In a decision issued January 31, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California found that there is a credible case that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and that the US is supporting its actions. It called on the Biden administration to “examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza.” While it said it had no authority to order the US to stop, it called on ordinary individuals to “confront the current siege in Gaza.” This Commentary is offered as a starting point for thinking about the implications of this decision for all of us.
It's 3am and I can’t sleep again. All of us concerned about Gaza and the West Bank are spending sleepless nights and busy days trying desperately to pressure the Biden administration to stop its complicity the relentless Israeli genocide in Gaza, to stop providing weapons and money to Israel and to demand an end to the carnage. Ceasefire Now! We awakened to the news that the US has attacked Syria, Iraq and Yemen in retaliation for militants firing missiles into US troop areas in Syria and Jordan and Houthis stopping Red Sea cargo ships. Why have there been attacks on U.S. troops and interests??
During an appearance on MSNBC on Saturday, international law professor Francis Boyle discussed the implications of this week’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) order in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, the cutoff of funds to UNRWA, the Biden administration’s legal complicity under both international and US law, and how this might play out at the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Boyle is well-qualified to weigh in on the matter: After becoming the first lawyer to successfully argue a genocide case at the ICJ (also known as the World Court) on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Boyle then went on to win a second order in that case—“massive and overwhelming in their favor against Yugoslavia, to cease and desist from committing all acts of genocide,” he explains.
Although, according to the UN Charter, the United Nations was established to “maintain international peace and security,” it has often fallen short of this goal. Russia’s ongoing military invasion of Ukraine and the more recent Israeli-Palestinian war in Gaza provide the latest examples of the world organization’s frequent paralysis in the face of violent international conflict. The hobbling of the Security Council, the UN agency tasked with enforcing international peace and security, bears the lion’s share of the responsibility for this weakness. Under the rules set forth by the UN Charter, each permanent member of the Security Council has the power to veto Security Council resolutions.
Palestinian-Led Initiative Warns European Officials Of Intention To Prosecute Over Complicity With Israel
The Justice and Accountability for Palestine Initiative has issued a stark warning to European public officials of the Austrian, French, German and Dutch governments that they could be individually liable for their role in aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of Genocide through their involvement in providing military, economic, and political support to Israel. Sustaining such assistance implicates European public officials in the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity as well as failure to prevent the crime of genocide. This may render officials criminally liable for violating international law by ‘aiding and abetting’ Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.
Beginning on January 11, the International Court of Justice held two days of testimony regarding the case brought by South Africa against the state of Israel calling on The Court to impose provisional measures to stop Israel from committing acts of genocide against Palestinian people. Clearing the FOG speaks with South African lawyer and activist, Azhar Sakoor, about the significance of the case and other legal efforts aiming to hold all who are complicit with genocide in Palestine accountable. Sakoor also describes the current legal efforts as a 'make or break' moment for international institutions such as the United Nations that will determine whether they continue to exist or are replaced by other institutions and methods of upholding international law.
On 11 January, Adila Hassim, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, stood before the judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and said: ‘Genocides are never declared in advance. But this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts’. This statement anchored Hassim’s presentation of South Africa’s 84-page complaint against Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Both Israel and South Africa are parties to the 1948 Genocide Convention.
As Israel continues its genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza — with the death toll now exceeding 20,000 (about 70 percent women and children) — the world seems powerless to stop the slaughter. The Biden administration, Israel’s chief enabler, defanged the resolution that was ultimately passed by the UN Security Council on December 22, rendering it merely symbolic. The final resolution calls for humanitarian assistance but not for a ceasefire which would allow aid to reach the people of Gaza. The U.S. saved diplomatic face by not employing its customary veto, but it did not vote for the resolution, electing instead to abstain.
Venezuela successfully negotiated the release of Alex Saab, a government envoy who spent more than three years detained. Saab landed in Caracas on Wednesday afternoon and was greeted by his family and Venezuelan government officials. His release comes as a result of a negotiation between the Nicolás Maduro government and the Joe Biden administration that will see the release of up to 36 people, 10 of them US citizens, currently detained in Venezuela. The Maduro government envoy was arrested during a refueling stopover in Cape Verde in June 2020 on his way to Iran to negotiate food and fuel import deals amidst US sanctions.
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated sixty years ago. If he had lived and won a second term, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have evolved differently. Possibly, the path toward Israeli apartheid and genocide in Gaza could have been avoided. In his short time in office, Kennedy significantly changed U.S. foreign policy. As documented in the book “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Still Matters,” JFK resisted the CIA and military-industrial complex in the policies he set regarding the Third World and the Soviet Union. The Vietnam War, the assassination of Indonesia’s President Sukarno, and continued hostility to Cuba and the Soviet Union would not have happened had Kennedy lived and won a second term.
Many experts compare apartheid Israel to apartheid South Africa. Speeches at the UN may have helped to bring down South Africa’s apartheid regime, but change didn’t come until countries around the world embraced a global campaign to economically and politically isolate it. The reason Israel’s die-hard supporters in the United States have tried to ban, or even criminalize, the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is not that it is illegitimate or anti-semitic. It is precisely because boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel may be an effective strategy to help bring down its genocidal, expansionist and unaccountable regime.
Strolling down the street or along a green pathway in the southern Netherlands, it’s not uncommon to see F-35 stealth bombers roaring overhead. They could be heading up to the Netherlands’ largest F-35 base in northern Leeuwarden, or to another airfield in the southeast. Or, perhaps, returning from an F-35 maintenance base in the southwest, near the small town of Woensdrecht. Woensdrecht Air Base, at the top of the Scheldt estuary, is one of three European ‘logistics hubs’ for Lockheed Martin’s “lethal,” “survivable” and “connected” F-35 Lightning II stealth bomber. F-35 users from across Europe (and Israel) go there to pick up spare parts, under a general license applying to all members of the “international F-35 program.”
Human Beings are not showing off their best abilities of late. They appear to have mostly failed when it comes to climate change. For instance, “By 2100, average temperatures in the U.S. are expected to increase by approximately 8°F or more (4.4°C)” if the current high rate of greenhouse gas emissions is maintained. If “immediate and rapid greenhouse gas reductions” are achieved we can keep the warming down to “approximately 2.5°F (1.4°C).” Given our lack of international institutions with the capability of enforcing agreements and treaties, which do you think is more likely? Actually, we have been coming up short like this for a while.
Australian-equipped Israeli Air Force F-35 Joint Strike Fighters are being used to commit what amounts to war crimes in Gaza by bombing civilians and providing aerial support for a murderous ground invasion. The Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter global supply program is a co-operative partnership, with Australia an enthusiastic member and part of the global supply chain. The Australian government cannot escape the uses to which these aircraft are being put. A week ago came news that Israel is stockpiling spare parts from the global supply chain, that Australia contributes to, for its F-35 ‘Adir’ fighter out of a central distribution hub in Europe.
There are 149 states party to the Genocide Convention. Every one of them has the right to call out the genocide in progress in Gaza and report it to the United Nations. In the event that another state party disputes the claim of genocide — and Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom are all states party — then the International Court of Justice is required to adjudicate on “the responsibility of a State for genocide.” Note that here “parties to the dispute” means the states disputing the facts of genocide, not the parties to the genocide/conflict. Any single state party is able to invoke the convention.