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Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. - James 3:5-6

There is great power in words. We are probably all familiar with the proverb “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Its origin is obscure, though first found in written English in 1839 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Other versions of this proverb go far back into antiquity. An interesting version is attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and says “There will be a tribulation that will wipe out the Arabs in which those killed on both sides are in the Hellfire. In that time the spoken word will be stronger than the sword." (1)

In Israel’s current war against Hamas, Israel is clearly winning in the military arena, but is in great danger of losing the war of words being fought in the media and on the internet, and now even in the courts. The nations and many individuals are being won over by the clever disinformation and outright lies of Hamas and its supporters. Hamas has a big advantage over Israel in that it totally disregards truth and facts, distorting reality and creating their own. In Islam, it is permitted to lie in times of war if the goal is to advance Islam: “Talking is a tool for achieving the goals. If the objective is possible through both telling the truth and lying, lying is not recommended, because there is no such need. If the target (advancing Islam) can be achieved only through a lie, not telling the truth, lying is acceptable if the goal is acceptable.” (2) ‘Taqiyya’ is the Islamic concept of the obligation to lie to any non-Muslim if that lie furthers the interests of Islam.

On Friday afternoon, January 26, 2024, many if not most, Israelis were glued to their television sets or computer screens to hear the preliminary ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the case accusing Israel of genocide, brought by the Republic of South Africa, under the Genocide Convention of 1948. Article II of the Genocide Convention states that “to constitute genocide there must be proven intent to physically destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. To constitute genocide, it also needs to be established that the victims are deliberately targeted — not randomly — because of their real or perceived membership of one of the four groups protected under the Convention. This means that the target of destruction must be the group, as such, or even a part of it, but not its members as individuals.”

The ICJ ruled, by 15 votes to 2, that the State of Israel shall in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide in relation to the Palestinians in Gaza take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention, in particular:

Killing members of the Group (the Palestinians of Gaza),

Causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the Group,

Deliberately inflicting on the Group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, and

Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the Group.

On hearing this ruling, one Israeli TV commentator excitedly declared that “Israel won”, because this ruling did not specifically order Israel to stop the war. I think he was mistaken. Israel could only have been said to have won if the ICJ had ruled that there was no case to answer. They instead ruled that the court has found “that at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection are plausible…” In other words, it claimed there was a credible case against Israel.

How can Israel wage war against Hamas, as a part of the Palestinian Gazan people, without killing them, or causing serious bodily or mental harm? How can you wage any war without bringing about, at least in part, physical destruction? Although the ICJ has no way to enforce this ruling on Israel, it will undoubtedly influence many against Israel’s cause, fueling the rising tide of antisemitism around the world, and adding to the already intense pressure on Israel to stop the war, something which would amount to national suicide.

It is ironic that Israel is being accused of genocide against Hamas using the Genocide Convention, which was adopted in 1948 in response to the genocide of the Jewish people and other groups that occurred during WWII. It is Hamas that carried out a genocidal act on October 7, torturing and slaughtering around 1200 Israelis and foreign workers, and wounding around 6,000. It is preposterous that the victims are being accused of the crime!

Hamas has made no secret of its intention to destroy Israel. On October 24, 2023, on LBCTV (Lebanon) Ghazi Hamad of the Hamas political bureau said, that Hamas is prepared to repeat the October 7 "Al-Aqsa Flood Operation time and again until Israel is annihilated', adding that the Palestinians are willing to pay the price and that they are "proud to sacrifice martyrs." Hamad said that Palestinians are the victims of the occupation, therefore no one should blame them for the events of October 7 or anything else, adding: "Everything we do is justified."... "Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country, because it constitutes a security, military, and political catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nations, and must be finished. We are not ashamed to say this, with full force..."We must teach Israel a lesson, and we will do this again and again. The Al-Aqsa Flood is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth, because we have the determination, the resolve, and the capabilities to fight. Will we have to pay a price? Yes, and we are ready to pay it. We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs”.

If that is not incitement to genocide, what is? The pro-Palestinian slogan, “From the River to the Sea,” chanted by many around the world, is nothing less than a call to genocide. It is Hamas, not Israel, that should be standing before the International Court of Justice to answer a charge of incitement to genocide, and indeed actual genocide, but sadly that cannot happen since Hamas has no legal standing in that court, as it is neither a State nor a signatory of the Genocide Convention.

The Court ruling also made much of the ‘humanitarian crisis’ and suffering being experienced by the Palestinian Gazans, and blamed Israel. It was Hamas that started this war without making any attempt to protect and provide for its own citizens. In fact, it has cynically used them as human shields. The Court made no mention of the suffering being experienced in Israel, of the civilian deaths, of the loss of so many of our soldiers, of the displacement of the population of our southern and northern border towns, the disruption to normal life and the economy, and the destruction of property. The Court did however order Hamas to release the remaining Israeli hostages, which is laughable since Hamas has no obligation to the Court, nor has it any intention to lose its last ‘bargaining chips’ or the ‘human shields’ being used to protect its leadership.

Since Hamas itself could not lodge a claim against Israel, the Republic of South Africa took the initiative to do so on its behalf. The South African ruling party, the ANC (African National Congress), has long identified with the Palestinian cause and is using this opportunity to raise its own status on the international stage, and wanting to shore up waning support at home as elections approach. The RSA would do well however to heed God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants, as recorded in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse”. In Hebrew two different words are translated here into English as ‘curse.’ The first one is קלל which means an insult or something that brings about disgrace or the lowering of the status of the accursed. The second one is much more serious, ארר , which has real, material and adverse effects on the accursed or their possessions. This latter is the same word that God used when he cursed the Serpent and the ground when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command. God’s curse brought about a change in the very essence, quality and character of the accursed. South Africa and all who work against Israel should take this promise, which has never been revoked, very seriously.

  1. Musnad Aḥmad 6941

  2. (748, 8: 2) (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri).

Talia Voice grew up in New Zealand but came to Israel about 40 years ago. After teaching science in various schools, she is now retired and lives in Mevaseret Zion where she leads a home group and attends a congregation in Mevaseret. She is the author of the book “I’m Single, OK?” and writes on https://taliasjoy.com/.

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