A judicial pogrom

The ICC’s threat of arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders is an affront to democracy and humanity.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

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So it’s a crime now to defend yourself against fascist violence? Some of the imperious prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC) seem to think so. Just 226 days after the Jews of southern Israel were subjected to the worst act of anti-Semitic slaughter since the Holocaust, the chief prosecutor of the ICC says he’s seeking arrest warrants for Israeli officials. The preening overlord of international law says he has ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe they’ve committed crimes against humanity. Behold the great moral inversion of our times: the victims of a crime against humanity are themselves suspected of crimes against humanity. The targets of fascism are treated as fascists. Rarely has the moral decomposition and blind arrogance of globalist institutions been so graphically illustrated.

This is the news that Karim Khan has applied for arrest warrants for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence minister, Yoav Gallant. He also wants arrest warrants for Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinwar. He says all have possibly committed war crimes. In Israel’s case, there has been questionable military activity ‘from at least 8 October 2023’, he says. One of his examples is Israel’s closing of the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings that link the Gaza Strip to Israel on 8 October, ‘for extended periods’. Yes, that’s because the day before an army of anti-Semites crossed the border and raped women, murdered children, slit the throats of migrant workers and massacred entire families. Are the people at the ICC okay? Name me one state on Earth – one – that would not secure its borders in the aftermath of such a devastating experience of racist barbarism.

The moral equivalence in Khan’s statement is especially galling. To speak of Hamas and Israel in the same breath, to treat them as equally suspect, is to abandon entirely the fundamentals of morality and even Enlightenment. There is no equivalence between Hamas’s intentional targeting of civilians on the basis of their race and Israel’s subsequent war on Hamas in Gaza. In the former, civilians – let’s say it: Jews – were sought out for murder. In the latter, as with every war in history, civilians are tragically dying in the violent maelstrom. The former was a war crime, the latter is war. The former was a villainous transgression of the norms of conflict, the latter was a response to that transgression. That the ICC seems unable to distinguish between war and war crimes, between democracy and terror, between the Jewish State and a movement devoted to the mass murder of Jews, is truly alarming.

The consequence of the seeking of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders will be to embolden Hamas. Anyone who thinks this is a fair development because it targets both sides in the war is delusional. For Hamas, the annoyance of being looked upon as criminals by the ICC will be outweighed, incalculably, by the moral gain of warrants being sought for Netanyahu and Gallant. For Hamas, the burden of being tried for crimes against humanity – a trial that will probably never take place – pales into insignificance in comparison with the propaganda win of seeing Israel frogmarched before the world as a potential war criminal. Indeed, already the Israelophobic wing of the influencer set – which is pretty much all of it – is buzzing with bigoted triumphalism over the possible arrest of Netanyahu. What do you think Mr Sinwar is thinking in whatever dank tunnel he’s holed up in: ‘Oh no, I might have to go to The Hague’ or ‘Yes, another blow to the Jews’ moral authority’? We all know.

The most nauseating thing about today’s development is the depiction of it as a great blow for equality and diversity. Globetrotting barrister Amal Clooney, who was on the Panel of Experts who advised Karim Khan on the Israel-Hamas matter, has issued a most gauche and grandstanding statement. She brags about the ‘diverse personal backgrounds’ of the panel members. She describes how she and her fellow brilliant minds ‘unanimously conclud[ed]’ that there are reasonable grounds to think Israeli officials have committed war crimes. I can’t be the only person wondering who the hell these people think they are. Who died and made them God? What earthly right do they have to meddle in a sovereign state’s military pursuit of a terror movement that murdered more than a thousand people? They pose as woke but they’re the Judge Dredds of global affairs, stamping their vain writ on the little peoples of faraway warring nations.

The Clooney vision of the ICC and its brainy advisers as gallant defenders of decency is a grotesque lie. Clooney, in her statement, says ‘I will never accept that one child’s life has less value than another’s’. Big words from a barrister who’s advising prosecutors for a court that is notoriously selective in which wars it investigates and which wars it leaves alone. So Israel is threatened with being dragged to The Hague, but Bashar al-Assad was not, despite overseeing a war that killed hundreds of thousands. Neither were Saudi leaders over their killings in Yemen. And this isn’t to mention Western leaders – in the US, Britain, France – whose warmongering has caused far greater death and destruction in the Middle East than Israel ever has. I would really like to ask all those legal eagles why killings by the Jewish State seem to cause them greater angst than killings by ‘white’ states.

The ICC is infamous for its disproportionate targeting of the leaders of black Africa. To see a map of ICC investigations is to behold neo-imperialism in all its shameless pomposity. Most of its investigations have been in Africa, with a smattering in Latin America and Asia. No wonder the African Union has advised African states to cut ties with the ICC on the basis that it is a ‘neo-colonial force seeking to further empower Western political… interests in Africa’. That ‘anti-racist’ leftists are now cheering a court, riddled with racist double standards, because it has lumped the Jews in with the blacks is a testament to how fried their brains have become as a result of Israelophobia. Even the neo-colonial powers of the postwar globalist order are treated as allies by the woke left, as ‘good guys’, if they make moves against Evil Israel.

There’s a special cruelty to the seeking of arrest warrants against the Jewish State. The ICC has its origins in the postwar discussion about the need for ‘international law’ to deal with criminals like the Nazis. So grave were the crimes of fascism against the Jews that new legal systems are needed to punish such crimes, the argument went. Eventually, the ICC emerged. Fast forward to 2024 and this court that was founded on the principle that fascistic murder must never again go unpunished now threatens to punish a state whose only crime was to fight back against fascistic murderers. The postwar ideal of protecting the likes of the Jews is now weaponised against the Jews. The seeking of arrest warrants against Israel is a grotesque betrayal of the promises and principles of the entire postwar era. It is the self-negation of everything the modern, liberal West claims to represent.

I see it as a judicial pogrom, to go alongside the militant pogrom launched by Hamas and the intellectual pogrom pursued by Hamas’s apologists in the West. Militarily, politically and now legally, the Jewish State is under attack. We are fast reaching a situation where it isn’t only Israel’s military actions that are viewed as crimes against humanity but Israel itself. The Jewish homeland itself is this close to being redefined as a crime. This should be intolerable to anyone who believes in nationhood, self-determination and the equal right of Jews to go after the armies that butcher their people. Screw the ICC. It should enjoy no jurisdiction over Israel or any other independent nation.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Pictures by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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