Let’s Talk About Genocide: Shurat HaDin and The Genocide Legalization Conference

For other articles in this series 12345, 6, 78, 9, 10, 11


This week, the organization Shurat HaDin is having a conference titled “Towards a New Law of War”. They don’t hide where their alliances lie, and on their online conference page (nostalgically illustrated with WWII British bombers) you can find their Western-supremacist and racist agenda stated loud and clear:

…exchange ideas regarding the development of armed conflict legal doctrine favorable to Western democracies engaged in conflict against non­traditional, non­-democratic, non-­state actors.

Shurat HaDin is an Israeli organisation that puts its efforts into suing Israel’s collaborators in upholding its military occupation, and civil society actors who oppose the occupation:

Shurat HaDin is at the forefront of fighting terrorism and safeguarding Jewish rights worldwide. We are dedicated to the protection of the State of Israel. From defending against lawfare suits fighting academic and economic boycotts and challenging those who seek to delegitimize the Jewish State, Shurat HaDin is utilizing court systems around the world to go on the legal offensive against Israel’s enemies.

They are also deeply embroiled with government agencies and proud of it, all of course in the name of world Jewry:

Based in Tel Aviv, and directed by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin works with Western intelligence agencies, law enforcement branches and a network of volunteer lawyers across the globe to file legal actions on behalf of world Jewry.

In the Name of World Jewry, Legalize Genocide!

By its title, one might think that the “Towards a New Law of War” conference may be interested in forwarding the protection of civilians stuck in combat zones, which is an ever-increasing phenomena in the world of warfare. Jews around the world will be mortified to find out that Shurat Hadin, an organization that purports to speak in their collective name, is actually holding a conference to legalize Western armies’ ability to kill civilians.

In  the conference Program page we can see, just by looking at the titles that civilians are redefined as “human shields” (who “protect weapons”), “collateral damage”, and “terrorists”.

A deeper look at the program finds that while Shurat HaDin understands that human rights and military perspectives are “competing”, it somehow bunches the legal perspective together with the military perspective and defines (some) armies as democratic. It is here that we also find how little respect Shurat Hadin has for (some) human life:

The recent Gaza war evidenced just how sensitive the international community and world media are to the images of dead civilians, regardless of which side is responsible… the widespread confusion concerning the doctrine [of proportionality] has created diplomatic and political for democratic armies forced to reevaluate each and every operation. Increasingly, and dangerously, large portions of Western public and world media have come to assume that any civilian casualties are unacceptable and unlawful… This panel will explore whether the doctrine of proportionality is truly relevant to the modern battlefield, whether it unfairly burdens legitimate military objectives and whether new standards and new rules of engagement must be enacted.

Without a doubt Shurat HaDin is advocating for war crimes, but since my series of articles, Let’s Talk About Genocide [1,2,3,4,5], aims to put Israel’s overall policies against the Palestinian people in the context of genocide (proof of relevance of context in articles 1-3), this is a great opportunity to go back to basics- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In Article I of the convention it is stipulated (bolds by me):

The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.

The rationale behind Article I is to ensure, first and foremost, that the context of war isn’t used as an excuse to annihilate a people. As it is historically the most common rationale, because people under attempted extermination tend to fight back, it makes sense to prevent its cynical use against the victims.

As part of states’ obligation to prevent genocide, the states that signed on to the Convention of Genocide were all obligated to create their own preventative laws. It’s very telling that within Israel’s subsequent Crime of Genocide (Prevention and Punishment) Law, which is very closely based on the original convention, the equivalent of Article I is missing. It’s also very telling that Israel and it’s propagandists insist on referring to Israel’s brutal, repeated attacks on the besieged Gaza strip as “war”.

Shurat HaDin’s War on Civilians

Unidentifiable, non-traditional enemy combatants
Unidentifiable, non-traditional enemy combatants

In my last article of this series the issue of painting of Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims as “terrorists” came up several times, but never in this series have I focused on this issue, so once again we’re presented with a unique opportunity. Shurat HaDin illustrates the Israel government party line, that not only is Israel engaged in “war” and hence must be free to annihilate civilians as it sees fit, but it is also an “asymmetrical” war:

In the past several decades military commanders and academics have begun to approach the difficulties of the asymmetrical warfare carried out by terrorist organizations. Lacking consensus even on definition of “terrorism” and “terrorists,” the international community and world bodies have failed to formulate a comprehensive treaty and tools with which to evaluate and regulate the struggle against political extremists who employ violence to coerce a population. Instead, an entire field of international criminal law has been formulated to address the varied elements of terrorism, including conventions relating to hijacking, extrajudicial murder, hostage taking, safe haven and the provision of material support to designate organizations, while leaving this central criterion undefined.

Interestingly the lack of definition (basically due to the age ole’ “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” debacle) doesn’t stop Shurat HaDin from implying that anyone, who isn’t of the Western armies it advocates on behalf of, is a terrorist. I also find it jarring that a legal advocacy group is advocating for the criminalising of people, rather than acts. By the Shurat HaDin logic, courts would need to establish the definition of a “rapist” rather than “rape”. This could only lead to expert-psychoanalysis-opinion as the only evidence of rape, rather than victim and eye-witness testimony and forensic evidence of the act itself.

It’s also interesting that Shurat HaDin bring up the act of extrajudicial murder, because two panels later it will be busy excusing this action, which the Israel army has been known to undertake with the precision of a 1 ton bomb.

But Let’s not jump ahead, because after the panel on terrorism (“Panel 5”), we continue in a similar vain of the whining war criminal:

Rules of Engagement were traditionally designed to enable military troops to clearly understand when they could and could not employ force, against which targets, and with which weapons. In an early era, when enemy opponents wore uniforms, carried their firearms openly and fought apart from civilian population, the system worked well… What clear guidance can commanders give to soldiers, saddled with making split-moment decisions, to help them distinguish between non-traditional combatants and the ordinary civilian population, when there are no readily identifiable signs of distinction?

Shurat HaDin decries the passé-ness of Rules of Engagement because apparently enemy combatants can’t be identified anymore by the uniforms they wear, or the big guns they are firing with (“Panel 4”). And since soldiers can no longer tell the difference between armed combatants and civilians, why not do away with the Rules of Engagement altogether and just off children running on the beach? After all, you never know what the “little snakes” might be packing.

Genocide is Not the Problem, The International Criminal Court Is

So after Shurat HaDin will hold  five panels justifying killing of civilians, it will now proceed to prove that the International Criminal Court is a biased body that can’t be trusted with the task of administering justice (“Panel 6”), and as proof let’s look at Shurat HaDin’s exhibit A:

Israel and other Western states (some that have joined the ICC and others that have refused) find themselves increasingly being threatened with war-crimes prosecutions as their military forces act to defend their civilian populations against terrorist threats.

To paraphrase: The mere fact that a state is “Western” (even when it erected itself smack dab in the Middle East) should absolve it automatically from any wrong doing. Again juxtaposing Western with “terrorist”, implying a Western supremacy that if wasn’t clear to the reader up until now, should be slapping them in the face by the end of this sentence. Also the juxtaposition of the word “threat”- once with “terrorist” and once with “war-crimes prosecution” is of note.

But I’d really like to move along, because other than the “bias” of the International Criminal Court, which Shurat HaDin is claiming to, it’s also pulling out the tired argument of sovereignty. I’ve actually dealt with this issue in my third article in the series and so has the UN with pearls such as:

Sovereignty no longer exclusively protects States from foreign interference; it is a charge of responsibility where States are accountable for the welfare of their people. This principle is enshrined in article 1 of the Genocide Convention and embodied in the principle of “sovereignty as responsibility” and in the concept of the Responsibility to Protect.


… intervention with the aim of prevention did not erode sovereignty, but strengthened it by enabling States to fulfil their basic duties; and, that there was a direct link between State capacity and the protection of human rights, as weak States posed risks to human security.

Shurat HaDin implies that Israel has “sufficient due process in war-crimes prosecutions”. And as proof, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s Minister of Defence, former Chief of Staff of Israel’s army, and out-and-about civilian-killer will give us a proper pat on the back and conference closing, including remorselessly admitting to war crimes and promising to commit them again.

More details and videos of this genocidal conference can be found on Shurat HaDin’s website, but I’d like to finish with some context. Shurat HaDin is a pragmatism prioritising organization, hence it doesn’t foresee that Israel could credibly be charged in the ICC with genocide, along with crimes against humanity and war crimes in the near future. But genocide is a wider-context crime. So at a time when Israel is engaged at an accelerating pace with actions intended on the destruction of a people, Shurat HaDin is busy suing human rights advocates that protest this genocidal web of actions and policies, and advocating for the impunity for Israel to kill even more civilians. Not only is Shurat HaDin’s conference a party of the crime Incitement to Genocide, if Israel is ever charged with the Crime of Genocide, Shurat Ha’din itself might face charges of complicity.

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