On Friday January 26, 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a provisional ruling in the case against Israel brought by South Africa charging the Jewish state with genocide against the people of Gaza.
It is important to note that the hearing was not to judge if Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. It was held to see if South Africa had a case, and if there is the potential of Israel committing genocide in Gaza. In a nutshell, this was to see if the case had any merit at all.
To the shock of many, the ICJ, a body whose whole reason for existence — along with the United Nations and other international bodies — is to provide a legal veneer for the actions of former colonizers, ruled that Israel has a case to answer. It has ruled that there is the potential for genocide and that a trial will be taking place to see if what Israel has done in Gaza for the past 100 days amounts to genocide.
This is good news. True, no ceasefire has been called for by the courts, but all the actions it has called for — the ending of indiscriminate killings, opening of aid channels, allowing an environment where civilians are free from threats of conflict — can only be implemented through a ceasefire.
The ICJ has done its job for the Western nations, it has shown that the system which had no issue with the US invasion of Iraq has lines that even it will not cross. The ball is now in the court of the UN Security Council, the only body that can meaningfully force Israel to engage in a ceasefire to show that international law is not a sick joke but is something which is to be taken seriously.
South Africa has shown that the global south is not dead and is proof that this new multipolar world being constructed is bigger than simply Russia and China, the two juggernauts that get most of the attention. This case has put on trial not only Israel, but the whole system which has enabled it since its bloody creation. The US, UK, Finland, France, etc who all lambasted the South Africans when they first brought the case — going so far as to label it meritless, not grounded, and baseless — have all been proven wrong and now potentially find themselves being held culpable to genocide if Israel is found guilty.
All of this is to say the Jamaican Government continues its Herculean efforts to alienate Jamaica from the global south and abandon all moral standing we have worked so hard to build.
Jamaica has chosen to remain silent on this matter and rather than taking a stance the foreign ministry released a statement saying that the Government calls for a two-state solution. Breaking news for the team at the foreign ministry: the prime minister, opposition leader, and president of Israel have all stated their total opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state, thus making our “statement” pointless window-dressing.
The Jamaican Government’s official position remains that of calling for a ceasefire, but a government minister is on record as stating his total support for Israeli atrocities in Gaza. With no condemnation of the minister or even a rebuttal, I think it is safe to assume that total support for Israeli aggression comes from many within the Cabinet and ruling party.
It is common knowledge that Jamaica took a stance against apartheid in South Africa. We, in the 50s, had the ability, though smaller and weaker, to call a spade a spade, to say that what was going on in South Africa was illegal, a crime against humanity and whatever the consequences we would not have any dealings with them. It is a feeling in which we are deeply ingrained.
A Jamaica on the cusp of independence ran the real risk of alienating the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, US, UK, Canadian and American banks and mining firms, thus potentially plunging the country into chaos, yet we took the morally correct stance. South Africa runs that risk now and it has decided that it is a risk worth taking, the fact that we could not co-sponsor the case, and even now, despite how bad it would look, refuse to endorse the matter after the fact, shows that the Jamaican Government does not care about the shoulders they stand on or the atrocities being meted out in the world which we are obliged to act against.
Street protests, letters to the editors and letters directly to the PM seem to elicit no response, the sight of dead babies and women is not enough to move them. This is the road void of humanity. It is one that must be taken when one is in the pocket of the West.
This reality is slowly dawning on people who, up to this conflict, had no interest in global affairs and geopolitics, the fact that the global system is built for the oppressor and that global south leaders come in two types — comprador or independent. The independent leaders, while they may not be fit to dine with the king, will fight to the death for you and the masses.
In this new world we can ill afford to be on the wrong side of history. In this and other issues of global importance, names are being taken and it is being noted which side countries take. A day of reckoning will come and as things stand now it looks like the Government is betting on the wrong horse.
The West as the hub of finance, technology and political decision-making is fading or has already disappeared. All roads lead to the new world and while that does not preclude the West from being involved it does mean their outsized influence will be greatly reduced, meaning countries like Iran, Brazil, and Nigeria will become new nodes of major influence in the world (something which we are already witnessing).
It is the global south which has come up with innovative ways of development which do not require utilising the Western template. It is the global south which is the top international lender — led by countries like China and India — and it is the global south which has sought to end the conflicts of our generation. China’s role in the Iran-Saudi agreement is an example.
We are clearly betting on the wrong horse from both a moral and historical position. The genocide in Gaza, though far away, has dire and direct impacts on Jamaica and our leader’s refusal to condemn these borders on dereliction of duty. As ships decrease their traffic into the Suez Canal and instead go around the Cape of Good Hope, adding 8-10 days of extra transport, the cost of goods coming from the Far East has increased.
If this administration cannot condemn this on moral grounds and the historical precedents laid out by previous administrations, then surely it must condemn it from an economic standpoint. If dead babies will not move them, maybe a decrease in dollars and cents in their accounts will force them to change face. This, though, is pie-in-the-sky dreaming as it seems they are beholden firmly to the West and will support all actions they take even if it means total embarrassment and a reneging of previous principles.
It is not too late to do the right thing and add our name to the growing list of nations that support South Africa’s case in the ICJ. This is the moral test of our generation and Jamaica has been found wanting. This is a shameful moment.