Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestine, the ICC, and Genocide Studies

by Adam Jones

The vote to grant Palestine upgraded nonmember status at the U.N. is described as "a stinging defeat for Israel and the United States": 138 countries in favour (including France, Spain, and Switzerland), 9 opposed (including the fawningly pro-Israeli Canadian government), with 41 abstentions. Israel's latest attack on Gaza may have factored in some decisions to support the resolution.

Perhaps some of you followed the cynical campaign by "Israel, the US and Britain in particular" to coerce the Palestinian authority to renounce accession to the International Criminal Court as an expression of its enhanced status. "Britain said it would abstain in the UN vote [as it did] unless it received assurances that the Palestinians would not seek to extend the jurisdiction of the ICC over the occupied territories. ..." Heaven forbid that the court's writ should extend where it is needed, when the results might be consequential for the powerful.

The possibility now exists for ongoing, recent, and distant mass atrocities by Israel and its allies to be placed for the first time before an international tribunal -- together with the issues of the Gaza blockade and the ever-spiralling Israeli colonization of the West Bank. It is far from certain that referrals, indictments, and prosecutions will result, given Palestine's and the ICC's vulnerability to great-power pressure. I would hope that all students and activists of genocide and crimes against humanity would support such investigations. Unfortunately, this too seems far from likely, given that many genocide scholars have exhibited classic bystander behaviour toward these crimes, when they have not vocally endorsed them.

Text may be considered final. November 30, 2012.

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Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ