The world witnessed an extraordinary event last week. South Africa presented a genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). According to many experts, the case presented by the African nation is very strong, having provided ample and hard-to-refute evidence. In fact, most of what was cited was based on UN figures showcasing the dimensions of the tragedy as well as statements made by the Israeli officials themselves, proving intent. Israel countered the allegations with the expected self-defense argument; and that it was actually the one on the receiving end of genocide. The sheer numbers of Palestinian civilian deaths, physical destruction, medical calamity, and famine conditions tended to dilute the Israeli counterargument.
Notwithstanding South Africa’s solid case for genocide, some
have pointed to geopolitics potentially playing a role and ultimately
influencing the decision of the ICJ. As the court is now tasked with mulling
over the evidence to make a fairly quick but transcendental decision, let us
look at the two possibilities and the implications under each scenario.
Starting off with the scenario of the ICJ ruling in favor of Israel, the immediate implication will likely be an emboldening of Israel’s far right-led military actions inside of Gaza. Quite simply, this means more bombs, more death, more destruction, more injury, more famine, and more tragedy on the Palestinian side. Even on the Israeli side, more soldiers will be maimed or killed; and the hostages will likely face their end. Israel itself will continue to struggle politically to get itself out of the quagmire, with opposing political forces unable to provide solutions or wrangle away decision-making power from Netanyahu’s far-right coalition.
Globally, a chasm emerging between Judaism and Zionism
will only widen. Many Jews all over the world will continue to protest against
the hijacking of their very religion by the Zionists, who seem intent on occupying
and killing in their name—ironically akin to what some see as Islamist jihadi
organizations having done in the name of Islam, with the only
difference being that Israel is a state that is a party to the Genocide Convention
and can be held to account. Regardless, because Israel’s democracy appears to
have been hijacked by its very own extremists, global Jews will increasingly distance
themselves from all those seemingly not bound by any Conventions, let alone
a sense of humanity. Israel will find itself progressively isolated from its
very own global community.
Meanwhile, the region will continue to boil, especially in Lebanon,
Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, and possibly extending to Jordan and Egypt, who have
warned against any genocide or transfer. Regional peace will become more distant,
putting at risk the entire global supply of oil and other goods passing
through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. The Middle East will drift further and
further away from what will be seen as a criminally hypocritical West.
Under such a scenario, it is highly likely that the West,
particularly the United States, and the world order it created post World War
II, will be in shatters, as no country will take the Genocide Convention, let
alone ICJ’s rulings, seriously anymore. The global South will feel that the ICJ
itself is nothing more than an instrument hypocritically used by the powers
that be whenever it serves their interests. Any talk of human rights, will be meaningless; and Western diplomacy will find it impossible to carry out an agenda based on civilized
principles, like democracy and justice. All this would also give free reign to
nations who have genocidal tendencies to act with impunity. They will argue that
if Israel can get away with it, why can’t they?
Such a world will indeed be a dire one. Few winners would
emerge from this scenario, except that is for extremists intent on going at
each other’s throat; or dictators disregarding any semblance of international
law. Humanity and peace would be its ultimate victim.
Of course, there is the alternative scenario, in which the International
Court of Justice decides in favor of South Africa. What would be the
implications of such a ruling? They are equally immense. First
and foremost, it would send a strong message to the world, that any nation that crosses
the line set by humanity under international law, will be held to account—even nations
with powerful friends or even if they were once ironically on the receiving end
Secondly, and depending on the urgency set by the court, such
a ruling could put an immediate stop to the hostilities, ordering Israel to
stop its bombings and invasion of Gaza, hence ceasing and desisting the massacres,
destruction, and inhumane treatment of Palestinians, and instead bringing back food,
water, medicines, and power into the Gaza strip. While the far right in
Israel may protest such measures, Israel as a state cannot and will not risk
becoming a pariah state, and will be forced to comply.
Aside from saving countless Palestinian civilian lives as
well as those of Israeli hostages, who could be released back to their families
together with Palestinians held in Israeli jails, such an ICJ ruling will also highly
likely diffuse the regional situation as hostilities in Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq
will cease. All of them have already explicitly stated that they would stand
down once Israel stopped its attacks on Gaza.
Within Israel proper, this scenario will have serious
reverberations. The fact that Israel—which ironically as a nation came about due
to the genocide against Jews—is found guilty of genocide will mean that the
entire narrative of the nation will have to change from that of being a victim of
an injustice to that of being a perpetrator itself, hence on par within
international law with all other nations, with no special treatment. Israeli
society will indelibly have to shift blame from outsiders to those within its midst
who caused this calamity to befall the nation. It is highly likely the finger
will be pointed to Israel’s far-right for all its excesses—be they during this
war, with the settlers, or for generally being against peace. One could even contemplate
that some salient politicians may be banished altogether from the political
scene, not unlike other extremists in the history of other nations. The same
could occur within Palestine, especially if a peace process is kicked-off and
culminated quickly. The Palestinians will want to embark on the reconstruction of
their lives at the earliest. It would be unlikely that their extremist elements
would survive a comprehensive peace agreement either politically or ideologically.
But why and how could peace emerge from a simple ICJ
decision; and who could push for it? It could emerge simply because it is the
only dynamic that would allow the region to stabilize. Without it, the region
will continue to teeter; since Israel would have been weakened by the
indictment, and no nation can come to its rescue or continue to support it
without potentially facing the threat of legal action within the respective
country—indeed there is already talk of potential lawsuits being brought
against American Secretary Blinken and President Biden for aiding and abetting Israel in
their excessive retaliation in Gaza.
The only way to reverse this dynamic, is for the West, led by the United States, to push for a comprehensive peace plan, even if it needs to be imposed. Some might say that this is too idealistic a scenario. In fact, it’s the least costly of alternatives for all those involved, including the United States, which has been desperately trying to keep a leash on Israel. Meaning, an ICJ order could serve to get the United States off the hook, providing an off-ramp with the desired outcome, but without the potential political price to pay. Some may say that this is too late; and that the United States is too implicated. Perhaps, but things could change if the United States were to lead a serious peace effort that culminates in regional peace. This would essentially transform a hefty liability into a regional victory.
Encouragingly, the United States has been calling lately for comprehensive peace and “regional integration”, a term never before heard, but which showcases the opportunity to all the parties involved. Since, under this scenario, the world will have seen that the West and the United States in particular did not oppose the ICJ, it would dampen the hypocrisy charge. It could also serve to once more lend credence to the world order and specifically the multilateral institutions, namely the UN, which itself has been a victim of this war, with hundreds of its own staffers killed.
A final word on Iran, who some may argue might oppose such a
peace deal. Bottom line, a comprehensive peace cannot be attained without Iran
being party to it; and indeed, on no less than two occasions in the past 3
months, Iran has explicitly indicated that it is willing to sign up for
comprehensive peace talks together with the rest of the Gulf States. It did so
with a peace proposal submitted in October by Lebanon and one submitted by the
Palestinians in December. As hard as some may find it to believe, Iran has no
interest in being left out of a peace deal, especially a regional one that sees
all the Arabs, including Palestine, potentially making peace with Israel.
The stakes have arguably never been higher for all those
involved and indeed the world. Since democracy seems to have failed the two
societies in circumventing mortal conflict, it is now left to the International
Court of Justice to decide whether it’s time to put a stop to the violence and provide
a sliver of hope for peace in the Holy Land. If the right choice is taken by
the Court, who knows, perhaps the Almighty in his great wisdom might very well have
decided that two peoples, on the receiving end of genocide, in the end needed to
peacefully co-exist on his most Holy of Lands.