Tzipi visit will force change in UK's Universal Jurisdiction law

By Andrew Sanger
February 4, 2010

It is really excellent news that Tzipi Livni plans to visit Britain soon regardless of whether the UK's law of universal jurisdiction has been changed. If she is arrested it will highlight the stupidity and arrogance of this legislation and embarrass the government which brought it in.

Three weeks ago The Jewish Chronicle assured us in a confident front page story that the law of universal jurisdiction (‘war crimes’ law) was about to be changed (War crimes arrest law will change next week, 14 Jan). Two weeks ago, the paper stated with rather less fanfare that there had been a delay. Last week, it asked whether the law would ever be changed.

In the meantime, the UK’s powerful pro-Palestinian lobby – which has such a grip on the BBC, British universities and several UK newspapers and trade unions – has been ratcheting up a powerful campaign to prevent any change to this law.

At present, universal jurisdiction permits any UK magistrate to issue, on request by anyone who can show prima facie cause, a warrant to arrest anyone in the world for “war crimes” should they step foot on UK soil. The proposed change would require only that the Attorney-General would have to approve the issuing of such a warrant.

Without doubt this sweeping law stemmed originally from the best of intentions. Insofar as there can be any agreement about what constitutes a war crime, the principle behind universal jurisdiction is that there should be no place to hide for those responsible for acts of barbarism against civilian populations.

Using this law, an Afghani militia leader was prosecuted in the UK. In other European states, universal jurisdiction has been used against leaders of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and against Chile’s General Pinochet (when Spain requested his extradition to face trial there).

However, the problem with universal jurisdiction has become all too apparent in the UK, where anti-Israel obsessives have hijacked it and reduced it to utter disrepute. Since 2004, all four warrants issued in the UK have been for the arrest of Israeli citizens. All were issued at the request of lawyers from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

Indeed, in the UK, universal jurisdiction has hardly been used at all except as a weapon against the Jewish homeland. No warrants have been issued against Kim Jong-Ill, for example, or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad or – more to the point – any of the Palestinian leaders responsible for random bomb attacks on Israeli civilians.

Universal jurisdiction has become so highly politicised that it now an essential part of the global jihad. Who is campaigning to keep this law, and why? A group of British lawyers and politicians wrote to The Guardian last month setting out the argument in its favour. On the face of it, they appear to be concerned only with justice, and injustice.

However, the signatories of the letter comprise the familiar roll-call of those we have come to think of as dyed-in-the-wool Israel-haters. They range from pro-Palestinian lawyers and madcap Labour MPs to the Muslim Council of Britain and the barmy army of self-blaming Jews, along with the sprinkling of out-and-out frothing antisemites. They include such tainted luminaries as Baroness Jenny Tonge, Clare Short, Daniel Machover and Steven Rose.

Their letter has now spent three weeks circulating the countless Islamist and jihadist blogs and websites all around the globe. It is being used everywhere to incite violent hatred against Britain as well as against Israel. It has taken its place among the scriptures of the Islamist, anti-Jewish and anti-Western movements.

Tzipi's visit will probably at last persuade Britain to change its flawed law of universal jurisdiction. Of course, we can then expect an avalanche of assertions by the same anti-Israel obsessives that Jews (alias Zionists) used their secret influence to force the UK government to do their bidding.

Andrew Sanger


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 10:29

Rate this:

0 points

Great article

If you are a British citizen or resident, please take the time to sign up to the above petition. And tell your family/friends. Anyone can sign provided they have their own email address.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce legislation now to prevent private individuals being able to issue arrest warrants for war crimes without the signoff of a government or judicial official (eg the Attorney-General)."

Put a stop to the manipulation of the British legal system by those that seek to advance their warped anti-Zionist political agendas.

Over 500 have signed!

moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Fri, 02/05/2010 - 10:39

Rate this:

0 points

So are we prepared to let real war criminals from the Balkans, the Ciongo, Rwanda and the Sudan and elsewhere roam free in the UK just to prevent a little grandstanding by the anti-Israel mob? Seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Bit of self-delusional self-promotion, too.


Fri, 02/05/2010 - 15:28

Rate this:

0 points

Osama Bin Laden killed 3000 in September 2001. Livni killed 1400 in January. Now what would happen if Mr. Laden were to come here. Would he be invited to the Palace to stroke the corgis? One supposes not, and Madame Livni?


Sat, 02/06/2010 - 11:40

Rate this:

0 points

Good article and excellent analysis.

Those who hate Israel (and more often than not, Jews), are moving their case forward very effectively through the 'Lawfare' that Andrew Sanger has so well described above.

Can we not establish a Jewish Centre for Human Rights with a view to protecting Jewish and Israeli rights in the UK?

It would take a sponsor, a group of law graduates who are unable to get jobs at present; a legal firm to oversee the actions of the graduates.

These young lawyers may then go on to make names for themselves with high profile cases resulting from, for example, libel emanating from news media, such as Michael White of the Guardian, saying on BBC radio that Israel kills politicians it disagrees with.

As a community can we afford not to fight back?


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 11:26

Rate this:

0 points

I can certainly agree with Robert Sanger (article ref 4 February 2010) on one thing – Tzipi Livni should come to the UK whether the law on universal jurisdiction has been changed or not. If she is innocent of the charge of war crimes, what can she possible have to fear? Let the courts decide.

Why does Israel have a problem with the vitally important concept of universal jurisdiction in the matter of the commission of war crimes? If its actions are always beyond reproach, surely it should have no concerns.

Why also, should the Uk be required to change its laws because they may embarrass, or inconvenience persons of foreign nationality accused of very serious crimes? What happened to the idea that one should ‘Let justice take its course though the heavens may fall’. And if the UK should kow tow to Israel on this matter, what signal does that send to other states in the international community? That if you are powerful enough and have enough political influence, you can exempt your prima facie war criminals from prosecution? I am sure there are many governments in Africa that wish they had that power!

Sanger mentions that there should be ‘no place to hide for those responsible for acts of barbarism against civilian populations’. Well the massacre last year in Gaza, fits that description like a glove.

Sanger also predictably labels those you support maintaining the law as it is, as the usual suspects – including the ‘barmy army of self blaming Jews’. Uncritical supporters of the Government of Israel must stop playing the man, and engage properly with the issues – lets have a proper argument, not a blind dismissal of the opposing position just one doesn’t approve of those taking it.

Of course, the best way to avoid being tried for war crimes –
Is not to commit them in the first place.


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 11:52

Rate this:

0 points

Livni is welcome in my country as far as I'm concerned, Cast Lead was a righteous war of self defence and the IDF acted responsibly and with care to avoid harming non-combatants.

Suggestions to the contrary usually carry an underlying sentiment that the actions of Israel, and by extension Jews in general, are inherently evil. This is patently ridiculous and anti-Semitic and needs to be fought.

As someone who is not a member of the Jewish community but has a great deal of admiration and loyalty for Britain's Jews, I am eager to help in any way I can. But it seems that the moderate middle ground is in disarray, and I don't know where to turn.

Israel supporters in the UK are turning to the BNP as the only political party that openly declares that it supports Israel. This is a very, very bad development in my view.


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 14:47

Rate this:

0 points

mattpryor - Were you transported to some parallel universe for the duration of the Gaza massacre – one where everything is the same as this one but opposite?

You say - ‘Cast Lead was a righteous war of self defence and the IDF acted responsibly and with care to avoid harming non-combatants’. Firstly ‘cast lead’ was not a war, it was a massacre. There were virtually no military engagements between the IDF and Hamas. If there had been, there would have been far more IDF casualties. Where were the Hamas armoured divisions, the heavy artillery, the Hamas airforce, the Hamas navy??? That would have been a war. No, after getting its arse kicked in Lebanon 2006, there was no way the IDF would enter the built up areas to engage Hamas on the ground. The tactics were bombing from the air, and naval and heavy artillery strikes into densely populated areas. Secondly, the IDF acted completely irresponsibly, and without any regard for the civilian population – just one example was the use of phosphorous shells in areas populated by civilians. Livni herself said after the event – ‘we went crazy in Gaza’. And that of course was the whole point – to terrorise the civilian population in. Thirdly, 1400 people died - the vast majority of them civilians (how could it have been otherwise given IDF tactics). Judge Goldstone’s independent and comprehensive report on the massacre, found evidence of war crimes on both sides. If Israel does not want to be judged by the same standards as Hamas, it must carry out a proper investigation, and prosecute any individuals found guilty of war crimes. Until it does that mattpryor, Livni and other Israelis accused of prima facie war crimes will not dare to come to the UK – whether you tell them they are welcome or not.


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 15:31

Rate this:

0 points

There were no war crimes Steve, only allegations of war crimes made my Israel's enemies and enthusiastically repeated by our sensationalist media. They do the same whenever Brits or Americans are engaged in combat too remember? (or at least they did, until our media stopped pandering to them).

You may choose to believe that the IDF is an army that deliberately causes civilian suffering. What does that say about your opinion of Israelis in general?

The figures you quote - 1400 people (mostly civilians) are Hamas figures, not Israeli ones. Why do you believe Hamas and not Israel?


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 18:19

Rate this:

0 points


Well matt, thanks for putting me straight on that one. And your sources for that statement? Judge Goldstone would disagree with you – and please don’t tell me he is a self-hating Jew and therefore doesn’t count. So would a number of IDF soldiers who were in Gaza during the massacre, and have bravely come out and testified to IDF atrocities and war crimes committed during the ‘operation’. So would Mark Regev (IDF mouthpiece during the massacre) having previously admitted that the IDF had used phosphorous shells in built up civilian areas. Then there is the body count – how do you get 1400 dead (widely accepted figs – not Hamas figs – even Israeli figs are close), with not less than two thirds of them civilian (according to varied and reliable sources), with 600 of them children, and say with a straight face (presumably) that there were no war crimes?

One is not an enemy of Israel, just because one does not agree with those in Israel (and the wider world), who unquestioningly support whatever Israel does, however horrendous. And as for our media, I am sure that any dispassionate analysis would conclude that Israel gets an amazingly easy ride (not as easy as in the USA but that’s another issue). And yes, people do question the actions of US and UK forces – rightly so – in a democracy why would you want the military to be beyond criticism? Yes, I believe the record shows that the IDF has become an institution that either deliberately targets civilians, or is so indiscriminate in its use of force, that the concept of civilian/military is meaningless.

And since you ask matt, I don’t believe my criticism of the Israeli govt, and the war whores of the wider world, say anything about my views of ordinary Israelis in general. Why would you think they would?

As to why would I believe Hamas, and not believe Israel? I don’t think we can in today’s complex world; believe uncritically the things we are told by states, or indeed quasi state actors such as Hamas. I think we need to look at the evidence ourselves, and the evidence for Israel committing war crimes in Gaza is voluminous.


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 20:04

Rate this:

0 points

"And since you ask matt, I don’t believe my criticism of the Israeli govt, and the war whores of the wider world, say anything about my views of ordinary Israelis in general. Why would you think they would?"

National service. Criticism of the Israeli military is criticism of the Israeli public, their sons and their daughters. You may not think so, the majority of the Israeli public does.

Israel is a country at war, facing a very real existential threat - one which I see you mock and deride elsewhere on this website. By joining in with the chorus screaming "war crimes", "genocide", "ethnic cleansing", etc etc, you are taking sides with Israel's enemies who are motivated chiefly not out of sympathy for Palestinians but for hatred of Jews.

I reject accusations of war crimes against Israel in the same way as I do against our own troops and those of our other allies such as the US. We are the good guys. We just don't go around killing civilians for the fun of it. Israeli troops have often trained along side British and American troops. We share the same codes of ethics and rules of engagement.

Since neither you or I were in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, and nor were any independent press, neither of us are qualified to know what really happened there. In the end it comes down to the word of the Israeli government vs the word of Hamas and Palestinians who say what they're told to say at the point of a gun.

I happen to think that Israelis are generally a very nice bunch of people, who have faced enormous hostility and violence for over 100 years with steadfast courage and good humour. When I hear accusations to the contrary made by their enemies I take them with a large dose of salt.

It's your choice and your conscience. You're the one that will have to live with the consequences.


Mon, 02/22/2010 - 22:33

Rate this:

0 points


‘National service. Criticism of the Israeli military is criticism of the Israeli public, their sons and their daughters. You may not think so, the majority of the Israeli public does’.
No matt, you’re wrong. . Criticism of the Israeli military is not criticism of the Israeli public, their sons and their daughters, and cannot be wrong. You may disagree with it; that does not make it wrong. Criticism of the IDF is quite valid – that institution must, like any other be judged by its actions. Such actions are questioned by many among the Israeli public (though not a majority as you rightly say), and indeed by some within the IDF. Such debate, within a democracy is healthy and productive – otherwise we may as well live in North Korea.
Israel is a country often at war because it chooses to be – not since 1974 has Israel been attacked by another state (with the minor exception of Saddam’s few scud missiles). Of course there have been actions by non-state actors, but such actions can only be part of legitimate resistance to Israel. Israel has not faced an existential threat since again 1974, though it may face such a threat once Iran has the bomb. Israel is, and has for a long time been the Middle East superpower. Its conventional military is more than a match for any or all of its neighbours put together. In addition it possesses in the region of 200 nuclear warheads together with sophisticated delivery systems. I do not ‘mock’ the challenges’ faced by the Israeli nation, but I do feel that the actions of the Israeli state make those challenges much more complex and intractable. I would not use the term genocide to describe the behaviour of Israel, but certainly the case for war crimes having been committed is extremely compelling. I did not mention ethnic cleansing ( a very ugly term), but it is well documented that something along those lines took place during 1948. In addition, there are those among the Israeli administration (inc foreign minister Lieberman) who even today advocate ‘transfer’ of the Palestinian population within the occupied territories to Jordan; some even argue that the Arab population within Israel proper be transferred also. I am not an enemy of Israel, and if I take sides, it is the side of the weak against the strong; the oppressed against the oppressor. I am not religious, but is that not a Christian position to take.
How can you reject accusations of war crimes against our troops, or those of the US? Have you forgotten Dresden, have you forgotten Mai Lai? Of course civilians are not killed ‘for fun’. They may be killed by design to spread terror as per the examples above, or they may be killed due to the application of completely indiscriminate force as in many of the drone operations in Afghanistan, Israel’s Cast Lead, or US operations in Fallujah.
You are correct – neither of us were present during the recent massacre in Gaza, and again right that no independent media were present either – because of course Israel would not allow them into the strip during their offensive. The reasoning behind that decision was clear – the IDF did not want compelling witnesses on-site to relay to the outside world just what was going on. Still, we have had plenty of reports coming out since the IDF left Gaza (inc by respected human rights organisations Amnesty, Humans Rights Watch, and the Israeli organisation B’Tselem). Some media within Israel have also reported appalling behaviour by Israeli forces. In addition we have the testimony of some who served with the IDF. Perhaps most damning of all, we have Judge Goldstein, who’s report on Cast Lead makes very serious allegations of war crimes by the IDF, and possible crimes against humanity.
I am quite certain that, as in all societies, there are nice Israelis and not so nice Israelis – probably in a similar ratio as you would find in any other country. That is not what we are talking about here though. We are talking about the actions of the Israeli state, which purports to be among the community of so called civilised nations. Such protestations ring quite hollow when one views with a dispassionate eye, the actions of that state. My conscience is quite clear on this issue by the way. Those however, who encourage and support Israel, whatever actions it takes in its insane, and ultimately self defeating behaviour may like to look to theirs.


You must be logged in to post a comment.