Thursday, July 22, 2004; Page A20
Charles Krauthammer shows the same misunderstanding of the International Court of Justice's decision in the case of Israel's security wall ["Travesty at The Hague," July 16] as virtually every other U.S. media account. The court did not hold that Israel cannot build a security wall. Nor did it rule that the entire wall is illegal. Rather, it held that any part of the wall built on land occupied by Israel after 1967 violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and other treaties. The court's opinion leaves Israel entirely free to build a wall within its pre-1967 borders. Mr. Krauthammer fails to explain why this route would not address Israel's legitimate security concerns.
But what distinguishes Mr. Krauthammer's account from others is his gratuitous and offensive suggestion of some dark motive on the part of the German judge, Bruno Simma.
First, the judges voted 14 to 1 against the Israeli position, so Mr. Simma was hardly alone. Second, Mr. Simma, a former law professor at Munich and the University of Michigan, is a renowned authority on human rights, widely respected by his peers. Implications of anti-Israeli bias are belied by his entire professional life.
Finally, the American judge, Thomas Buergenthal, while dissenting on jurisdictional issues, largely agreed with the court (including Mr. Simma) that a wall built on occupied territory is illegal. Mr. Buergenthal is a Holocaust survivor. Would Mr. Krauthammer impute anti-Israeli bias to him as well?
GREGORY H. FOX
The writer is an associate professor of law at Wayne State University.