July 14, 2004 | Scripps Howard News Service

Court of Injustice; UN Judges Issue a License to Kill

Years ago, the New York Daily News ran the headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” Gerald Ford wasn't really telling anyone to die – the News was just characterizing the President's refusal to provide New York vital financial assistance.

But on July 10, 2004 the headlines could have read: “International Court of Justice to Israelis: Drop Dead.” And that would have been, quite literally, the truth.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the United Nation's court. The ICJ has never raised serious objections to terrorism. Indeed in 1998, the ICJ sided with Libya, and against the U.S., Britain and victims of terrorism, in a case related to the Libyan bombing of a U.S. airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland. Now the same court has strenuously objected to the construction of a passive and non-violent barrier – call it a fence or a wall if you wish – that prevents terrorists from entering Israeli communities to murder innocent Jewish and Arab civilians.

The ICJ should not even have considered this case. It doesn't have jurisdiction – as was pointed out to the judges by the European Union collectively and by 30 countries individually, including the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Russia.

The ICJ was established to settle disputes between sovereign states, and only when both parties consent. Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority is not a sovereign state. Israel is – and told the ICJ not to intervene. The judges paid no heed to Israel. Arafat wanted the propaganda victory of an ICJ ruling against Israel, and what Arafat wants he generally gets, at least from the “international community.”

The ICJ's opinion is only “advisory” and so not legally binding. But, as expected, it is being spun as if it had the force of international law.

Deutche Welle, the government-financed “Voice of Germany,” said: “After the ruling in The Hague … it's official: Israel is an occupying force, and does have to abide by international law if it doesn't wish to be treated as a pariah.”

I see: killing children doesn't make you a pariah; putting up a fence to defend yourself against killers does. 

Or as commentator Andrew Sullivan responded: “Do murdered Jews no longer concern the Germans?”

It's a serious question and it doesn't apply to Germans alone. Phyllis Chesler, a psychotherapist and liberal feminist, is the author of book called “The New Anti-Semitism.”

She writes that Israel, the last Jewish enclave in the Middle East, “has increasingly come to represent the Jews of the world and is treated as they have been treated for thousands of years. She is demonized, isolated, and attacked while the world either actively rejoices, or simply does nothing to stop it. Israel has also become the symbolic scapegoat for America and for Western values such as democracy, religious freedom, and individual and women's rights.”

During the 20th Century, the most dangerous totalitarian states and movements sought a world free of Jews – and most nations did nothing to stop them. In the 21st Century, the most dangerous totalitarian states and movements seek a world free of a Jewish state – and most nations are not only doing nothing to stop them, they are attempting to curry favor with them.

As has the ICJ by ignoring Israel's right to self defense – a right guaranteed by the UN Charter and international law. The ICJ also has ignored the terrorist war that has been waged against Israel for the past four years, ignored the plainly genocidal intentions of such groups as Hamas, and ignored Arafat's openly acknowledged goal of fatah – conquest — the elimination of the hated Jewish state. 

Two days after the ICJ issued its opinion, a bomb attack in Tel Aviv killed one woman and injured at least 30 others. Fatah, Arafat's organization, claimed responsibility. The UN's judges must feel proud.

It's worth noting that a week before the ICJ s issued its license to kill, the Israeli Supreme Court – the only high court in the Middle East on which Arabs and Jews sit together — issued its own ruling on the fence.

The Israeli court was responding to a petition from Mohammed Dahla, an attorney representing Palestinians. Yes, in Israel – unlike the areas controlled by Arafat's Palestinian Authority (P.A.) — Palestinians can have their day in court. (An Israeli attempting to file suit in a P.A. court is not, at present, even imaginable.)

The Israeli justices issued a nuanced conclusion.  Israel, they said, has the same right to defend itself as other states. But it must strive to accomplish this with as little inconvenience as possible to Palestinians living along the fence's route. The court therefore ordered major sections of the fence re-routed — understanding that the new route may provide less security, and so may cost Israeli lives.

“We are aware of the killing and destruction wrought by the terror against the state and its citizens,” the judges said. “We are aware that in the short term, this judgment will not make the state's struggle against those rising up against it easier.” But, they concluded, “There is no security without law.”

To the ICJ judges, however, law is whatever they write above their names. As for security, Israelis are entitled to none. There is literally nothing that Israelis can do to defend themselves from terrorism that is not the object of more criticism than the terrorism itself.

What the Israelis are permitted to do in response to terrorism is to offer concessions. And drop dead. 

The judges in The Hague have said it as plainly as anyone could.

Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies a policy institute focusing on terrorism.



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