In 2001, the nations of the world gathered in Durban, South Africa with the ostensible goal of advancing the cause of human rights. Instead, predictably, it turned into a festival of anti-Israel and antisemitic hate.
International law expert and former Canadian Minister of Justice Irwin Cotler later wrote that the message broadcast from Durban was clear: Israel is the modern-day geopolitical anti-Christ.
Writing for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, political analyst Amnon Lord noted that the recent decision by the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel for war crimes was taken “in the spirit of Durban.”
Indeed, as the Israeli government’s legal adviser correctly noted, the subject of the lawsuit doesn’t really fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Nor is the scope of the matter in line with the size and nature of conflicts and crises that the court was created to investigate and prosecute.
The only reason for the ICC to be heeding this suit at all, as Lord alluded to, is if the court has adopted the notion that Israel is the great and terrible evil of our time. And when one is facing such a villain, any excuse, regardless of how legally-flimsy its merits be, must be seized to slay the monster.
Still, as determined as Israel’s detractors might be, former Ambassador Alan Baker told Lord that the Jewish state likely has little about which to be concerned.
Baker was one of the Israeli negotiators involved in formulating the Rome Statute upon which the ICC is founded. He knows the limits of the court’s powers, intimately. And, according to Ambassador Baker, those suggesting that arrest warrants could be issued for Israeli leaders, or worse, are engaging in “media hysteria.”
“This is exactly what the Palestinians wanted,” said Baker. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, he added, “is sitting at home laughing.”
As Baker explained, the ICC is now engaged in a lengthy 120-day debate over whether or not it has the authority to prosecute the State of Israel. It will be difficult to determine that it has, given that the court was established to prosecute regimes and international bodies that either can’t or won’t enforce the rule of law themselves. Israel by no means fits that criteria.
Still, as Lord concluded, logic doesn’t always play the role it should in such proceedings, given that the international community is far more likely to be swayed by propaganda than by facts.