Building the Case for US Complicity

December 6, 2023
Jewish Currents

...ON NOVEMBER 13TH, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)—a left-wing legal advocacy organization—filed a federal lawsuit alleging that United States President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had violated US and international law by abetting Israel’s “genocide of the Palestinian people” in Gaza. The suit, filed on behalf of two Palestinian human rights organizations and eight plaintiffs either located in Gaza or with family there, said that the US has enabled the genocide by “providing unconditional military and diplomatic support” to Israel, “disavowing any constraint or ‘red lines’ on Israel’s military campaign,” and refusing “to monitor how US weapons are used there.” “Blinken, Austin, and Biden have failed in their duty to prevent genocide,” Katie Gallagher, a senior staff attorney for CCR, told Jewish Currents. “Instead, they have taken affirmative steps to aid and abet [it].”

In recent years, charges of international law violations in the region have mainly focused on Israel, with human rights advocates sending numerous evidentiary submissions documenting alleged Israeli war crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This process has continued in the past weeks, with three Palestinian human rights organizations filing a November 9th lawsuit at the ICC urging the court to include apartheid and genocide to the list of war crimes it is already investigating in Israel/Palestine, and to issue arrest warrants for top Israeli officials suspected of committing war crimes in Gaza. But since Israel’s 60-day assault on Gaza began on October 7th, human rights advocates have also increased their scrutiny of the US’s role in the mass killings of Palestinian civilians. 

...The CCR lawsuit marks the first legal attempt to hold the US directly responsible for complicity in crimes committed during Israel’s recent bombardment.

...Even before CCR filed its lawsuit, such unconditional arms transfers had generated opposition due to concerns about war crimes. “Israel is misusing US arms both in Gaza and the West Bank,” said Josh Paul, a former State Department official in the bureau that oversees arms sales who resigned in opposition to the Biden administration’s policy of sending weapons to Israel as it bombards Gaza.

...Despite repeated warnings from human rights groups about being in violation of these laws, however, the US has not changed course in its decision to send weapons to Israel, leading Palestine advocates to take legal action in the form of the CCR lawsuit. “If we can help save the lives of Palestinian civilians through a court order, then by all means we must try,” said Barry Trachtenberg, a history professor at Wake Forest University who submitted a declaration in support of CCR’s lawsuit. Trachtenberg added that the case is important because it will force the US “to defend its position legally against a mountain of evidence that genocide is occurring.” ...

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December 6, 2023