Hypocrisy as Australian Foreign Policy: oppose Russia, ignore Israel

Jan 5, 2024
Flags-of Palestine and Israel painted on the concrete wall with soldier shadow. Gaza and Israel conflict.

In the International Court of Justice in The Hague, South Africa has filed suit against Israel for committing genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Charges of genocide by South Africa include documentation of Israel’s killing of thousands of women and children, destruction of homes, denial to a population of water, food, power and medical supplies, the expulsion and displacement of citizens of Gaza.

South African evidence includes reference to Israeli President Isaac Herzog insisting that all Gazans are Hamas, therefore no distinction can be made between civilians and alleged combatants.

Despite being a supposed enthusiast for the rules of international law, Australia has shown no intention of supporting the South African initiative. The government has ignored requests from the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) to intervene on South Africa’s behalf. If we did support South Africa, that would aid legal intervention to cease the slaughter and destruction in Gaza and on the West Bank.

In terms of any prima facie judgement, Australia’s policy appears massively hypocritical.

At the end of September 2023, Australia without hesitation joined 31 other countries in support of a Ukrainian suit filed in the ICJ against Russia’s ‘immoral and illegal invasion of Ukraine.’ Australia then called on Russia to comply with an ICJ binding order to immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong went further. As though Australia wants to appear as a standard bearer for international law, she bravely insisted ‘Russia must be held to account for its illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.’

There is a huge chink in Australia’s sudden claim to be a proud arbiter of legality and morality. The standards used to hold Russia to account must not be applied to Israel, hence the view of developing countries that the west’s claims to be upholders of standards of common decency are deceitful, false and hypocritical.

Although legal findings for South Africa in its case before the ICJ may not be determined by counts of Gazan dead and the extent of destruction of homes and hospitals, comparisons between the violence applied respectively to Gaza by Israel and by Russia to Ukraine should warn an Australian government to at least try to be consistent.UN figures show that Israeli forces have killed twice as many women and children in Gaza in two months as Russian forces have killed in Ukraine in over two years.

Satellite technology assessments of the consequences of Israel’s bombing of Gaza show far greater intensity than in Ukraine, Syria and in the Second World War. According to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has dropped more than 25,000 tons of explosives in Gaza since October 7, equivalent to two nuclear bombs.

Penny Wong, please ask Anthony Albanese to think again. Abandon hypocrisy. Strive for consistency. Make a contribution to humanity by supporting South Africa at the ICJ.

In response to the US’ and its allies’ apparent indifference to an end-of-time Israeli slaughter in Gaza, emotional pleas to think again may not be necessary. Lawyers with experience of pleading a case for genocide, notably in Bosnia, conclude that South Africa’s case is strong and that the ICJ should rule in South Africa’s favour with a declaration that war and genocide in Gaza must cease.

Rulings by the ICJ are legally binding on signatories to the Geneva Convention. That leaves Australia, proud champion of international law, with two options.

It could ignore an ICJ ruling and continue to encourage Israel to do what it likes, or it could adhere to the ICJ ruling. If Australia did the latter, it would bolster its claim to support international law, irrespective of what the US advises or how Israel behaves.

A third option is not to wait for the ICJ ruling and instead, abandon hypocrisy and quickly declare support for the South African, Malaysian ICJ initiative.

Hurry up. It’s not too late. The bombs are still falling. Gazan kids are still being killed.

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