Hypocrisy, Double Standards, and the Politicisation of Genocide

On 17 July 1998, the international community reached an historic milestone — that has so far proved of little useful purpose — when 120 States adopted the Rome Statute, the legal basis for establishing a permanent International Criminal Court (ICC). The Court’s mandate was “to try individuals rather than States, and to hold such persons accountable for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely the crime of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression, when the conditions for the exercise of the Court’s jurisdiction over the latter are fulfilled.” Therefore on that basis and in view of the fact that Israel has for over 60 years painstakingly ensured qualification for all four of the aforementioned criminal categories, then why has the ICC failed to initiate proceedings against those Israelis who with impunity were and still are instrumental in the barbaric ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people?

Apart from the inevitable obstructionist pressures imposed by Israel — through its Western lapdogs led by the U.S. — forcing the ICC to refrain from doing so, there is a further consideration which was raised in the important book The Politics of Genocide by co-authors Edward Herman and David Peterson (an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago) who document the double standards by which the U.S. government, the mass media, and the intellectual establishment label, or refuse to label, particular events as being “genocide.” In other words whether or not an action is labeled “genocide” is dependent on the simple fact of who committed the act in question? If for example the U.S. and/or its allies are the perpetrators, then then acts will most certainly not be labeled as “genocide.” If on the other hand the perpetrators are regarded as ostensible enemies of the U.S. alliance — even if their acts may may have resulted in massively less deaths than those caused by the U.S. or its allies — then there is every likelihood that the acts will be branded as “genocide.” Virtually all current “situations under investigations” or “preliminary investigations” by the ICC concern Third World countries.

As an example of this double standard, the authors cite U.S. wars and intervening sanctions against Iraq that resulted in the killing of approximately 1,800,000 Iraqis. But despite the fact that those killings were known to be the probable consequence of the U.S. conduct — including the deliberate targeting in the first Gulf War of soft civilian targets such as water treatment and sanitation facilities; electricity generating plants; roads and railways; hospitals and clinics; and the subsequent sanctions that prevented the repair of infrastructure essential to the survival of the Iraqi people —virtually on one has dared to label the U.S. actions as “genocide.”

By contrast there was no hesitation in applying the ‘“genocide” label to the killing of 4,000 in Kosovo, 33,000 Bosnia, 300,000 in Darfur, and 800,000 in Rwanda. The authors also noted that the only country in the world where more civilians were murdered than by U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where an estimated 5.4 million civilians had been killed during that country’s ongoing hostilities. This estimate of DRC deaths, however, was to said to be closer to 7 million in a February 2010 report by Nicholas Kristoff in the New York Times. As with Iraq, the DRC is also hardly ever stigmatised with the “genocide” label because the U.S. and its allies — in their rapacious quest for the rare minerals in the DRC — are responsible for the bulk of those killings. But due to the fact that the Western Alliance controls the political discourse, such killings will never be afforded the “genocide” label.

On 4 April 2012 the prosecutor of the ICC rejected a request by the Palestinian Authority to recognise the court’s jurisdiction. The decision effectively blocked a move to have the war crimes tribunal based at The Hague investigate the 2008-2009 Operation Cast Lead. The prosecutor said it was up to “relevant bodies” at the UN or ICC member countries to determine whether Palestine qualified as a “state.” Only then could it sign the court’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute. In other words because of Israel’s barbaric ethnic cleansing policy designed to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state — that would end Israel’s ravenous theft of more Palestinian land on which more illegal Jewish settlements would be built — the “stateless” Palestinian people have no recourse to justice from the UN. An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman welcomed the decision while noting that Israel did not recognise the ICC’s jurisdiction. Though the U.S. and Israel signed the ICC accord in 2000, they both subsequently withdrew and have since opposed the ICC which could for example hold U.S. military and political leaders to a uniform global standard of justice.

“The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

The ICC founding charter’s description of a war crime

Having just caused Gaza’s biggest humanitarian crisis in many years; having savagely killed over 2,200 Palestinians; having caused hundreds of thousands to be left homeless; and having destroyed virtually all essential infrastructure, Israel with its supremacist, “God-chosen” impunity — and knowing full well that the rest of the cowardly world will do nothing — has added insult to injury by announcing plans to expropriate four square kilometres of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank. This outrageous expropriation of land in the area of Gush Etzion south of Bethlehem, including many centuries-old Palestinian olive groves, is believed to be the largest illegal seizure by Israel in 30 years and will facilitate the expansion of a settlement named Gevaot.

As part of a continual effort to obtain a scintilla of justice for its people, the Palestinian Authority’s justice minister had in January 2009 lodged a declaration with the ICC unilaterally recognising its jurisdiction for “acts committed on the territory of Palestine since 1 July 2002.” Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC’s chief prosecutor’s response was that a decision on whether the Palestinian Authority was legally entitled to do so, could not be made immediately. The Office of the Prosecutor subsequently announced that it could not act on the Palestinian declaration because Article 12 of the Rome Statute established that only a “state” could confer jurisdiction on the court and deposit an instrument of accession with the UN secretary general. The announcement added that “in instances where it is controversial or unclear whether an applicant constitutes a ‘state,’ it is the practice of the secretary general to follow or seek the General Assembly’s directives on the matter … this is reflected in General Assembly resolutions, which provide indications of whether an applicant is a ‘state.’ Though Palestine has been recognised as a state in bilateral relations by more than 130 governments and certain international organisations, including UN bodies, the current status granted by the General Assembly to the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is that of ‘observer,’ and not ‘non-member state.’ ”

Amnesty International said the decision by the ICC prosecutor meant Palestinian and Israeli victims of crimes allegedly committed during the Gaza war were unlikely to get justice. Marek Marczynski, head of Amnesty’s International Justice campaign, said, “This dangerous decision opens the ICC to accusations of political bias and is inconsistent with the independence of the ICC. It also breached the Rome Statute which clearly stated that such matters should be considered by the institution’s judges.” In September of that same year, the Palestinians submitted an application for admission to the UN as a member state, but the Security Council made no recommendation with Israel’s lapdog, the U.S., promising to veto any vote on the matter.

AIPAC/U.S.-led Western hypocrisy, double standards, and the politicisation of genocide have consistently undermined the main international institutions — the UN, the World Bank, the OECD, and the ICC — that were established for the enforcement of human rights, the implementation justice, and the betterment of conditions for all humanity. Honest, self-respecting human beings — yes, including Jews — cannot on any grounds deny that Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinian people warrants unconditional universal condemnation; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions; and an unencumbered opening of investigations into Israel’s Gaza war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Anything less would constitute yet more contemptible criminal complicity.

William Hanna is a freelance writer with a recently published book the Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple. He can be reached at: w194hanna@gmail.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.