The anti-Palestinian canards of Congressman Chip Roy

Congressman Chip Roy outside US Capitol Building

Congressman Chip Roy seeks legislation to sanction officials with the International Criminal Court.

Graeme Sloan SIPA USA

Congressman Chip Roy of Texas is a principal purveyor of atrocity propaganda in the US House of Representatives.

Last year he spread, as did Senator Lindsey Graham, the disturbing lie that “Jewish babies were put into ovens” on 7 October 2023.

This sort of fabrication is intended to pave the way for overlooking – or even promoting – Israeli war crimes and genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. It is irresponsible, racist and totally in keeping with Roy’s xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments.
Roy recently sponsored legislation passed in the House of Representatives seeking sanctions against International Criminal Court officials and their immediate family members.

The congressman was enraged that ICC prosecutor Karim Khan sought arrest warrants not just against three leaders of Hamas but against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Yoav Gallant for “war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the state of Palestine (in the Gaza Strip) from at least 8 October 2023.”

In fact, Khan is not going far enough by failing to include Israeli war crimes in the occupied West Bank, particularly illegal settlement activity.

Crock of Chip

On 22 May, Roy took to the House floor to inveigh against the ICC and tout his legislation.

He proclaimed that “Hamas beheaded at least 40 babies. Let that sink in for a minute. Hamas beheaded at least 40 Israeli babies.”

Later in the nearly 30-minute speech he said Israel is defending itself against “enemies that beheaded 40 of their own babies” and that the ICC court “needs to be forcefully condemned by the United States.”

But his claim about beheaded babies simply is not true. There is no evidence Hamas beheaded any babies.

According to the United Nations and its Independent International Commission of Inquiry, 40 Israeli children were reportedly killed that day – two of them, Liel Hatsroni and apparently her twin brother Yanai, in Kibbutz Be’eri by Israeli tank shells – but certainly not 40 babies beheaded by Palestinian armed groups.

In an investigation earlier this month for The Electronic Intifada, David Sheen debunked claims of decapitated babies promoted by Israeli officials, building on evidence available for many months but too frequently disregarded or left uncorrected by mainstream journalists such as CNN’s Dana Bash and Hadas Gold.

Bash tweeted on the subject and did follow up two days later to note the lack of confirmation from the Israeli government, but hasn’t issued any correction. Neither she nor Gold responded to questions from The Electronic Intifada.

USA Today put out an erroneous fact check on the beheaded babies and PolitiFact, a nonprofit operated by the Poynter Institute, allowed their report on the subject to be influenced by misleading information from CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.

Neither USA Today nor PolitiFact responded to questions from The Electronic Intifada about the troubling lack of evidence.

Israeli officials can provide numerous quotes on the subject of beheaded babies, but so far the evidence indicates that the two babies killed in Israel on 7 October died as a result of Palestinian gunfire. Such deaths are horrible, whether intentional or recklessly inadvertent, but are not beheadings, a claim intended to inflame anti-Palestinian sentiments.

In spending time examining the claim, less attention goes to investigating American-assisted Israeli war crimes and genocide. There is, furthermore, a danger of inadvertently reinforcing what has turned out to be a false charge.

Many mainstream journalists and politicians have failed to clear up errors, especially those anchors determined to promote widespread carnage in Gaza. Israel’s assault on Gaza to date has resulted in more than 37,500 Palestinians killed and more than 85,000 injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.

Some 100,000 Palestinians – a bit more than 4 percent of Gaza’s population – are thought to have fled to Egypt and elsewhere. The figures are approaching 10 percent of Gaza’s population killed, injured (with high certainty that many injured people do not even present at hospitals) or having fled. Additional Palestinians are regarded as having perished under the rubble and have not yet been reached.

Mainstream journalists appear terrified to ask hard questions of Israeli and American politicians and to push back on unfounded allegations. Consequently, lies go uncorrected and stenography prevails. It’s far easier not to raise unpopular questions no matter how factually rooted they are.

Too many journalists feel no obligation to walk back misinformation that has contributed to an atmosphere tolerating Israeli war crimes and genocide in Gaza. Rather than an official correction from CNN on getting the story wrong on beheadings of babies, it’s left to CNN’s Sara Sidner to tweet an apology.

CNN stoked the incitement and then rather than contradict its previous reporting, merely commented on Twitter/X that “Israel cannot confirm the specific claim that babies were beheaded in Hamas’ attack, an official says, contradicting previous public statement.”

Accounts of Israeli babies beheaded or put in ovens are indeed horrible to contemplate, but promoting these stories as Roy and some journalists have done without correction is irresponsible and has contributed to the devastation in Gaza.

A proper independent investigation of the events leading up to 7 October, that day and the more than 250 days since remains absolutely necessary to separate fact from fiction in order to begin to understand how the world stood by for months of Israeli war crimes and genocide following decades of occupation and apartheid.

The UN’s Commission of Inquiry – focused on 7 October to 31 December 2023 – was hindered by the fact that it “sent the Government of Israel six requests for information and access … No response was received from Israel.”

Of the longer history, the Commission of Inquiry merely notes, albeit correctly, that “Both the 7 October attack in Israel and Israel’s subsequent military operation in Gaza must be seen in context. These events were preceded by decades of violence, unlawful occupation and Israel’s denial of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, manifested in continuous forced displacement, dispossession, exploitation of natural resources, blockade, settlement construction and expansion, and systematic discrimination and oppression of the Palestinian people.”

Article 70

Congressman Roy’s rhetoric cultivates rage at Palestinians and facilitates greater Israeli violence in Gaza, all of it seeded with American weapons. If Article 70 of the Rome Statute has any meaning, Khan and his colleagues should be looking at Roy and his legislation for attempting to intimidate the court.

Article 70 of the Rome Statute asserts, “The court shall have jurisdiction over the following offenses against its administration of justice when committed intentionally … Impeding, intimidating or corruptly influencing an official of the court for the purpose of forcing or persuading the official not to perform, or to perform improperly, his or her duties … Retaliating against an official of the court on account of duties performed by that or another official.”

This legislation clearly constitutes intimidation and retaliation against court officials and is similar to the Trump administration’s efforts and executive order against the ICC. In June 2020, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda referred to the Trump administration’s “visa restrictions” and “threats” as “naked attempts to interfere with the court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence to meet political objectives.”

Yet Article 70 did not stay the hands of the most engaged members of the Gaza genocide and war crimes wing of the Democratic Party. More than three dozen Democrats swung into action on 4 June to join most Republicans in legislating sanctions against ICC officials.

These 42 Democrats united with 205 Republicans in a 247-155 vote for sanctions.

The legislation seeks to “impose sanctions with respect to the International Criminal Court engaged in any effort to investigate, arrest, detain or prosecute any protected person of the United States and its allies.”

As ABC News sums up the legislation, it “would require mandatory sanctions and visa restrictions on any foreign person working or providing funds for the ICC in prosecutions against the US, Israel or any other US ally that is not party to the ICC.”

Roy introduced the legislation, garnered more than 75 Republicans co-sponsors and had leadership support from Congressman Michael McCaul, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Support for sanctions

The Republican Jewish Coalition expressed dismay that only 42 Democrats voted to sanction a legitimate court, saying House Democrats “should be ashamed.”

The organization claimed that Republicans had “sent a firm message to the anti-Israel schemers at the ICC and other international organizations: We will defend ourselves and our allies from your abuses.”

Democrats even mildly supportive of international law are now said to be in league with “schemers.”

Not surprisingly, Israel lobby group AIPAC applauded the vote.

AIPAC has been a principal cheerleader for the Gaza genocide.

Republicans are right on brand – delegitimizing courts from Manhattan to The Hague. Principal House McCarthyist Elise Stefanik is among those leading the charge.
But what of Democrats? More than three dozen Democrats are indicating that international law doesn’t apply to men like Netanyahu and Gallant, but only to African leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin as Khan says has been bluntly stated to him.

They are akin to the Southern Democrats of the Jim Crow era, opposed to equal rights for Palestinians and to any court seeking to protect Palestinian human rights. They have thrown in their lot with Israeli leaders committing war crime after war crime with American weapons.

Khan warned on 3 May of possible repercussions for those seeking to intimidate or impede the work of the court.

He tweeted that the “independence and impartiality” of the court “are undermined … when individuals threaten to retaliate against the court … Such threats, even when not acted upon, may also constitute an offense against the administration of justice under Art. 70 of the Rome Statute.”

Whether Khan has the courage to pursue legal measures against elected American officials seeking to intimidate him and his colleagues remains to be seen.

The Biden administration has pulled back from supporting sanctions, but continues to provide the arms that enable many of the war crimes Israel has committed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer so far has shown no willingness to move forward with similar legislation against ICC officials in the US Senate despite joining Republican leaders in inviting Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress.

Senator Ben Cardin, a Democrat and the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, nevertheless said recently that he’s looking for “a bipartisan way forward.”

Notwithstanding decades of Israeli apartheid, occupation and dispossession as well as tens of thousands of Palestinians killed in just eight months by the Israeli military, Cardin declared, “To put any reference to anything being equal between Hamas’ activities and Israel’s activities is an affront to humanity, and it gives Hamas more credibility than they should ever have.”

Israeli war crimes and genocide so completely don’t register with Cardin that he maintained: “We’re looking at a way that gives us the best chance for an off-ramp for the prosecutor general to recognize that there is a responsibility for complementary systems, there’s a responsibility to allow Israel an opportunity to deal with these issues.”

Here’s a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee trying to argue, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that Israel’s courts are credible when it comes to considering human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Senators Tom Cotton and Jim Risch, both Republicans, are leading the so far unsuccessful legislative effort against the ICC in the US Senate.

Cotton, simultaneously, continues to make a case to be Donald Trump’s vice president with demagogic racism against women of color in the US House of Representatives.

His recent campaign ad claims that “anti-Israel extremists have infiltrated Congress.” In fact, the three women of color shown – Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – won democratic elections to rightly take their places in American institutions once reserved exclusively for white men.

Cotton’s use of the word “infiltrated” suggests he thinks that they don’t belong there and conveys a hankering on his part for something closer to white supremacy and white rule.

For their part, the 42 House Democrats moving in tandem with Cotton and legislatively against the ICC should interrogate their own biases against Karim Khan and Palestinians, as well as their apparent belief that Israel and its leaders are incapable of war crimes.


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Michael F. Brown

Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist. His work and views have appeared in The International Herald Tribune,, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The News & Observer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and elsewhere.