Mearsheimer’s take on the ICJ decision.
John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, where he has taught since 1982.
Cross-posted from Substack Account
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its Order yesterday (26 January 2024) on the South African case against Israel involving possible genocide in Gaza.
Predictably, the coverage of the Order in the mainstream media in the West aims to spin the story in ways that are most favorable to Israel, which means minimizing or omitting those elements of the story that make Israel look bad and emphasizing that the ICJ did not order Israel to cease all military operations in Gaza.
Hardly anyone expected the ICJ to rule that Israel would have to stop all military operations in Gaza, since it is at war with Hamas, and the court cannot order Hamas to cease its military operations against Israel. What the ICJ did tell Israel, however, is that it must focus its offensive on Hamas, and not target the civilian population. After all, the genocide charge revolves around what Israel is doing to the civilian population in Gaza, not Hamas.
What really matters in the Order is what it says about Israel committing genocide. How could it be otherwise? Genocide is the crime of all crimes.
The Order clearly states that there is: 1) plausible evidence that Israel has the intent to commit genocide; and 2) there is plausible evidence that Israel is committing genocide.
In response to that dire situation the court ordered Israel to stop committing those acts that appear to be genocidal, and to preserve any evidence that bears on this matter, obviously for the trial ahead.
In short, the ICJ did not make a final decision on the charge of genocide against Israel, but said there is sufficient evidence at this point to believe there is a “real and imminent risk” of genocide, and therefore Israel must fundamentally alter its conduct of the war in Gaza.
I think this is a stunning outcome, especially when you consider the votes among the 17 members of the ICJ.
There were six separate votes on six provisional measures that Israel was instructed to obey.
Four of the votes were 15-2.
Two of the votes were 16-1.
Amazingly, the Israeli judge — who was recently appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu — voted in favor of two of the measures.
The American judge, who is also the head of the ICJ, voted in favor of all 6 of the measures.
The only judge who voted against all six measures is from Uganda.
I watched the ICJ proceedings on 11-12 January 2024, and they were conducted in a professional and fair-minded manner.
Both the Israelis and the South Africans sent their “A” teams to the proceedings, and each took over three hours to lay out its arguments systematically and comprehensively.
Finally, I have read the ICJ’s 27-page Order, and it is an impressive document, which is not to say one must agree with all its conclusions.
This was not a kangaroo court.
It seems clear that yesterday was a black day for Israel, as the ICJ Order will leave a deep and lasting stain on its reputation.