Loose Canons

Contempt of Court

The International Court of Justice gangs up on Israel again, U.N.-style.

By 7.12.04

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The International Court of Justice ruling last week ordering Israel to tear down the barrier it's building against terrorist incursions proves redundantly that international law isn't law: it's really politics in its most venal form. If ever a court deserved contempt, it's the ICJ.

One measure of how deep our contempt for the ICJ should be has no relationship to this ruling. It comes from the makeup of the court. Of its fifteen "judges," seven come from nations which have no rule of law and allow their citizens no rights of self-determination or due process of law. These stalwarts -- all of whom joined in the condemnation of Israel -- come from Communist China, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Russia, Egypt, Jordan, and Venezuela. Two more come from France and Belgium, two of the worst Israel-haters and Arafat-lovers of the European Union. Another comes from the Netherlands, ever-willing to join the EUnuchs in making U.N. mischief. That makes ten of fifteen, more than enough to predetermine the outcome of any issue, be it one of Israel or the United States.

Another measure is set by the "court's" own procedures. One of the judges, Elaraby of Egypt, used to be an Egyptian diplomat, assigned to the U.N. to join in any Israel-bashing nonsense in the General Assembly. His bias was obvious, but the "court" quashed the Israeli effort to disqualify him from ruling on the case.

Yet another is found in the "court's" list of parties allowed to submit briefs and argue the case. As I explain in Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think, one of the biggest scams the U.N. perpetrates is to equate the terrorist nations and dictatorships with the free and democratic nations of the world. As a result of this basic U.N. principle, the "court" received anti-Israel briefs from Saudi Arabia, the League of Arab States, Palestine, the U.N. itself, Sudan, Cuba, and North Korea, among others. It allowed lawyers for the Palestinian Authority (Arafat's terrorist base), Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Jordan, Sudan, the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to appear before it and argue the case. After all that, to absolutely no one's surprise, the "court" ruled that the Israeli wall was being built in violation of international law.

As a matter of international law, such as it is, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. One of the basic principles that the court is supposed to follow is that it can't decide "contentious" issues when one of the parties to it -- in this case Israel -- has declined to submit the matter to the court to decide. The "court" blew past this restriction by saying that it had jurisdiction -- despite Israel's objection -- because the U.N. General Assembly is dealing with the overall issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is only one of many horrible decisions to come out of a U.N. body lately, but it bodes ill for the future. Think ahead. What's to prevent the gaggle of has-beens and never-wases that compose the General Assembly to "deal with" any issue, from the "legality" of the war in Iraq to the November presidential election? Nothing.

This particular ICJ ruling is an academic exercise, cloaking the anti-Israeli predetermination in historical terms. Tracing the boundaries of the state of Israel and Palestine -- neither of which existed at the time -- to the post-Ottoman British mandate in that area, the "court" extends its reasoning to the "occupied Palestinian territories" taken by Israel in the 1967 war. (Noting nothing, of course, about the Israelis' seizure of the territory in repelling the combined attacks of Arab nations, the ICJ says that these areas are still "occupied" territory, and nothing that has happened since 1967 -- including the recidivist Arab attack on Israel in 1973, when it again had to fight in and across these areas to repel an attack -- means anything to the ICJ.)

All you really need to know about the ICJ decision is that nowhere does it even recognize the fact of Palestinian terrorism against Israel. The whole decision talks about the "occupied" territories as if they were pacific realms, of no danger or even inconvenience to the Israelis. It concludes -- without factual predicate -- that the wall is not necessary for Israel to defend itself. The entire 65-page decision talks in terms of the Palestinian territories as if they were an ancient British forest or a modern Canadian city. To read the decision is to step into the worlds of Lewis Carroll and Franz Kafka. Which is precisely what the General Assembly and Security Council will do later this week, when they take up the ICJ request that the U.N. consider action to compel Israel to dismantle the wall. (Only the U.S. judge dissented from these rulings.)

Israel has already said that it doesn't recognize the ICJ jurisdiction over this case, and won't obey the order. That results in the U.N. resuming its open season on Israel. There will be debates, condemnations, and calls for international sanctions -- even military compulsion -- to make sure Israel gives up a proven and reasonable defensive measure. The U.N. likes nothing more than coddling Arafat and his terrorists. It wouldn't even weep crocodile tears if Israel ceased to exits.

That Israel has told the ICJ much the same thing that Vice President Cheney said to Sen. Pat Leahy a couple of weeks ago raises the political stakes. That the ICJ has become just another part of the U.N. that embraces terrorism should not surprise. It's just another concoction of faux-legal political poison we will have to pour down the U.N. drain.

TAS Contributing Editor Jed Babbin is the New York Times best-selling author of Inside the Asylum: Why the U.N. and Old Europe Are Worse Than You Think (Regnery Publishing).

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About the Author
Jed Babbin served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of several bestselling books including Inside the Asylum and In the Words of Our Enemies. He is coauthor (with Herbert London) of the new book The BDS War Against Israel. You can follow him on Twitter@jedbabbin.