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Law, Politics, and Antisemitism

At the International Court of Justice, Israel is defending itself against accusations that it is perpetrating genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. How serious are the accusations? A legal expert weighs in.
Dr. Masua Sagiv is Scholar in Residence of the Shalom Hartman Institute based in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Koret Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies at the Helen Diller Institute, U.C. Berkeley. Masua’s scholarly work focuses on the development of contemporary Judaism in Israel, as a culture, religion, nationality, and as part of Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. Her research explores the role of law, state actors

“On Dec. 29th, South Africa filed a complaint against Israel to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), arguing that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. While the suit will likely take years to reach a conclusion, the ICJ heard arguments by both sides on Jan. 11th and 12th as part of South Africa’s request for “provisional measures” – an interim order meant primarily to bring about an immediate ceasefire by Israel.

The ICJ’s authority extends over states and not individuals (as opposed to the International Criminal Court, the ICC) and, like many other international tribunals, its decision is not legally binding. However, the court’s decision might have economic and diplomatic implications – both in general and specifically on Israel’s ability to continue fighting the war in Gaza. The legal process is based on the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The convention, signed in 1948 and in effect since 1951, was the first U.N. human rights treaty and a direct lesson from the Holocaust. Israel was one of the first countries to ratify the convention without reservation and to incorporate its provisions in its domestic legislation. For that reason, and as opposed to other international tribunals (like the ICC), Israel was required to appear in front of the court and defend itself from the allegations raised against it.

To understand what is misguided about the ICJ proceedings, three points require deeper explanation: the strength of Israel’s legal case, its political background and implications within Israel, and the disturbing role of revived antisemitism in the current process.”

Read the full article on Jewish Journal.

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