columnOctober 7

How the Hamas pogrom galvanized Israel’s enemies

Hostility to the Jewish state goes wide and deep, apparently further than some thought before Oct. 7.

Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in New York City. Photo by Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, in New York City. Photo by Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for The Times of London, her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, The Legacy, in 2018. To access her work, go to: melaniephillips.substack.com.

There has been widespread outrage over the decision by the International Criminal Court prosecutor to request arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and its minister of defense, Yoav Gallant, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

U.S. President Joe Biden called it “outrageous.” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said it was “a deeply unhelpful development” and that the ICC prosecutor, who also requested arrest warrants for the leaders of Hamas, was wrong to draw a moral equivalence between Israel and the terrorist group.

However, Britain’s Labour Party, which is widely expected to win power at the general election that has been called for July 4, backed the prosecutor’s move.

This outright hostility was a marked change from Labour’s previous cautious support for Israel’s attempt to destroy Hamas. Many have assumed that the party is running scared of Muslim voters, who have emerged as a significant bloc demanding anti-Israel and Islamic policies as the price of Muslim electoral support.

Hostility to Israel, however, goes far wider and deeper than this.

The ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, is a British lawyer from a barristers’ set in London that deals with common law issues such as personal injury and employment law.

Khan drew upon the opinion of a panel of mostly British human-rights lawyers he had appointed to advise him, and whom he used as a human shield for his claim that Israel had been starving Gaza’s civilians, willfully killing them and obstructing delivery of humanitarian aid.

These lawyers were described by the prosecutor as “impartial.” However, they were anything but. Some had associations with Palestinian causes; others had previously expressed often virulent anti-Israel views.

One member of this panel was the lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy, a longtime radical-left campaigner and honorary patron of the London-based charity, Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Three weeks after the Oct. 7 pogrom, Kennedy warned against “collective punishment” by Israel, referred to the Gaza Strip as “being reduced to rubble” and accused Israel of cutting off Gaza’s water supplies.

But her most disgusting statement was in a speech she made on genocide in March. She told the House of Lords: “The current conflict between Hamas and Israel follows decades of terrible conduct, by both the IDF and Hamas, before, during and after 7 October.”

So in the view of this doyenne of “human rights,” Israeli soldiers who desperately tried to fight off the Hamas stormtroopers, even while they were continuing to perpetrate depraved atrocities against Israeli women, children and men, were guilty of “terrible conduct” in doing so.

It is hard to fathom the obscenity of such a condemnation. Yet this moral bankruptcy was no one-off. Others in the intellectual classes have been heard to issue exactly the same condemnation of the Israelis for killing Hamas murderers on Oct. 7 itself.

In other words, Jews are not to be allowed to defend themselves against genocidal attacks. Indeed, they are actually condemned for doing so. More astoundingly still, the genocidal attack has actually galvanized the global attempt to destroy Israel altogether.

That’s what’s happened in Ireland, Norway and Spain, which have said they will recognize a non-existent “State of Palestine.” They are thus rewarding Hamas for its barbaric onslaught. The message to all Palestinians is that slaughter, rape and hostage-taking are their route to victory.

Unilateral recognition of “Palestine” is a form of lawfare against Israel. And the principal motor behind lawfare is “human rights” law.

This was developed in the middle of the last century, largely by British lawyers, to protect Jews and other minorities against tyrannical regimes that denied human rights. Yet in the hands of politicized international courts, it has turned into a weapon against the democratic Jewish state.

The “human rights” establishment—the United Nations, the ICC and the International Court of Justice, and NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International—has become a key weapon to demonize, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.

International “human rights”—the secular religion of the left—is also an unquestioned dogma among so-called conservatives who have gone along with anti-Western causes such as the obsession with climate change, “white privilege” and support for the Palestinian Arabs.

Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, is a conservative in this mold. In recent months, he has accused Israel of killing too many civilians in Gaza, of deliberately obstructing the supply of humanitarian aid and of not abiding by international law. He has threatened to cut off the United Kingdom’s (very small) supply of arms to Israel and even implied that the country might unilaterally declare a Palestinian state.

This week, however, there was an abrupt change of tone. In the House of Lords, Cameron not only roundly condemned the ICC prosecutor’s move. He also softened his approach to Israel. Urged again to suspend arms export licenses, he noted that just a few days after the last time he was asked to do so, Iran attacked Israel “with a hail of over 140 cruise missiles”.

Cameron isn’t an ideologue. With woolly liberal ideals largely uninformed by factual evidence, he has generally gone with the flow of fashionable consensus. Now, however, he may be starting to realize that things are rather more complicated than he had assumed.

He has apparently been taken aback by the fierce reaction to his softer tone from within the Foreign Office, where his officials are viscerally hostile to Israel and are currently demanding that the government throw it to the wolves.

Moreover, in the wake of the U.N.’s drastic reduction of its Hamas-dictated and falsely inflated numbers of Gazan civilians killed in the war, Cameron has begun to realize that the evidence he was given by his officials that fueled his threats against Israel was fabricated.

Whether this signals a more general shift towards Israel by Britain’s foreign secretary is now almost irrelevant. For unless the Conservative Party somehow reverses the near-universal contempt in which the public currently holds it, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will become prime minister on July 5.

Although he is falling over himself to reassure the Jewish community that he has now cut out the antisemitism in the party associated with his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, few British Jews believe him. Starmer may have purged Labour of the most egregious offenders, but too many members of parliament and others in the party remain viscerally anti-Israel.

Starmer will also be keen to appease the Muslim community, which presages a harsher attitude towards Israel and may also mean an unwillingness to tackle extremist imams or Muslim antisemitism. The main problem, however, is that support for the Palestinian cause serves as the defining foreign-policy issue for progressive circles. This support drives Jew-hatred and a wish to destroy Israel.

That’s because Palestinianism is itself driven by Islamic Jew-hatred and is constructed entirely on the desire to annihilate Israel, erase the history of the Jewish people in the land and appropriate it for itself.

And that’s why the belief in the “two-state solution” is itself such a lethal error. Its premise is that the “Middle East conflict” is a dispute over the division of the land between two peoples with legitimate claims to that land. But that is simply wrong. The “conflict” is, in fact, a war of extermination waged by the Palestinian Arabs against Israel’s existence, in which a state of Palestine is to be a final solution to the existence of the Jewish homeland.

The failure of America, Britain and Europe to acknowledge this war of extermination has led to their sanitizing, incentivizing and funding Palestinian terrorism. Without this backing, the Palestinian cause and its terrorist strategy would not exist.

The requested arrest warrants and the performative posturing over “Palestine” are all part of the pincer movement of genocidal terror, brainwashed street insurrection and “human rights” lawfare aimed at the destruction of Israel. And this infernal process only exists because for decades, Britain, America and Europe have willed it so.

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