Canadians Fighting in Canada: Charge the Genocidaires

By Yves Engler

Imagine growing up in a comfortable Toronto or Montréal home and deciding to cross the globe to slaughter a long-colonized people. It’s appalling Canadians are killing Palestinians, but can they be held criminally responsible?

Canada’s legislation on universal jurisdiction is weak but individuals can be pursued for war crimes committed abroad. Dozens, possibly two hundred, Canadians are currently subjugating Palestinians in the West Bank and slaughtering them in Gaza. GlobalNational Post, Le Devoir, CBC, La Presse and CP24 have reported Canadians fighting in the Israeli occupation forces.

A Canadian Jewish News article quoted the parent of a genocidaire in Gaza and cited Israel’s consular general in Montreal saying he meets regularly with Canadians in the IOF. According to CBC, 230 Canadians were in the IOF in 2017 while in 2020 the embassy counted 78.

Six weeks ago, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East sent a letter to Justice Minister Arif Virani. It says, “Canada must take action to discourage Canadian involvement in the Israeli military, which carries the risk of complicity in criminal activities, and ensure that any person who is involved in the commission of war crimes is held accountable.” The letter points out that the Department of Justice and RCMP operate a Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Program, which should be tasked with investigating Canadian Genocidaires.

In December a French parliamentarian made a similar appeal to the Justice Minister. “It is imperative that France examines the culpability of its nationals involved both in Gaza and the West Bank,” wrote Thomas Portes of La France Insoumise. “I therefore request your intervention, under your general powers of inquiry, for French nationals, including dual nationals, guilty of war crimes to be brought before French justice.”

In a number of other European countries, there are efforts to charge their nationals for killing Palestinians. Two months ago a new group was formed to “initiate legal proceedings against all Israeli soldiers holding dual Belgian or Dutch citizenship.”

The March 30 Movement assisted an individual’s complaint against Dutch-Israeli citizen Jonathan Ben Hamou who has allegedly engaged in war crimes and genocide in Gaza. Last month they posted images of Hamou in Amsterdam and demanded the authorities detain him. The March 30 Movement also lodged a complaint to Dutch authorities against Leah Rachmani. Their complaint outlines allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential genocide.

In the UK, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians has asked the government to clarify the legality of British nationals fighting in the IOF, warning they may be complicit in war crimes.

South Africa’s foreign ministry has said South Africans risked being stripped of their citizenship for serving in the IOF. Recently Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor told the Pan-African News Agency that South Africans participating in combat with the Israeli army will be prosecuted.

Considering the wanton destruction in Gaza, it’s hard to imagine that someone fighting there hasn’t committed war crimes. The International Court of Justice’s provisional ruling that it is “plausible” Israel is committing genocide bolsters the prospects of prosecuting Canadians in the IOF.

The first step in holding Canadians participating in war crimes accountable is compiling their names. Philip Eden, Nir Maman, Noy Leyb, Nir Koren, Temima Silver and Michael Zenou are some of the Canadian Genocidaires. The Canadian Jewish News mentioned group chats for the parents of Canadians fighting. Activists should scour social media for information on Canadians in the IOF and create a database of names and actions.

At the same time progressive MPs should be pressed to echo CJPME’s call to investigate those fighting. In a recent interview NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice agreed with me that Canadians fighting in Gaza should be investigated for war crimes. We need lawyers to instigate legal complaints.
While individuals should be pursued for violating international law, the IOF promoting network also needs to be challenged.

In 2020, a formal legal complaint and public letter signed by numerous prominent individuals were released calling on the federal government to investigate individuals for violating the Foreign Enlistment Act by inducing Canadians to join the Israeli military. According to the Act, “Any person who, within Canada, recruits or otherwise induces any person or body of persons to enlist or to accept any commission or engagement in the armed forces of any foreign state or other armed forces operating in that state is guilty of an offence.”

The Trudeau government effectively ignored the public letter and legal complaint even though it was published on the front page of Le Devoir. Then Justice Minister David Lametti responded by simply saying it was up to the police to investigate. For their part, the police refused to seriously investigate. Partly in response to the police’s unwillingness to take the matter seriously, a case was launched through a private prosecution against Sar-El Canada, which brings Canadians to volunteer on Israeli military bases.

A Justice of the Peace agreed the evidence warranted a hearing, but the Crown interceded to dismiss the case against Sar-El. By failing to enforce its own laws, the state is complicit with the Canadians assisting the IOF.

The significant number of Canadians killing Palestinians are also an indictment of a network of institutions that indoctrinate young Jews into wanting to enforce occupation and slaughter Palestinians. Various schools, community institutions and wealthy individuals induce Canadians to join the IOF. Canadian Genocidaires are also celebrated by community leaders and media outlets.

Last week, the Canadian Jewish News published a sycophantic interview with a Canadian who describes spending four months terrorizing Palestinians in Hebron and preparing to enter Gaza.

The IOF promotion network must be challenged through both political and legal means. Criminal proceedings must be initiated against Canadians participating in Israel’s war crimes.

 – Yves Engler is the author of Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid and a number of other books. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle. Visit his website: yvesengler.com.

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