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South Africa’s Genocide Suit Against Israel Threatens World Order

Supporters of Hamas demonstrating outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. Photo: Reuters/Jehad Shelbak

South Africa presented its opening arguments accusing Israel of “genocide,” last Thursday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague. Israel responded with its legal defense on Friday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the claim of genocide “meritless,” while other nations, such as Germany and the UK, described the claim as “unjustified” and “wrong.” Indeed, the IDF is extraordinarily careful to protect civilians, whereas Hamas (which is not subject to the ICJ) committed actual acts of genocide against Israelis as part of the October 7 massacre, a cruel irony that Blinken called “particularly galling.”

Unfortunately, the weakness of South Africa’s legal case is of little comfort, because their key objective is not to win the lawsuit, but to implement a one-sided “ceasefire” — which is something far more dangerous.

The “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” defines “genocide” (in summary) as the intent to destroy a group, coupled with specific acts in furtherance of that intent.

Accordingly, Hamas’ acts on October 7 legally constitute a “genocide” against Israel and the Jewish people. By contrast, Israel’s self defense does not remotely resemble a genocide, given the IDF’s herculean efforts to protect civilians in Gaza, and the incredibly small casualty numbers compared to other conflicts in the region, such as in Syria and Yemen. The Hamas-authored casualty figures that South Africa presented in court include combatants and civilians that Hamas itself has killed. The numbers also reflect Hamas’s use of human shields, and include many other inaccuracies, further weakening South Africa’s already flimsy case.

Accordingly, South Africa, which has close alliances with Russia, Iran, and Hamas, has focused its initial efforts not on winning the case but instead on attempting to secure an emergency order for a ceasefire, which could come as soon as this week. In a vacuum, a ceasefire might seem reasonable: it would seem to freeze hostilities while the parties fight in court instead of on the battlefield.

However, this case is deceptively different: the ICJ does not have jurisdiction over Hamas, as it does over Israel, because the internationally-designated terror group is not a signatory to the Convention. Therefore, the only kind of “ceasefire” the Court can order would be one-sided: Israel ceases, while Hamas fires.

During such a “ceasefire,” 136 Israeli hostages would remain in Hamas captivity, enduring (according to international intelligence) ongoing torture and rape; Hamas, which has pledged to repeat the October 7 massacre, would be free to re-arm, regroup, and carry out further attacks; and Israel would be legally prohibited from responding, even in self defense. In effect, Israel would become “army-less.”

To make its case, South Africa’s lawyers quoted a small niche of extreme outlier Israeli politicians and soldiers who made statements that, when viewed out of context, may be interpreted as “intent” to commit genocide. Israel responded that none of these statements constitute government policy, and that those who made them are not in decision making positions.

Indeed, a democracy with free speech will (and in fact should) produce a wide range of opinions, including ones counter to government policy and mainstream opinion. However, in order to secure a ceasefire order, South Africa need not show that these statements prove genocide, but only that they demonstrate the possibility of genocide. The ICJ’s panel of 15 judges include representatives from Russia, China, Lebanon, and other countries likely to be unfriendly to Israel, which further increases the likelihood that the Court may indeed order a one-sided and deadly “ceasefire.”

If carried out to its draconian conclusion, South Africa’s cunning ceasefire strategy, coupled with Hamas’ declared commitment to carry out further massacres, have the potential to produce possibly the greatest human tragedy in modern history: an entire series of October 7 style massacres, with Israel prohibited from acting in self defense, all with the cruel and ironic support of the very international laws that were intended to prevent such atrocities.

This begs the question: what if Israel simply disregards such an ICJ order in favor of defending its very survival?

In this case, the Court could recommend that the UN Security Council enforce crippling sanctions — not “BDS” style sanctions which are primarily PR stunts — but the kind of nation-eviscerating sanctions imposed in places like North Korea, Yugoslavia, and (ironically) apartheid-era South Africa.

Such measures could include cutting Israel off from energy markets, food supply, global trade, global financial systems, international travel, and more. Parallel procedures in other international bodies could produce international arrest warrants: not just for Israeli leadership but even for current and former IDF soldiers. (Norway, for example, has already begun steps in this direction.)

This apocalyptic sounding consequence begs yet another question: wouldn’t the United States veto any such resolution at the Security Council? The answer is not as certain as it seems. Based on Secretary Blinken’s statements, America would almost certainly veto a resolution that condemns Israel for genocide. However, if Israel were to violate a direct court order for a ceasefire, coupled with domestic and international public pressure and an upcoming US election, the answer becomes less clear. At the very least, ICJ enforcement measures constitute a risk that Israel must take seriously, even with likely US support.

These events are no mere show trial, but rather a carefully calculated attempt by Hamas, via its allies, to defeat Israel militarily by shutting down the IDF’s freedom of action. In doing so, Hamas and South Africa threaten the very institutions of international law.

Israel is subject to the ICJ because it signed the Convention, which did nothing to protect Israel on October 7, whereas Hamas is able to act with impunity precisely because it has not signed the Convention. Long term, this perversion of international law incentivizes all nations to withdraw from global institutions for their own protection, thus threatening the continued existence of international law itself.

Without international law and institutions, it would be more difficult to act against dangers such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, Myanmar’s Rohingya genocide, and more.

In short: Israel is fighting for its survival on two fronts: one is military, the other is legal and communications. An Israeli victory on both fronts is absolutely critical not only for the safety of Israel, but also the continued existence of international law, and the long-term security of the entire free world.

Daniel Pomerantz is an expert in international law, a lecturer at Reichman and Bar Ilan Universities in Israel, and the CEO of RealityCheck, an nonprofit NGO dedicated to clarifying global conversations with verifiable data. Daniel lives in Tel Aviv, Israel and can be found on Instagram at @danielspeaksup or at

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Top Swiss Diplomat Appointed to Mediate Tensions Between Jewish Tourists, Businesses in Davos Ski Resort

A Hebrew sign at the Pischa Restaurant in the Swiss resort of Davos informing Jewish guests that they are banned from renting ski equipment. Photo: Screenshot

The tourism authority in the exclusive Swiss mountain resort of Davos has appointed a top diplomat to mediate the growing tensions between local businesses and Orthodox Jewish visitors as complaints of antisemitism increase.

Michael Ambühl — the former State Secretary of Switzerland previously in charge of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU)  — will head a task force to tackle the problem, Swiss media outlets reported on Friday.

The announcement of Ambühl’s appointment comes just days after the resort was roiled by the refusal of a restaurant that operates a ski equipment rental store to provide services to Jewish guests.

A sign in Hebrew at the Pischa Restaurant in Davos stated that “due to various very annoying incidents, including the theft of a sledge, we no longer rent sports equipment to our Jewish brothers. This affects all sports equipment such as sledges, airboards, skis and snowshoes. Thank you for your understanding.”

Swiss police are currently investigating the incident as a possible case of discrimination. One Israeli tourist reported that he had visited the Pischa Restaurant where he “pretended not to understand Hebrew and asked if we could rent the equipment. After the woman consulted with the manager, she rejected our request.”

The tourism authority’s decision has irritated the country’s main Jewish representative body, the Swiss Israelite Association (SIG), which had been engaged in a separate dialog with the authority about accommodating Jewish guests that was abruptly closed down last year.

“The latest case shows that something is obviously wrong in Davos,” SIG General Secretary Jonathan Kreutner said in remarks quoted by the Blick news outlet.

Kreutner said that “comparable problems are not known from other holiday destinations, especially in those where our dialogue program is still active.” Kreutner acknowledged that the tourism authority “wants to take a new path, but we don’t yet know what it looks like and where it will lead.”

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‘Israel Outright Rejects International Dictates’: Biden Creating Plan For Palestinian State, Netanyahu Pushes Back: Report

US President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly in New York City, US, Sept. 20, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

US President Joe Biden, along with a number of Arab states, are quickly working to form a plan to end the Israel-Hamas war and create a Palestinian state, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, sparking pushback from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The first step of such a plan would be for Israel and Hamas to agree to a six-week ceasefire in exchange for the Israeli hostages. Then, during that pause in fighting, the U.S. and its Arab partners would announce the plan and start to form an interim Palestinian government.

The US, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates are all reportedly are part of the talks, which have an ultimate goal of creating a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Washington Post also suggests that Israel may be expected to expel many of its own citizens from West Bank settlements and help rebuild Gaza.

The development of these plans is part of the reason Biden has cautioned Israel against moving on to fighting Hamas in Rafah — the terrorist group’s last stronghold. He believes such a ground offensive could jeopardize the prospect of peace. 

In a statement on Thursday, the White House said Biden “raised the situation in Rafah [during a call with Netanyahu], and reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah.”

In response to these reports and the conversation he had with Biden, Netanyahu wrote that “Israel outright rejects international dictates regarding a permanent settlement with the Palestinians. Such an arrangement will be reached only through direct negotiations between the parties, without preconditions.”

He added, “Israel will continue to oppose the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. Such recognition in the wake of the October 7 massacre would give a huge reward to unprecedented terrorism and prevent any future peace settlement.”

The tension represents the latest hiccup in Biden and Netanyahu’s relationship, which has grown increasingly sour since October 7 as Biden put pressure on Israel to wind down its fight against Hamas.

Netanyahu, jpwever, was not the only one to question the prudence of the proposed American-led plan. Left-leaning group Democratic Majority for Israel said in a post on Twitter/X: “We have always favored a two state solution. But right now, how do we ensure the lesson does not become ‘sheer evil,’ pays? That must be a central part of any plan.”

Richard Goldberg, a Senior Advisor at The Foundation for Defense of Democracies contended that the plan “is doomed to fail for several reasons. Two big ones: It’s premised on Hamas surviving and involves Qatar.” 

“Israel will be in a much stronger position after it takes Rafah,” he argued.

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Harvard University Issued Subpoenaed for Antisemitism Documents

Pro-Hamas students rallying at Harvard University. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

Following weeks of warnings and ultimatums, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce subpoenaed Harvard University on Friday to hand over documents related to its handling of allegations of antisemitic intimidation and harassment.

The order represents an escalation of tactics by the House Committee, which began investigating Harvard University last semester to determine whether it ignores complaints of discrimination when the victims who lodge them are Jewish. Since then, Harvard has been asked twice to submit a trove of materials requested by the committee.

Last week, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) wrote Harvard a censorious letter accusing school officials of obstructing the committee’s investigation with “grossly insufficient” responses to its inquires and submitting content of a “limited and dilatory nature.”

In a statement to Reuters, Harvard maintained that it has cooperated with the committee in “good faith,” providing “10 submissions totaling more than 3,500 pages that directly address key areas of inquiry put forward by the committee.” Chairwoman Foxx told the outlet, however that the problem is one of “quality, not quantity,” suggesting that Harvard is frenetically pantomiming compliance without providing anything of substance.

Foxx has requested “all reports of antisemitic acts or incidents and “related communications” going back to 2021 that were sent to Harvard’s offices of the president, general counsel, dean of students, police department, human resources, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, among others. She also requested documentation on Harvard Kennedy School professor Marshall Ganz, who, the school determined, had “denigrated” several students for being “Israeli Jews.” Originally, Foxx gave Harvard a deadline of Jan. 23 by which to comply.

“While a subpoena was unwarranted, Harvard remains committed to cooperating with the committee and will continue to provide additional materials, while protecting the legitimate privacy, safety, and security concerns of our community,” Harvard told Reuters.

“We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage,” said committee member and Harvard Alumnus Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) in a statement announcing the action.

The past four months have been described by critics of Harvard as a low-point in the history of the school, America’s oldest and, arguably, most prestigious institution of higher education. Since the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Harvard has been accused of fostering a culture of racial grievance and antisemitism, while important donors have suspended funding for programs, and its first Black president, Claudine Gay, resigned in disgrace last month after being outed as a serial plagiarizer. Her tenure was the shortest in the school’s history.

As scenes of Hamas terrorists abducting children and desecrating dead bodies circulated worldwide, 31 student groups at Harvard, led by the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) issued a statement blaming Israel for the attack and accusing the Jewish state of operating an “open air prison” in Gaza, despite that the Israeli military withdrew from the territory in 2005. In the weeks that followed, anti-Zionists stormed the campus screaming “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “globalize the intifada,” terrorizing Jewish students and preventing some from attending class.

In Novevmber, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

By Dec., Claudine Gay —  along with Elizabeth Magill of University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and Sally Kornbluth of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) — was hauled before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to account for her administration’s handling of the problem. For weeks, Gay was reluctant to punish students who chanted genocidal slogans and unequivocally condemn antisemitism. During questioning, she told the committee that determining whether calling for a genocide of Jews constitutes a violation of school rules depends “on the context.”

Two days later, the committee launched investigations of Harvard, Penn, and MIT.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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