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World Kangaroo Court
By: P. David Hornik
Tuesday, March 30, 2004


The World Court's barbarism against Israel.

Take a large helping of farce, add a strong dose of outrage, sprinkle with blatant illegality, and you’ve got the latest case to be heard by the International Court of Justice at The Hague. It’s known as Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories—a name that in itself speaks volumes.

If it was the UN that was adjudicating a case involving Israel, very few people would expect Israel to get a fair hearing. The UN’s bias against Israel is legendary, from the Zionism Is Racism resolution to obsessive “human rights” condemnations that never get around to checking the human rights situation among Israel’s neighbors. Just last November in the General Assembly, Israel proposed a resolution calling for protecting Israeli children from terrorism. Sounds legitimate enough—yet Israel had to withdraw it because of overwhelming opposition by the “Non-Aligned Bloc” led by Egypt. Earlier that same month, though, the same General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for protecting Palestinian children from “Israeli aggression” by a vote of 88-4 with 58 abstentions.

What not everyone realizes, however, is that the International Court at The Hague is the UN. The fact that the UN “requested” the Court to give an advisory opinion on the “Wall” case makes it sound as if the UN was turning to an external, objective body. But as the Court’s own website states, the Court is “the principal judicial organ of the United Nations.” Founded in 1946, it operates under a statute that “is an integral part of the Charter of the United Nations.”

So it never sounded auspicious, and that was why thirty-three of the countries that sent written testimony on the case, including the United States and the European Union, demanded that the case be dropped. Generally these countries weren’t acting out of love for Israel, but because they knew that if the Court can be politicized this easily, the weapon could be turned against them, too.

Indeed, the Court’s very composition is “political” because eight of the fifteen judges who serve on it come from nondemocratic countries and, especially in a case as politically charged as this one, can be expected to obey their dictators rather than the dictates of justice. The president of the court, Shi Jiuyong, hails from a severe human rights abuser, bully, and nuclear proliferater known as the People’s Republic of China. The vice-president, Raymond Ranjeva, is from Madagascar, a country that Amnesty International cites in its 2003 reports for unlawful killings, torture, and arbitrary arrests and detentions.

Of the other thirteen countries represented on the court, seven—the US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, and Slovakia—have strong democratic credentials, but with the exception of the US are not known for a fair approach to the Israeli-Arab dispute. The remaining six range from countries with considerable human rights problems like Brazil, Venezuela, Jordan, and Sierra Leone, to a country, Russia, that is sliding rapidly toward authoritarianism, to an out-and-out human rights basket case like Egypt.

Note than in the General Assembly or the Security Council, delegates of dictatorships are supposed to represent their governments in any case and in that sense are no more “political” than the delegates of democracies. The Court, though, is supposed to be an impartial body that is above politics. The composition of its judges makes that a farcical pretension, especially in this case.

Nowhere is the farce more evident than in the presence on this case of the Egyptian judge, Nabil Elaraby. Back in January, Israel requested that Elaraby be removed from the case because of previous anti-Israel activity in the UN as well as media statements suggesting he would be something other than impartial on the fence issue. Two months before he was elected to the International Court in 2001, Al-Ahram interviewed Elaraby and stated his views on Israel as follows: “New facts and new problems are created on the ground.… Grave violations of humanitarian law ensue . . . the atrocities perpetrated on Palestinian civilian populations, for instance. . . . Israel is occupying Palestinian territory, and the occupation itself is against international law.” Yet the Court rejected Israel’s request and ruled that Elaraby was perfectly well qualified to judge this case.

On the morning of February 23 when the case opened, a suicide bomber killed eight and wounded over fifty on a Jerusalem bus. In an Israeli press conference held at The Hague, Daniel Taub of the Israeli Foreign Ministry noted that “the suicide bomber . . . was a member of Yasser Arafat’s own Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade. Could anything be more shameful than recruiting, inciting, and paying the murderer . . . yes, there is something more shameful: to do all this and them come to the city of The Hague . . . to censure the victims of terror for trying to defend themselves. To come to the ‘Palace of Peace,’ to the ‘Court of Justice,’ on the very morning that the victims are being buried . . . to attack Israel for building a fence which might have saved their lives.”

But the case, of course, proceeded, despite Israel’s earlier efforts to point out its glaring illegality under the Court’s own stipulations. In a 130-page document explaining its own decision not to participate, summarized at the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s website, Israel emphasized that:

· The case was being imposed on Israel without its consent. The ICJ’s own jurisprudence states that the Court is entitled to give an advisory opinion only when both sides to a dispute accept its jurisdiction in the case. In this instance, Israel had never accepted the Court’s jurisdiction (a point also emphasized in the United States’ written statement to the Court).

· “Palestine” was being allowed to participate even though it is neither a state nor an international organization as defined by the UN Charter and the Statutes of the Court. The fact that “Palestine” meets neither of those criteria and is run by a regime engaging in terror did nothing to disqualify it from the proceedings.

· The language was loaded to begin with. As the Israeli statement pointed out: “In titling the case ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall,’ the Court has adopted the political and prejudicial terminology of the request itself. The use of the term ‘wall,’ when in fact less than 5 percent of the fence is a concrete barrier and over 95% consists of wire fences with access and crossing points, is clearly propagandist, while the reference to ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ is similarly prejudicial, and ignores Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Israel-PLO agreements and the Roadmap which all call for the border between the two sides to be agreed through negotiation.”

It was not only the language included, but also the language excluded that was—to put it delicately—prejudicial. Neither in the question referred to the Court by the UN, nor in the twenty-paragraph General Assembly resolution referring it, was there a single reference to the Palestinian terror that led Israel to build the fence in the first place. It was like arraigning the fire department for driving loud trucks around the city without mentioning the matter of fires. “Similarly,” the Israeli statement observed, “the extensive dossier of 88 documents on the question provided to the Court by the United Nations is, staggeringly, totally silent on the subject of the Palestinian terror attacks.”

And so, from February 23-25, the case proceeded. The judges sat gravely as oral statements were made by Palestine, South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Belize, Cuba, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Senegal, Sudan, the League of Arab States, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Sixty years after the Holocaust, in the heart of Europe, in civilized, enlightened, tolerant Holland, representatives of states and organizations that practice slavery, Shari’a law, female circumcision and “honor killings,” torture, and mass murder pilloried the Jewish state for building a fence aimed at protecting its citizens against waves of terror that have killed nine hundred and maimed thousands. They did so amid the full decorum of a “Court of Justice” established by the UN and underwritten and legitimized by the countries of the world. The Court has now started its deliberation and will be announcing the date when it presents its opinion.

Meanwhile, Europe has been invaded by a more graphic form of barbarism that took two hundred lives in Madrid. One would like to think this event will have a sobering impact on the “civilized” world and lead it to ask why it should tolerate and participate in a kangaroo court in which terrorists and their supporters slander a democracy for the crime of self-defense. But don’t hold your breath.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem whose work has appeared in many Israeli, Jewish, and political publications. Reach him at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.


P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.