NEW YORK – Amb. Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, issued the following statement on the eve of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing of an application by the South African government falsely alleging that Israel is carrying out acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza during the country’s war against Hamas following the October 7 attacks.
“We are deeply concerned and outraged by the hearing commencing this week in The Hague at the request of South Africa. The grave allegations of genocide against Israel have no basis in reality.
“Moral clarity is of utmost importance among members of the international community with regard to their positions on Israel’s war initiated in response to the heinous October 7 attack by Hamas. While the group, known for its own genocidal aims and recognized as a terror organization by numerous countries, carried out atrocities with the explicit intent to annihilate Jewish people in Israel and around the world, Israel has set course on a mission to destroy Hamas’ ability to engage in barbaric acts of violence. We express our unequivocal support for Israel’s resolve to continue defending itself and deter future unprovoked massacres.
“Further, the invocation of the Genocide Convention in this context is legally incorrect, inappropriate and raises serious concerns about its use as a propaganda tool in the vicious campaign to delegitimize Israel and provoke antisemitism globally. As Jewish communities continue to endure the surge of hate since October 7, it is imperative that international institutions refrain from actions that could exacerbate this alarming trend.
“Following these developments, the World Jewish Congress and its affiliated communities express our steadfast support for the South African Jewish community. Now, more than ever, it is crucial to ensure that they continue to contribute meaningfully to their country and feel secure at home in South Africa.”
What is the International Court of Justice:
The International Court of Justice, established in 1945, is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The Court's role is to settle legal disputes between States in accordance with international law and to give advisory opinions on legal questions when requested by the UN Security Council or the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
What is the Genocide Convention:
The Genocide Convention, adopted in 1948 and coming into force in 1951, defines Genocide: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
What You Need to Know:
Following Hamas’ brutal attack on October 7, Israel has established two primary objectives for its operation in Gaza: (1) destroying the military and governing capabilities of Hamas and (2) freeing the hostages. This stands in contrast to South Africa’s allegation that Israel is committing a genocide. Israel, like every other country, has every right to defend itself against an internationally recognized terrorist organization whose own stated goal is to wipe the State Israel and its citizens off the map – or, in other words, carry out acts of genocide against the Jewish people.
Initial court hearings are scheduled for January 11-12, 2024. Israel has noted that it will appear in front of the court to defend itself and has appointed Prof. Malcolm Shaw to represent it.
To view the livestream of the hearing click here.
About the World Jewish Congress