Travesty at The Hague
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 16, 2004; Page A21
Among various principles invoked by the International Court of Justice in its highly publicized decision on Israel's security fence is this one: It is a violation of international law for Jews to be living in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem. If this sounds absurd to you -- Jews have been inhabiting the Old City of Jerusalem since it became their capital 3,000 years ago -- it is. And it shows the lengths to which the United Nations and its associate institutions, including this kangaroo court, will go to condemn Israel.
The court's main business was to order Israel to tear down the security fence separating Israelis from Palestinians. The fence is only one-quarter built, and yet it has already resulted in an astonishing reduction in suicide attacks in Israel. In the past four months, two Israelis have died in suicide attacks, compared with 166 killed in the same time frame at the height of the terrorism.
But what are 164 dead Jews to this court? Israel finally finds a way to stop terrorism, and 14 eminences sitting in The Hague rule it illegal -- in a 64-page opinion in which the word terrorism appears not once (except when citing Israeli claims).
Yes, the fence causes some hardship to Palestinians. Some are separated from their fields, some schoolchildren have to walk much farther to class. This is unfortunate. On any scale of human decency, however, it is far more unfortunate that 1,000 Israelis are dead from Palestinian terrorism, and thousands more horribly maimed, including Israeli schoolchildren with nails and bolts and shrapnel lodged in their brains and spines who will never be walking to school again.
From the safe distance of 2,000 miles, the court declared itself "not convinced" that the barrier Israel is building is a security necessity. It based its ruling on the claim that the fence violates Palestinian "humanitarian" rights such as "the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."
I'm sure these conventions are lovely documents. They are also documents of absolutely no weight -- how many countries would not stand condemned for failure to provide an "adequate standard of living"? -- except, of course, when it comes to Israel. Then, any document at hand will do.
What makes the travesty complete is that this denial of Israel's right to defend itself because doing so might violate "humanitarian" rights was read in open court by the chief judge representing China, whose government massacred hundreds of its own citizens demonstrating peacefully in Tiananmen Square. Not since Libya was made chairman of the Commission on Human Rights has the U.N. system put on such a shameless display of hypocrisy.
Moreover, the court had no jurisdiction to take this case. It is a court of arbitration, which requires the consent of both parties. The Israelis, knowing the deck was stacked, refused to give it. Not only did the United States declare this issue outside the boundaries of this court, so did the European Union and Russia, hardly Zionist agents.
The court went ahead nonetheless, betraying its prejudice in its very diction. For example, throughout the opinion it refers to the barrier as a "wall." In fact, over 93 percent of its length consists of fences, troughs and electronic devices to prevent terrorist infiltration. Less than one kilometer out of every 15 is wall, and this is generally in areas that Palestinian gunmen have been using to shoot directly onto Israeli highways and into villages. Sensors and troughs cannot stop bullets.
The court's long account of the history of the conflict is equally corrupt. For example: In 1947, the United Nations partitioned Palestine into two states -- one Jewish, one Arab. When the British pulled out and Israel proclaimed its independence, five Arab countries responded immediately by declaring war and invading Israel with the announced intention of destroying the newborn state. How does the court render this event? "[O]n 14 May 1948, Israel proclaimed its independence . . . armed conflict then broke out between Israel and a number of Arab States." Broke out? As if three years after the Holocaust and almost entirely without weapons, a tiny country of 600,000 Jews had decided to make war on five Arab states with nearly 30 million people.
Israel will rightly ignore the decision. The United States, acting honorably in a world of utter dishonor regarding Israel, will support that position. It must be noted that one of the signatories of this attempt to force Israel to tear down its most effective means of preventing the slaughter of innocent Jews was the judge from Germany. The work continues.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company