Daily archives: May 27, 2024

Genocide in Rafah and the ICJ 161

It is difficult to imagine a more depraved, brutal and cowardly act than bombing refugee families in their tents, but I think we now all understand there is no moral depth which the terrorist entity that is Israel will not plumb.

I think you know I have been regularly crying hot tears over the slaughter of innocents and the complicity of the western states. I hope that you will understand it is not from indifference to the unspeakable suffering, that I respond with a disquisition on grammar.

There was an extraordinary unanimity across the entire mainstream media in giving the same misrepresentation of the recent ICJ Order to Israel to stop operations in Gaza.

How does it happen that both media and political class unite in pumping out the same misinterpretation of a document, when that interpretation is not only wrong but impossible?

We are told that the ICJ did not unambiguously order Israel to stop its operations in Rafah, but left “wiggle room” for Israel to conduct operations in a surgical manner without endangering civilians.

The propaganda line goes that Israel was only ordered to halt its offensive insofar as it may cause conditions that could endanger the Palestinian group as a whole.

But what the court said is this:

Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The Zionist spin is that the final clause qualifies the first clause and thus the offensive need only be stopped if it “inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

The argument then runs that an offensive in Rafah allegedly designed not to do this may go ahead. [I explain the Zionist spin, leaving aside for the moment that it is plain to the entire world that Israel is anyway inflicting exactly those conditions of life on the Palestinians.]

But that is a grammatically impossible interpretation.

I do accept that the second comma means that the final clause does also apply to the first statement and not just the “any other action” clause, although that is arguably ambiguous.

But even accepting that, if we remove the middle clause and apply the final clause only to the “offensive”, we still get this:

Israel must immediately halt its military offensive… which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

The order to stop the offensive is peremptory. There is no way to parse the entire sentence which does not give a direct order to “immediately halt its military offensive.”

Let me give a precise analogy.

“Stop playing football in the house, you may break the Ming vase”


“Carry on playing football, you might not break the Ming vase.”

I might take time to note the position of the British Labour Party, which is claiming it supports the International Court of Justice, but on the basis of the deliberate misinterpretation of its rulings. Keir Starmer has still at time of writing not condemned last night’s massacre in Rafah.

This is a turning point in history. The mask has been pulled away from the West and the pretence of support for international law has almost entirely been abandoned. It is fascinating to witness the determined efforts of the media and politicians to keep events in Gaza out of the election campaign.

As both major parties support continued arms sales and military support to Israel, and in the words of Keir Starmer support Israel “unequivocally”, it is unsurprising they wish the genocide happening now to be ignored in the campaign.

We have to make sure that does not happen.



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