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Comment: Commentary on UVic encampment was misleading

The statements from protesters accuse UVic of being “morally tied” to events in Gaza but do not substantiate any legal complicity.
Palestinians walk through the destruction in the wake of an Israeli air and ground offensive in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip on April 8. Fatima Shbair, AP

A commentary by an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria.

I am disappointed by the amount of disinformation, misinformation, and misleading statements presented in the May 4 commentary, “Faculty for Palestine supports UVic encampment.”

The first factual error is the misuse of the term “genocide.” For a more precise definition of this term please visit websites such as that of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, or many others.

Several other serious, violent crimes do not fall under the specific definition of genocide. They include crimes against humanity, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and mass killing.

The statement that “In January, the International Court of Justice issued a ruling that Israel was plausibly carrying out genocide in its military assault on Gaza” is not true.

The ICJ did not make a definitive ruling that Israel committed genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. It merely found it “plausible” that some of Israel’s acts could amount to genocide, based on the allegations made by South Africa (?!) in its case against Israel.

The ICJ issued provisional measures ordering Israel to take steps to prevent and punish any acts of genocide, but this does not confirm that genocide occurred. Check many credible online sources.

• Unfortunately, seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen charity were killed in an Israeli air strike on their convoy in Gaza on April 1. The Israeli military admitted it was a “grave mistake” and that they did not intend to harm the aid workers, stating the strike followed a “misidentification” during complex combat conditions at night.

• Israeli officials involved in the strike were dismissed or ­reprimanded after an ­investigation. Still, the charity’s founder José Andrés said “There is no excuse for these killings” and the official explanation was “not good enough.”

Online search results do not support the statement that the University of Victoria is legally complicit in genocide in Gaza. Here are the key points:

• The International Court of Justice ruling found it “plausible” that some of Israel’s acts in Gaza could amount to genocide but did not definitively determine that genocide occurred. The Court issued provisional measures, not a final legal judgment.

• The ICJ order requires Israel to prevent and punish any acts of genocide but does not implicate or assign legal responsibility to other parties like UVic.

• The protests at UVic are calling on the university to condemn the killings in Gaza, but there is no evidence provided that UVic itself is legally tied to or complicit in the alleged genocide.

• The statements from protesters accuse UVic of being “morally tied” to events in Gaza but do not substantiate any legal complicity. Moral condemnation is different from legal culpability.

So while the protesters view UVic as having a moral obligation to speak out, online search results do not contain any factual basis to claim UVic is potentially legally complicit in genocide according to the ICJ ruling or other legal proceedings mentioned.

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