January 30, 2024
Sondra Oster Baras
At the conclusion of World War II, the world learned of the horrors that the Nazis had inflicted upon the Jewish people — the massive round-ups of Jews throughout Europe, imprisoning them in ghettos and concentration camps, starving them, torturing them and ultimately murdering them, in accordance with Hitler’s “Final Solution.” For the first time in history, a nation had decided to fully exterminate another people, to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. The Jews did not have their own state at the time. They did not have an army nor did they pose any sort of threat to the Germans or to any other people. They were civilians, who only wanted to live in peace.
The international community, faced with a crime no one had heard of, invested incredible efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. It was only in 1948 that Raphael Lemberg, a Jewish attorney, originally from Poland, who himself had fled Europe to the US to escape from Hitler, coined the term genocide to describe the Nazi campaign to destroy the Jews. No other nation had been targeted in such a way before, and no other country devoted its entire scientific and military know-how to destroy another people.
Another by-product of World War II was the creation of the United Nations. After two world wars had destroyed millions of people throughout Europe and Asia, the international community seemed committed to preventing further wars and atrocities of this kind. It was thought that if an international body could be established that would enable disputes between nations to be resolved diplomatically, the horrors of the first half of the 20th century would be a thing of the past.
How ironic is it, then, that the United Nations has become the leading international forum for condemning Israel each time it defends itself against those nations and people-groups still intent on committing genocide against the Jews. The International Court of Justice, established under the auspices of the UN, has been called upon to adjudicate a claim by South Africa that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians. And the Hamas terrorists who tortured, raped, savagely butchered and kidnapped Jews from their homes, those who were openly and obviously intent on committing genocide have been given a pass. The International Court of Justice is not interested in their crimes.
The ICJ announced their interim ruling on Friday. All the justices except two agreed that Israel may well be engaged in genocide, leaving the final determination to a later stage. They did refrain from issuing a temporary injunction calling upon Israel to cease its military campaign in Gaza. The two dissenting voices, Justice Julia Sebutinde from Uganda and Aharon Barak from Israel, stood bravely against the others. Uganda quickly disavowed their justice, whose brave stand may well endanger her.
But this is not the only travesty of justice that has been visited upon Israel by the international community. After World War II, the UN established the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to address the huge refugee crisis emanating from that war. But after Israel became a state, they decided that a separate UN agency was needed for the Palestinian refugees — those Arabs who had lived in what became the State of Israel and fled their homes at the urging of the Arab leadership of the time. These Arab leaders promised their people that the Jews would be driven into the Mediterranean Sea, (genocide!) after which the Arab refugees could return home. The Jews survived the Arab invasion of 1948 and the refugees were stuck.
The UNRWA was established to care for these Arab refugees. But instead of working to resettle them in other Arab countries and rescind their refugee status, similar to the way other post World War II refugees were treated, UNRWA worked to perpetuate their refugee status even to the 4th and 5th generation. Israel has long contended that UNRWA is one of the greatest obstacles to peace in the Middle East. As a result, the US, under the leadership of President Donald Trump, canceled American funding for the UN agency. But President Biden reinstated the funding.
For years, Israel demonstrated that Hamas was using UNRWA facilities to store weapons, to protect terrorists and as missile launching bases. Israel’s claims were ignored. But the evidence that emerged after the October 7th attacks could no longer be overlooked: UNRWA employees not only turned a blind eye to Hamas activities — they were active participants. As a result, the US, France and other western countries have announced that they will be cutting off UNRWA funding.
And one other international agency should not escape scrutiny — the International Red Cross. Unlike the other agencies mentioned, the International Red Cross existed during World War II and turned a blind eye against Nazi atrocities, even reporting that there were no atrocities being perpetrated at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp. They were unwilling to scratch the surface of what was clearly a Nazi deception plan.
Today, this same International Red Cross will not deliver medicines to the Israeli hostages, and have refused to visit the hostages to report on their health and wellbeing. They are the only international agency in Gaza whose mandate is to look out for the health of all people there — and they refuse to apply their mandate to Jews.
For years we have been talking about international pressure on Israel. Many countries, including our closest allies, are pressuring Israel to stop the war and retreat from Gaza. South Africa has even stated that Israel has no right of self-defense against Hamas. While playing lip service to the need to fight terrorists who threaten the international order, members of the international community have never truly cared about the hatred, violence, and brutality of our enemies towards us, propelled by anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism. When people target Jews, the international community can not and will not act effectively to protect us.
More than 75 years ago, the international community joined the Jewish people in vowing NEVER AGAIN to a Holocaust of the Jewish people. Today, that cry rings hollow. We dare not rely on other nations. We can only rely on ourselves, on our true friends and allies and on God. Thank you for being a true friend and ally of Israel.