Herewith a Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt that ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Whitewashed Israel
By Norman G. Finkelstein
198 pages, OR Books, $20, $10 E-book
This May 31 marks 10 years since Israeli commandos attacked the Gaza Humanitarian Flotilla in international waters and killed 10 people. Norman Finkelstein, one of the world’s most effective critics of Israel, is observing the occasion with a persuasive indictment of Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, for refusing to take legal action over Israel’s lethal attack on the Mavi Marmara, the Flotilla’s flagship.
At first glance, Finkelstein’s new book resembles a legal brief. But start reading more closely, and you soon see his trademark indignation, intense and eloquent. The Comoro Islands, where the Mavi Marmara was registered, brought the Gaza Flotilla case to the ICC in 2013, and Finkelstein points out that the chief prosecutor since then has tried to bury it 3 times. He is not diplomatic; he charges that she “defiled her office by refusing to investigate credible allegations of Israeli criminality.”
Finkelstein, with his characteristic Talmudic scholarship, scrutinizes various human rights reports on Israel’s killings on the ship, examining them alongside the Israel government’s own alleged self-inquiry. He points out, chapter and verse, just how Fatou Bensouda accepted Israel’s version of events (which Amnesty International described as a “whitewash”) while dismissing contradictory reports from the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry.
He argues that as a consequence Bensouda “grossly misrepresent[ed] the facts of the assault” itself. But even worse — she took Israel’s armed commando attack as an isolated event, instead of connecting it to even larger Israeli crimes: “the illegal Israeli blockade and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”
Let’s start with the actual Israeli assault. Bensouda echoed Israel’s alibi; it planned to stop the Flotilla peacefully, its commandos met with resistance when they boarded the Mavi Marmara, after which perhaps some excesses happened but the actions of a few Israeli soldiers didn’t rise to the level of a case that the International Criminal Court should take up.