Canada Must Support South Africa’s Application to the International Court of Justice

Over the past 100+ days, notably thanks to the brave journalists of Gaza, we have seen harrowing evidence of a genocide being perpetrated by the Israeli army with the overt support of many Western nations. Last week, South Africa stood in solidarity with Palestine at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), invoking the Convention on the Prevention and the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against Israel’s ongoing actions.

The Genocide Convention’s main objective is the prevention of the specific crime of genocide, which can be identified by demonstrating that a nation is expressing the intent to destroy a group of people. It is this intent that separates the crime of genocide from those of ethnic cleansing and mass murder.

South Africa’s measured and decisive arguments highlighted not only the extensive killing of Palestinian civilians, but also the genocidal rhetoric and intent displayed by Israeli politicians at every level and echoed by the IDF’s troops on the ground.

These arguments, which were presented to request provisional measures preventing further destruction of Palestinian lives, set out a clear picture of the crime of genocide as being committed by Israel in the name of “Jewish safety.”

In the aftermath of the Second World War and the crimes that were committed by the Nazi regime, Jewish jurists and allies came together to build a system that would prevent such horrors from occurring again. 

To commit a genocide in the name of the Jewish people is an affront to that system, to those jurists, and to the Jewish lives lost to the same crime.

The fact of having undergone a genocide does not give Jewish people a special ownership over the experience of genocide, but rather grants us the unique responsibility to identify and prevent genocide from occuring ever again. It is our duty as Jews to reject and oppose the horrific violence being committed in our name, including by pushing Canada’s government to endorse the ongoing case against Israel.

The Trudeau government has acknowledged that it will abide by the ICJ’s decision, whatever the outcome may be. But simply acknowledging the court’s jurisdiction is not enough. Canada must go further, endorsing the South African case as many other nations have rightfully chosen to do. To stand aside, watching carefully as Israel systematically destroys an illegally occupied population, is to abandon all ethics at the most crucial juncture.

IJV calls on our communities to demand moral courage of our elected officials. Stay in the streets, keep calling representatives, sending letters and engaging in direct action to keep the pressure on Canada to do what is right, just and necessary: end the genocide now.