The ICJ did not condemn Israel of genocide but ordered it to comply with international law in its fight against Hamas

Gerry ChidiacA simple phrase commonly used in the face of uncertainty is, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.”

On January 26, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) did not condemn Israel for the crime of genocide for its actions in Gaza because it will take years to go through the evidence and come to a definitive ruling. This is what the court ordered: “The State of Israel shall, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention.”

Significantly, only two of 17 judges voted against this ruling, one Israeli and the other a Ugandan outlier. Even the American judge voted in favour. It should also be noted that the Israeli judge, while voting against most of the orders, agreed with the following:

icj israel genocide palestinians

Photo by Toa Heftiba

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“The State of Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.”


“The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

The ICJ did not specifically demand an immediate ceasefire; however, it did so in the sense that the only way to meet the conditions it called for is through a ceasefire.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already announced his refusal to abide by the ruling of the ICJ. The leaders of the colonizing world, notably the United States, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom, have also been largely unsupportive of the decision. What they do not seem to understand, however, is that their choice will have severe consequences.

First, a number of these leaders face charges of genocide in their own countries. Judicial procedures have already begun in the United States against Joe Biden and the leaders of his State Department, and the American courts can now reference the ICJ ruling.

Secondly, current political leaders are making themselves unelectable. “Genocide Joe” Biden and the Democratic Party elite will sentence their country to four more years under former President Donald Trump if they do not make a rapid about-face on this issue. In Canada, the vast majority of voters believe passionately that the carnage in Gaza needs to end. The Liberal and Conservative Parties stand with the actions of the State of Israel, while the New Democratic Party fully supports the ICJ ruling. In the next federal election, many Canadians, especially young voters, will find it impossible to support candidates whom they see as pro-genocide.

Thirdly, it is extremely costly for corporations to be perceived as supporters of Israel, especially in the Muslim world and in the global south. Several companies have already lost billions of dollars in sales, and their stock values are also plummeting. We can expect this trend to continue.

It should be noted that Ansar Allah (the Houthi rebel group) has never been more popular. To many, they are heroes and martyrs because they disrupt shipping to Israel and their allies. They have vowed to stop when the genocide ends. They have killed no one, yet the Americans and British drop bombs on their communities.

Ordinary people can recognize a duck when they see one, and world opinion is changing at an unprecedented rate.

The Western elite now face a choice. They can either offer wholehearted support to the ICJ ruling and uphold the rule of law, or they can face the legal, political, and economic consequences of supporting genocide.

Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.

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