Jewish Council of Australia calls for sanctions on Israel

May 29, 2024
Israeli Defense Force snipers in Gaza. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/IDF Spokesperson's Unit/CC BY-SA 3.0

The Jewish Council of Australia (JCA) has renewed its call on federal Labor to pressure Israel to stop committing genocide, following Israel’s May 27 airstrike on Palestinians reduced to living in tents.

At least 45 people, mostly women and children, were killed in Rafah’s so-called “safe zone”.

The JCA said on May 28 the strike is likely to have breached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) additional provisional orders, issued last week, for Israel to immediately halt military operations in Rafah.

Sarah Schwartz, JCA spokesperson, said that the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) decision to pursue arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, and the ICJ’s additional provisional orders are another indication that the war in Gaza has “drastically deteriorated”.

“Palestinians face death by Israeli assassinations, bombardment, forced famine and deadly rampages by settlers in the West Bank … The images … of Israel’s latest massacre in Rafah ought to force governments, like ours, to take concrete action.”

Schwartz said Australia “must pay heed” to the arrest warrants and the ICJ’s additional provisional measures to “ensure that we are not complicit in war crimes and the crime of genocide”.

She called on the government to stop supplying weapons parts to Israel and “throw its weight behind a global arms embargo”. 

Labor continues to deny Australia is supplying weapons or parts to Israel. Pat Conroy, Minister for Defence Industry, and ostensibly on the left of the party, emailed a constituent on May 24, saying “Australia is not exporting weapons to Israel and has not done so for the last five years”.

Greens Senator David Shoebridge disputes this. He has challenged Labor to make the 2017 Australia-Israel Memorandum of Understanding public.

Shoebridge and others point to Australia’s decision to award a $917 million contract to Israeli defense company Elbit Systems in February as proof that weapons, or weapons parts, are being supplied.

The images of Israel’s latest massacre in Rafah have moved more people into action.

Dr Max Kaiser, another JCA spokesperson, said it is clearer to many that Israel is a “rogue state”.

A large and growing number of Jews, here and across the world, he said now believe Israel’s actions are “completely incompatible with our Jewish values”.

“Opposing this genocide is an expression of our Jewishness and an honouring of our ancestors who were themselves the victims of genocide and racist violence.”

As the death toll from Israel’s war in Gaza rises, student encampments across the country are making the same demand: disclose and cut ties with weapons’ corporations complicit in Israel’s genocide.

The JCA said Australia could impose sanctions and travel bans on suspected war criminals, including Jewish extremists, just as it did against Russia after its illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Such action would be in line with its obligations as a signatory to the Genocide Convention. “All that is missing is the political will,” Kaiser said.

Meanwhile, senior Israeli minister Ron Dermer told 7.30 on May 23 that Opposition leader Peter Dutton was correct to describe the ICC’s pursuit of arrest warrants against Israeli officials as “anti-Semitic”. Dermer, an “observer member” of Israel’s war cabinet, called on Australia to cut ties with the ICC.

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