Defund ICC’s ‘kangaroo court’ as it wages anti-Israel lawfare: Richard Goldberg

The Netherlands-based International Criminal Court on Monday exposed itself as a deeply antisemitic and politicized institution that ignores facts and jurisdiction to conduct lawfare against democracies that defend themselves against terrorism.

American policy should now turn toward pressuring allies to defund this kangaroo court and imposing financial sanctions to grind its operations to a halt.

The ICC’s indictment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for alleged war crimes has nothing to do with law and everything to do with lawfare – that is, the use of legal systems to damage or delegitimize an adversary.

In this case, detractors of the United States and Israel are using the ICC to attack a free democracy exercising its inherent right to self-defense in the face of a brutal terrorist enemy.


In effect, the ICC has joined an Iran-led axis as a partner in a multi-front war to destroy the one Jewish state – all under cover of international law.

In a perverse game of public relations, ICC chief prosecutor Karim Khan packaged the Israeli indictments alongside charges against the terrorist leaders of Hamas – an attempt to look even-handed while creating a false moral equivalency between bloodthirsty terrorist organizations and democratic governments.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar, of course, could care less about an ICC indictment. He lives in a hole in the ground surrounded by Israeli hostages and rightly views an ICC indictment of Israelis as another ticket to his survival.

The ICC indictments against Netanyahu and Gallant falsely claim that Israel has intentionally inflicted harm on civilians in Gaza.

The facts not only refute such accusations but demonstrate an historic Israeli effort to minimize civilian casualties — with a civilian casualty ratio so low as to be unheard of in modern urban warfare — alongside ongoing Israeli efforts to flood Gaza with humanitarian aid.

The indictments are not only baseless, using Hamas allies as sources, but also clearly fall outside the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Israel is not a member of the ICC and, as a democracy, it has a robust mechanism for self-investigation and accountability.

The Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the ICC, makes clear these indictments are wholly illegitimate.


Today the target is Israel. Tomorrow, however, it might be the United States. Like Israel, the US is not a member of the ICC and is a democracy with a respected system for self-accountability.

The threat to the United States from the ICC isn’t hypothetical. Washington faces an active ICC investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

Defending Israel from the ICC’s lawfare now will help protect American soldiers and government officials down the road.

The double standard and political nature of the ICC’s action against Israel becomes apparent by its notable inaction against the world’s most evil regimes.

In more than 20 years, this so-called court has taken no action against some of the greatest perpetrators of crimes against humanity on the planet — from Xi Jinping’s genocide in Xinjiang, to Ali Khamenei’s brutalization of the Iranian people and sponsorship of terrorism throughout the world, to Bashar al-Assad’s mass-murder of the Syrian people.

But when the world’s only Jewish state, taking utmost care to mitigate civilian casualties, fights back against Nazi-like terrorists that slaughtered Jewish families and took others hostage, the democracy of Israel becomes the ICC’s primary concern and target.


Tragically, it took only 79 years for Europe to become a place where Jews are put on trial for fighting Nazis.

That Japan and Germany are the top donors to the institution perpetrating this abomination should be jarring.

That the United Kingdom and France are the next two top donors should be nauseating.

No democracy can call itself an ally of the United States and fund antisemitic lawfare against Israel that invites future lawfare against America, too.

Washington must act decisively by threatening financial sanctions against any bank that processes a transaction for or on behalf of the ICC. Its officials should face asset freezes and visa denials.

And the ICC’s leading donors must be put to a choice: stand with democracy and the rule of law or stand with terrorist sympathizers using lawfare to undermine both.

The ICC should not be dismissed as symbolic or a joke.

The institution is misusing law as a weapon of war, and the United States should act accordingly.

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