The South African government defended its powerful charges against the genocidal actions of Israel during their initial presentation in front of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan. 11. 

Palestinians in Nelson Mandela Square, in occupied Ramallah on the West Bank, Jan. 10, 2024. Credit: @sumayamamdoo

South Africa’s legal team consists of a multinational and multigenerational group of advocates, including Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Adila Hassim, John Dugard and Max du Plessis, plus other junior and external counsel members. Many members of the legal team staff wore Palestinian keffiyehs along with scarves featuring the colors of the South African flag.

Prominent South African lawyer Adila Hassim passionately told the court, “Israel has subjected Gaza to what has been described as one of the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare.” (BBC, Jan. 11)  

In his closing remarks, South African counsel Tembeka Ngcukaitobi stated, “The evidence of genocidal intent is not only chilling, it is also overwhelming and incontrovertible.” (Timeslive, Jan. 11) 

South Africa is a country that legally defeated a white-supremacist, apartheid system in 1994. It is also the first country to courageously bring charges of genocide against Israel before a world court. 

More than 20 countries are publicly endorsing South Africa’s case, including socialist Cuba and the pro-worker governments of Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Despite the strong global showing of solidarity, the Western corporate press has egregiously censored the proceedings as a strategic attempt to discredit South Africa’s claims and to undermine the justified grievances of the people of Palestine.

Corporate press displays empathy towards Israel

Much of the corporate media downplayed the arguments made by the South African attorneys, while at the same time presenting Israel as a “victim” simply “defending itself.”  Take for example the first sentence of a Reuters article: “Israel on Friday rejected as false and ‘grossly distorted’ accusations brought by South Africa at the U.N.’s top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians.” (Jan. 12) The author legitimizes Israel’s deceitful response to the charges of genocide at the very beginning of the article, setting its tone.

Unlike South Africa’s diverse legal team, the Israeli respondents are predominately white. In a sick twist of irony, Germany has decided to testify on Israel’s behalf, which the bourgeois press has been happy to report. Numerous U.S. media headlines, have highlighted how Germany is calling South Africa’s charges “baseless.”

Israeli representatives peddled false claims about the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement of Gaza and demonized its supporters. The U.S. corporate media has also been pushing misinformation about the Palestinian resistance movement in recent months. Neither the Israeli legal team nor the bourgeois press willingly admit that the people of Gaza overwhelmingly voted for Hamas as their legitimate representative during the 2006 legislative elections. 

The Palestinian people should be the only ones able to determine their own destiny — not the racist leaders of the U.S., Germany or Israel. The South African government, led by the African National Congress, is going out of its way to do what it can to show solidarity with its Palestinian siblings who are experiencing similar apartheid conditions. Their efforts must be defended and honorably recognized by those who support a “Free Palestine!”

Otis Grotewohl

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Otis Grotewohl

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