Last Saturday, the justices of the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a major swipe at the Jewish state. They ruled that the ICC prosecutor is permitted to open a formal investigation of Israel for fake war crimes. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the decision, referring to it as “pure anti-Semitism.”
Netanyahu added, “This court was founded to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people, and now it is attacking the Jewish people’s only state.”
Netanyahu is absolutely right. The court’s decision is bigoted at its core. To reach their decision, the judges had to ignore the 1998 Rome Statute on which the court is founded. The Rome Statute makes clear that only states or the United Nations Security Council can petition the court for redress. And having ignored its own legal writ, the judges proceeded to take a knife to the very concept of international law. They applied a standard of behavior to Israel that is applied to no other state in order to single out Israel for legal proceedings that have no basis either in the court’s specific mandate or in the law of nations.
The fact that Hamas—a terrorist group formally committed to the genocide of the Jewish people—published a statement applauding the court’s ruling shows just how prejudicial the decision was. It is worth noting that every missile attack and suicide bombing Hamas terrorists carry out against Israel is a separate war crime under actual international law.
Hamas terrorists understand the racket the ICC is running against the Jews. The phony war crimes investigation is a practical application of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3379 from 1975 which defined Zionism—the Jewish national liberation movement—as a form of racism and so rejected Israel’s moral right to exist.
Although Resolution 3379 was rescinded in 1991, it is alive today in every U.N. agency where Israel is condemned on a daily basis for absolutely nothing. It is alive in the European Union which subjects Israel to systematic discrimination. And it is alive among the international left, whose members throughout the Western world vilify Israel at every turn—again, for absolutely nothing.
All of these forces understand that the point of putting IDF soldiers, commanders and Israeli civilians in the ICC dock for war crimes that never happened is to advance their goal of rescinding international recognition of the Jewish state’s right to exist as a normal, sovereign state. They also know full well that simply by holding show trials of Israeli Jews, they will legitimize and expand support for Hamas’ goal—Israel’s physical destruction.
Around the time that Resolution 3379 passed, Henry Kissinger claimed there was nothing to worry about, really. Neither the United States nor “in the last analysis Europe” would ever “negotiate over the survival of Israel,” he said.
But an examination of the forces that are producing the ICC Inquisition makes it clear that Kissinger was naïve—at least as far as Europe is concerned.
To be sure, the primary party responsible for the Jew-hating charade in The Hague is the ICC itself. The political star chamber has an institutional interest in pursuing fake charges against Israel. In 2017, the African Union passed a resolution calling for its member states to withdraw from the ICC. The A.U. resolution stemmed from what African leaders viewed reasonably as the ICC’s prejudicial focus on their governments. When the resolution passed, nine out of 10 cases before the court dealt with African states. The governments of Africa were fed up with the court’s discrimination.
Shortly thereafter, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda completed her preliminary examination of Israel and submitted her request to the judges to open a formal war crimes investigation. The chain of events gives up the game. The ICC needs a non-African scalp, and Israel fits the bill. The Africans are satisfied that a nearly-Western state is being pursued. And Western states are happy because they don’t consider Israel a member of their club.
In other words, Israel is the ICC’s scapegoat that it can sacrifice to secure its organizational interests.
But as corrupt and depraved as the ICC’s motivations for building a phony war crimes case against Israel are, the ICC couldn’t act on its own. It needed three things to be done by others to enable its actions.
The first thing that had to be done to pursue fake charges against Israel was for the Palestinian Authority, which is not a state, to join the ICC as a state signatory of the Rome Statute. Since the P.A. is not a state, to pretend it is a state the ICC needed U.N. cover. So in 2012, the P.A. applied for non-state observer status at the United Nations. Votes at the ICC and the U.N. General Assembly passed overwhelmingly. The Czech Republic was the only E.U. member state that opposed the legally baseless moves.
To be clear, the P.A.’s purpose in signing the Rome Statute and requesting the upgrade of its U.N. status was known to all involved. All the states that approved these moves—or failed to oppose them—knew that their actions were setting the conditions for the ICC to try innocent Israeli soldiers, commanders and civilians for war crimes that were never committed.
The State of Israel itself cannot be formally placed on trial. The ICC, as an ostensible legal body, needed complaints against actual named Israelis. And it needed “evidence” and “testimonies” to give weight to the allegations. Over the past several years, NGO Monitor has copiously documented how two different sets of non-governmental organizations have run this part of the show. First, international groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have run a major lobbying effort against Israel for decades. Its purpose is to deny Israel the right to self-defense. In recent years, those efforts have focused specifically on pushing the P.A. to join the ICC even though the act was a material breach of the P.A.’s signed agreements with Israel. They have published spurious allegations of Israeli “war crimes,” lobbied for an upgrade in the PLO’s status at the United Nations, and for the ICC to charge Israel with war crimes.
The second type of organization behind the ICC effort are local Israeli and Palestinian NGOs. Israeli groups including B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Breaking the Silence, and Palestinian groups including the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Al Dameer and Al-Mezan, delivered the goods. European governments including Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Britain contribute millions of euros annually both separately and under the E.U. aegis to these and other groups. As NGO Monitor has documented, in recent years, a portion of those contributions has been specifically directed towards actions to facilitate the ICC actions against Israel. Without the support of European states and the European Union, these groups would lack the financial wherewithal to run campaigns to demonize Israel and to promote ICC witch hunts against its soldiers, officers and civilians.
Finally, the ICC would not have opted to discredit the entire concept of international law by going after Israel for non-existent crimes if it believed that it would be penalized for doing so. In 2015, when Bensouda initiated her preliminary examination, Israel asked ICC funders to retaliate against the move by defunding the institution. Israel’s request was rejected.
More than 60 percent of the ICC’s budget is funded by European governments. Germany is generally the ICC’s largest or second-largest funder. A German government representative quoted in a Reuters report said that Germany “couldn’t imagine” scaling back its support for, much less defunding, the political court.
So without the actions of European governments like Germany, Holland, Switzerland, France, Norway, Britain and Sweden, and without the European Union as a whole—the ICC would never have opened its bigoted proceedings against Israel, the purpose of which is to reject Israel’s right to exist. At every point, the Europeans had the power to prevent or end the ICC’s bigoted treatment of the Jewish state. And at every point, the Europeans took active steps to ensure that the targeting would continue. Indeed, by funding and directing the efforts of the likes of NGOs Breaking the Silence and Al-Dameer (which is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group), the Europeans were the puppet masters directing the passion play.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas criticized the ICC’s ruling move in a statement he put out shortly after it was announced. Maas didn’t condemn the immorality of pursuing fake war crimes allegations against an innocent nation. Rather, Maas’s criticism focused on the fact that despite the efforts of the ICC and the United Nations, the fact remains that “Palestine” is not a state. “The court has no jurisdiction,” he tweeted, “because of the absence of the element of Palestinian statehood required by international law.”
This is, to be sure, the key legal problem with the ICC’s ruling. But the much larger problem with the judges’ decision is that the investigation is a politically motivated effort to cause material harm to Israel, as the Jewish state. Israel abides scrupulously by the rules of war, and everyone knows that. The reason German politicians like Maas should oppose the ruling is because the court’s behavior is part of a larger effort to undermine international acceptance of the Jewish people’s right to their state. But then, as a major funder of both the ICC and the NGOs behind the fictitious, libelous allegations, and as a state that failed to oppose the Palestinians’ legally groundless bids for the status of state at the ICC and the United Nations, Maas clearly doesn’t have a problem with the immorality of the enterprise. To the contrary, he is playing a key role in moving it forward.
In a way, the ICC’s efforts to harm the Jewish state is a modern-day version of the Dreyfus trial. The Dreyfus trial was an anti-Semitic reaction against France’s decision to grant the full rights of citizenship to French Jews in the framework of the Emancipation. Anti-Semitic officers in the French General Staff needed a scapegoat to blame for acts of treason they had committed. By choosing Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian Jew, for the role, the officers enjoyed the cover and support of powerful anti-Semitic clerics, anti-Semitic intellectuals and newspaper publishers, and anti-Semitic politicians. All of the figures involved realized that by framing Dreyfus “the Jew,” they advanced their efforts to discredit the idea that Jews could be full partners in French public life.
The big difference between the people that produced and directed the blood libel against Dreyfus 125 years ago and the people that are producing and directing the blood libel against Israel today is that in France at the turn of the 20th century, people were proud to attack Jews openly. Today, their contemporary successors prefer a passive-aggressive approach. They pretend to oppose the efforts to delegitimize and criminalize the Jewish state while they pay for and direct them.
Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.