Owner of Al-Jawarha Tower Speaks to The Palestine Chronicle: ‘We Will Never Compromise on Our Freedom’ (PHOTOS)

May 21, 2021

Owner of the Al-Jawarha Tower, Ahmad Moustafa al-Za’im, with his children. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

On May 12, Israel destroyed the Al-Jawarha tower in Gaza City, a large building of many stories and numerous flats. It was not the only tower that Israel destroyed in its latest war on Gaza. A few others too were leveled to the ground, as if they were legitimate military targets. 

Palestine Chronicle correspondent in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Ajjour, met with one of the main owners of the tower, Mr. Ahmad Moustafa al-Za’im. A successful businessman, al-Za’im is also a loving father of two boys and two girls. 

The Chronicle also interviewed Al-Za’im’s young daughter, Malak. Like her father, her testimony was that of pride and defiance. This is what they have to say:

Ahmad Moustafa al-Za’im:

“I have invested my whole life, everything I owned and worked hard for, in this building. Israel bombed it for no reason at all, aside from scoring a point that it simply can. It is a residential tower, which also hosted law offices, media companies, and the like. Lots of accountants and engineers were based here as well. Also, it had advertisement companies and a few clinics. We had an office that facilitates pilgrimage to Mecca. Also, an optical clinic and an office for marriage services.

“It was a thriving place of families and businesses and nothing else that could be understood, even from Israel’s point of view, as a ‘security threat’. 

“But thank God for everything in this life, good or bad. Israel has destroyed it completely. But I say it proudly, I am Ahmad al-Za’im, everything I own, my very life, in fact, my whole family, is a small price to pay for the freedom of Al-Quds, Jerusalem, for Al-Aqsa Mosque and for our people in Sheikh Jarrah. In fact, for Al-Khalil (Hebron), Jenin, Palestine ‘48 and the whole of Palestine. Thank Allah for everything. 

“My message to the Resistance: We will continue to be steadfast, you lead the way and we will march behind you. Israel will never break our will or weaken our steadfastness. We know that Israel has destroyed the tower, and all other towers to put pressure on the Resistance to relent and accept an end to the war with no achievements. But that will never happen. We will never compromise on our rights and our freedom, no matter the cost.”

Malak Ahmad al-Za’im:

“I am Malak Ahmad al-Za’im. We were living in this tower. When the Israelis decided to bomb it, they called the neighbors, then the neighbors called my dad and we hurried very, very fast. But there was no time to gather any of our belongings. I had so many toys in my house, but also so many memories as my brothers and I were always playing on the stairs. There was a very nice restaurant here that we often ate. Also, many lawyers worked here and there was a place where you can get your eyes fixed. Many many things and many people. But more importantly, all of our dreams, hopes and memories were in this tower. 

“When the tower was destroyed, I cried a lot. I don’t know what else to say aside from that, that I cried all the time.”

(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour)

(The Palestine Chronicle)

The Image of Victory

 BY GILAD ATZMON

Image of victory .jpg

by Gilad Atzmon

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If winning a military battle is defined by the accomplishment of one’s military objectives, then Hamas won the current round of violence with its very first ballistic barrage on Jerusalem ten days ago. Israel, on the other hand, won’t win, can’t win and doesn’t even dream of winning. Like in recent ‘rounds’, all Israel hopes to achieve is an ‘image of victory.’ Despite its military might and destructive enthusiasm, Israel can’t prevail militarily because it doesn’t even remember what military objectives are or what they look like.  

In the last seven decades Israel has worked relentlessly to divide the Palestinians in an attempt to dismantle their ability to resist as one people. This project had been so successful in the eyes of the Israelis that many of them started to believe that the Palestinian cause had evaporated into thin air. But then, completely out of the blue (as far as the Israelis are concerned), Hamas managed to unite the Palestinians into a unified fist of resistance: on Tuesday every Palestinian between the River and the Sea joined a strike called by Hamas. Such a collective, multi-sectorial strike didn’t happen in Palestine since 1936.  

Military victory is not measured by the carnage you inflict on your foe. It isn’t measured by the number of casualties or the residential towers one reduces into dust. Admittedly, there is no room for comparison between Israeli military capabilities and Hamas’ firepower. Israel is one of the most technologically advanced military forces in the world. Hamas is decades behind, yet it wins over Israel in every round of violence. 

The reason is simple. Hamas’ military objectives are simple and modest. Hamas has vowed to keep the resistance alive. It fulfills its promise. By achieving this goal Hamas has positioned itself as the Palestinian unifier. Israel, on the other hand, can’t decide its military goals. We hear Israel’s Defence Minister vowing to bring security to the Israelis but Hamas proves him wrong, continuing to rain Israel with rockets at a growing rate. Israel brags about its precision bombing of Hamas’ tunnels, yet rather cynically, Hamas keep operating from tunnels that seem intact and operational.

It doesn’t take a military genius to grasp that in order to stop Hamas, Israel needs to deploy ground forces and to engage in a fierce battle in the streets of Gaza. But this is exactly the one thing the IDF refuses to do and for a manifold of very good reasons. Firstly, the Israelis are fearful of a house-to-house battle. Second, Israel doesn’t want to control 2.5 million Gazans. Third, not one Israeli military leader is willing to face the relentless Israeli mothers brigade. In the region, however, Israel’s reluctance to send foot soldiers to Gaza is understood as cowardice and weakness. 

For Israel, Gaza in particular and Palestine in general is a no-win situation.

But there is a deeper reasoning behind Israel’s hopeless situation. Israeli decision makers (both within the political realm and in the military) subscribe to the power of deterrence. For Israelis, the power of deterrence means punishing the Arabs so heavily that their will to fight would practically stop existing. For one reason or another, the Israelis manage to clumsily zigzag through their troubling history in the region in an attempt to validate this doctrine. For instance, Israel works hard to convince themselves that despite their military fiasco in Lebanon in 2006, Hezbollah has been reluctant to enter a new round of violence with Israel because it is intimidated by the consequences.

Examination of Israeli history actually defies the Israeli doctrine. When Arabs are defeated and humiliated in the battlefield they keep fighting until they win. When Arabs win, they often lose their motivation to keep fighting. They occasionally seek peace and harmony in accordance with the Islamic teaching.

In 1967 Israel defeated 3 Arab armies in just 6 days. Israel performed a perfect Blitzkrieg operation. The Israeli air force surprised and destroyed the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian air forces on the ground in less than four hours. Simultaneously, Israeli Panzers raided into Sinai, within hours the Egyptian forces collapsed. The humiliation of the Egyptian army was unprecedented in military terms.

If the Israeli doctrine carried any validity, Egypt wouldn’t consider any military confrontation with Israel. But the reality on the ground proved the opposite. Just a few months after their June 1967 defeat, the Egyptian Army launched a war of attrition against Israel, one which exhausted the Israeli forces (including the air force). In the War of Attrition (1967-70) Egypt displayed new capabilities, relying on new Soviet ground-to-air missiles that obliterated Israeli air superiority. Yet Israel refused to draw the necessary conclusions. It was suffocated by hubris that prevented it from reading its neighbors and their intentions.

On 6 October 1973 (Yom Kippur) at 2 PM, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack on Israeli forces in the Suez Canal and in the Golan Heights. Within hours the two Arab armies managed to obliterate the Israeli defence lines. A few days later and thanks to a close American airlift Israel recovered. It gained its lost land in the occupied Golan heights and even managed to conquer some new territory in Syria. In the South, Israel managed to establish bridgehead over the Suez Canal. It encircled the Egyptian 3rd army and cut its supply lines. But Israel failed to push the Egyptian 3rd and 2nd armies back. The Egyptian army ended the war, claiming a narrow strip of Sinai back. It was this victory that empowered Anwar Sadat to launch a peace initiative four years later (1977).

Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian leader at the time, didn’t manage to claim a victory. Syria remained a defiant enemy of Israel. It is reasonable to speculate that if Assad was allowed to cling to some of his territorial gains in October ‘73, Israel and Syria could have proceeded into further reconciliatory talks.

The same logic can be applied to Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shia resistance movement is reluctant to fight Israel not because it is afraid of the consequences, as Israelis delude themselves, but because it already won significantly over the IDF. A war with Israel is dangerous for Hezbollah not because Israel will do its best once again to destroy Lebanese infrastructure and flatten half of Beirut, but because the outcome of such a war is unknown. Hezbollah is in a much better position retaining its status as the Arab military force that made the IDF run home with its tail between its legs (2006).

One may wonder whether Israeli strategists are so thick as not to grasp the most obvious facts about their neighbors and what fuels their motivation to fight. It may of course be possible that Israel’s decision makers aren’t as excited by tranquility as some of us want to believe. Gaza is where Israel tests its new weaponry and tactics. Gaza rockets are a necessary ingredient in the Iron Dome’s public relations. Most importantly, the Gaza crisis emerged when Netanyahu’s political options were running out. It was the Gaza current conflict that made the political powers in Israel subside and then crystalize lucidly within the realm of the hard right. This war made both Netanyahu and Hamas stronger.

It would be fair to argue that Hamas is operating within the modernist perception of conflicts as devised by Carl von Clausewitz. For the German military philosopher “war is the continuation of politics by other means.” In ‘postmodernist’ Israel, it seems war is one of the means that keeps some politicians out of prison.

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The One State Reality

 BY GILAD ATZMON

one state finally .jpg

by Gilad Atzmon

There is a war in Jerusalem right now, a war that ends the Israeli illusion that the Palestinian cause has somehow faded away or evaporated.

Veteran Israeli General  Amos Yadlin, former commander of the IDF’s  intelligence and a chief Israeli National Security analyst, described the Israeli reality in the most brutal terms in his commentary on Israeli N12:   “The Israeli delusions are over. The Palestinian problem is Back. “

Yadlin believes that Israel’s lack of leadership has led to strategic paralysis, in which Israel and Palestine have practically morphed into ‘one state’ and it has only two options to choose from: either to ‘stop being a Jewish State’ or to be ‘undemocratic’! According to Yadlin, the “Palestinians are engaged in a different discourse today than in the past. After the failure of their three main strategies – terrorism, internationalization of the conflict and reliance on the Arab world, the Palestinians have greatly strengthened the discourse of rights. If they cannot achieve their own state, they seek equal rights as citizens of the Greater State of Israel – with the long-term hope of an Arab majority in one state. In the meantime, they hope to exhaust Israel’s economic benefits and gain points in the campaign for Israel’s delegitimization.”

I wouldn’t use Yadlin’s misguided terminology, as the Palestinians are already the majority of the people between the river and the sea. Yet, I believe that his dissection of the situation is largely accurate. It is also consistent with IDF intelligence’s reading of the Israeli Palestinian conflict since the early 1980s. IDF generals have been saying it for years: for the Palestinians to win, all they need to do is to survive. Mahmoud Abbas, whom many Palestine supporters tend to detest, also came to the same realization a while back. It is not war that will defeat Israel, it is actually peace which Israel fears the most.

As if the news is not bad enough for the Israelis and their future prospects in the region, the last election made it clear that the new Israeli kingmaker is no other than Mansour Abbas, the Leader of the Islamic party Ra’am.  Benjamin Netanyahu was ready to form a government with him just to sustain his primacy, with the hope that this may help him stay out of prison. But an alternative  centrist coalition also can’t be formed without the support of Abbas.

The hardcore right wing within the Israeli Knesset do understand that such political power in the hands of an Islamic party empowers their bitterest enemies. It is destined to bring many more Israeli Arabs to the polls in the next election and if Arabs in Israel enjoy the same political representation as the Jewish majority, they can easily become the biggest political force in Israel. Is Israel ready for an Arab PM, or Muslim minister of defence? I’ll let you ponder over that.

The most peculiar fact in all of that is that Jewish lobbies around the world are actually very successful in dominating different nations’ affairs that are relevant to Israel and Jewish interests. A lot has been written about AIPAC dominating American foreign affairs. A lot was said about the power of the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Labour friends of Israel (LFI) in Britain. Yet in the USA Jews amount to less than 2% of the entire population. In the UK, Jews are less than 0.5% of the Brits. In Israel, on the other hand, Jews are 80% of the Israeli society and about 50% of the people who dwell between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea.  One may draw a conclusion that Jews are doing far better for themselves as a marginal exilic identity than being a majority on the land. Zionism, for those who do not know, was born to refute that observation but it failed.    

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‘Israeli’ Occupation Forces Violently Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, Attack Worshipers [Live Updates]

10/5/2021

Source

‘Israeli’ Occupation Forces Violently Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque, Attack Worshipers [Live Updates]

By Staff

‘Israeli’ occupation forces have once again stormed the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in the city of occupied al-Quds on Monday morning, and attacked Palestinian worshipers with live fire.

Not having enough with the causing scores of injuries among the landowners, they Zionist regime forces also targeted those injured using rubber bullets although the suffocating worshipers started exiting the southern prayer hall inside the holy site.

Additionally, the enemy’s forces banned ambulances from moving the injured worshipers for treatment, with many reports of critical injuries caused to the worshipers in their eyes and jaws.

The attacks also caused significant damage in the Dome of The Rock Mosque.

Palestine’s Islamic Jihad movement commented on the developments as saying: The resistance is present and will not be far from the “Israeli” crime.

For its part, Hamas urged all Palestinians to pour into the streets and clash with the “Israeli” occupation.

Mufti of al-Quds Sheikh Mohammad Hossein described what is happening as a premeditated aggression by the occupation against al-Aqsa and the Palestinians.

UN Chief Antonio Guterres urged “Israel” to cease demolitions and evictions in line with the obligations of international law.

Commenting on the events, Head of Al-Aqsa Worshipers Yousef Mukhaimer considered the real disaster is the official Arab silence over what is happening in al-Aqsa.

For his part, Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Al-Quds Atallah Hanna said the “Israeli” attack on al-Aqsa is an attack on the Holy Sepulcher Church.

The “Israeli” occupation seeks to seize our sanctities and turn Muslims and Christians into minorities, Archbishop Hanna added.

As the confrontations escalate, al-Quds governor warned of an imminent “Israeli” massacre against Palestinian worshippers inside Al-Aqsa Holy Mosque.

Later reports cited the Palestinian Red Crescent as counting hundreds of injuries during the confrontations, while about 50 injuries have been transferred to al-Quds hospitals and the field hospital.

The Red Crescent committee reported then that more than 180 Palestinians were injured as the occupation forces suppressed them in the holy al-Aqsa Mosque & the Old City’s surroundings, with more than 80 injuries being transferred to the hospitals, one in critical condition and was transferred with a respirator installed.

Meanwhile, “Israeli” media reported the martyrdom of a Palestinian men in the continuous confrontations.

Soon after, Palestinians reported that youth Omar Zalloum has been injured in the head in the al-Aqsa Mosque, and stress that the medical situation is very terrible inside the holy mosque, with reports pointing to “Israeli” forces trying to expel all medical personnel from inside the place.

‘Israeli’ occupation forces attacked and beat female journalist Fatima al-Bakri while covering the confrontations taking place inside the holy al-Aqsa Mosque. They also attacked Al-Araby TV correspondent Ahmad Jaradat and photojournalist Eithar Abu Ghraybah.

Injuries were also reported among the Palestinian Red Crescent crews.

Meanwhile, a Zionist settler rammed a number of Palestinians standing off the Bab al-Asbat in the occupied al-Quds, after which at least one Palestinian was martyred.

Other ‘Israeli’ settlers attempted to take off the Moroccan Gate and storm the al-Aqsa Mosque after the Zionist occupation forces greenlight their move

.

The attacks included the use of live bullets and explosive rubber against Palestinians inside al-Aqsa Mosque after the Zionist occupiers stormed the holy site while hundreds of Palestinians are remaining inside the Mosque as part of a religious rituals that happens during the Muslims’ fasting month of Ramadan.

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انتفاضة «القدس» وحتميّة المقاومة

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 د. جمال زهران

حادث جديد منذ عدة أيام… أهدانا الله إياه.. وهو انهيار جسر في الكيان الصهيوني وسط احتفالات يهوديّة للمغتصبين والمستوطنين، راح ضحيته (60) شخصاً، وإصابة أكثر من (400) آخرين، والمؤكد أنّ غطرسة القوة لدى العدو الصهيوني لن تجعله ينتبه إلى أخطائه، وهو ما نتمناه حتى ينهار هذا الكيان من الداخل، وهو أمر محتمل إلى حد كبير، كما انهار نظام الأبارتهايد في جنوب أفريقيا ورحل الرجل الأبيض الحاكم والمغتصب، بإرادة المقاومة لشعب الجنوب، والتفتيت الداخلي. فهناك قاعدة واضحة، وهي لا عمر لمغتصب وإن طال الزمان.

كما أن شهر رمضان المعظم الذي يأتي بالخيرات دائماً، مهما كانت الكوارث العالميّة، فقد هلَّ بخيره في أرض المقدس الشريفة، باندلاع انتفاضة شعبية فلسطينية ضد العدو الصهيونيّ الذي هدف من وراء منع المصلّين الفلسطينيين من الصلاة في ساحة المسجد الأقصى، إثارة هؤلاء، ووضع العقبات أمام إتمام الانتخابات الفلسطينية في مدينة القدس، حيث أصبحت تحت السيطرة الصهيونيّة وعاصمة دولة الكيان، حسب تقديرهم وإعلاناتهم المدعومة أميركياً. وبالتالي يمكن أن يعوق ذلك إتمام الانتخابات الفلسطينية، تحت شعار أن لا انتخابات فلسطينية من دون القدس، باعتبارها رمز السيادة للدولة الفلسطينيّة وشرعيتها.

وما حدث يوم السبت 24 نيسان/ أبريل الماضي، هو انتفاضة جديدة للشعب الفلسطينيّ في القدس، حيث إنه يوم تاريخي جديد، وفصل جديد من فصول المقاومة الفلسطينيّة ضد الاستعمار والاستيطان الصهيوني. فقد قدم المقدسيون، أجسادهم بصدور الشباب العارية، والذين ولدوا بعد اتفاق أوسلو الكسيح، لمجابهة العدو الصهيونيّ العنصري، لإجباره على التراجع عن منع الفلسطينيين من الصلاة في بيت المقدس، وحدث ذلك، أن تراجع هذا العدو كالعادة مع ازدياد درجة المقاومة.

ولا يمكن نسيان الصورة التي تبنّتها وسائل الإعلام في فيديو رائع، حيث الشرطيّة الصهيونيّة، وهي تمنع فتاة فلسطينية من دخول المسجد، بالقوة، وكانت معها والدتها. فمع إصرار الفتاة على دخول المسجد، وإصرار الشرطية الصهيونية على منعها باستخدام الأيدي والضرب والسحل، إلا أن الأم رفضت تعرّض ابنتها لهذا الاعتداء، وقامت بالاشتباك مع الشرطية الصهيونية، فتم ضربها وسحلها وإلقائها في الأرض بقوة وشدّة، حتى تجمّع الكثيرون، وتجمّع أفراد الشرطة الصهيونية، وأصبحت «معركة» كبيرة، كان على إثرها، نجاح الفتاة وأمها، في دخول المسجد الأقصى، لأداء الصلاة (العشاء والتراويح).

هكذا هي المقاومة اليومية بما تحمله من مجابهات بين المقدسيين وبين الصهاينة العنصريين. وانتصرت المقاومة في معركة جديدة لدخول المسجد الأقصى في رمضان، بإجبار العدو/ الصهيوني على التراجع بالمنع، والسماح للفلسطينيين بأداء صلواتهم في المسجد الأقصى الشريف.

تلك صفحة جديدة من صفحات الجيل الجديد الشاب، الذي يتشبّع بروح المقاومة ضدّ الصهاينة الأمر الذي يعني استمرار سريان المقاومة ضدّ الوجود الصهيوني في أرض فلسطين المحتلة، وتأكيد على فشل كلّ مشروعات السلام المزعوم/ والتسويات، الكسيحة، وأن الأمل كلّ الأمل، في هذا الجيل المشبع بفكر وروح المقاومة.

وقد عبّر الكاتب/ عريب الرنتاوي، في مقاله بجريدة «الدستور» الأردنيّة يوم 25 نيسان/ أبريل الماضي، بالقول: «إن القدس هي درّة المشروع الوطني الفلسطيني، وتاج المشروع القوميّ العروبي، وعنوان وحدة المسلمين، وقبلة المسيحيين الشرفاء والأحرار في العالم كله..». وأنا اتفق معه، وتلك هي الحقيقة التي لا يجب أن تغيب عن كل المناضلين الأحرار في العالم العربي، والعالم كله.

فتحرير فلسطين من النهر إلى البحر، وتحرير كلّ التراب الفلسطيني، وفي القلب القدس بطبيعة الحال، وطرد العدو الصهيوني الغاصب، وكسر إرادة المشروع الصهيو/أميركي، التآمري، هو المشروع الوطني الفلسطيني، والمشروع القومي العروبي بلا جدال. ولا يمكن بحال من الأحوال أن تتحرّر فلسطين كاملة، عبر الاتفاقيات الكسيحة والعميلة والتآمرية على القضية والشعب، مثل كامب ديفيد.. وادي عربة – أوسلو) فضلاً عن اتفاقيات التطبيع التي تتسم بالعمالة والحقارة والفجور من بعض الأنظمة العربية العميلة لأميركا وللصهيونية. فالمقاومة هي الحلّ، بلا جدال، وهي الآلية لتحرير فلسطين وتحرير بيت المقدس، كما سبق أن حرره صلاح الدين الأيوبي (جدّي الذي افتخر به مثالاً للمقاومة والصمود).. ومن بعده الزعيم جمال عبد الناصر الذي تظلّ كلماته المقاومة هادية لكلّ مناضل عربي حقيقي، حينما قال: (لا للتفاوض لا للاعتراف لا للصلح مع الكيان الصهيوني).

وأختم بالقول إن نهاية الكيان الصهيوني قد حانت، وأراها قريبة، واستشهد بقول الكاتب الصهيوني المعروف (آرى شبيث)، في صحيفة هآرتس الصهيونية: «لقد اخترنا نقطة اللاعودة.. ولم يعد بإمكان «إسرائيل» إنهاء الاحتلال، ووقف الاستيطان، وتحقيق السلام، كما لم يعُد بالإمكان إصلاح الصهيونيّة، وإنقاذ الديمقراطيين وتقسيم الناس في هذه الدولة. ولم يبق أمامنا إلا مغادرة البلاد.. والانتقال إلى سان فرانسيسكو – برلين – باريس – فقد فشلت صهيونيتنا».

وهذا ما أشرت إليه بالتحليل العلمي في كتابي (مناهج قياس قوة الدول.. ومستقبل الصراع العربي الإسرائيلي)، الصادر في أعقاب حرب تموز 2006، عن مركز دراسات الوحدة العربية، بيروت، عام 2007. فللشعب الفلسطيني كل التحية عموماً، وللمقدسيين كل التقدير والاحترام، فلا تحرير لفلسطين والقدس من دون استمرار المقاومة، وهو حادث بإذن الله..

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*أستاذ العلوم السياسية والعلاقات الدولية، والأمين العام المساعد للتجمع العربي الإسلامي لدعم خيار المقاومة، ورئيس الجمعية العربية للعلوم السياسية.

The ICC and Israel’s Charge of Anti-Semitism

MARCH 12, 2021

BY NEVE GORDON

Photograph Source: Greger Ravik – CC BY 2.0

We are at a critical historical juncture in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to criticize Israel without being branded an anti-Semite. You are an anti-Semite if you support the International Criminal Court’s recent ruling that it has jurisdiction to open a war crimes investigation against Israel. But you are also likely to be called an anti-Semite if you reject the logic informing the court’s decision.

Target List

The ICC is on Israel’s target list. This becomes clear when searching for the terms “ICC ruling” and “Israel” together; instantaneously, an ad pops up at the very top of Google’s list of 1,390,000 results: “ICC & Israel: No Standing. No Jurisdiction. No Case.” Clicking the ad, will take you to a slick blue and white website (i.e., the colour of Israel’s flag) called “ICC Jurisdiction” with the large “No Standing….”  slogan at the centre of the page.

Under the slogan one reads that “The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established as a court of last resort to try the perpetrators of some of the world’s worst crimes. It has been widely recognized that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel. Any other conclusion is the outcome of a politicized process which upholds a wrong interpretation of international law.”

Israel’s official view, then, is that the ICC has no standing to investigate alleged war crimes in the Palestinian territories that Israel had occupied in 1967. Israel, so the claim goes, is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the ICC; moreover, the Palestinian Authority is not sovereign and therefore cannot delegate jurisdiction and request that the ICC intervene on its behalf as required by the Statute. This is why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily rejected the ICC’s recent ruling that paves the way for a war crimes probe, averring that “The decision of the international court to open an investigation against Israel today for war crimes is absurd. It’s undiluted antisemitism and the height of hypocrisy.”

Several Israeli allies, including the US, Germany, and Hungary, appear to agree with Israel’s analysis. Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not invoke the anti-Semitism charge, he did parrot Israel’s Prime Minister when he declared that “the Palestinians do not qualify as a sovereign state and therefore, are not qualified to obtain membership as a state in, participate as a state in, or delegate jurisdiction to the ICC.”

Avoiding Hypocrisy

Yet, if one insists that the Palestinians have no standing before the ICC since they lack sovereignty, then the only way to avoid Netanyahu’s accusation of hypocrisy would be to infer that the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as well as the people living in it are controlled by Israel.

This, however,  would mean agreeing with Israel’s foremost human rights organization B’tselem, which has claimed that the Palestinian territories are ruled by one regime—namely, Israel. B’tselem goes on to explain that this regime is “organized under a single principle: advancing and cementing the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians.” The human rights organisation concludes that “a regime that uses laws, practices and organized violence to cement the supremacy of one group over another is an apartheid regime.”

But the claim that one regime controls the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is also considered anti-Semitic. After the publication of B’tselem’s report, professor Eugene Kontorovich, head of the Kohelet Policy Forum’s International Law Department, said that the rights organization’s charge of apartheid was akin to an anti-Semitic “blood libel.” In a similar vein, NGO Monitor claimed that B’Tselem’s report is informed by anti-Semitic tropes, while specifically flagging the phrase from the “River to the Sea” as extremely disturbing.

Of course Palestinians who have dared to talk about “Israeli apartheid” or students who have organized an “Israel Apartheid Week” on campuses have frequently been subjected to similar accusations.

Parallel Universe 

There is, of course, one way to speak about Israel without being cast as an anti-Semite. But to do so one would have to have a very creative imagination or live in some kind of parallel universe, where Israel does not have a colonial project, where Palestinian rights are not continuously violated, and where, in fact, Palestinians do not even exist.

Neve Gordon teaches human rights and international humanitarian law at Queen Mary University of London and is the co-author of Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire.  

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