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July 17: The International Criminal Court

July 17, 2013

JusticeThe International Criminal Court, a permanent tribunal designed to prosecute war crimes, crimes of genocide, and crimes against humanity, was established in The Hague by the UN General Assembly (voting 120-7, with 21 countries abstaining) on this date in 1998, following years of international negotiation. Israel, despite its establishment amid the ashes of the genocide known as the Holocaust, was one of the seven nations (along with the U.S., China, and four Arab countries) casting negative votes. Thirty-one other countries, including Russia, have signed but not ratified the treaty establishing the ICC. Israel based its decision, in part, on the lack of inclusion of terrorism (a term without international definition) in the court’s docket; in part, on the United Nations’ record of discrimination against Israel (the body condemned Israeli actions in 65 resolutions between 1955 and 1992; 29 others were vetoed by the U.S.); in part, for fear of being held accountable for war crimes in its dealings with Palestinian armed forces as well as with Palestinian civilians; in part, for fear of resigning even a small part of its sovereignty in a world in which Jewish sovereignty has been much contested and little respected. In January, 2009, the Palestinian National Authority accepted the jurisdiction of the Court, and in 2012, the PNA was recognized as a non-member observer state of the UN.

“The possibility of the Palestinians going to the ICC has been a constant fear for Israelis since the Palestinians began a program of gaining membership in a host of international organizations. But the International Crisis Group pointed out a while back that the Israeli complaints amount to an attempt to ‘immunize’ Israel from international law and that some of the fears are overblown: the ICC maintains standards for cases brought before it, and Palestinian cases would need to pass muster before being accepted. The best way, it turns out, to avoid being brought up on charges for violating international laws is to not violate international laws. Unfortunately for Israel, its settlement project is regarded by most of the world as doing just that.” —Ali Gharib, Daily Beast

JEWDAYO ROCKS! Phoebe Snow, born Phoebe Ann Laub on this date in 1950. To see her performing “Poetry Man” in 1975, look below.