Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Pastor Rev. Munther Isaac, whose impassioned Christmas sermon, Christ under the Rubble in 2023 shook the world, identified the strategic significance of South Africa’s Jan. 11 presentation before the International Court of Justice, on the urgency of ordering immediate provisional measures be taken to stop Israeli genocide against Gaza, which Western powers are aiding and abetting. In an interview with Arab News’ weekly podcast, “Frankly Speaking,” published Jan. 28 but recorded before the ICJ’s Jan. 26 ruling, Reverend Isaac explained the power of what South Africa had accomplished with its case, even before the court agreed that provisional measures must be ordered:
“The most important element about the ICJ right now is that Israel realizes that there are countries, leaders willing to stand firm and take courageous positions, because Israel has been doing what it’s been doing because no one ever held Israel accountable…. I think the ICJ could be a momentous point in our history, because it showed what the divide is.
“And I am very pleased that it’s a country like South Africa that led the efforts, because they have the moral credibility and authority to speak about such issues. A country that endured colonization and apartheid has the credibility to speak against colonization and apartheid, and a genocide. And the fact that other Western countries, the same Western countries and the same ideology that boast about human rights and supported apartheid in South Africa, are now lining up to defend Israel, is speaking volumes.
“I think the ICJ deliberations and how countries respond to it clearly shows where people stand today, and where countries stand today. Gaza is indeed right now the moral compass of the world, and where people stand regarding the genocide that is happening in Gaza right now is important. You are either justifying the genocide or really standing with humanity and solidarity with the oppressed. To me, this is the most important moral and ethical element of the ICJ, in that it divided our world. And again, I can’t say enough [South Africa] is the country with the moral integrity, the moral credibility to speak on such issues, having endured years of colonization.”
Reverend Isaac dismissed U.S. leaders’ talk of concern for the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, in the full interview, because those officials are responsible for allowing the genocide to go on.
“For months now, we’ve heard that America has put some red lines to Israel as to what it can do and what it cannot do. And all these red lines have been crossed…. Anything America says about the war comes to us as empty words. Until we see it, we will [not] believe it.” The U.S. failure to act “has been the most important element that empowered Israel and enabled Israel to commit such war crimes, because no one is holding them accountable. You can say whatever you want in press conferences, but it’s what facts on the ground are that matters to us…. The more Western countries continue to support Israel in this war, the more people die.”
Reverend Isaac, who is Palestinian, added, “I am tired of faith leaders just calling for peace and praying for peace,” he said. “We need to call things out by their name. There is a system of apartheid in our country. It is time to speak to uphold these principles.”
His vision for Palestine and Israel is simple: “Everybody has the right to live in peace everywhere…. My dream is for my children to have Israeli friends. It’s not just to end the conflict, but to live in a reality in which we are friends and neighbors with the Israelis.”