At the International Court, Israel Fights for the Truth

South Africa had its day in court. They thankfully lost what they set out to achieve, but in a way they also won what they wanted.
February 7, 2024
Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

South Africa has recently received more international news coverage and talking heads screen time than since the days of Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. South Africa’s only other significant notoriety has been its achievement as a world center for rape, political corruption, out-of-control theft, street crime, inability to provide more than a few hours of electricity per day, and of course, its long history of apartheid. 

South Africa’s decision to take Israel to the International Court of Justice with the charge of intent to commit genocide against the Palestinian people took most of the world by surprise. Two bewildering questions emerged simultaneously. First, South Africa had no history of being the world’s moral example, behavioral watchman or ethical leader, and given its decades-long silence regarding clear-cut cases of genocidal actions against religious, ethnic and racial groups, why would South Africa suddenly target Israel? Question two, how was South Africa expecting to prove that Israel had clear intent to commit genocide against the Palestinians when no one in any of Israel’s vast number of political parties, no one among any of Israel’s elected officials or appointed officials, and no one in any authoritative role or even nonauthoritative role in the Israeli army had any knowledge of such an official or unofficial claim of intent?  Furthermore, outside of radical extremists who scream “Genocide” if a blade of grass is stepped on, no existing democratic nation had a known trace of worry that Israel came anywhere close to having intent to commit genocide of the Palestinians.

In the courtroom, Israel repeated clearly that this war was only against the Hamas terrorists and not the Palestinian people. South Africa had to insist that the Palestinian people “are” Hamas and are being killed along with Hamas. Ideally, South Africa would have wanted to say the opposite for their argument to show that Israel was targeting the Palestinians. However, to claim Israel’s intent to commit genocide, South Africa needed to blur the distinction and prevent Israel from separating the groups, claiming their only intent was to kill and eliminate the Hamas terrorists and not the Palestinian people.

In court, South Africa had to come up with sound proof of Israel’s genocidal intent. They found obscure soundbite reactions from a handful of Israeli leaders responding immediately to the extreme horror of the Oct. 7th massacre.  One person used the word “animals” to describe Hamas’s disgusting acts of slaughter, murder and rape.  South Africa was trying to show that Israel dehumanized the Palestinians by using such language. Dehumanization is a fundamental step towards initiating a genocide. However, it was the terrorist actions of Hamas that were being addressed, not at all the Palestinians as a people.  

South Africa found a video clip of a group of Israeli soldiers singing a song that mentioned the evil biblical nation called Amalek in its lyrics. Amalek was a nation that came to murder all the Jews in the Nation of Israel.  G-d commanded that the evil Amalek be wiped out by the Nation of Israel and that Israel never forget Amalek’s pure evil. The South African lawyers found video clips of some Israeli leaders comparing Hamas to Amalek as well as Hamas to ISIS. These clips were offered as further proof of Israel’s intent to commit genocide against the Palestinian people. South Africa forgot that the Hague’s court does not accept testimony based on biblical stories written over 3,500 years ago.

In Jewish law code or Talmudic debates, if someone attempts to make an extremely outlandish legal argument, it is “af al gav,” which means “to place your nose on your back.” South Africa tried mightily to demand that the Hague court believe Israel demonstrated clear intent for genocide. The lawyers also argued that not enough food, water, electricity, or fuel was arriving for the Palestinians, but they refused to testify that Hamas was stealing and commandeering the civilian food, fuel and water supply. The lawyers also argued that Gazan hospitals could not function without the fuel for electricity and this was further proof of Israel’s intent for genocide. Since South Africa only supplies a few hours per day of electricity to its own citizens and their own hospitals, are they not responsible for the genocide of their own people?

Upon reviewing the transcript court proceedings, we learned that genocide was no longer the word meant to describe the worst of all crimes for which a nation could be charged, as when initially coined. The new interpretation created a transformed definition of genocide that could be applied to virtually any conflict between states or between a state and a terror organization. It was further revealed that according to the definition of genocide, only an official “state” has to abide by the new rules of war.  A terror “non-state” has no rules of war to uphold.

It is frightening to learn that a court has removed any legal responsibility of a terror organization, effectively giving that terror organization free reign to carry out unprovoked slaughters with no legal consequences. 

It is frightening to learn that a court has removed any legal responsibility of a terror organization, effectively giving that terror organization free reign to carry out unprovoked slaughters with no legal consequences. The terror organization is now assured that not only can they effectively use human shields with no blowback, they also can use “legal shields” to protect them from any state military response the ICJ deems illegal and genocidal. 

The final judgement of genocide will depend upon the moral values of the ICJ judges and to which definition of genocide they subscribe. Given the current lineup of ICJ judges, the remarkable outcome of last week’s ruling was that the court did not rule that Israel must immediately cease fire and suffer the consequences of being charged with committing genocide against the Palestinian people. This was a major defeat for South Africa and the media pundits who declared with certainty that South Africa had argued a solid, well prepared, and undefeatable case against Israel. These pundits and supporters of Hamas claimed  that the Israeli attorneys failed to state anything that would justify Israel escaping a guilty verdict to the charge of committing intentional genocide in Gaza.

Even though the court did not grant South Africa a legal victory that would have demanded Israel immediately cease its fire to stop the “genocide,” the South African legal team gloated in their made-up legal victory. They were ecstatic that the court didn’t immediately throw out or dismiss their claim as Israel wanted, and allowed the South African claim to be heard.

South Africa had its day in court. They thankfully lost what they set out to achieve, but in a way they also won what they wanted.  Their real victory was getting the world to be glued to the anti-Israel headlines in their newsfeeds. They won in that millions of people heard the anti-Israel pundits on network newscasts and anti-Israel podcast interviews state that South Africa had a winning case for charging Israel with the most extreme war crime.

South Africa successfully got the words “genocide,” “apartheid” and “Israel” to be repeated over and over through every news broadcast, heard in every language around the world. This is how antisemitism works. This is how antisemitism is nurtured and spread. 

The lack of tangible facts in the South African case against Israel ends up not mattering.  What ends up mattering is that South Africa got to invoke antisemitic thoughts and feelings against the Jewish people and the State of Israel from people all over the globe. The world’s antisemites trust that most people don’t know better when lies and false charges against the Jews are made in the public square.

Our response must be to stand for truth and do our best to stamp out the grotesque falsehoods. We need to relentlessly confront and defeat the abuse of language and the promulgation of continuous fabricated and malicious hate rants against the Jewish people. These modern-day blood libels are pathetic, disheartening, and beyond belief. They are a sign of weakness used by the enemies of honesty, who are compelled to profane the Jewish people. 

Our main weapon is the truth which is thankfully on our side. However, our truth must not be muted in silence. It must be clearly expressed without  fear of squelching our true story. We must forge an open path through the webs of Jew-hating deceptions for our truth to march victoriously.

Thankfully, Israel and enough ICJ judges stood up to the bogus South African canards and won this round. For our long-term victory and to be the “am hanetzach,” a victorious nation, we need to continually fight and strive for the truth to be clearly heard and to successfully prevail.

Daryl Temkin, Ph.D. earned his Doctorate in Counseling Psychology from USC. He lives between Los Angeles and Jerusalem.  DarylTemkinPhD@Gmail.com

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