Saturday, February 10, 2024

Musings on Preventing Crimes Against Humanity in Israel, Gaza and Ukraine

Rudy Barnes, Jr.

America remains the world’s most powerful nation, and its democracy has made Americans masters of their destiny.  But the destiny of America as a nation depends on how it uses its formidable powers with other nations--as with Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza, and with Ukraine in defending its democracy against Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

South Africa charged Israel with genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, but Russia has not been charged for its similar crimes in Ukraine.  While the U.S. has launched retaliatory air strikes against Iranian terrorist proxies in Iraq and Syria for strikes against Israel and its allies, the U.S. has continued to support Israel’s use of excessive force against Palestinians in Gaza.

President Biden ordered strikes against Iran’s terrorist proxies in Iraq and Syria, but neither Biden nor Congress has approved additional aid to Ukraine.  In an election year the Jewish vote seems more important than challenging Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law and the Law of War, dimming America’s beacon of libertarian democracy. 

Terrorists in the Middle East have not been deterred by U.S. bombing.  Biden says he doesn’t want to widen the war, but he has done that by bombing Iranian proxies in Iraq and Syria.  So what’s the message?  Maybe America should be bombing Iran rather than its proxies in other nations.  War in the Middle East has never been a subtle game of brinkmanship.

Netanyahu’s unlawful aggression against Palestinians in Gaza is a continuing cause of violence in the Middle East, just as Putin’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine is the cause of the war in Ukraine.  Both Israel and Russia are democracies, and both are committing war crimes to further their political objectives.  America should sanction both Russia and Israel.

While international humanitarian law and the Law of War are not panaceas that will end the wars in Israel or Ukraine, they are essential to minimizing the ravages of those wars on non-combatants.  America should condition U.S. foreign aid to Israel on its compliance with international law.  Netayahu would likely comply and consider a two-state resolution of the war.

In 1863 the Lieber Code became a precursor of  the Law of War in the U.S., but in 1865 it was ignored by Union General Sherman when he burned Columbia, S.C.  Today enforcing international humanitarian law and the Law of War are the best means of preventing crimes against humanity, so that U.S. foreign aid should be conditioned on compliance with those laws. 

Israel and Ukraine are both democracies--one an ally of the U.S. and the other its adversary--and both have violated international humanitarian laws and the Law of War.  While Israel has a right to defend itself subject to international law, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unprovoked.  An international military tribunal like the 1946 Nuremberg war trials should be convened to hold Israel and Russia accountable for their crimes against humanity.


On Israel’s Self-Destruction: Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and the Price of Neglect in Foreign Affairs, by Aluf Benn, Editor in Chief of Haaretb, Benn discusses Israel’s history, beginning with Moshe Dayan, and covering the rise of Netanyahu, and he concludes: “Ultimately, then, Israel’s future may look very much like its recent history. With or without Netanyahu, “Conflict management” and “mowing the grass” will remain state policy—which means more occupation, settlements, and displacement. This strategy might appear to be the least risky option, at least for an Israeli public scarred by the horrors of October 7 and deaf to new suggestions of peace. But it will only lead to more catastrophe. Israelis cannot expect stability if they continue to ignore the Palestinians and reject their aspirations, their story, and even their presence.  This is the lesson the country should have learned from Dayan’s age-old warning: Israel must reach out to Palestinians and to each other if they want a livable and respectful coexistence.  See’s Self-Destruction | Foreign Affairs.

On What Zionism Means to Netanyahu and Biden  (10/28/23), see

On Why Criticism of Netanyahu’s Militant Zionism is not Antisemitic (12/16/23), see

On How The Law of War Fails to Protect Civilians in Wartime (11/11/23), see .

On What International Law Can’t Achieve in Gaza and Ukraine, see Janna Dill, Time, January 26, 2024, at

On What South Africa Really Won at the ICJ. For much of the world, Pretoria has restored its reputation as a moral beacon—at America’s expense.  See

On A Biden Doctrine for the Middle East Is Forming. And It’s Big.  By Thomas L. Friedman, NYTimes, Jan 31, 2024.

On the Stakes of the Lawsuit Alleging Biden is Complicit in Palestinian Genocide, see

On the Nuremberg war trials of 1945-46 as a model for holding Israel and Russia accountable for their

crimes against humanity, see

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