What’s behind the accusation of antisemitism hurled at Karim Khan

If all the Zionist and pro-Israel rage against ICC prosecutor Karim Khan’s position indicates anything, it is the importance of this position, which it is no exaggeration to describe as historic.


What’s behind the accusation of antisemitism hurled at Karim Khan

Gilbert Achcar

The matter was so obvious that it wouldn’t have been worth betting on. It was very obvious and absolutely certain that the request by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Ahmed Khan, to issue international arrest warrants against Israel’s Prime Minister and Minister of “Defence” would lead the Zionist establishment to hurl the accusation of antisemitism at him and at the court. Like the dogs of Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov, which confirmed his famous study of respondent conditioning, Netanyahu and Gallant, along with the entire Zionist power elite, including Gantz, the leader of the opposition bloc that is presently cooperating with Likud, the party of the two indicted men, and Lapid, the leader of the major opposition bloc that refuses to cooperate with it, all of them immediately and violently condemned the prosecutor’s position while levelling the accusation of “antisemitism” against him.

It is indeed with near unanimity that the Zionist political class – 106 out of 120 members of Knesset, the Israeli parliament (in addition to the ten members of the “Arab” lists, the four Labour Party MKs departed from the Zionist consensus due to their strong hostility to Netanyahu) – endorsed a declaration condemning the prosecutor and describing his indictment of both the Zionist government and the leaders of Hamas on the charge of crimes against humanity as an “outrageous comparison” that constitutes “an indelible historical crime and a clear expression of antisemitism”. Netanyahu saw Karim Ahmad Khan’s condemnation of him as an opportunity to boost his declining popularity by portraying himself as a symbol of the Zionist state. He stated that the “absurd and false warrant by the prosecutor in The Hague is directed not only against the prime minister of Israel and the defence minister but against the entire State of Israel”. He then added, directly addressing the prosecutor: “With what chutzpah do you dare compare the monsters of Hamas to the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world?” Netanyahu’s stance was matched by Gantz, his partner in the Israeli war cabinet, who asserted that the Israeli army “fights with one of the strictest moral codes in history”.

It is, of course, unparalleled chutzpah for anyone to describe the Zionist genocidal forces as “the most moral army in the world”, but this impudence has become commonplace. Repeating it while calling impudent a critic of the Zionist army’s actions, which the International Court of Justice considered to fall within the category of genocide, brings chutzpah to a paroxysm that is specific to Netanyahu and very difficult to match. As usual, the Israeli prime minister resorted to dog-whistle insinuations in indirectly pointing to Karim Ahmed Khan’s descent from a family of Pakistani origin that belongs to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. The insinuation came in Netanyahu’s statement that the “new antisemitism” – an expression often used to describe hostility to the State of Israel when expressed by Muslims – “has moved from the campuses in the West to the court in The Hague”!

Had Hamas added to its parallel condemnation of the prosecutor for putting it in the dock along with the Zionist government, a claim that his position reflected hatred of Islam (or Islamophobia), the whole world would have laughed at the movement. But Hamas does not and cannot claim a monopoly on the representation of Muslims as the Zionist state claims a monopoly on the representation of Jews, with acclamation by most Western leaders. Thus, although the US administration refrained from portraying Karim Khan’s position as “antisemitic”, Biden was quick to describe it as outrageous and to renew his pledge to “always stand with Israel against threats to its security”. For his part, his Secretary of State, Blinken, repeated the description of the Al-Aqsa Flood operation carried out by Hamas as “the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust” – a description that has become a mantra whose purpose is to depict Palestinian hostility to the Israelis as if it were a hostility to the Jews inspired by “antisemitism” instead of a hostility to a fierce Zionist persecution that insists on describing itself as Jewish (more on this in my article “Gaza: 7 October in Historical Perspective”).

If all this Zionist and pro-Israel rage against Karim Khan’s position indicates anything, it is the importance of this position, which it is no exaggeration to describe as historic. This is because the ICC, since its creation until now, had only brought charges against people from the Global South, the African continent in particular, in addition to Russian leaders recently indicted because of their army’s invasion of Ukraine. It had become customary to regard the court, which was established in 2002 at the height of Western hegemony, as one of the West’s political tools, to the point that the families of 34 Israelis who died or were abducted during the Al-Aqsa Flood operation filed a lawsuit against Hamas before the ICC, days after the event. It is very significant indeed that the only indictments issued by the ICC regarding Iraq concerned the Islamic State organization and not the US army and government.

It is thus the first time that the court has indicted two rulers of a country regarded as part of the Western camp, which explains the resentment expressed towards the prosecutor’s position by the US government and the British government, its loyal partner (especially in the occupation of Iraq), along with a few Western governments. That is why the prosecutor’s stance has been very disturbing in the eyes of the Zionist government and its staunchest allies. It concurs with the lawsuit filed by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice in turning the page on Western hegemony over international judiciary bodies, in general, and confirming the growing global condemnation of the Zionist state’s criminal behaviour in the light of the genocidal war that it is waging in Gaza, in particular.

Translated from the Arabic original published in Al-Quds al-Arabi on 21 May 2024. Feel free to republish or publish in other languages, with mention of the source.