‘Gov’ts Complicit in Israeli Genocide Should Respect Int’l Community, Israel Has no Right to Self-Defense’, Says American Scholar

‘Gov’ts Complicit in Israeli Genocide Should Respect Int’l Community, Israel Has no Right to Self-Defense’, Says American Scholar

Richard Falk speaking at “Israel in the ICJ: What next?” panel discussion hosted by PRC, on Feb. 27, 2024.

Governments that are complicit with Israel, including the major liberal democracies of the West, should respect their own internal public opinion and stop assisting a country that is engaging in the most transparent genocide in human history, said Professor Richard Falk, also former UN Special Rapporteur, adding that Israel is the occupying power has no right to self-defense.

Commenting on South Africa’s current case of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) during a panel discussion hosted by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) in London, Prof. Falk said the case garnered wide international support, amid an unprecedented fury by the Israeli government and its allies.

“As expected Israel repudiated the decision and actually called it an expression of anti-Semitic court, which is an absurd insult”, said Prof. Falk. “Many were surprised that even American president of the court agreed with the South African request for provisional measures and read aloud the interim order.”

“What is significant is, on the one hand, that the court, as expected, upheld a clear case of violating the most fundamental rules of international law to the extent that a preliminary order empowered it to do”, said the scholar.

In Prof. Falk’s view, this order, however, faces two remarkable limitations; The ICJ “declared the law but has no capability to enforce the law and that depends on the UN Security Council, where the five permanent members have a veto power and the US has shown no reluctance to exercise that power.”

“These two limitations on the court’s authorities are fundamental. No capacity to enforce and a delay that makes the eventual judgment of academic interest but probably not relevant to the behaviour at issue”, he explained.

“So the court has come to do what is expected to do; But it can’t implement its own decision and it is bound by a legal process that will take it several years in order to reach a substantive conclusion on the fundamental South African complaint that Israel is guilty of genocide and violating the genocide convention in its military campaign in Gaza; This is problematic because Israel is the occupying power and has no right to self-defense in such a situation”.

“Is international law irrelevant in such a situation if it can’t be enforced and if a timely decision cannot be reached?” wondered the scholar.

He stressed that the case is significant in that it contributes to “the symbolic role of international law as legitimizing civil society activism and serving as an impetus for the further mobilization of solidarity initiative, arms embargo, sanctions, and boycott of all kinds including cultural boycott sports boycott”.

Prof. Falk added that the case “also raises the pressure on the governments that are complicit at this point with Israel including the major liberal democracies of the west to respect their own internal public opinion and abandon this posture of assisting a country that is engaging in what has been called the most transparent genocide in human history, that is enacted before the eyes and ears of the world in real time; So the role of international law in this symbolic domain has enormous effect on public opinion which in turn can alter the substantive outcome of conflict”.

“We should remember that in the context of anti-colonial wars of recent decades, the national liberation side that had the inferior military capabilities was able to win the war partly because it enjoyed the symbolic support of international law which led to this form of solidarity and pressure on colonial powers to abandon their colonial positions”, concluded Prof. Falk.

Richard Falk is a Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus at Princeton University, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2001–04). He retired from teaching in 2001. In 2004, he was listed as the author or coauthor of 20 books and the editor or coeditor of another 20 volumes. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. He is a member of the Editorial Boards of The Nation and The Progressive, and Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is a former advisory board member of the World Federalist Institute and the American Movement for World Government. He is Distinguished Visiting Professor in Global & International Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara. During 1999–2000, Falk worked on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo.

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