October 26, 2023
Hon. Melanie Joly
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of Canada
Dear Minister Joly:
I am writing on behalf of the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. We are extremely concerned with your most recent statement calling for a pause in hostilities. We agree wholeheartedly that a citizen is a citizen.
However, there are pivotal differences between a democracy exercising its right to self-defense after being brutally attacked and a barbaric terrorist organization listed as such by the Canadian government.
I remind you that the IDF is a professional army led by professionals much the same as the Canadian military which operates pursuant to the rules of war. The IDF seeks to minimize civilian casualties and has done so even at its strategic disadvantage.
Much more to the point it has permitted human corridors into south Gaza and is permitting food and water to enter south Gaza.
It is wholly premature to call for a ceasefire or a pause at this time as the IDF forces have not yet entered the stage of a ground war within Gaza, and Israel has done much to avoid civilian casualties, while also trying to free all the hostages held by the terrorists.
Let me quote Lord Verdirame’s recent statement in the British House of Lords:
“Israel has described its war aims as the destruction of Hamas’s capability. From a legal perspective, these war aims are consistent with proportionality in the law of self-defence, given what Hamas says and does and what Hamas has done and continues to do.
Asking a state that is acting in self-defence to agree to a ceasefire before its lawful defensive objectives have been met is, in effect, asking that state to stop defending itself. For such calls to be reasonable and credible, they must be accompanied by a concrete proposal setting out how Israel’s legitimate defensive goals against Hamas will be met through other means. It is not an answer to say that Israel has to conclude a peace treaty, because Hamas is not interested in a peace treaty.
Proportionality also applies in the law that governs the conduct of hostilities, not only in self-defence. The law of armed conflict requires that in every attack posing a risk to civilian life, that risk must not be excessive in relation to the military advantage that is anticipated. That rule does not mean, even when scrupulously observed, that civilians will not tragically lose their lives in an armed conflict. The law of armed conflict, at its best, can mitigate the horrors of war but it cannot eliminate them. The great challenge in this conflict is that Hamas is the kind of belligerent that cynically exploits these rules by putting civilians under its control at risk and even using them to seek immunity for its military operations, military equipment and military personnel. An analysis of the application of the rules on proportionality in targeting in this conflict must always begin with this fact.”
In fact, the delay of the IDF’s incursion into Gaza has much to do with its concerns for civilian casualties. Furthermore, it has been Hamas that has actively prevented civilians from leaving northern Gaza.
Finally, a pause now would be a win for Hamas and its evil.
We would ask you to issue a statement and retract your call for a pause.
Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation