FSWC Decries Canadian Government's Lack of Moral Clarity Over South Africa’s Spurious Case Against Israel at ICJ

January 17, 2024

News Release

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Toronto (January 17, 2024) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is outraged by the Government of Canada’s outright failure to unequivocally reject South Africa’s baseless and prejudicial genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

Last Friday, both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly made muddled, convoluted written and verbal statements declaring that Canada’s support for the ICJ "does not mean" it accepts the "premise" of the case brought forward by South Africa. Earlier this week, federal government sources told CBC News the wording was crafted to indicate that people should not assume the government supports or rejects the genocide claim.

"The government’s obfuscation and failure to unequivocally oppose South Africa’s spurious accusation of genocide leveled against Israel at the ICJ, is a shameful attempt to play both sides and shows a complete lack of moral clarity," FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt said in an online post.

In the aftermath of the Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel by Hamas forces who massacred more than 1,200 people and took 240 hostages at gunpoint, Canada must take a strong, moral stance against one-sided, defamatory actions against Israel and its justified fight against a genocidal terror group.

FSWC is calling on the Canadian government to follow in the footsteps of its allies, including Germany and the US, by denouncing South Africa’s unfounded accusation of genocide made against Israel.

In a letter issued to Joly today, FSWC Director of Allyship and Community Engagement Dan Panneton stated, "As many Canadian legal scholars, including the Honourable Irwin Cotler and former Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella, have made clear in recent weeks, South Africa’s charge of genocide, which is the most severe and damaging accusation that can be made against a country, is specious and without merit. The federal government must join its allies in the United States and Germany in firmly rejecting the charge entirely. By not taking a principled position against the charge, Canada emboldens those peddling toxic antisemitism, including targeting Canadian Jews with accusations of being complicit in genocide."

In a strong statement issued on Friday, the German government’s spokesperson said, "In view of Germany's history and the crime against humanity of the Shoah, the federal government sees itself as particularly committed to the Convention against Genocide... The federal government firmly and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide that has now been made against Israel at the International Court of Justice. This accusation has no basis whatsoever," adding that the government "intends to intervene as a third party in the main hearing."