The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor recently accused Israel of committing war crimes. Her statement underscores a much wider phenomenon: The structural faults in international bodies and legal tribunals, particularly those dealing with conflicts.
The built-in distortion of those bodies inevitably results in bias, which in turn leads them to depart from their original goals and values.
The problem lies in the disparity between the noble goals that these bodies were set up to promote—peace, tolerance and human rights—and the fact that most of the regimes that shape these organizations have no respect for those values, resulting in the manipulation of the ICC and other bodies.
To gain influence over those bodies, European countries join forces with the oppressive regimes, and this is particularly outrageous because it grants them legitimacy.
Only rarely has the United States joined Europe in walking down that path, as was the case during the Carter and Obama administrations.
The legitimacy afforded by Europe and many enlightened nations to international organizations lies at the heart of the problem. Without this legitimacy, a clear line would have been drawn, which would have allowed a proper distinction between tolerant and democratic societies and the despised regimes that do not uphold progressive values.
Without this legitimacy, the international bodies would have been dismissed as nothing more than a circus to be ignored because they are being controlled by outcast regimes, unlike the enlightened countries that acknowledge their mistakes and try to right wrongs.
But the Europeans chose a different path and have systematically stood by those who distort the very values they have championed and instilled worldwide.
Those who cannot deal with the world as it is resort to fantasy. Because European countries have successfully turned the continent around after the horrors of World War II, the European elites continue to live according to the illusion that the world will embrace peace, tolerance and human rights, and that such a world must be built by the international community under the auspices of international law using global legal and political bodies.
If you confront European countries with the reality that there are major cultural gaps between Europe and most of the world, or tell them that they are divorced from reality, you will be dismissed as a racist.
European countries are also somewhat in denial, unwilling to realize that their own people no longer agree with the long-pursued immigration policy of welcoming everyone based on universal solidarity. These governments insist that such disapproval is only found on the extreme right.
What’s truly troubling is not just that the ICC is distorted, but that civilized countries, especially in Europe, might one day allow their legal systems to accept ICC warrants. If that happens, terrorist entities and their sympathizers around the world—from Hezbollah and Hamas to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn—will take great encouragement from humiliating those who challenge the court.
Dan Schueftan is the director of the International Graduate Program in National Security Studies at the University of Haifa’s National Security Studies Center.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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