On Dec. 29, 2023, South Africa launched a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that accused Israel of genocide under the Genocide Convention.
This did not occur in a vacuum. For years, politicians, academics and journalists have freely and falsely accused Israel of genocide. The libel is an automatic response to any Israeli military action, whatever its scale and regardless of what actually happens on the battlefield. The accusation is made whenever Hamas terrorists are attacked, whether in the streets, hospitals, schools, mosques or other civilian areas in which they illegally fortify themselves.
Let us follow part of the trail: In 2007, an Israeli blockade of Gaza supported by Egypt was labeled “genocide” and “a slow-motion genocide.” In 2014, Palestinian organizations accused Israel of war crimes and genocide at the ICJ. On Oct. 15, 2023, only a week after the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre in Israel, 790 legal scholars eagerly signed a letter demanding the U.N. Office on Genocide Prevention and the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate Israel for genocide. Four days later, 100 civil society organizations and six genocide scholars sent a letter to an ICC prosecutor calling on them to investigate Israel, including for incitement to genocide. A vast plethora of hundreds of thousands of petitions, letters and other missives have demanded the same. The Yale University director of Genocide Studies intoned in Nov. 2023 that Israel might be found guilty of genocide. Israel’s calls for civilians to evacuate Gaza combat zones were falsely branded “forcible population transfers.”
Social media is overflowing with videos and tweets repeating these accusations. This has reached heights of absurdity, such as a BBC sports commentator recommending one such video in which Israel is accused of “textbook genocide.” The commentator’s point of reference was an interview with Dr. Raz Segal, an Israeli who goes by the multiple titles of “Program Director, Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies & Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies” at Stockton University. The “textbook” is probably his.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) is an international treaty adopted by the U.N. in 1948 in the aftermath of the Second World War and the Holocaust. Drawn up by the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, who developed the term “genocide,” it aimed at recognizing the enormity and horror of this unique crime. Article 2 defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.”
The accusations of genocide against Israel are based—to the extent that they are based on anything—on a dishonest interpretation of Article 2. This is proven by the simple fact that, in the current war, it is Hamas that is genocidal. A Palestinian branch of Egypt’s Nazi-influenced Muslim Brotherhood, the terror group makes no secret of its intentions. It announces what it is “about” in an unequivocally worded charter, which includes its well-known call for the destruction of all Jews.
International law is very detailed in defining genocide. Entire university departments and institutions specialize in genocide studies, although many of the 790 academics who signed the letter mentioned above seem to have missed Hamas’s genocidal ambitions—or worse, perhaps they did not and ignored them anyway. Under all definitions of genocide, Israel’s actions are a defense against genocide, undertaken in response to Hamas’s attempt to put its doctrines into practice on Oct. 7, 2023.
The truth is that almost all of the accusations against Israel are made in bad faith. They are intended to manipulate the narrative and therefore events, such as the imposition of a ceasefire to rescue Hamas from destruction. Indeed, South Africa has arrogantly demanded the ICJ issue provisional measures ordering a ceasefire.
Most of the accusers probably know quite well that their accusations are false. They make them anyway in order to cover up the genocidal intentions of the party they favor in this conflict and to prevent Israel from acting against it.