Rep. Chris Smith

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) speaks during a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on January 18, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Backed by AIPAC, 62 Dems Join GOP in Condemning Genocide Case Against Israel

AIPAC is the top campaign contributor to Reps. Chris Smith and Kathy Manning, the leaders of a new letter denouncing South Africa's International Court of Justice case.

More than 60 House Democrats joined 148 Republicans on Tuesday in condemning South Africa's genocide case against the Israeli government, which has continued to commit atrocities in Gaza in the two weeks since the International Court of Justice heard arguments in the closely watched proceedings.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) called South Africa's case "grossly unfounded"—echoing the Biden administration's position—and expressed "disgust" at the ICJ filing, which has garnered support from a number of countries around the world including Brazil, Bolivia, Malaysia, and Jordan.

The brief letter does not attempt to refute the exhaustive evidence that South African attorneys laid out during public ICJ hearings earlier this month.

Smith's office noted in a statement that the letter was backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobbying group that has enthusiastically supported Israel's assault on Gaza and smeared lawmakers pushing for a cease-fire.

AIPAC is Smith and Manning's top campaign contributor this election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.

"South Africa's accusation of genocide against Israel exposes how far Israel's enemies will go in their attempts to demonize the Jewish state," the lawmakers wrote, falsely accusing South Africa of "barely acknowledging the Hamas terrorists who gleefully massacred, mutilated, raped, and kidnapped innocent civilians on October 7."

In its 84-page ICJ filing, South Africa said it "unequivocally condemns all violations of international law by all parties, including the direct targeting of Israeli civilians and other nationals and hostage-taking by Hamas and other Palestinian armed group"—a message South Africa's representatives repeated before the United Nations court earlier this month.

The Intercept's Prem Thakker posted a full list of the letter's signatories, which include Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a U.S. Senate candidate; Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.); Jared Golden (D-Maine); and Jodey Arrington (R-Texas).

While few U.S. lawmakers have vocally supported South Africa's genocide case, the new letter condemning the filing was signed by less than half of all House members.

On the Democratic side of the House, roughly the same number of members backed the new letter as have called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

"As one of the countries that has agreed to the Genocide Convention, the U.S. must stop trying to discredit and undermine this case and the international legal system it claims to support," Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), two of the leading cease-fire proponents in Congress, said earlier this month in a joint statement endorsing South Africa's case.

"Our commitment to protecting the human rights of all people must be unconditional," they added. "The best time to make a conclusive determination on genocide is when there is still time to stop it, not after. We will continue pushing for a lasting cease-fire, full accountability, and a just and lasting peace for everyone."

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.