Why I “arrested” von der Leyen for aiding Gaza genocide

I have attempted to put Ursula von der Leyen under citizen’s arrest for aiding the Gaza genocide.

My attempt was made as the European Commission’s president began her speech to a conference on strengthening the weapons industry.

Aiding and abetting genocide is a very serious matter.

The 1948 Genocide Convention places an obligation on governments around the world to prevent and punish that crime.

All 27 countries in the EU have signed and ratified that convention. On paper, the EU regards the prevention of genocide as an “integral part” of its foreign policy.

Von der Leyen reneged on that commitment when she visited top-level Israeli figures in the early stages of the Gaza genocide.

On 13 October, she told Isaac Herzog, Israel’s president, that “we stand by you.”

One day earlier, Herzog presented Israel’s war against Gaza as purely a response to the Hamas operation of 7 October.

Herzog contended there was “a whole nation responsible” for the Hamas operation. He alleged that “this rhetoric about [Palestinian] civilians not aware, not involved” was “absolutely not true.”

The same week that von der Leyen gave her assurance, Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, insisting there would be “no electricity, no food, no fuel.” Gallant announced that he had “released all restraints” because Israel was, in his words, “fighting human animals.”

The International Court of Justice formally took note of the comments by both Herzog and Gallant in January. The court cited those comments when deciding there is a plausible case that Israel is committing genocide.

It must not be forgotten that von der Leyen publicly gave her full backing to Israel soon after its leading politicians had displayed a clear genocidal intent.

By doing so, she bought valuable time for Israel. It could inflict massive destruction on Gaza, without facing any serious international pressure to stop.

Business as usual

While von der Leyen has subsequently voiced unease about some images from Gaza – notably images of people being massacred as they wait for food aid – she and officials working for her have generally adopted a business as usual approach toward Israel while it continues carrying out a genocide.

Through a freedom of information request, I recently obtained an internal paper on trade with Israel prepared by the European Commission, the institution which von der Leyen heads.

Stating that Israel is the EU’s largest trading partner, it gives every impression that the Brussels bureaucracy is striving to maintain extremely close economic ties with Israel.

The document (see below) is dated 15 February – more than two weeks after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its genocide in Gaza. The document does not mention the court’s order.

That is despite how the EU’s entire relationship with Israel is nominally based on the respect of human rights.

Scientific research is another priority area in cooperation between the EU and Israel.

Against the backdrop of the genocide in Gaza, von der Leyen’s European Commission has approved a huge number of new research grants for Israel over the past six months. The weapons maker Israel Aerospace Industries – which has boasted of playing a “pivotal role” in the war against Gaza – is among the recipients.

Before becoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen held several posts in the German government.

She was part of the government in Berlin when Angela Merkel, then the chancellor, declared in 2008 that Germany’s very existence (or Staaträson) was tied to Israel’s security.

Approximately 30 percent of all arms imported by Israel over the past decade have come from Germany. That makes Germany second only to the US as the top external supplier of weapons to Israel.

The EU theoretically forbids the sale of weapons if there is a clear risk they will be used for violating international law.

Although Israel abuses international law routinely, von der Leyen has no apparent problem with how it does so with the help of weapons from her beloved Germany.

When von der Leyen sided so decisively with Israel in October, she made the EU’s embrace of Israel tighter than it had ever been before. She conveyed the impression that there is now no difference between the German position toward Israel and that of the EU collectively.

Her enabling of genocide is despicable.




Bravo, David. From this day forward, this fine-tuned, well-groomed war criminal will have to assume that every crowd she addresses will contain another citizen, another objector, there to perform the same act. Wherever she goes, she can expect to be confronted with her ghastly crimes. Code Pink turns up at Congressional hearings and patrols the corridors of the Capitol. Van der Leyen merits the same treatment. Shout at her. Unfurl the flag of Palestine. Disrupt her banquet of blood. And in the back of her mind will be the thought, Is this the day when a full warrant will be served? Somewhere there's a court, somewhere a judge, and somewhere justice awaits.

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