Exile and the prophetic: Avoiding the Hague

on 6 Comments

This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Fascinating, the ‘we’ll show you attitude’ Israel has.  After its massive defeat in the UN Palestinian statehood vote, yesterday the Israeli government approved yet another – and massive – settlement expansion connecting Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

I’m not surprised.  In many ways, Israel’s closing of the settlement ring around Jerusalem was inevitable.  Nonetheless, it brings Israel one step closer to its international limit – if there is a limit to what the international community will put up with.

Speaking of the international limit and the UN vote, I haven’t visited the International Criminal Court.  I haven’t toured The Hague.  I’m only familiar with some of the cases that have passed through the court.  Trust me, it’s not the company you want to keep.

Officially or unofficially, sooner or later, Israel – and its Jewish and non-Jewish enablers – will be vetted by the court.  It’s only a matter of time before Israel is formally introduced there.  Israel – and thus Jews in Israel and beyond – will soon become familiar with the proceedings of the court in a more direct way. 

I’m afraid that we deserve it.  As well, it may be the only way to be awakened from our empire ways. 

Call it the Empire Cliff.  Its push or be pushed over.  We have to negotiate our way back.  There is another way.  The UN vote gives us yet another chance.  The announced settlement expansion just digs a deeper hole for Israel.  When will we get the message that a turn-around is the only way forward?

The perplexing question remains:  Why doesn’t Israel and mainstream Jewry take the honorable way out?  Israel and mainstream Jewry will get most of what they want anyway.  Or at least what they think they want. 

Has anyone asked recently if Jews really want a state?  Obviously the state train has already left the station.  Nonetheless, most Jews defend the Jewish state without wanting to be near it.  That includes an increasing number of Israelis who leave Israel or bi-locate.

Palestinians want a state.  That state train, too, has left the station.  Like Jews and a Jewish state, however, I wonder how nationalistic Palestinians really are.  When a Palestinian state actually comes into existence I suspect that most Palestinians will glory in Palestine from afar.  Will Palestinians living in Palestine leave it or bi-locate?

Israel’s actions against Palestinians have a long history.  It would have been terrific if Jews had handled our own inquiries, made the appropriate judgments, apologized for our actions and made amends.  Since that hasn’t happened, it’s only right that others enter the fray.  Perhaps being hauled to The Hague will do us some good.  Call it an Empire Intervention for a people drunk on empire. 

Not to worry, when it’s all over we can enter our Empire Detox program with a new openness.  We can begin by pleading surprise: ‘Who, us? Are you calling our name?  Jewish behavior being judged in The Hague?’

Then we’ll have to get serious.  Has it really gone that far, being lumped together with the war criminals of the world, the Balkan assassins and genociders in Rwanda? Unofficially, yes, according to the international community, it has.

Now is the time for Jews of all stripes to sit up and take notice.  But, then, what does Israel do the days after the Gaza cease-fire and the UN vote?  Once again it pushes the international criminal envelope.

Are we like the serial criminals who take it one step too far because, secretly, we want to be caught?

Or have we become publicity junkies, addicted to our name being bandied about whether in positive or negative ways?

An Empire Intervention might force the issue.  What it is it that global Jewry is really about these days?  On the empire watch, is it time to go Cold Turkey?

If nothing else, such knowledge would allow mainstream Jewry to understand what is going on when the cases involving Israel reach the The Hague.

Of course, coming to grips with our empire addiction would allow Jews to seek out an alternative path, thus avoiding The Hague.

Avoiding The Hague.  That would be worthwhile on all accounts.  Is it still possible?

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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6 Responses

  1. yourstruly
    December 1, 2012, 11:07 am

    israel’s avoiding the hague?

    owning up to its crimes won’t suffice

    what will?


    supporting justice for palestine

    paying the price

    • yourstruly
      December 1, 2012, 7:20 pm

      corr., change to

      israel’s avoiding the hague?

      owning up to its crimes won’t suffice

      what will?

      supporting justice for palestine

  2. piotr
    December 2, 2012, 1:36 am

    Actually, the discussion now moves how easy it will be to disregard ICC.

    Good news: ICC in itself is impotent. It cannot send marshals to arrest. But I think it can impose penalties to be executed by member states. And then the true issue begins. Namely, will disregarding ICC be popular in member states.

    I only have seen comments on the vote in UNGA in Polish, British and Canadian press. Poles were quite livid, and historically, sentiments there were very pro-American. Now the Foreign Minister is called “American errand boy” — that was actually one of the more polite references. That was about “abstain” vote. Netanyahu will visit Prague to thank for the Czech “no” vote, I think that Polish government would not survive such gratitude. Czechs do not seem to be elated for that matter, but I understand Czech only when the words are same as in Polish, like in a comment “So he comes with thanks, new orders and instructions?”

    In Australia PM faced a rebellion and abandon plans to side with other Pacific nations like Palau and Micronesia.

    USA is increasingly seen as a country with a weird obsession. And where are the enemies threatening Czechs, Canadians or Australians that America can defend from? Humoring USA is less and less popular. So the issue will be: why not follow the verdict of ICC.

  3. seafoid
    December 2, 2012, 7:00 am

    It is important to understand how Zionists think


    (This article is excerpted from a longer essay written nearly fifty years ago, in 1955, a year before his death, by Azriel Carlebach, the founder and editor of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, and later of the daily Maariv.)

    The basic error in our approach to Muslims stems from provincial thinking. The ignorant fashion in which a majority of political leaders see other nations in their own image overrides the truth that cries to the heavens from the world of Islam for over a thousand years. This simple truth is that between the world of Islam and the world of the West there was not and will not be any understanding.
    I am not referring to the religion of Islam as such, but to the influence of Islam on social life, on the sense of the world of its believers and their relations with other people. Fifty and sixty generations have been trained to violate that aspect of human nature which seeks to defend the rights of the individual. Muslims do not desire a better world. The concept of historical progress does not exist in Islam. This discourages innovation and initiative. One does not concern oneself with asking why things are as they are. One does not try to improve things. One does not seek to go beyond the words of Allah. To follow those words is to create a righteous world. Its arbiters are the commentators, the interpreters, the mullahs who are as full of citations as a pomegranate is of seeds.
    If Islamic countries are rich in natural resources but poor in standard of living, it is not because they lacked the means of development. The motives that push the Western individual to produce more were strangled in the heart of Islamic man. For two or three hundred years Western culture defended itself. But in the last generations Europeans grew tired and were lulled in a fatal error–to see Muslim man in their own image. By now hundreds of millions of Muslims have established themselves throughout the world.
    The danger to the West lies in the psychology of Muslims who live in a world of fantasies and have paroxysms of inferiority and dreams of greatness. They are propelled by visions of a holy sword that sees what is intrinsic to Western culture as antithetical to Islam. The danger of Islam for the West is vastly greater than that posed by Communism which shares much more of the rational thought processes of the West.
    All this should be understood throughout the West. But this recognition of the nature of Islam does not exist anywhere, not even among us in Israel. One can forgive the ignorant people in the U.S. State Department but our error is inexcusable. We are obliged by our existential situation to know, yet we continue to blind ourselves. If we help the world draw a picture of the Arabs as we would wish them to be, not as they are, we compound our unforgiveable stupidity. We falsify the picture and reduce the conflict between ourselves and the Arabs to a matter of borders. We tell ourselves that the conflict with the Arabs is really political. Then we present rational arguments which are comprehensible to Europeans. The Arabs also present their position with arguments acceptable to the Western mind. But the truth is, as we must know, that this is not an ordinary political dispute, and if there were no refugees and we had not conquered territory, they would oppose us with exactly the same force and determination.
    Above everything we sin to the world and ourselves with our inability to grasp the nature of the conflict. Dozens or even hundreds of victims killed on our borders are a calamity for us. But they are not a disaster for the nations of the world. Most of the world’s statesmen in the majority of the world’s capitals can still sleep peacefully. We are partly at fault tor not attempting to raise awareness of the approaching global devastation of which we are merely marginal accidental victims. Failing to even make the effort to convey to the free world this information, we may fall the first victim.

    from “You Can’t Come To An Understanding” by Azriel Carlebach.

    The above is translated and excerpted from Nativ, which reprinted Carlebach’s article in its January 2002 issue.

    • American
      December 2, 2012, 10:57 am

      “The danger to the West lies in the psychology of Muslims who live in a world of fantasies and have paroxysms of inferiority and dreams of greatness.”

      Oh man, what a classic case of ‘projection’……if mythical fantasies, paroxysms of inferiority expressed by nonsensical claims of superiority, and dreams of greatness doesn’t describe zionism I don’t know what does.

  4. Egbert
    December 2, 2012, 11:51 am

    Whatever happens, the Zionists will pull the victim card – “they made us do it”.

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