South Africa stood out this week in the sheer moral force of its case against ‘genocide’ by Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). When the African nation argued its case in the Court this Thursday, the solemnity of the proceedings were matched by the sheer eloquence of its lawyers.
The scholarly Tembeka Ngcukaitobi illustrated, by showing footage of the statements made by the Israeli leaders beginning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that “genocidal utterances are embodied in the state policy (of Israel)”. “What state would admit to a genocide intent? Yet, the distinctive feature of this case has not been the silence as such, but the reiteration and repetition of genocidal speech throughout every sphere of state in Israel,” Ngcukaitobi argued.
The South African case of genocide against Israel for its continued bombing of Gaza for the last three months that has killed an estimated 23,000 people, mostly women and children, is important because both Israel and South Africa are signatories to the United Nations Genocide Convention which gives the ICJ jurisdiction to rule on disputes over the treaty. Moreover, as interim relief, South Africa has sought immediate ceasefire and unfettered access of relief operations in Gaza.
The West, which rallied behind Ukraine both in its war effort as also the case for genocide that it brought against Russia in the ICJ, has now shown its hypocrisy with the US openly joining Israel in condemning the South Africans and the EU maintaining a dubious silence. But the global South is rising.
Besides the Organisation of Islamic Countries, the Arab League, Turkey and Jordan, Malaysia and Namibia have supported South Africa along with most of Latin America including Bolivia and Brazil.
At the start of the offensive on Gaza, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Siva who now heads the G20, stressed, “I don’t know how a human being is capable of war knowing that the result of that war is the death of innocent children… It’s not a war, it’s a genocide…”
There is a moral case for joining the South African endeavour. India should contemplate it.