Islamist Rage against Democracy Is a Tribute to Democracy’s Strength

In the wake of the terrorist attack last week in London, the British parliamentarian Michael Gove writes (free registration required):

In choosing their targets, terrorists are making a statement. Whether it’s the Christmas market in Berlin or the Jewish museum in Brussels, the site of an atrocity is never an accident. And the decision on Wednesday to attack Westminster, and in particular to target an unarmed police officer, was an assault on institutions and values that embody special virtues. . . .

Britain’s history may have its shameful episodes and our present state may be far from perfect, but parliamentary democracy is our greatest gift to the world. The principle that our conflicts should be settled by debate, that rules govern how we disagree, that opposition to the government is nevertheless always loyal, that all authority derives from the people and power is transferred peacefully whenever the people decree is a very special inheritance.

For terrorists and totalitarians, and especially for Islamist fundamentalists, our democracy is a blasphemy and a crime. Power for them derives from being a member of an elect, whether racial, religious, or ideological, rather than being elected and accountable to the people. Laws are matters of fiat, enforced by savagery, rather than by agreements which help cement civilization. That is why the most extreme Islamist organizations declare that the very act of voting is haram—unlawful, impious, and forbidden. And that is also why our democratic creed that every single voter, whatever his birth, background, or belief, is of equal value—is so precious.

Read more at Times of London

More about: liberal democracy, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Terrorism, United Kingdom


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