The International Court of Justice Is Fundamentally Flawed

When international law is applied to Israel, Shany Mor recently wrote, it doesn’t function like law at all, in the sense of general rules applied consistently to particular cases. Another basic requirement for a legal system is that judges are impartial and free to evaluate cases on their merits. But this too is something the International Court of Justice lacks, as Peter Berkowitz observes:

The court’s bylaws call for its fifteen judges to “be elected from among persons of high moral character, who possess the qualifications required in their respective countries for appointment to the highest judicial offices, or are jurisconsults of recognized competence in international law.” But the qualifications for appointment to their highest judicial offices differ from country to country. In particular, the qualifications in free and democratic nation-states differ from those in authoritarian regimes as do the qualifications in nation-states that protect religious liberty differ from those in countries that don’t.

Currently, the court includes judges from the world’s two most powerful authoritarian regimes, Russia and China. Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China oblige judges to put the regime’s interest in the nation’s supremacy ahead of human rights and international law.

[Moreover], the neglect by the ICJ and member nations of war crimes and genocide elsewhere in the world erodes the court’s claim to administer impartial justice. Last November, the ICJ issued its first ruling against Syria, requiring it to prevent torture. Why, for example, has it taken the court and member nations twelve years after the commencement of the Syrian War – which has killed hundreds of thousands, displaced 12 million people (more than half of the country’s population), and produced 5 million refugees abroad—to address war crimes in Syria?

Israel’s attorney Tal Becker admirably used his opening statement not only to contest the charges, but also to turn the tables on the accusers. In Berkowitz’s summation, “it is the complainant South Africa that should be directed by the ICJ to take remedial action, because of its close relations over many years with [Hamas], an organization whose very reason for existence is, in defiance of the Genocide Convention, to destroy Israel.”

Read more at RealClear Politics

More about: International Law, South Africa


Israel Can’t Stake Its Fate on “Ironclad” Promises from Allies

Israeli tanks reportedly reached the center of the Gazan city of Rafah yesterday, suggesting that the campaign there is progressing swiftly. And despite repeatedly warning Jerusalem not to undertake an operation in Rafah, Washington has not indicated any displeasure, nor is it following through on its threat to withhold arms. Even after an IDF airstrike led to the deaths of Gazan civilians on Sunday night, the White House refrained from outright condemnation.

What caused this apparent American change of heart is unclear. But the temporary suspension of arms shipments, the threat of a complete embargo if Israel continued the war, and comments like the president’s assertion in February that the Israeli military response has been “over the top” all call into question the reliability of Joe Biden’s earlier promises of an “ironclad” commitment to Israel’s security. Douglas Feith and Ze’ev Jabotinsky write:

There’s a lesson here: the promises of foreign officials are never entirely trustworthy. Moreover, those officials cannot always be counted on to protect even their own country’s interests, let alone those of others.

Israelis, like Americans, often have excessive faith in the trustworthiness of promises from abroad. This applies to arms-control and peacekeeping arrangements, diplomatic accords, mutual-defense agreements, and membership in multilateral organizations. There can be value in such things—and countries do have interests in their reputations for reliability—but one should be realistic. Commitments from foreign powers are never “ironclad.”

Israel should, of course, maintain and cultivate connections with the United States and other powers. But Zionism is, in essence, about the Jewish people taking responsibility for their own fate.

Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship