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Tags: icc | french foreign ministry | israel | antisemitism

French Foreign Ministry's Support for ICC Irrational

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Martin Sherman By Wednesday, 05 June 2024 02:30 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The French Foreign Ministry advanced two claims as the rationale for its decision to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) — both equally risible and ridiculous.

[French] troops ... burned 326 houses, robbed all rice, cattle, and raped girls and women ... they killed more than half of the village's population; including 170 women, 94 elderly people, and 157 children ...

- The massacre of civilians by French forces in the first Indo-China war

The French war in Algeria emblematized the savagery ... involving wanton slaughter of civilian populations, massive physical destruction, use of torture, rape, executions, ... and other heinous atrocities.

- An account of atrocities committed by French forces during Algerian War of Independence (p.158)

The latest surge in antisemitic sentiment has once more pushed the issue of Judeophobia to the epicenter of public debate.

The animosity toward the Jewish people, aka antisemitism, has been described as the oldest form of hatred, mutating from one form to another. 

Gallic Gall

In recent decades, the focus of anti-Jewish bias has shifted from the individual Jew to the Jewish collective, i.e., the Jewish state. Now, yet another mutation has emerged: "judicial antisemitism."

One of the most blatant examples of this was the recent support France expressed for the decision by the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, to issue arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. On May 20, the French Foreign Ministry stated it supported the independence of the ICC and its "fight against impunity."

Significantly, this astounding step by France reflects a stark break from its Western allies, such as Britain, Italy, and the U.S., where President Joe Biden denounced the decision as "outrageous." British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the ICC move as "deeply unhelpful," remarking that it would not advance a durable cease-fire or enhance the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

According to Sunak, it would make no difference in getting aid into Gaza or reaching a sustainable cease-fire.

What is particularly galling about Paris' decision is that France has, arguably, the worst post-World War II record of any Western nation regarding preservation of human rights, with a chronicle of gory atrocities stretching from Indochina to North Africa. 

Risable Rationale

Regarding the first "impunity," as Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, remarked, no other army has ever exercised such care in avoiding civilian casualties, achieving what is the lowest ratio of civilian-to-combatant deaths in the history of modern urban warfare.

Similarly, chairman of urban warfare studies at West Point, John Spencer, described Israel's minimizing collateral casualties as "unprecedented," asserting that Israel was setting the "gold standard" for avoiding civilian casualties. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find any other example of a country supplying food and other humanitarian aid to an enemy population, as Israel is doing in Gaza. 

The second — preserving ICC independence — despite some prima facie merit, also has a distinctly hollow ring.

After all, if that means granting the ICC unlimited discretion to make any fanciful decision, unshackled by constraints of veracity or fairness, what is to prevent it from sentencing some luckless defendant to be burned at the stake for disputing that the world was flat? Or that Israel was "using starvation as a weapon ... in Gaza" despite regular conveys of trucks bringing in thousands of tons of food to Gaza's population.

Blatant Bias

This gross anti-Israel bias is reflected in France's restricting its military supplies to the Jewish state, precisely after it was subjected to a barbarous attack from Gaza, which much of the general public participated in or, at least, endorsed.

Thus, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu stated he had ordered government officials to be "even stricter" in examining exports to Israel following Oct. 7 — leaving one to ponder how France, with a population about seven times that of Israel, might have responded, had it suffered an unprovoked attack that, proportionately, left almost 100,000 of its citizens dead.

This sense of anti-Israel animosity is reflected in the perceptions of the Israeli public. In a recent survey of 1,000 Israeli adults, 55% felt French society was antisemitic — significantly higher than their rating of such sentiments in Poland, Germany, and Britain.

This blatant bias seems to have encroached into other areas as well.

Recently, I published an analysis that underscored some of Paris' "adverse" patterns of conduct, detrimental both to Israel and its strategic ally, Azerbaijan. In it, I underscored the danger of French military equipment sent to Lebanon falling into the hands of Hezbollah and the prospect of French armaments provided Armenia, a bitter Azerbaijani adversary, falling into the hands of Russia or Iran and Syria, Israel's most dangerous foes.

Ironically, Paris is trying to shore up lingering remnants of its colonial past by undermining the indigenous population of its Pacific possessions of New Caledonia. Indeed, its anti-Azerbaijan animus appears to lurk behind its claims that Baku instigated recent pro-independence rioting.

As the New York Times sardonically commented: France provided no specifics to support the allegation, which Azerbaijan vehemently denies. 

Difficult to Decipher

It is difficult to decipher the logical code for what appears to be rash and myopic behavior on the part of Paris. Indeed, as this piece was being finalized, France barred Israeli participation in a premier arms exhibition, yet welcomed countries with more-than-questionable democratic/humanitarian credentials — including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and China!

But whatever the rationale, as I wrote previously, ominous clouds of Franco-Israeli tensions appear to be gathering on the horizon.

Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project. Read Martin Sherman's Reports — More Here.

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The French Foreign Ministry advanced two claims as the rationale for its decision to support the International Criminal Court - both equally risible and ridiculous.
icc, french foreign ministry, israel, antisemitism
Wednesday, 05 June 2024 02:30 PM
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