B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
B’nai B’rith International notes that in initial decisions announced today on “provisional” requests made by South Africa in a case accusing Israel of “genocide,” the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rightly did not demand that Israel stop vital defensive operations against Hamas in Gaza.
Nonetheless, B’nai B’rith is troubled that the ICJ asserted that the requirements to grant several South African requests for preliminary steps, including the need for Israel to report on its compliance with obligations, have been satisfied and that the case had a basis to proceed under the international Genocide Convention. The court announcement dwelt heavily on suffering in Gaza and on purportedly objectionable statements by some Israeli political officials, with minimal attention to horrific Palestinian crimes committed against Israelis, to highly challenging military conditions engineered by Hamas in Gaza and to Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens’ lives.
The same may be said of attention to South Africa’s indifference, at best, to the terrorists’ genocidal aspirations against Israeli Jews—and the court’s failure to indicate obligations of Palestinians and other parties to ensure the survival and the humanitarian needs of Israeli civilians.
The very suggestion that Israel—and not its enemies, openly committed to Israel’s violent eradication—may be guilty of “genocide,” is outrageous considering patent facts, including Israel’s exceptional efforts to lessen Palestinian civilian casualties and to provide Gaza’s population with humanitarian aid even during an unprovoked and indiscriminate war, like previous wars, brutally prompted by the Palestinian side.
The cynical South African case unacceptably politicizes the court and the Genocide Convention in particular, threatening their standing. The ICJ, the United Nations court whose judges are appointed by U.N. bodies, should have—and should still—decline to proceed with it.
B’nai B’rith, which made an extensive submission to the court and has led Jewish engagement with the U.N. since its founding in 1945, will continue to follow this matter closely, while encouraging all governments and stakeholders of influence to uphold Israel’s vital right and duty of self-defense in the interest of all responsible countries’ need to preserve the necessary tools for counterterrorism.