International Criminal Court placing its own foundations at risk

September 30, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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“If the International Criminal Court applies a double standard with regard to Israel,” Israel’s official Knesset representative to the International Criminal Court, lawyer and MK Michal Cotler-Wunsch told an AIJAC webinar recently  “the ramifications are that we undermine the entire infrastructure upon which the ICC is based.”

Michal Cotler-Wunsch

Cotler-Wunsh, an MK from the Blue and White party and also head of the Knesset Committee on Israel-Diaspora Relations, spoke to the online audience on the topic of “Israel, world Jewry and the fight against antisemitism”. Israeli-born but raised in Canada, Cotler-Wunsh moved back to Israel as an adult to serve in the IDF.

Professionally, she worked as an assistant to current President of the Supreme Court, Miriam Naor. She was head of the international relations department at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, before being elected to the Knesset in 2020.

Cotler-Wunsh expressed concern that the ICC was preparing to announce a decision on charging members of the IDF who fought in the 2014 Gaza conflict, Operation Defensive Shield, with “crimes against humanity,” which Israel did not commit.

Turning her comments to her work with diaspora Jewry, Cotler-Wunsh said it was important that Israel take diaspora Jewry into account with every decision that might impact that relationship. “For us to be decision-makers sitting around the table in the state of Israel in this global reality, without being aware of the challenges that each of the communities face around the world,” she said, “we would be remiss to make those decisions [without weighing the impact of their decisions on global Jewish communities].”

Cotler-Wunsh said that, the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity for Israel and the Diaspora to work together.

“I think that coronavirus… actually brings with it a lot of opportunities alongside the challenges. This may be one of the most fundamental opportunities as far as Jewish peoplehood is concerned…”


She added: “I remember no other time that is so evident that what binds us together, what unites us, is so much greater than what divides us and that we’re facing a common…enemy. Nonetheless, we have to create that sense of unity.”

Speaking about antisemitism, Cotler-Wunsch said it is not just a Jewish problem, it’s a problem that brings with it other implications.

“We should not forget that… if you can’t protect one minority, you can’t protect any minority. And if you can’t protect one group, you can’t protect any group. And if you can’t stand up for one country singled out and exposing double standards of those singling it out, then you won’t be able to protect any country,” she said.

She urged that the problem of antisemitism in social media posts could be alleviated by using an algorithm based upon accepted standards – the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition – which would flag posts that violate the definition for review and potential removal.

Cotler-Wunsh stressed that the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism includes “delegitimization, demonization and double standards against the state of Israel” as forms of antisemitism.

She stressed that efforts to hollow out the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism by removing references to Israel would render it inadequate “because the new antisemitism that we see on and offline actually uses that ability to rename to redub the Jew as the Zionist,” she added, “As governments are called to task to adopt the whole definition, it’s very important that they understand why that whole definition must include the exceptions [regarding a singling out of Israel].

Summing up her remarks, Cotler-Wunsh urged everyone, in whatever capacity, to engage and involve themselves in the debate and discussion on Israel, world Jewry and the fight against antisemitism, whether locally, online or on the global stage.

“And if that’s one word that comes out of today, it’s to engage,” she said. “I think engagement is critical.”


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