ICC (International Criminal Court) in the Hague
ICC (International Criminal Court) in the HagueBas Czerwinski/Pool via REUTERS

The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts. -Marcus Aurelius

For the last seven months, I, like others, have spent time doom-scrolling through Twitter before bed, falling asleep thinking that the whole world has lost its damn mind. Not standing by Israel, standing with Hamas, not demanding the release of hostages, attacking Israel diplomatically, morally, politically at each turn, piling on with the rise of antisemitism. With all this, what else should I be thinking before I go to bed? Maybe I should just be binge-watching Ozark instead.

This morning however, this was the first thought I had as I woke up and caught up on news I missed while asleep:

The announcement of the death of Iranian President Raisi (yemach shemo); and

The IRCC announcing arrest warrants against PM Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Why does this news prove the world has lost its damn mind?

Death of President Raisi

Aside from the hilarious memes about the helicopter pilot being a Mossad agent named Eli Copter, and his handler named Avi Ron (aviron being the Hebrew for airplane), the world outside of Iran has basically reacted to Raisi’s death as if he was any other world leader:

The UN Security Council (!!!) held a moment of silence for his death, in which all the representatives, including the US delegation, stood in honour. Eylon Levy’s reaction to this said it best:

Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, wrote: The EU expresses its sincere condolences for the death of President Raisi and Foreign Minister Abdollahian, as well as other members of their delegation and crew in a helicopter accident.”

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU Foreign Minister, wrote: The European Union offers its condolences for the death of President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hussein Amir Abdollahian and other Iranian officials involved in the tragic helicopter crash on Sunday.

NATO Spokesperson Farah Dakhlallah, wrote: Our condolences to the people of Iran for the death of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and others who perished in the helicopter crash.

Matthew Miller, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State, even wrote: The United States expresses its official condolences for the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation in a helicopter crash in northwest Iran. As Iran selects a new president, we reaffirm our support for the Iranian people and their struggle for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Condolences? For the Butcher of Tehran? For the man funneling money into the coffers of Hamas and Hezbollah? For the man seeking a nuclear weapon? Have you no shame?

The UN Security Council, the European Union, NATO, and the US State Department all somehow expressed sadness for Raisi’s death. In doing so, they neglected to note, among other things, that:

-He was known as the “Butcher of Tehran” for his role in overseeing mass executions of between 5,000 to 30,000 protestors in 1988;

-As President he oversaw the months-long security crackdown in Iran that followed after Mahsa Amini was killed for not wearing a hijab in public, which resulted in the death of at least 500, and the detention of 22,000 other Iranians;

-He has assisted in overseeing Iran’s nuclear weapon development program; and

-He, along with the rest of Iran’s leadership, are responsible for the 10/7 attacks by funding and supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis in Yemen, and other terror proxies.

Those who have not lost their damn minds - the Iranian people for one - are celebrating his death. They know his brutality, they know what he has done, and they know there is no reason to lament his brutal death. As one Iranian woman is credited with saying today, “The fog which crashed Raisi’s helicopter was made of the tears of the mothers of all the innocent youth he murdered.”

This is also likely why students at Columbia, Yale, and (what I can only imagine) Jewish Voices for Peace, are likely sitting shiva for Raisi right now - he tried to do what they can only dream of: the destruction of the State of Israel.

What are we supposed to feel when we see the world mourn this modern-day Hitler? How can we be hopeful that there is a bright future for international institutions, or for the international order at all?

ICC arrest warrant

On the morning Western international institutions are mourning the death of the Butcher of Tehran, the politically-charged International Criminal Court also announced that they have requested arrest warrants. For whom? Three leaders of Hamas of course - Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, and Ismail Haniyeh. Hooray for international justice!

Oh right, they also want to arrest Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yova Gallant.

PM Netanyahu delivering a video address on May 20, 2024

Where to begin with how ridiculous this is? Israel’s and Hamas’s leaders lumped in together in some sort of bastardized moral equivalency? The Israelis being targeted when, by any objective measure, they are running probably one of the cleanest wars ever, with the lowest number of civilian casualties in proportion to terrorists killed? The fact that the ICC feels compelled to target the leaders of a Western liberal democracy when Bashar al-Assad, et al have no warrants issued against them? The list goes on.

Thankfully, there is some moral clarity here for world leaders:

Joe Biden’s statement: “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence - none - between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: “Israel is a democratic state that is guided by very humanitarian principles, so you can be sure that the Israeli army also abides by the rules of international law in what it does - I have no doubt about that.”

Karl Nehammer, the Austrian Chancellor: “We fully respect the independence of the ICC. The fact however that the leader of the terrorist organization Hamas whose declared goal is the extinction of the State of Israel is being mentioned at the same time as the democratically elected representative of that very State is non comprehensible.”

Some helpful details about the absurdity of this news come from Orde Kittrie, a law professor, author of Lawfare: Law as a Weapon of War, and former US State Department attorney:

There is no factual or legal basis for these warrant filings against top Israeli officials. The filings are clearly driven by politics, and the same anti-Israel animus that has long dominated the United Nations and other international organizations. These filings should be treated as what they are: quintessential lawfare, a political vendetta masquerading as a legal proceeding.

The only serving national leaders for which the ICC has previously issued such arrest warrants are Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir. Israel’s leaders do not belong in such company.

The ICC has never issued arrest warrants for: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or any other Iranian official, Syrian President Bashar al Assad or any other Syrian official, or the genocidal General Secretary of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, or any other Chinese official.

Contrary to the ICC's warrant submission, Israel has conducted the Gaza war in an exceptionally careful manner. According to John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point, “Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history—above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

In contrast with the ICC warrant submission, the May 10 State Department report on Israel’s use of American-made weapons concluded that the available information was insufficient to definitively identify even one specific Israeli violation of international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the law of war. It described Israel’s robust IHL compliance procedures, says the U.S. “has no direct indication of Israel intentionally targeting civilians,” and states that Israel aborts strikes when civilians are observed near the target.

In contrast with the ICC warrant submission, Israel’s diligence has ensured that the Gaza war’s ratio between Hamas fighters killed and Palestinian civilians killed is historically low. In the 2016-17 battle for Mosul, supervised by the U.S., approximately 10,000 civilians were killed compared to roughly 4,000 ISIS fighters. In the Gaza war, if the new UN casualty figures are correct, the ratio is 5 times more favorable -- about .5 Palestinian civilians for every Hamas fighter. The ICC does not have jurisdiction over Israel, because Israel is not an ICC member.

The ICC also does not have jurisdiction over Israel because Israel is not an ICC member and has a robust system for self-policing alleged war crimes by its personnel. The ICC is a “court of last resort,” prohibited by its charter from proceeding in any case unless the relevant government is unwilling or unable to police itself. ICC prosecutor Khan has said “Israel has trained lawyers who advise commanders and a robust system intended to ensure compliance with international humanitarian law.” The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Military Advocate General is conducting ongoing “criminal investigations in a number of incidents” of alleged misconduct related to the Gaza war. Issuing ICC arrest warrants for Israelis is incompatible with both Khan’s statement and with Israel’s clear willingness and ability to police alleged IDF misconduct.

ICC warrants for Israeli officials will embolden Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, and thereby torpedo efforts to secure a hostage release. Such warrants also could cripple the ability of the Saudis and other Arabs to proceed with peace efforts.

But we know all this.

The tarnished soul

2,000 years ago, Marcus Aurelius wrote that, “The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” This means that when we think something, believe something, obsess about something, that it impacts our soul, and who we are.

The world has always been obsessed with the Jews. It is now obsessed with Israel. It sees the worst in this little state that does not seek to harm anyone, only to exist in peace and quiet. However, 76 years of casting aspersions against the Jewish State, and of being willing to believe the absolute worst about its actions and intentions, has led us to this moment: condolences for the Butcher of Tehran - the President of Israel’s #1 enemy - and arrest warrants for its democratically elected leader, and the man running one of the most humane wars in history.

This is a trend we see far too common these days. It stands in direct contradiction to Martin Luther King Jr’s sentiment that “the moral arc of history bends towards justice.” Perhaps so, but not for the Jews. Today is a sad day for international institutions. It is a pathetic statement on the soul of our leaders. It will not help in our pursuit of justice.

Adam Hummelis a lawyer in Toronto, specializing in immigration law and estates litigation. He is an active member of Toronto's Jewish community, and enjoys reading, spending time with his kids, and fish tacos.