ICC investigation is Israel’s wake-up call

Nadav Tamir March 2021
middle east peace Op-eds / The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

The decision of the International Criminal Court in The Hague that it has jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian context arouses a variety of tormenting, yet conflicting, thoughts and feelings.

On one hand, the thought that Israeli officers will be prevented from leaving the borders of the state, or, God forbid, will be imprisoned and locked up, makes me cringe. Although I am a peace activist, I am not a pacifist. I have great appreciation for the IDF’s role in defending Israel, and in advancing the ability of Israel to promote peace. I have served in a significant position in the army and my children also served and are serving, as they were educated to do.

I am frightened that past and present military personnel will pay the price for the arrogance, distorted values and stupidity of the political echelon. As a graduate of the First Lebanon War, I witnessed firsthand the tragic folly of entering into Lebanon, and the long and unnecessary stay in Southern Lebanon.

I was much younger, but still remember the unnecessary and tragic Yom Kippur War.

If our leaders would have received the outstretched hand of the Egyptian president before instead of after the bloody war we could have avoided much suffering.

Our country is full of unnecessary graves and scarred souls and bodies of Israelis who wholeheartedly believed they were protecting the land. However, they were sent on missions that did not contribute to our protection, and in many cases, they, in fact, damaged our security.

It is not surprising that most senior IDF officials, members of the Mossad and of Shin Bet (Israeli Security Agency) become supporters of peace and the use of diplomatic tools after their retirement – they understand the damage that the current policies are causing to both the physical protection of the state and to our moral values.

Because of this, on the other hand, I look forward to developments that will constitute a wake-up call for us that we have to end the predicament in which we find ourselves. I am repeatedly shocked by the indifference of the Israeli public to the reality of the occupation, both morally and in terms of its strategic implications for the future of Zionism.

I am also welcoming any international recognition of Palestinian sovereignty and any Palestinian access to international organizations, with the hope that they will lead to the actual establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and prevent the binational catastrophe, which the current toxic status quo points to.

Recently, the situation on the ground has worsened, partially because of the Trump administration’s support for the disastrous policies of the Netanyahu government. It is also due to the attempt of the Netanyahu government to establish facts on the ground before the Biden administration completes their appointments and starts full-time work. There has been an alarming rise in the measures designed to prevent the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict by allowing new settlements, as well as an increase in settler violence against the Palestinian population under the auspices of protecting the settlers and their land instead of fighting against the injustices they are committing. These events are hardly reported in the Israeli media and do not interest the majority of the public.

How does one reconcile the horror of the idea that IDF officers will be arrested abroad, with the hope that the Israeli public will remember that we are still occupying another nation and that we will eventually pay a price for it?

I would certainly have preferred that the reminder of the moral and strategic problematic nature of the occupation would come from a less problematic institution, but since this is the given situation, it is important to promote serious consideration of the International Criminal Court decision. But we should not agree with the hysterical accusations of the so-called antisemitic motive of the ICC that we have already heard thrown into the air in a “Pavlovic response,” nor the calls to boycott the ICC, which was established as a lesson from the tragedy of the Jewish people.

We must call on the IDF to investigate any wrongdoings in a full and transparent manner and to ensure that no horrific acts are carried out under its auspices on the ground, as has been happening more and more recently.

We should work hard to end the occupation that eventually corrupts even basic moral individuals. We have to prevent our leaders from continuing to lead us in the current direction, which is a dead end to our future. I wish we didn’t need such problematic reminders to reconcile our problems on the ground.

**The article was published on The Jerusalem Post, 4 March 2021

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