of the people of the world.  The U.S. and Israel (and the rest of the genocide coalition) are not happy with the verdict as the U.S. continues to officially oppose a ceasefire in the name of Israeli self-defense.  

Will the ruling make Arabs, and people of developing countries in general, more amenable to resorting to international justice? 

That is highly unlikely especially since the court did not devise a mechanism to halt the war of aggression, not that it has the power to do that. It is the International Criminal Court that was established to compensate for the ICJ’s lack of implementation powers of the ICJ, and the ICC, by virtue of U.S. bullying, has been dormant throughout this war.  

South Africa took its lead from the brave Palestinians of Gaza.  Their message: it is high time to change the world.

As`ad AbuKhalil is a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Lebanon (1998), Bin Laden, Islam and America’s New War on Terrorism (2002), The Battle for Saudi Arabia (2004) and ran the popular The Angry Arab blog. He tweets as @asadabukhalil

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

14 comments for “AS’AD AbuKHALIL: Arabs Divided on ICJ Ruling

  1. TP Graf
    February 16, 2024 at 07:07

    As horrific as the killings in Gaza and the West Bank are, it is little wonder we don’t bring this horror to a quick end. Why should Israel be forced to quickly end and held accountable when the USA has done all this and more for decades without any accountability for the perpetrators of one war crime after another?

  2. James1
    February 16, 2024 at 04:33

    Israeli Prime Ministers who were Terrorists and War Criminals

    Why does Israel keep electing terrorists, serial killers and avid proponents of racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide and war to its highest offices?

    David Ben-Gurion — #1 — Israel’s George Washington commanded the ethnic cleansing of approximately 750,000 Arabs during the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages in 1948.
    Levi Eshkol — #2 — Eshkol presided over the ethnic cleansing of another 250,000 Palestinians.
    Menachem Begin — #3 — Begin was the preeminent terrorist in the Middle East, murdering Arabs, Englishmen and Jews … until Ben-Gurion and Eshkol surpassed him.
    Ariel Sharon — #4 — A murderous war hawk, Sharon was responsible for the massacres of civilians at Qibya, Sabra and Shatila.
    Benjamin Netanyahu — #5 — “Bibi” caused the deaths and mutilations of thousands of children during Operations “Cast Lead,” “Pillar of Defense” and “Protective Edge.”
    Yitzhak Shamir — #6 — Shamir, as head of the terrorist Stern Gang, had British and Swedish nobles murdered for seeking peace between Palestinians and Israeli Jews!
    Ehud Barak — #7 — Assassin, Barak participated in death squads that killed women, policemen and a poet known as “The Conscience.”
    Golda Meir — #8 — “Mother Israel” threatened to destroy the world with nukes during a BBC interview and more than once insisted that Palestinians “did not exist” as a people.
    Yitzhak Rabin — #9 — Rabin signed an order for the children of Lydda to be ethnically cleansed “quickly, without attention to age.”
    Yigal Allon — #10 — Allon served in Special Night Squads which tortured and killed “without compunction.”
    Ehud Olmert — #11 — Olmert presided over the 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which killed 1,300 people and displaced more than a million others.
    Moshe Sharett — #12 — Sharett was a staunch proponent of compulsory population transfer (ethnic cleansing).
    Shimon Peres — #13 — Peres aggressively pursued nuclear weapons and succeeded in delivering them.

    Are there voices we can trust to tell us the truth about what really happened to the Palestinians, and why Israel chose the dark path of ethnic cleaning in 1948 and has pursued it ever since? Yes, we can listen to what the great Jewish intellectuals Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud said on the subject, and also the great icon of peace, Mahatma Gandhi. I encourage you to read this page, to study the quotes at the link immediately below, then to visit our pages where we reveal what Einstein, Freud and Gandhi said about the tragedy they saw unfolding, and how they explained the Palestinian resistance. There are links at the bottom of this page.

    I lived as best I could, and then I died.
    Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.
    —Michael R. Burch, “Epitaph for a Palestinian Child”

    How can we explain Israel’s ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, followed by a brutal military occupation that has terrorized Palestinian children and their mothers for decades? How can a “civilized” nation like Israel treat human beings like so many insects? Would it surprise you to learn that Israeli prime ministers and other high-ranking officials have called Palestinians “cockroaches” and “grasshoppers” and have even insisted that they are “not really a people” and therefore don’t actually exist?

  3. Eric
    February 15, 2024 at 19:21

    “this was South Africa which, given its own record of human rights adherence since the end of apartheid, and high standards of democracy and equality embedded in the South African constitution, has emerged as a moral leader not only of developing countries but of the world.”

    This is a considerable overstatement, IMO, but doesn’t detract from the kudos due South Africa for going to the ICJ.

  4. Voltaria Voltaire
    February 15, 2024 at 17:43

    I was very pleased with South Africa’s bravery and integrity at taking Israel to court over the Genocide, but at first dismayed with the outcome. Of course any sane person who can see what is happening would demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire. So I did some research to find out what happened and why that desired outcome did not occur. The below links have some insider info about why it didn’t occur and what the legalities involved were. Professor Francis Boyle in the Code Pink interview, linked below, helped clear up the difference between the courts ability to rule on genocide between two states and Israel’s case against Hamas. In the Chris Hedges interview with Craig Mokhiber the problem in the UN is elaborated on. In the Decensored News article there is s lot of good stuff. So I recommend watching and reading these things before passing judgement. It’s always good to have more, not less, information to judge with. So PLEASE check the links below.

    If we have an Organization or Government that has a good, humanitarian, stated purpose and it is not being achieved, there are potential reasons for it which must be investigated. They could be lying about their purpose and using it for a front. An example would be fact checkers that only pass on lies, half truths and propaganda while fighting inconvenient truths. Another reason could be that the majority of the group wants and works hard to achieve the good goal but it has been infiltrated by unsavory, corrupt or even psychotic individuals attacking from the inside and thwarting the achievement of the worthwhile stated purpose. It’s also possible they just need more help! So even though Netanyahu and company and other unsavory figures would love to get rid of the UN and UNRWA and International Law and the ICJ and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we MUST NOT let that happen. We need to help. We need the good laws and need to band together to change laws when they don’t serve humanity. We need to keep pushing to hold the corrupt and criminal accountable. I’m not even getting into the whole issue of armed resistance in this comment. Legally, the occupied have the legal right to self defence and resistance and the occupiers do NOT have the right to genocide their occupied. They seem to be saying “give me liberty or give me death” as Sam Husseini has pointed out. However as over 28,000 have now died and many more stand to, I would much rather see “give me liberty AND give me LIFE!!!!” So, now that we are seeing more clearly what many have been working so hard to hide and twist for so long, we need to do what we can to put pressure on, to see that sane international laws and treaties are ACTUALLY followed and when they are broken, the perpetrators are held to account. The majority of people in favor of human rights way outweigh the psychotics who carry out and forward genocides or give lip service to hide their real bad intentions. The links:

    Chris Hedges and Craig Mokhiber:


    Francis Boyle on the ICJ ruling


  5. Rafael
    February 15, 2024 at 15:03

    We can all applaud what South Africa has done in this case and be grateful for it.

    But before you gush on about the government’s “human rights adherence”, you might want to look up Marikana and its connection to Ramaphosa, who’s pictured in the article. The sad truth is that the ANC government betrayed the principles enshrined in their “Freedom Charter” and adopted neoliberalism. The two times I visited, it was evident that what had ended was so-called petty apartheid, while the essence of the system remained untouched. See for example John Pilger’s “Apartheid did not die”. Maybe everything has changed in the last decade or so, but I’m not aware of evidence that it has.

  6. Steve
    February 15, 2024 at 13:52

    South Africa absolutely did the right thing. The Houthis of Yemen have done the bravest thing, standing against the entire Western bloc to try to make the murderers stop killing. The rest of the national governments of the world are cowards, or even worse, complicit in the evil being perpetrated against the Palestinian People.
    Remember, if your government supports genocide against “them”, it will have no compunction about killing you or anyone who defies its will.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    February 15, 2024 at 12:35

    I don’t have the answer but…a working alternative to the UN et all must be found. An alternative that doesn’t allow signatory nations to skip when they don’t feel like adhering to what is not to their convenience(s). A way for putting an end to the Anglo/Saxon corruption needs to be found…and soon.

    • TP Graf
      February 16, 2024 at 07:03

      Vera, I concur completely. And like the Vatican State, its headquarters need to be in some little State of its own–well away from the USA.

  8. Sharon Aldrich
    February 15, 2024 at 11:56

    Great article! There is hope that humans can do better, much better! Thank you South Africa and you brave people for your astounding COURAGE!!!!!

  9. hetro
    February 15, 2024 at 11:04

    We can hope that any further actions by the ICJ or even the ICC will hold forth more teeth, especially the more depraved and brutal the slaughter in Gaza becomes and continues. Netanyahu’s actions with Rafah are now being seen as a sign of his “desperation” (increasing acts of the lowest cruelty and treachery are being reported) because Hamas has not yielded whatever. Plus look at even the likes of Cameron now echoing the bleatings of Biden about “over the top.” Germany too, and the swelling of Establishment Covering Their Ass types indicating hesitancy on which side to stand on.

    As to the nature of “international morality” it certainly does not stand as previously with the racist zionists group as with today Prinz suggesting a revival of imperialism is needed to help the weak countries of the world govern themselves in what’s right, again the arrogant assumption of being the model of the “rules-based order.” This sort of brazen bullying and Nazi revivalism, openly put on the shelf as “what’s right,” is all coming apart, gradually, yes, unfortunately too gradually, but increasingly. Whether this is true in the US is not clear, although the change in youth is encouraging, but it’s certainly true in the rest of the world.

  10. Bruce Edgar
    February 15, 2024 at 10:56

    Truly a breath of fresh air. Great article.

  11. mgr
    February 15, 2024 at 10:55

    “…the Western monopoly over international morality has to end for the sake of the people of the world.” True that.

    “International morality” has been reduced to no more than US-led Western narcissism and self-interest. This is the same group by the way that was behind the fire-bombing of Dresden (US/UK) and the atomic bombing of Japan. Both were all out assaults against civilian population centers (there is an interesting article on the Dresden firebombing at hxxps:// In line with, “we know it when we see it,” these were examples of genocide and ethic cleansing prettied up with high-sounding rhetoric. As if people actually need a law that states that it is wrong, intrinsically wrong, to murder civilians and noncombatants to further military objectives. Under the current Western trajectory, we might as well start handing out stone clubs and tools and get the de-evolution of the human species truly underway.

    Make no mistake, neocons, in particular in the US, are just itching and vying with one another to be the first to use nukes in our brave new world. Humanity’s so called “death wish” is alive and well in the neocon ideology.

  12. DENNIS
    February 15, 2024 at 10:24

    even the NYT caling for a ceasefire? the Apartheid Zionist Jews slowly getting caught out for their lies BUT HEY HO the West still sending AID to the Apartheid Israel State Still supporting the GAZA GENOCIDE!! what AID?? it cannot be food as there are over 120 UN AID lorries waiting to enter GAZA at RAFAH alone. OH ITS BOMBS MISSILES AMMUNITION TANKS ETC we are sending to carry killing women and children BUT HELLO we are giving them a LUNCH BOX whilst we are killing them with our ARMS AID!! SUNAK you are no different than BLAIR the IRAQ GENOCIDE killer who should be in jail along with the Devil BUSH both confirmed LIARS who walk free the WEST are HYPOCRITES!! THE ARABS are INGAVOS, COWARDS they have choosen self over others, comfort and ease over sacrifice. SHAME on you ARABS you have betrayed ISLAM!! Muhammad your GOD will judge you when your earthly life ends!!

  13. Paul Citro
    February 15, 2024 at 06:38

    When appeals to reason and conscience are ignored then forceful measures are necessary.

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