Israel is outraged at ‘absurd’ ICC, but for the rest of the world, it’s totally logical

While the Israeli media presents a picture of the war that is focused on Israel – hostages, war casualties, and the IDF operation – the world sees mostly one image: the destruction of Gaza.

Absurd and scary is the only real way to think about how the world has turned against Israel.

It is absurd because accepting the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor’s decision this week to recommend arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, would be the equivalent of issuing warrants against Adolf Hitler but also FDR and Winston Churchill back in the 1940s.

Most people would agree that doing so – had the court been around back then – would have been absurd.

It is also scary because Karim Khan’s announcement shows what happens when the world turns against the Jewish state – how quickly the situation escalates, where it leads and what comes next.

This week was a quick-paced blow after blow against Israel – from the ICC announcement to the decision and prize to terrorism that the leaders of Ireland, Norway and Spain made with their decision to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state.

While this recognition will not have immediate practical impact, it shows how far the world has moved since October 7.

Yes, there was a massacre against Israelis, and yes the hostages should of course be released but, these heads of state believe, the Palestinians deserve independence right now. Really? Now? To do what? Murder more Jews?

While in Israel there was natural outrage after the ICC announcement, the truth is that the writing had been on the wall for years.

Exactly two years ago in these pages I told the story of former Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos who had once been a close friend of Netanyahu and Shimon Peres and then in May 2022 called for Russian-style sanctions to be imposed on Israel over its policies against the Palestinian people.

It was a call that in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was taking hold in parts of the West – among British MPs, some US congressmen and members of the media who were pushing the idea that Israel should be sanctioned like Russia. We saw it again most recently when numerous people wondered why Russia was banned from the Eurovision but not Israel.

And while these comparisons are absurd, dangerous, and flawed at their core, the fact is that many people around the world do not see it that way.

To many, Israeli soldiers should not be stepping foot inside Gaza and the reason Hamas attacked was because of the decades the people there had been oppressed by Israel. For these people, Israel is the “occupier” entering an oppressed people’s land.

A short visit to the United States or Europe is enough to see how vastly different the world is experiencing the war from Israelis.

While the Israeli media presents a picture of the war that is focused on Israel – hostages, war casualties, and the IDF operation – the world sees mostly one image: the destruction of Gaza.

That is why while Israel can legitimately claim that the ICC decision is absurd, for most of the world it is a natural outcome. They see a destroyed Gaza and now hear that Netanyahu is wanted by the ICC. This, they believe, has logic.

WHILE IT obviously does not make sense, it is a hard narrative to shatter especially when almost all of the world – including Israel’s closest ally, the United States – is urging it to end the war and stop the fighting.

If the US, for example, can stop the flow of weapons to Israel over the Rafah offensive, then does it not make sense that the ICC should be able to call for the arrest of Netanyahu? That is the danger with all that has happened.

Israelis are legitimately frustrated. The video of the kidnapping of the female soldiers from the Nahal Oz base on October 7 that was released on Wednesday pierces the heart and is a stark reminder of why Israel is still at war and what it is that we are fighting for – not just to get our people back home, but also to prevent an atrocity like this from ever happening again.

Karim Khan. Photo: Wikipedia

But the world? It has moved on. People pay lip service to the need for the hostages to be released and say that it is a reminder why Hamas needs to be removed from power, but they then call on Israel to scale back its offensive and announce – like Germany did – that if Netanyahu lands in their territory they will arrest him.

What the world fails to understand is that as long as the hostages are not released, Israelis will continue to live every day traumatized by October 7.It will not be able to move on.

Can Israel fight back? To an extent. There are steps that it can take to undermine the ICC claims and try to prevent the court from affirming the request to issue the requested warrants.

It can launch its own investigation into the prosecutor’s starvation claim and hope the rule of complementarity – according to which the court does not investigate states that have an independent and functioning judiciary – works.

It can also put its faith in the US and hope that the threat of sanction against the court stops the indictment from moving forward.

But the government can also do something that it has failed to do from the beginning of the war – articulate what the plan is. It can explain what will happen after the operation in Rafah, which judging by the IDF’s relative success so far of taking over the Philadelphi Corridor, the Rafah Crossing, large parts to the east of the city as well as moving out more than 900,000 people, will not carry on for much longer.

The evacuation of 900,000 Palestinians from the Rafah area is something worth lingering over.

A few weeks ago, before the IDF went into Rafah, the Americans warned that the evacuation of the civilians there would be almost impossible, and that if it were to happen, it would take 3-4 months. Instead, the IDF got it done in less than two weeks.

A plan though for what is coming is critical since the end of the Rafah operation is not that far away and in the absence of a hostage deal – which for the time being appears to be tragically unlikely – Israel will need to outline what it wants to happen even if it needs to do so unilaterally. We can blame the world for a lot, but it is Israel that needs to decide what it wants to happen next.

On Tuesday, Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi (Likud) ordered his men to confiscate a camera and broadcasting equipment belonging to the Associated Press. The reason? AP – one of the world’s largest news organizations – was filming in Sderot and Al Jazeera, newly-banned in Israel, was picking up the feed. Karhi claimed that this was forbidden under the new media law and did what any heroic and fearless minister would do – he ordered his ministry’s inspectors to confiscate AP’s equipment.

What a hero, right? Actually, more of a fool. This decision and others that Karhi made in the past make it hard to come to terms with the fact that this person is currently serving in the Israeli cabinet and is our country’s communications minister.

Does Karhi not know that AP is the largest news organization in the United States and one of the largest in the world? Does he not know how agencies work? That they sell subscriptions and then their material can be used? As Yair Lapid tried to remind him, AP has won 59 Pulitzer Prizes over the years including the one for Feature Photography this past year.

Karhi’s decision was eventually overturned by Netanyahu, but not before it caused Israel unbelievable damage. It was reminiscent of the decision during Operation Guardian of the Walls in 2021 to bomb the al-Jalaa building, a 12-story tower in Gaza City and home to the local AP bureau.

Shlomo Karhi from The Likud party. Photo by Shalev Shalom/TPS

Also then, Israel failed to think through what it was doing. Until the bombing, the White House had stood firmly by Israel. But after the IDF destroyed the AP bureau without explaining why – it took months for the IDF to reveal what was in the building that needed to be destroyed – the Biden administration shifted gears, and called on Israel to end the operation.

I don’t expect Karhi to know any of this, but is there no one in government today who can stop this type of damage? Does Israel not have enough challenges? Why allow these so-called ministers to cause even more?

Published by Jerusalem Post