Rod Bower is an Anglican priest and social activist who came to prominence on social media through his poignant and at times controversial church signs in Gosford.

Adam Houda is a high profile criminal lawyer and anti-racism activist who’s outraged by Israel’s genocidal war on Palestinians in Gaza.

The interview was conducted on 26/12/23.

Eleanor Roosevelt the International Declaration of Human Rights
Eleanor Roosevelt holding a copy of the International Declaration of Human Rights

Palestine Project: Rod, Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church Nativity scene this year was baby Jesus in rubble wrapped in a Palestinian keffiyeh. In an interview, Reverend Munther Isaac said, if Christ were born today, he would be born under the rubble of the Israeli shelling.

There was something really powerful about that messaging and also the imagery to me and I can’t put my finger on it. Other people I’ve spoken to said they took one look at that image and they burst into tears and these are not religious people.

What is it about that imaging and messaging that seems to elicit such a strong reaction in non-religious people?

Fr Rod Bower: Well, to begin with I think it’s the unexpectedness of it. Of course, even non-religious people and people who are non-Christians or people of other faith, they’re familiar with the gentle Jesus, meek and mild kind of scene of the nativity scene, the stable, the angels, the shepherds, the soft straw, all that kind of thing that evokes that sort of folky idea of Christmas.

And when you’re confronted with a totally contradictory image, it kind of jars the psyche a bit. But the reality is, that’s probably closer to the real image of that first Christmas than the Christmas cards are, because Jesus was born into occupied territory, occupied by the Roman, and into a very oppressed people.

So the image that we have in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem is probably closer to the reality and it jars us, it sort of shocks us and then as I thought about that image, it just got deeper and deeper.

You have a Jewish baby wrapped in a Palestinian cloth and so you have that, what the pastor there is trying to communicate and doing very well I’d have to say is that for Christians, this child is the fullest expression of humanity and our humanity is expressed in its fullness when we wrap our nakedness in the cloth of the other. That’s when we become fully human.

I did a little bit of a reflection with some of our staff on that image just before Christmas and there was one of the staff members was a lapsed Lutheran. She’d come from German heritage and so she was kind of a bit excited that an Anglican would reference a Lutheran.

I said, this baby, you know, doesn’t look very Palestinian, it actually looks very German. It’s kind of very pale. And she says, oh yes, but this baby’s a German Jew. And the whole room just fell silent because they got the power of that statement.

What happened to the German Jews is happening again. And that’s the power of what he [Isaac] did in that icon.

PP: Rod you know your way around religious politics of the region. In the current climate, in my estimation, Isaac has made himself a target for far-right Zionists. How far out on a limb do you think he’s gone with such a powerful message and why?

Fr Rod Bower: I know from my own experience, you can go out on that limb and it’s a very dangerous place to be. So yes, he has put himself out on a limb. He got a huge amount of media around this and it was the image used across the Western world for Christmas sermons. I used it myself and hundreds, thousands of other preachers used it as well. So he has put himself in quite significant danger by speaking out and speaking this truth and that’s always in a political situation anywhere in the world, but in this particular political situation at the moment, speaking the truth about the genocide that is happening will get backlash. No doubt he’ll be getting a lot of hate mail and emails and threats because that’s just what happens when you do that.

PP: Adam, I’ve watched you tweet over the years and you’re always passionate about human rights and issues of justice and injustice. But I’ve never seen you quite as fired up as you are about what’s happening in Palestine, in Gaza and the West Bank. What is it about the war in Gaza that’s got you so fired up?

Adam Houda: I’m not Palestinian, I’m a human being and every decent human being is completely and utterly horrified by this despicable genocide that’s occurring right before our eyes. I read the South African submission to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and just a little extract gives you an insight, if I may. And it reads:

United Nations chiefs and the International Committee of the Red Cross, no strangers to conflict situations have called what’s unfolding in Gaza as a crisis of humanity. Humanitarian veterans who have served in war zones and disasters around the world, people that have seen everything say they have never seen anything like what they see today in Gaza. This is a moral failure, they say, causing intolerable suffering. They describe Palestinians in Gaza as living in utter deepening horror. As they continue to be relentlessly bombarded by Israel, suffering death, siege, destruction and deprivation of the most essential human needs, such as food, water and life-saving medical supplies and other essentials on a massive scale. It is apocalyptic. An entire population is besieged and under-attack denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals, places of worship. Gaza is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. It is a living hell. Everything is unprecedented. And we are out of words to describe what is going on.

Incredible. The South African submission, and I encourage everybody to read it, a lot of work has gone into that 84 page submission. I’ve read every single word and it’s truly horrifying.

I never thought I’d see the day where we’d be witnessing another Nazi Germany unfold before my eyes. I always thought these are things we learned about at school only, about times where humankind was maybe less civilised and power hungry.

The Gaza situation paralyses me with sadness, it really does. The imagery coming out of Gaza and the West Bank is just surreal. On top of this, you have the news coming out from Israel this morning that Netanyahu is saying: “we aren’t finished with Gaza just yet and that the hostilities will continue for months”. Considering the number of civilians massacred already including some 10,000 little children and babies – I’m really out of words to describe the enormity of this savagery.

PP: Rod I saw an update on Al Jazeera titled ‘Palestinians message to the world’. One of the fellas said, “stop sleeping and get up”. Another asked, “don’t you feel that we are part of humanity”?

With that in mind, Netanyahu at one point said, “you must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible, and we do remember”. I haven’t read the Old Testament, but by all accounts, Netanyahu referenced one of the most violent chapters in the Old Testament.

Neither Biden or Albanese are putting much pressure on Netanyahu to end the carnage. In fact, they’re supplying arms and the means to wage war, so that doesn’t exactly say stop.

Countries with strong Judeo-Christian backgrounds and influences through the teachings of the New Testament, which are based on principles of equality, human rights, love for all people, reconciliation through mediation, et cetera. Why do they turn a blind eye to people or nations that go all Old Testament on other people?

What’s going on there? It’s not all geopolitical, there’s something deeper. There must be.

Fr Rod Bower: Well, of course. To start with, Netanyahu is a Jew, so his Bible is the Hebrew scriptures, what Christians call the Old Testament. So that’s his theological framework. And this is important stuff because there’s a real driver in this. If you understand the story of the Amalekites or Amalek, and this is straight out of Netanyahu’s mouth. So he’s told us what his theological framework is in this space and what’s really motivating him.

We need to dig around in this a little bit because it is important. So the Amalekites or Amalek, as the people came out of Egypt through the wilderness up into what they called the promised land, it was the Amalekites that fought against them. It was a bloody violent kind of thing. But, eventually they settled the Hebrews, the Israelites, settled in what is modern day Israel. And for a long time the 12 tribes resisted having a king for all sorts of political reasons, but eventually they gave in and Saul became the king. And he went out after that sort of revenge attack sort of idea, after the Amalekites with the idea that God was telling him to wipe them out, totally wipe out the Amalekites. Now the trouble is that Saul didn’t totally wipe out the Amalekites, he kept the women and some slaves and all their cattle and sheep and camels and so forth.

Then you get this political situation. Now this story is a political story. It’s a propaganda, it’s a Davidic propaganda story. So David is on the, King David, who succeeded Saul, who’s the archetypal leader, still today for the Jewish people. The reason that Saul loses his job as king and David takes over is because Saul didn’t kill off the Amalekites and so this is a propaganda story, of course out of the Hebrew scriptures. But it says something about Netanyahu’s mindset if this is his Theological Framework and if it is his psychological framework and it seems as though it at least in part is.

The question is does he think if he – he’s identified the Palestinians as the Amalekites, he’s clearly done that. Going against the Rabbis traditions because what the Rabbis have done in this space is, says that imperative to wipe out the Amalekites no longer stands because we don’t know who the Amalekites are.

So Netanyahu is going against his own tradition, because the Rabbis say we don’t know who they are so we don’t have to wipe them out anymore.

Netanyahu is saying, yes, we do know who they are. They’re the Palestinians, and we’ve got to wipe them out. And because Saul didn’t wipe them out and lost his job, you’ve got to ask the question: is that Netanyahu’s framework? If I don’t wipe out the Amalekites, i.e. the Palestinians, will I lose my power?

And if you look at it from that frame, that’s a powerful motivator for genocide. That’s his mindset. That’s where he’s at. And he’s got a theological framework and foundation.

Although the Rabbis will say that’s erroneous, and it is erroneous, most human suffering is inflicted by people with an erroneous theological framework. That’s true in Christianity, it’s true in Islam, it’s true in Judaism. So you put it in that framework and that’s terrifying.

That is utterly terrifying.

Adam Houda: If I can just pick up from what the Father has just said, I mean, Zionists, they’re not the most religious people in the world. Netanyahu is not a religious person. So he quotes Amalek to suit his purpose. But this genocide is not about religion. It’s about greed. It’s about racism. It’s about stealing more Palestinian land. That’s what it’s all about. It really has nothing to do with religion.

On the topic of Amalek, from a legal perspective, one of the most difficult issues that confront nations suing for Genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is proving intent. Well, when you consider the words from Israeli officialdom, from their own mouths, I don’t think South Africa will have much difficulty proving intent for genocide. There is ample admissions from Israeli officials in this regard, including from the PM, the President and the Commander of their Occupational forces. The Israelis are not hiding behind their words. It’s so blatant.

PP: Adam with that in mind, there’s been a lot of discussion, not in Australia, but outside of Australia about legal liability for Israel’s allies. Most of the talk has been around America supplying weapons, at the same time acknowledging that there’s little hope that America or Americans will ever see the inside of a courtroom.

To bring things into an Australian context, we supply components for the F-35s Israel’s using to carpet bomb Palestinians. There’s pine gap and the likelihood of supplying information for Israel’s targeting of civilians. Do you think there’s potential criminal liability for Australian officials and business people, either through international or Australian courts?

Adam Houda: In theory, yes, for both Australians and Americans. I mean, complicity to genocide is a crime pursuant to the Genocide Convention. That is very clear. The Americans, I would argue, are more to blame for this genocide than the Israelis themselves. After all, they provide them with the financial, military and political means to achieve and carry on their criminal conduct and up until now has ensured complete impunity for Israel.

In fact, no crime committed by Israel is possible without the unwavering support of the USA. And of course, anybody providing material support to Israel is complicit in war crimes.

Shamefully, Australia has traditionally always supported Israel. And in this case, jaw-dropping stuff from our Prime Minister providing Israel with diplomatic cover when he argued the ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ nonsense. There’s not a court on the planet that would accept a self-defence argument from Israel. There’s no self-defence here. It is scandalous to suggest it.

Now internationally there are there are two legal avenues, two legal pathways for justice and accountability for the grave crimes committed against the Palestinians.

There’s the ICJ – where only states can bring actions against other states, which, as you are aware South Africa has just done. South Africa has just commenced a lawsuit against Israel to the ICJ. They’ve invoked the Genocide Convention to establish Israel’s responsibility for genocide.

The other path, which targets individuals, not states, is the International Criminal Court (ICC) which targets those responsible for either planning, participation in, or the sanctioning of crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. In fact, the ICC have already stated that they will commence an investigation into the latest Israeli violence. Despite this, the ICC has up until now, proven to be a toothless tiger.

They’ve been too interested pursuing African leaders accused of war crimes.

On the issue of Israel, the ICC in fact launched an investigation into Israeli War Crimes in 2014, and 10 years later we still don’t have an outcome or a result in the matter. Time and time again the ICC have proven to be unsatisfactory in carrying out their mandate.

The South African (IJC) action on the other hand is a different kettle of fish.

All UN member states, Israel and USA included, have a responsibility at law, to prevent genocide. Three months in, there hasn’t been one single state except for South Africa who have launched actions against Israel to prevent and to make them accountable for genocide. This is alarming because all member states have a moral and legal obligation, pursuant to the Genocide Convention to stop and prevent genocides from taking place. From that perspective, every other country should be joining and supporting South Africa at the ICJ. Action should also be taken out against the USA for their clear and obvious complicity.

These proceedings could take a very long time to complete. The Serbian matter, for example, took something like 15 years to finalise. Due to the urgency of the matter, South Africans are making an application for urgent and immediate provisional orders to stop the Israeli aggression pending the outcome of the case.

In terms of penalties, if Israel is found guilty by the court for Genocide, which I would argue is an open and shut case – the court will make an official finding of guilt, which is important from the perspective of the victims and also for political and historic reasons. The court also has the ability to order Israel to pay reparations or compensation to the victims, their families, and for the rebuilding of Gaza etc.

PP: How likely would Israel be to listen to that though?

Adam Houda: Well, in contrast to their relationship with the ICC, Israel and the USA are signatories to the Genocide Convention, and are therefore legally obligated to accept the orders of the ICJ. They are both member states. They have both accepted the jurisdiction of that court.

PP: So can I wind it back to October 7th for a second? Before the interview, I pointed out a tweet from Mary Kostakidis and it contained part of a statement from the Israel Defense Forces.

So there’s no doubt that Hamas fighters committed crimes on October 7th. I mean, taking civilian hostages is a crime. There’s no doubt about that, right? No one disputes that. But from the start, there were aspects of Israel’s narrative that just didn’t make sense to me, seemed fishy.

And it’s since been revealed by eyewitness accounts and even the Israeli military to have been an utterly cooked narrative – the Israeli military conceded, it was a few weeks back now, I’ll read the whole quote out:

Casualties fell as a result of friendly fire on October 7, but the IDF believes that beyond the operational investigations of the events, it would not be morally sound to investigate these incidents due to the immense and complex quantity of them that took place in the kibbutzim and southern Israeli communities due to the challenging situations the soldiers were in at the time.

The Israeli government basically used a false narrative to justify their assault on Gaza and commit genocide and ethnic cleansing. So a question to both of you here. But, I’ll start with you, Adam.

Does Israel’s deception increase legal jeopardy for Israeli officials?

Adam Houda: Of course it does, of course it does, but based on that quote that you just read out, I mean that’s a full and frank admission by Israel that they were responsible for murdering many of their own civilians on October 7. It’s their underhanded was of saying that “we stuffed up and we stuffed up big and it would be highly embarrassing and attract an avalanche of severe criticisms and ridicule if you were to know the truth of what went down on October 7.”

It’s such a bizarre statement to say ‘not morally sound to investigate’. I mean, nobody does deception like Israel, but despite the admission from Israel that many of their civilians were killed by friendly fire, they still maintain that Hamas was responsible for all Israeli casualties as part of their official narrative, all 1200 of them. It’s becoming clearer by the day that Hamas targeted military personnel only, not civilians. Its becoming clearer by the day that many of the civilian casualties was caused by friendly fire.

However, whether it was 1200 civilians or just 1, it doesn’t matter. Even 1 civilian killed is 1 too many. The murder of any civilians is not acceptable and should be condemned. But this Genocide is not about Hamas. Hamas is just a pretext for this Israeli genocide.

PP: Rod, I’m at a loss to understand and Adam touched on it, ‘it would not be morally sound to investigate’. What could they possibly be thinking there in that statement? There surely couldn’t be a religious background to that, could there? I don’t know, I don’t get it.

Fr Rod Bower: No, no, well, there is a theological framework, yes, and I don’t quite agree with Adam, yes, Netanyahu isn’t a religious man. I mean, in fact, Israel per capita is a more atheist state than any other state in the world, really. There are more atheists in Israel. So he’s not a religious man, but he’s using to some extent, a religious framework to justify his actions.

Now, when you divorce a religious framework from its moral imperatives, but keep the framework, it gives you licence to do all sorts of horrible things and inflict all sorts of human suffering. But we in the West, we have at least the illusion of our own moral framework, which is mostly an illusion, I have to say, as an ethicist.

But his moral imperative is the survival of Israel. That’s his moral imperative. So that’s how he can say it’s not morally sound to investigate this, because his moral framework is entirely different. And when you have an entirely different moral framework, it gives you a license to do all sorts of evil. And that’s what’s happening. So his moral framework gives him license to do whatever he likes because what he’s saying is the greatest moral imperative is the survival of Israel.

PP: Adam, I want to go back to the legal stuff for a minute. Senior advisor to the Israeli prime minister, Mark Regev is one of the public faces of the war. He’s also a dual national Australian Israeli. Assuming there’s enough evidence for possible criminal liability for war crimes, can that extend to senior advisors and are there Australian laws that may apply if there’s enough evidence to show an Australian citizen is complicit in war crimes in another jurisdiction?

Adam Houda: Australian laws are ineffective in this regard. Regev is a disgusting propagandist for the criminal regime of Israel. If there was any justice in this world, Mark Regev and the people of his ilk would be in jail. He is a vile and despicable human being. I mean, have you watched his interviews?

The disgusting justifications and defences he raises to defend Israel’s criminal behaviour is just appalling. It’s like watching parody listening to him talk. He’s embarrassing. I mean, fancy defending a terrorist state for a living, which is what he does.

When they [media] said to him, okay, you talk about Gaza and it’s about Hamas. What about the West Bank? You’re killing people in the West Bank, hundreds of them. There’s no Hamas operatives in the West Bank. Everybody understands that. His answer was: “no, there is Hamas in West Bank. Anybody that’s Palestinian is potentially Hamas.” He is outrageous. He lies religiously. Not surprisingly. Lies and deception are the official language of Zionist Israel.

You know, I’m just lost for words at his despicable propaganda. He’s a modern-day Goebbels, Regev, sue me. He is a despicable human being and he should be thrown in jail.

Incredibly, the strongest advocates against the criminal state of Israel are Jews themselves. You have great scholars like Chomsky, Finkelstein, Ilan Pappé and film director Oliver Stone to name a few. Nobody understands genocide, terrorism, racism, war crimes better than Jews. All decent Jews condemn the barbarity of the Israeli state.

PP: There’s a lot of Palestinian Australians that have lost family, maybe lost property and that sort of thing. In relation to Australians that have been part of those crimes, um, committing those crimes, any there possible civil options for those who’ve suffered losses?

Adam Houda: NO!

PP: Hmm. Okay. That’s a short, quick answer. How much difficulty do you think there’s going to be collecting evidence for any criminal sanctions by various different world bodies, you know, the ICC or the ICj? Do you think that…

Adam Houda: Wayne read the 84 page submission by the South Africans. It’s a black and white case against Israel. Open and shut case. Politics aside, South Africa can’t lose at the ICJ. Politics and the bullying of the powerful UN member states is the only thing that can deny SA victory against Israel. We have all seen first-hand the effect politics can have on these international bodies. The ICC issuing an arrest warrant against Putin in record time is a case in point.

PP: Yeah. Well, that actually leads into a question. Back in 2014, No Fibs published the first submission to the International Criminal Court regarding Australia’s treatment of refugees.

At the time, before we published it, I spoke to a couple of lawyers around the place. I was made aware that, as you said earlier, African nations felt they were treated differently to predominantly white nations. And at the time, some African nations were threatening to leave the Rome statute. I’ve since heard a lot of countries refer to the ICC as the International Caucasian Court. So politics plays a big part in the application of international law. There’s no disputing that, I don’t think.

And we, as Adam said, recently saw how quickly the U S achieved an arrest warrant against Putin.

The Israelis seem to think they’re immune to international bodies. Right now, I believe, and this is going off on a bit of tangent, I believe Trump’s now the front runner for the White House.

So say Trump wins, and both of you might have something to put in here because Trump’s a bit of a wild one too when it comes to religion, how do you see the politics playing out for the Israelis in terms of escaping justice, good or bad? Because I just think, God, Trump’s just as likely to, if he wins, throw Biden at the ICC. How do you see that playing out?

Adam Houda: Well, Trump is very pro-Israeli, so I don’t hold much hope with Trump.

PP: Yeah, but he’s so vindictive, Adam.

Adam Houda: Yeah, he’s a worry, but going on past performances, I’d rather a Trump than a Biden. Trump’s bark appears to be worse than his bite. Politically, I don’t think Israel and America could ever recover from the damage caused by their vile criminal behaviour in Palestine.

PP: Well they’re isolated.

Adam Houda: I just think they’re finished in terms of their political position in the world. I just don’t see any way that they could recover from this. And you know, you’ve got Russia and China sitting back and lapping it all up watching the USA self-destruct.

PP: Well, they’re laughing. They’re laughing because both the US and Israel are completely isolated. And their reputation is being trashed in the Global South.

Fr Rod Bower: But you need to understand you can’t get elected in America as President unless you support Israel. And there’s two reasons you can’t get elected.

The first reason is because the very powerful Jewish lobby and the money behind that. But more to the point, Trump’s base is white evangelical Christians. And there is a very strong section of the white evangelical Christians in the United States that still believe, this was sort of a thing from way back in the 70s, but they still believe that Christ will return when Israel geographically holds the same territory as King David did.

There’s a strong belief amongst, I think it’s absolutely crazy, but there’s a strong belief you will not get elected in America if you don’t hold both of those very powerful groups. So there’s no way in the world anyone running for the President of the United States will come out against Israel. As simple as that, you just won’t get elected.

Adam Houda: Father Rod, you nailed it. I mean that’s exactly on point. There’s been many publications from former congressmen themselves which confirm what Father Rod just stated.

Fr Rod Bower: So the status quo will remain. America will continue to support Israel’s crimes.

Adam Houda: And that’ll be their downfall. That’ll be their downfall. It has to be.

Fr Rod Bower: Ultimately, yeah I agree Adam, ultimately it’ll be their downfall but we’re a fair way away from that I think.

PP: What you’re basically talking about is what people here refer to as Christofascists. I saw a really good piece on Al Jazeera. They had a fellow on talking about the “Zionist Christians”. Um, the thing that gets me is that most of those are hard right white supremacists. and normally they hate Jewish people, you know, it spins me out.

Fr Rod Bower: Yes. But this stuff creates strange bedfellows. We’ve seen this here. You know, a powerful Zionist lobby here, you know, getting in bed with the neo-fascists. And I’ve been attacked by them on a number of occasions. And you think, you know, how does this work?

No, Surely they don’t forget history? I mean, one minute you hear people say, you know, remember the Holocaust never again. I totally support that. But you hear the same people getting up on stage, you know, in Sydney with Reclaim Australia. And you think, wow, we’re really in very weird territory here.

PP: Yeah, look, I remember listening to Ronald Reagan in an interview. And I don’t see him as a Christofascist, but he had some pretty wild out there beliefs. And in this interview, he was asked about a nuclear war, what would happen. And basically, he turned around and said, well, if there was a nuclear war, God would come down and say, everyone out of the pool. He actually believed that.

Fr Rod Bower: Yes. And it’s what happens when a person abandons the covenant relationship, the corrective and transformative relationship with the Divine, but maintains the framework and uses that framework to create a moral environment where they can pretty much justify anything they do. You catch a glimpse of that with Reagan, but it’s full blown with Netanyahu.

PP: Yeah. Oh, I never took Reagan to be one of those Christo-fascist types, but he had some of those same beliefs.

Adam, I wanted to ask you in terms of Australian law, what do we need in Australian law to ensure that in the future, our governments can’t actively support genocide, what needs to happen with the law?

Adam Houda: Well there are laws in place that would hold people like Albanese to account, but not on a domestic level, on an international level. I mean he’s been very very silent since his initial ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ garbage he was spewing early on. Since then, he’s been very quiet on the issue. His silence as the gruesome genocide unfolds is complicit. Albanese has been very very disappointing.

PP: Well, it’s not just the defence. What I’m getting at more is Australia is providing material support. There’s no doubt about that.

Adam Houda: Well his government has denied it, Wayne.

PP: They can’t deny it. Pine Gap and we supply parts for the bombers. It’s undeniable.

Adam Houda: Okay, I mean, if it’s proven to be true, there are actionable legal options against Australia in the International Court of Justice.

PP: Yeah, but how can we ensure that can’t happen again? What needs to happen in Australian law? Because I believe from back in 2014, when I was writing about the first submission to the ICC over refugees, I was made aware there’s a law to do with human rights violations.

I can’t remember the details, to do with crimes against humanity, but only the Attorney General can bring a case. So that means that there’s never going to be a case brought.

Adam Houda: That’s right

PP: So how can our law be reformed to ensure that Australia can never actively assist in a genocide?

Adam Houda: Well, we have those laws in place, as you said, but they sound nice in theory, but in practice, you know, you’re not going to find a government that will go after its own self, Wayne. Let’s be real here.

PP: So basically who can bring a case needs to be broadened?

Adam Houda: this is why it is a defining moment for the International Court of Justice. The South African -V- Israel matter is a very important case for the whole world. If the ICJ fails to do the right thing, the court will lose all credibility and will be severely undermined to the point where it will lose all effectiveness.

And there’s going to be huge pressure on the judges that run that court from the powerful member states like America, France and Britain, who have traditionally always supported Israel. So it’ll be very, very interesting to see how this unfolds. Particularly when they’re dealing with a very, very compelling and what I would argue is an open and shut case against the rogue state of Israel.

PP: Yeah. What you’re basically saying is that the ICJ could be at risk of falling into the same sort of territory as the ICC, that in a lot of people’s eyes, has lost credibility?

Adam Houda: as I’ve said previously, the ICC has proven to be a toothless tiger. It doesn’t have any respect amongst lawyers. It is independent of UN, whereas the International Court of Justice is the world judiciary organ of the UN. The ICC places heavy reliance on their prosecutor to actually do something and the current prosecutor, Mr. Khan has a less than impressive track record; He’s proven to be useless actually.

PP: Rod the leadership of countries, and we touched on it a little bit before, supposedly holding New Testament, Judeo-Christian values, etc. Various flavours of. I think Albanese also claims to be a Christian.

One of the first things the Israelis did when they went all in was obliterated the bakeries, grain mills and water facilities. The Palestinians are basically being denied their daily bread. Isn’t that just taking the piss out of the Lord’s prayer?

Fr Rod Bower: Yeah, well, to start with, I mean, you know, there’s no such thing as a religious state in that sense, the minute you have to enter into the political fray, there’s the imperative that you will compromise whatever belief system that you have. So it’s not possible to be a totally dedicated Christian and be leader of a state. Because if you totally want to live according to the life and teachings of Jesus, then you’ve got to love your enemies and forgive.

PP: But it was just so blatant.

Fr Rod Bower: So again, they keep the religious framework, but vacate its essence. And so, you know, I don’t think you can say Australia’s a Christian nation. Well, it isn’t. It’s not even close to that.

PP: I know that’s not what I’m saying, I’m saying the leaders, I mean we do have those values sort of underpinning, but I don’t think we’re a Christian…

Fr Rod Bower: Well, they’re Western, they’re not Christian values. Let’s get this clear. What we have is Western values, not Christian values. They are different. Well, then the leaders have Western values. You can say Anthony Albanese has Western values. And certainly, at least the ethical framework is of the West, although we compromise this at the drop of a hat.

PP: Okay

Fr Rod Bower: So to say that, to take away people’s bread in Gaza, it goes against human values, let alone Christian or Islamic or Jewish values. It goes against every kind of value that you can imagine. So yes.

PP: Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at. I just don’t understand how anyone can. The first thing I thought was ‘no daily bread for you lot’.

Fr Rod Bower: Yeah, I mean, but it’s indicative, it’s indicative of the moral vacuum that happens in any war. And in particular at the moment what we see is just the inflicting of inconceivable human suffering by another human being. It’s a crime against humanity and a sin against God, no matter what God you believe in. And that’s the ground we find ourselves on.

Adam Houda: Wayne, just touching on that point about when the Israelis blocked off water, food, fuel, and power: that’s in the context of a decades long blockade that’s already restricted those essential items for living. I mean, people in Gaza already struggled for essential items daily prior to October 7.

Fr Rod Bower: It’s interesting, in some of the occupied areas, you can tell the Palestinian houses because they have water tanks, because they don’t have town water. So you’ve already cut the water off from them, they’ve got to gather their own water. What Adam says, right, this may be the light, the torch shining in this space at the moment, but the restriction of food and water has been going on for ages.

PP: Yeah, almost 20 years.

Adam Houda: And as the International Red Cross has said in the last few days, that more people will die from famine and dehydration than the bombs. And that’s very alarming when you’ve got military experts who say Gaza has been hit with the equivalent of 10 Hiroshima’s – considering the amount of bombs that have been dropped and continue to drop on this tiny densely populated city of 2.3 million people daily.

I mean, it’s absolutely devastating.

PP: Over 60% of the houses.

Adam Houda: What’s frustrating is all decent folk want to do something but feel helpless. We’ve been relying on the powerful nations to do what’s right, what they’re obligated to do legally. Instead, the world is allowing Israel to get away with the worst crimes against humanity with impunity. It is very distressing.

PP: I agree.

Rod, just very quickly, we touched on earlier, the ICC and criticism from African nations and a bias there. We can’t deny there is a bias there. Even the ICC, from what I’ve heard, admits that. Do you see there’s a religious element or do you think it’s more racial?

Fr Rod Bower: Ahh probably, it’s weighted towards, the domination system that holds sway in these Western manufactured things like United Nations, the ICC, they’ve come out of the West. So they’re influenced by the Western domination system, which is white, Western, nominally Christian, male and heterosexual. These are the five points of the domination system that gave birth to these institutions. So they will be weighted towards that domination system.

Now I think slowly but surely that’s being chipped away at, but there’s a long way to go yet. So yes, you will have bias towards that white Western because even our legal system, the legal framework of that comes out of that domination system. And it’s often difficult for developing countries that come out of very different cultures to engage on a level playing field with a legal construct that comes out of another culture. So yeah, it’s biased and it’s weighted, there’s no doubt about it.

Adam Houda: Wayne, you’ve got the powerful member states, they basically run the show at the ICC. They exert too much influence.

Fr Rod Bower: And that’s why Western nominally Christian.

Adam Houda: Yeah. And I mean, you only have to look at how disgraceful things are at the UN just by considering the veto powers the powerful states enjoy. I mean, it’s a downright scandal, the USA vetoing the ceasefire during a genocide. That will forever be a low point in human history. So we have to be blunt about it. Currently the UN is not fit for purpose and requires a major overhaul.

PP: With these thing in mind, and I’ll make this my final question to both of you. What do you think is the best action that individuals can take to try to make a difference in this space?

Fr Rod Bower: Having criticized the UN, I’ll go back to its foundations, there’s a wonderful photo of Eleanor Roosevelt, who was very influential in the formation of the International Declaration of Human Rights. There’s a photo there of her holding that big scroll, and at that point she said, ‘none of this means anything unless it’s lived out in the small places close to home’.

So what do we do as individuals? We live out our passion for human rights, influencing in the small places close to home and hoping against hope, that raises up enough people with enough influence and enough voices to change the domination system. But for each and every Australian and everyone reading this, you have to stand for human rights in your own backyard, across your own garden fence.

Don’t let things go to the keeper when someone says something that’s racist or bigoted or diminishes another human being. Because at the end of the day if that’s the culture you live in, it lets your government get away with it and if your government get away with it, it lets other governments get away with it and you end up where we are now in Gaza.

Adam Houda: Well, speak up and don’t stop speaking. You know, Islamically, there’s a hadith (Islamic Teaching) by the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, which says, the greatest form of jihad, struggle, the greatest form of jihad is when you talk or speak up against oppression. And we can’t stop talking. We can’t stop raising our voices and using our platforms to speak up.

Even in the face of hostilities of the Zionist lobbies and Zionist trolls online. Their power is subsiding. Nobody’s buying their bullshit anymore. No one’s buying their excuses and justifications for what their monstrous government is doing. Write to your local MPs, write to the Prime Minister, complain about the propaganda that’s been propagated in the media.

I mean, what else is there to do? You know, just do everything that you possibly can on those fronts. Don’t stop speaking up against this oppression.

PP: Thank you Father Rod and thank you Adam

Fr Rod Bower: Thank you.

Adam Houda: Thank you.

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