The German Jew Who Became an Ottoman Pasha

Born to a Jewish family in the Prussian city of Oppeln in 1840, Isaak Eduard Schnitzer was baptized into the Lutheran church by his mother at age five. As an adult, he attended medical school, learned Turkish and Albanian, and lived in Germany, the Balkans, and Istanbul before setting off for Sudan, then a nominal part of the Ottoman empire under Anglo-Egyptian control. Gil Troy writes:

Arriving in Khartoum in December 1875, [Schnitzer took the name] “Mehmet Emin,” and returned to practicing medicine. He also participated in the 19th-century European traveler’s zoology and ornithology mania, sending specimens to museums [in] the capitals of Europe. The governor of Equatoria—a territory covering modern-day northern Uganda and southern Sudan—invited Emin to become chief medical officer. In 1878, Emin was appointed governor [or] bey.

In this largely symbolic post, Emin championed a noble, quixotic cause: the fight against slavery. Two decades after America’s Civil War, Gaetano Casati, an Italian explorer who befriended Emin, noted that “the Arabs, despising a people who had no religion, and trampling on every right of humanity, hunted the natives as if they had been wild beasts. Egypt and Zanzibar became the great emporiums of human flesh.”

Sudan was [soon] roiling with the messianic Arab-African Mahdi Revolt of 1881, causing chaos. In 1885, Emin’s popular dispatches to European newspapers described his adventures. The next year the Ottoman empire made Emin a pasha [a title roughly equivalent to a knighthood], confirming his prominence in North Africa and Western Europe.

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: Africa, German Jewry, History & Ideas, Ottoman Empire, Slavery, Sudan

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law