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Canada abets war criminals


February 28, 2020

The Canadian government has informed the International Criminal Court in the Hague that it does not recognize any Palestinian state, and is opposed to any investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Israel.

The position of the Trudeau Liberals is essentially the same as that posed by the Harper Conservatives of 2015.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC head prosecutor has stated the court’s grounds for independent investigation: “I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine. In brief, I am satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

For the Canadian government, issues of human rights and justice for Palestinians does not enter the equation. They rely on legal hair-splitting to support Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine without question.

“Canada’s long-standing position is that it does not recognize a Palestinian state and therefore does not recognize the accession of such a state to international treaties,” said Guillaume Bérubé, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada. “In the absence of a Palestinian state, it is Canada’s view that the (ICC) does not have jurisdiction in this matter under international law.”

IHRA – Criminalizing dissent

While Canadian governments are blocking criminal investigations related to Palestine, many jurisdictions ae moving to criminalize any criticism of the state of Israel here at home.

In Ontario, Bill 168 is moving through the legislature. The Tory-sponsored Bill would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, which would essentially equate any criticism of the Israeli state to a hate crime.

The main target is the growing campaign of BDS­–non-violent tactics of boycott, divestment and sanctions–that is based on recognition that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory in Gaza and the West Bank is essentially apartheid.

Important sections of the Jewish community, especially younger people, oppose Bill 168 and the IHRA definition. Independent Jewish Voices is fighting the bill: “because it intentionally conflates antisemitism with criticism of Israel and Zionism, and support for Palestinian rights. The adoption of the IHRA definition poses a threat to academic freedom, freedom of expression and the right to protest Israel’s violations of international law.”

Unfortunately, members of the NDP opposition, even those who had spoken out about the threat to free speech, voted in support the Bill. Perhaps they were afraid of being witch-hunted is they publicly oppose it. 

Now is the time for Ontario activists to call or email their MPP and declare their support for human rights for Palestine and opposition to Bill 168.

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