Creating new perspectives since 2009

If international law does not comply with Israel, then the West will build a new world order

June 18, 2024 at 8:01 pm

Public hearings in the case South Africa v. Israel, view of the ICJ courtroom on 16 May 2024 [UN Photo/ICJ-CIJ/Wendy van Bree]

International law has never been one of Israel’s strong points. Ever since its violent inception in 1948 when it neglected the United Nations’ resolution to share historic Palestine, and through the decades when it broke numerous ceasefires, destroyed Palestinian villages, violated virtually every human rights standard with regard to the Palestinians, ignored every warning to stop the construction of Jewish settlements – Israel has been a poor observer of international law.

With Tel Aviv’s current assault on the Gaza Strip and the genocide of the besieged Territory’s population, however, the situation is hardly at the same level as it was before.

When the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to curb its bombardment of Gaza and to ensure it does not commit any act of genocide, the Occupation state blatantly refused to abide by those measures and insisted that it will do whatever is in its best interests.

When the International Criminal Court (ICC) then sought arrest warrants for Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, over their war crimes against the Palestinians, Israeli intelligence and their American allies resorted to directly threatening the ICC Prosecutor and others in the case, in a style befitting of a mafia crime organisation.

Never have Tel Aviv and Washington been so blatantly in defiance of international law and legal institutions than they are now, with there always having been some compliance with the international standards over the decades. That cooperation may have been a front, and their true intents may have been displayed in more covert ways, but there was still a semblance of some respect for international law.

But, after almost eighty years, the genocide in Gaza is finally opening the eyes of many in the world to Israel’s true intent. It has been a long and piecemeal process, with opposition to and criticism of the Occupation state having steadily grown throughout the decades as movements, societies and nations recognised and acknowledged the reality they witnessed.

It had always been largely limited to those who were ‘non-aligned’, of a certain revolutionary or left-wing nature, in the Global South, or in opposition to the West, making the international pro-Palestinian camp very much a mixed bag and deterring others who were pro-Western, pro-NATO, pro-EU or with right-wing leanings. That inevitably widened the left-right divide and tied the Israel-Palestine issue to that dichotomy rather than to the reality on the ground, much to the detriment of the Palestinian cause.

READ: Gaza is the dystopia that conspiracy theorists fear, so why do they still support Israel?

The shifting of perspectives and the changing of the worldviews held by many who leaned toward support for Israel has been evident, however, even if still limited. The Occupation state’s firm and unconditional allies, such as the US and Germany, have urged for a ceasefire and for the protection of Palestinian civilians and rights, as well having grown increasingly frustrated with the Israeli violations of international law.

On a diplomatic basis, too, support for Palestinian statehood has strengthened significantly after Ireland, Norway and Spain formally announcing their recognition – with others potentially following in the near future – in an “unprecedented political failure” by Tel Aviv.

There remain firm footholds for Israel within the international community, of course, and support for the Occupation on a diplomatic and military level is still significant, but the reality is that its unconditional allies are becoming increasingly isolated in the face of the reality of Gaza’s genocide. The international community in its entirety is beginning to finally acknowledge that Israel’s motto is, and always has been, ‘international law for thee, but not for me’.

But, in the face of such a global awakening, Israel and its supporters still have some tricks up their sleeves, the most primary of which is to shift the goalposts in such a way as to invalidate international legal standards and norms, at least in Tel Aviv’s case. If Israel cannot abide by international law, then international law must change or be reformed.

And what better time to do that than now, amid the crumbling and collapse of the ‘rules-based order’ which the world has known since the tumultuous era of the two world wars? From the structure of the nation-state system, to the adherence to law and justice on a globalised standard, to the sanctity of human life and rights, this ‘rules-based order’ has, at many times, been enforced harshly by its supposed guardians in the ‘free world’, with the leading democracies in Pax Americana, in particular, claiming to abide by such standards.

READ:With America isolated, some Western capitals are shifting positions on Gaza

The mask has slipped many times over the decades, of course, but that order was a noble one at least in theory, and possibly prevented many more atrocities which could have taken place if not for the pressure of those international norms and standards.

Times are changing, however, and we are gradually undergoing a global shift in norms similar to the shift from Europe’s renaissance period to the enlightenment although, this time, it is a regression rather than a progression.

The current world order’s supposed guardians in the West have steadily been becoming lax with the standards they used to so fiercely enforce and endorse, both domestically and internationally. From the downfall of freedom of speech and expression, the demonisation of any who reject certain ideological societal teachings, the detention and imprisonment of political opponents and now of pro-Palestinian figures.

It was difficult to imagine, for example, that those protesting in support of former US President Donald Trump on 6 January 2021 – even if they did not storm the Capitol and some of whom were simply within the vicinity of the incident – would be surveiled, rounded up by the federal authorities, then charged and convicted for years.

In simple terms, they are essentially political prisoners – those detained due to their holding of political views in opposition to the dominant establishment of the time and place – and so bear an eerie resemblance to those similarly detained by states and regimes in regions like the Middle East.

We can already see a similar trend taking place in regard to pro-Palestine protests in the likes of Germany, where authorities have openly beaten, assaulted, and detained protesters demonstrating against the Israeli genocide in Gaza. Torture and disappearance may not be there yet, but it could be fast approaching.

READ:Amid Israel’s genocide in Gaza, are we witnessing the fall of Zionism?

In order to make such practices more acceptable and palatable, Zionists and their collaborators will have to resort to mass propaganda campaigns in an effort to actively change the norms and standards regarding what is acceptable. Using methods of ‘predictive programming’, they will develop works of fiction – or alter existing ones – in which human rights will be deprioritised, concepts of resistance and rebellion will be demonised and devotion to tyrannical authority will be romanticised.

Works which espouse those concepts will be done away with, and long gone will be historic epics produced over the decades such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games or Dune. All of them depict values far different to those that Israel and its supporters practice, and allowing those conceits to flourish would produce too much of a cognitive dissonance.

Political commentators have long espoused the view that ‘politics flows downstream from culture’. That may be true in many cases, but we must recognise the fact that, more often than we think, culture flows downstream from politics. By controlling and propagating an altered set of norms and values, Zionists will hope to influence the dominant culture within Western societies and beyond. Goalposts can be radically shifted, and what was previously unacceptable becomes acceptable.

In such a way, the developed West also flows downstream from Israel. What is overlooked, then tolerated and then cheered on abroad by Western governments may eventually be tolerated at home, and is already starting to be in small incremental steps.

Like the phenomenon of Israeli police training police departments in the US, and subsequently passing on more brutal and suppressive tactics in the policing of populations, the blatant disrespect of international law and human rights standards may as easily be passed down from Tel Aviv to Western capitals.

The breakdown of the rules-based order will herald in a new age where there are few restrictions on what a government or state actor can do and how far they can go to achieve certain objectives. It will signal the acceptance of enhanced surveillance, the outlawing of privacy, the detention of political prisoners and the suppression of dissent and even the killing of undesirables – all within or on the periphery of the Western world.

Perhaps the American journalist and author, Chris Hedges, put it best when he stated, in a recent speech, that “If the genocide in Gaza is not halted, it will presage a new world order. It will be a world where nations with vast bureaucratic structures and technologically advanced military systems carry out in public view massive killing projects. The industrialized nations, fearful of global chaos, are sending an ominous message to the Global South, and anyone who might think of revolt: ‘We will kill you without restraint and no one will stop us. One day you will all be Palestinians’.”

READ: The totalitarian dream: Gulf and Israeli surveillance is going global

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.