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Why Some Are Calling the ICJ Case Against Israel the Modern Dreyfus Affair

As Israel fights one of its toughest wars yet, following the brutal attack by Hamas on October 7, 2023, Israelis and Jews all over the world are also facing rising antisemitism.

Read on to learn why many Israelis see the recent case against Israel in the International Court of Justice as part of this trend, and why some see direct parallels to the infamous Dreyfus Affair of over a century ago.

Case Against Israel in the International Court of Justice

International Court of Justice in The Hague, The Netherlands

As you may have heard on the news, South Africa had brought a case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in the Hague in December 2023, accusing it of violating the Genocide Convention.

Right as Israel fights one of the toughest wars in its history and deals with the trauma and repercussions of Hamas's brutal massacre and the most horrific pogrom against Jews since the Holocaust, the nation is also forced to fight against antisemitism, conspiracy theories, and misinformation from all sides. The worldwide campaign against Israel has included charges of genocide against the Palestinian people that exaggerate the IDF's actions in Gaza and attribute malicious intention to the unavoidable casualties of war.

This has led to Israel being even formally accused of genocide in one of the highest international courts, and having to mount a legal defense on an international stage to justify fighting back against those who openly seek to annihilate the Israeli state and the Jewish people.

While the ICJ did not heed South Africa's calls to issue an emergency order requiring cessation of all military activities, it did issue a provisional measure calling for Israel to prevent genocide. The court affirmed South Africa's right to bring the case, and the proceedings are now ongoing.

Israel maintains that its military action in Gaza is a war of self-defense against Hamas in accordance with international law, and that it is taking all possible precautions to limit civilian casualties including facilitating humanitarian aid.

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Similarities to Dreyfus Affair

Portrait of Alfred Dreyfus

The French persecution of Alfred Dreyfus in 1894-1906 was a major impetus for the modern Zionist movement, as it illustrated for many Jews the extent of worldwide antisemitism and institutional distrust of Jewish people at the highest levels. And today, many Israelis are once again reminded of Alfred Dreyfus in light of the trumped-up charges against Israel in the International Court of Justice.

Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish captain in the French military who was convicted of treason in a scandalous trial that made international headlines, which many believed had suppressed evidence and was motivated entirely by antisemitism. Theodor Herzl, the future father of modern Zionism, was a journalist at the time covering the trial. It became obvious to him and to many other European Jews at the time that no matter how well they assimilated or how successful they were in Western society, they could never win against antisemitism and therefore needed to strike out on their own.

Some Israelis are calling the ICJ case against Israel "the modern Dreyfus Affair" and view it as a similar court case that is not motivated by facts but by baseless hatred, accusing Jews of the most horrific military crimes at the highest levels. Israeli Jews are therefore even more determined to stand strong, as the need for a free and independent Jewish state continues to be ever so clear.



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