The Jerusalem PostThe laws of war –
Israelis know them best
By DOV PREMINGER
IDC legal team
beats 44 universities on expertise in international
dealing with combat rulehttp://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=172630
Israeli team from the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, recently
44 universities to take first place in the 2010 edition of the
Competition on international humanitarian law.
international competition, held between March 20-27 in
matched up teams from universities around the world to
test their knowledge
in the field of international humanitarian law
(IHL) – commonly referred to
as the laws of war.
“For an Israeli team to win a competition in the
field in which Israel
is so often criticized is significant,” said the
supervisor, Daphné Richemond-Barak. “The Jean-Pictet is the
prestigious competition in the field worldwide.”
competition, teams role-played as representatives from foreign
military advocates or the Red Cross. They were questioned by
judged by jury. Among the “judges” for the event was Philippe
president of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
trained and given access to the highest government officials,
the team and
its supporters ultimately attributed the victory to
teamwork,” according to Jonathan Braverman, a
member of the IDC team along
with Danielle Brown and Uri Feldman.
To make it to the competition, the
IDC team first had to win the
national competition. The IDC enlisted coach
Ido Rosenzweig, who won the
award for best speaker in the national
competition two years ago.
“Ido is not 100-percent, but 1,000%
responsible for us understanding
teamwork,” said Braverman. “The amount of
time he spent drilling us,
[teaching us] how to work as a team, getting into
the role-play as a
group rather than a person... that’s what set us
In a nutshell, said Rosenzweig, IHL might be summarized as, “Do
damage to the enemy [while] minimizing harm to
He explained the four core principles of IHL as follows:
soldiers from civilians; military necessity as a rule in
targets; proportionality; and humanity to the
Rosenzweig and Richemond-Barak drew up a detailed course for the
“Each section was composed of one or more simulations, like in the
competition. You’re going to be the legal adviser of the prime minister,
or a commander in the field, etc. I challenged them to answer them
according to the role,” said Rosenzweig.
Then, toward the end of the
played to Israel’s “home field advantage” – a wealth of
experience in the laws of war.
“We gave them what I refer
to as a kind of bonus. We set meetings with
the highest practitioners in
Israel, from the Foreign Ministry, Military
Advocate-General’s Office, the
International Committee for the Red Cross
(ICRC),” he said.
before the competition, we got a four-minute fake radio
Braverman. “We had to figure out who’s going to war
and who’s going to be
fighting whom. We didn’t get a map of the area
until the third day. You have
partial information that gets built up as
you go through the
Nations and continents are fictional in the competition.
The nation of
Batogour was the one featured in the final, and a wide range
and places were invented, including the commander of the armed
named Col. Yes We Can.
Braverman said the most trying section
of the competition was “the long
day,” during which the team acts as a
military legal adviser during an
ongoing war from 8 a.m. to 6
Quizzing the panel for the final were a mock prime minister, a
of the house, and the chairman of the opposition, played by Kirsch.
jury of nine heard the competitors’ answers, and gave the win to the
The final round was held against New York University and the
After winning, the IDC team received a
five-minute standing ovation from
the other teams, including those from
Iran, Lebanon and Jordan.
For the closing ceremony, the IDC team brought
out an Israeli flag.
“I don’t think anyone’s done that before,” said
Braverman. “There were
cheers from the Americans. It really was the one of
the best experiences
one could have, regardless of the victory. Just having
been there makes
you a better person.”