Norman G. Finkelstein
I Accuse!; OR Books (New York); 208 pages (to be published)
From the publisher:
This finely-honed indictment by a writer widely acknowledged for his forensic skills is directed at Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It sets out how she defiled her office by refusing to investigate credible allegations of Israeli criminality.
On 31 May 2010, Israeli forces attacked a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza. By the end of the action, nine passengers on the flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, were dead (a tenth passenger died later from his injuries). Scores of others were injured, and hundreds more endured torture and inhuman treatment.
The Union of the Comoros, where the Mavi Marmara was registered, referred the Israeli attack to the ICC. The Chief Prosecutor ruled that the incident was not of sufficient gravity to warrant an official investigation. Bensouda could only reach this conclusion by grossly misrepresenting the facts of the case and removing the assault from its context—the illegal Israeli blockade and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
Though she has twice declared the case closed, an unprecedented pushback from within the ICC has forced the Chief Prosecutor to revisit it. The challenge now posed by this volume comes down to this: If justice is to prevail, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda must either investigate alleged Israeli crimes or resign.
This book is both a personal accusation and a personal challenge. It is directed at Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The accusation is that the ICC Chief Prosecutor defiled her office by refusing to investigate credible allegations of Israeli criminality.
Here are the facts:
On 31 May 2010, Israeli forces violently assaulted a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza. By the end of the attack, nine passengers were dead (a tenth passenger died later from his injuries), scores were injured, and perhaps hundreds endured torture, inhuman treatment, or outrages upon their personal dignity. Although the incident evoked global condemnation, an Israeli commission exonerated the perpetrators of wrongdoing. On 14 May 2013, the Union of the Comoros, to which the flagship MV Mavi Marmara was registered, referred the situation to the ICC.
The Chief Prosecutor shockingly decided that it was not of sufficient gravity to warrant even an official investigation. She was able to reach this conclusion, however, only by, on the one hand, grossly misrepresenting the facts of the assault and, on the other hand, extirpating the assault from its critical context—the illegal Israeli blockade and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Whereas she has twice declared the case closed, an unprecedented pushback from within the ICC has forced the Chief Prosecutor to revisit it.
The irrefutable proof that justice was perverted can be found in the vast Court record. The centrepiece of this book documents the egregious errors of fact, ratiocination, and law riddling the Chief Prosecutor’s submissions to the Court.
It is to be hoped that enough moral suasion can be exerted on the Chief Prosecutor such that she proceeds with an investigation.
On 1 January 2015, the State of Palestine referred a separate situation to the Chief Prosecutor. The focus of this complaint was Israel’s settlement enterprise in the occupied West Bank—a ruthless land grab ongoing since 1967—and Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s savage military assault on Gaza in 2014.
The indications are many that Israel, fearful of an ICC investigation, has been endeavouring to quash it. Although the Chief Prosecutor hasn’t yet decided whether to open an investigation, the prospects look grim that justice will be served. Her infinitely corrupt predecessor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, already purported that the legal status of Israeli settlements was a “completely new” and open question, and alleged that as a matter of law, Protective Edge was “highly complicated.”
The facts are, however, that the 15 judges sitting on the International Court of Justice unanimously declared Israeli settlements illegal a decade and a half ago, while the UN Security Council more recently reiterated that Israeli settlement activity “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”; as for Protective Edge, only a prosecutor not analysing the factual situation but, instead, conducting a career cost-benefit analysis would find Israel’s indiscriminate killing of 550 children and methodical destruction of 18,000 homes in Gaza legally complex (in Israel, one child was killed and one home was destroyed).
It also appears likely that, in order to evade her legal obligations, the Chief Prosecutor will invoke the principle of “complementarity,” according to which ICC jurisdiction kicks in only if national courts fail to carry out genuine investigations. Indeed, the Chief Prosecutor ominously declared in a recent statement that, “With respect to crimes allegedly committed by members of the [Israel Defense Forces during Protective Edge], the information available indicates that all of the relevant incidents are or have been subject of some form of investigative activities at the national level within the IDF military justice system.”
The fact is, however, what the Chief Prosecutor denotes “some form of investigative activities” comprised shameful and shameless whitewashes of IDF criminality. The book’s appendix exhaustively documents the mendacity of these so-called investigations.
The challenge posed by this volume comes to this: If justice is to prevail, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda must either investigate alleged Israeli crimes or step down.
Norman G. Finkelstein is an American political scientist and author of several studies on Israel/Palestine