OpinionIsrael at War

Israeli ‘public relations’ will not solve the problem of the world’s moral bankruptcy

The “genocide” farce at the International Court of Justice shows that this is not a fight over information but over basic moral values.

The International Court of Justice courtroom at The Hague. Photo by Ankor Light/Shutterstock.
The International Court of Justice courtroom at The Hague. Photo by Ankor Light/Shutterstock.
Irwin J. Mansdorf
Irwin J. (Yitzchak) Mansdorf, Ph.D., is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs specializing in political psychology and a member of the emergency division of IDF Homefront Command.

If anyone still believed that Israel’s problem is just “public relations,” they should review the proceedings of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing on South Africa’s spurious “genocide” charge against the Jewish state.

Opinions differ as to whether the ICJ hearing was a “victory” for Israel or not. After all, there was no demand that Israel cease its war against Hamas. But the very idea that Israel is possibly committing genocide should be enough to demonstrate that it is the basic values that people hold and not any explanation that Israel can present that foster moral judgement or the lack of it. On this issue, by agreeing to even hear South Africa’s “case,” the ICJ failed miserably. There was nothing that any Israeli “public relations” could have done about it.

The ICJ’s failure was multifaceted. First, it took seriously a charge that was simply ludicrous and absurd, as any reasonable person would recognize. Yet here were judges, who are supposed to represent right vs. wrong, failing to exercise not only proper legal judgement but also simple common sense. The fact that judges who were trained in Western democracies were part of this farce is even more disturbing. So was the fact that the treaty creating the ICJ was formulated in the wake of a genocide against the Jews of yesterday, but failed to protect Jews from a party that wishes no less for the Jews of today.

There are those who argue that Israel simply needs to “tell the truth” about its struggle, but it is inconceivable that these judges were not fully aware of the truth. They simply did not care. After all, what could we have told these judges that they didn’t already know?

Moreover, the inconsistency and hypocrisy of the legal reasoning involved were blatant. The legal contortions engaged in by ICJ President Joan E. Donoghue in order to explain why genocide was even a possibility were not evident when, in 2017, she dissented from the majority opinion of the court to opine that the forced expulsion by the United Kingdom (at the behest of the United States) of the Chaggosians from the Chagos Archipelago in 1968—an act that many today would consider ethnic cleansing—was not illegal. One standard for some, another standard for others.

No amount of “public relations” could “explain” anything to a judicial body that is supposed to be impartial but consists of justices who lack the moral clarity to separate good from evil. Israel may have to honor the decisions of the ICJ, but that does not mean those decisions should be respected.

It is ironic that a country that was recently obsessed with issues related to the need for an independent judiciary has become the subject of a supposedly “independent” panel that issued an interim order described as a “blood libel” by Israeli President Isaac Herzog. In a ridiculous move, the ICJ accused Herzog, a consensus figure in Israel known for his moderation and mild-mannered personality, of engaging in “incitement” by using language that any rational person would consider appropriate after the type of attack perpetrated by Hamas.

We are dealing here with a distorted value system, not a lack of information. It is senseless to believe that, after experiencing the atrocities of Hamas, Israel would have to “explain” anything. It is futile to continue trying to convince people with debased moral standards that beheading, rape, kidnapping and random murder are wrong. Of course, the ICJ judges would say that those actions are terrible, but they fail to act on that belief, creating a reality in which the victim and not the oppressor is in the dock.

The ICJ farce may not mark the death of hasbara, but it proved that it is on life support. Morality is not something that can be sold like a hamburger at McDonalds. It is something that comes from one’s culture, social experiences and ability to show fortitude in the face of corrupt pressure.

Rather than investing energy and resources into convincing others, we would be better served by continuing our fight to be a “light unto the nations” and doing what is right. As for those who see Hamas as an entity deserving of protection, let their moral failings serve as a model for evil.

To anyone with a good heart and a logical mind, this is something that does not need to be explained.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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