Israel-Palestine conflict

[New School] The PH government should support the ICJ’s ruling against Israel

Mariya Angelo Pasyon

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[New School] The PH government should support the ICJ’s ruling against Israel

Alejandro Edoria/Rappler

'We must never forget that our national history is rooted in a centuries-long struggle against colonial occupation, the same way Palestinian history is'

The Philippines has the opportunity to be on the right side of history. 

As South Africa’s case against Israel in front of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rules that Israel’s forces must immediately prevent and punish genocidal acts committed in Gaza, it becomes clear that all states of the world can either side with the oppressor or with the oppressed. It is clear that the ICJ’s ruling on South Africa’s case against Israel goes beyond just a legal dispute or a legal formality. Rather, it is a test of international solidarity all across the globe that the Philippines may either pass or severely fail. 

A timeline of silence, a spark of sound

On October 7, 2023, the resistance group Hamas attacked Israel. However, Israel used this attack as a justification to bomb Gaza disproportionately in the name of “self-defense” and to solidify Palestinian ethnic cleansing. As of writing, the Israeli and US-backed genocide has claimed 26,637 Palestinian lives, with possibly more, due to the collapse of Gaza’s Health Ministry on November 10, 2023, leading to a difficult time for those on the ground to keep track of all casualties and injuries. 

On October 26, 2023, as 120 countries voted in favor of a UN resolution calling for immediate humanitarian truce and aid to make it into Gaza, the Philippines was one of 45 countries that chose to abstain. 

Furthermore, when 25 Palestinian-Filipino families sought refuge in the Philippines, the government was initially hesitant to let Filipinos bring their Palestinian spouses here. Fortunately, the government relented given enough pushback, but it is still evident that the Marcos administration has given these families little to no help. Beyond giving them an initial amount of monetary assistance and a hotel to sleep in for two nights and three days, the families have essentially been left on their own with no homes, no jobs, and no further assistance. As a result, the Palestinian-Filipino refugees and concerned organizations have been asking for donations on social media. Thus, this forces the responsibility of their care on the ordinary Filipino, who doesn’t have the same amount of resources or reach as government officials.

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Nonetheless, we acknowledge that the tide is turning. The Philippines voted to condemn Israel’s occupation of internationally-recognized Palestinian territory along with 144 other nations at the UNGA last November 14, 2023. 

Now, the Philippine government has to prove to the international community that as a nation that has signed on to the Genocide Convention of 1948 and upholds its conditions, it is a country capable of standing with Palestine beyond lip service and the bare minimum. 

International solidarity 

We cannot view our Philippine struggle against imperialist interests as unique to us or existing in a vacuum. There should not be any more lives lost under the IDF’s powder keg and the US’s match. It is imperative that, as a country, we support the call for not only an end to genocidal actions but for a complete ceasefire. The Palestinian struggle for liberation and justice does not exist in isolation a few seas away from us. Rather, it has direct economic, cultural, and political implications for our country. Not standing with Palestine impedes the possibility of an independent foreign policy that is not restrained by imperialist interests and squabbles. 

We see this happening right now as the US continuously goads China to wage war for dominion over the Southeast Asian Sea. And, instead of leveraging our alliances with neighboring countries of Southeast Asia to reject non-ASEAN domination, President Marcos is actively choosing to corner us into a US-led and funded conflict that will be fought on Philippine soil with our bodies in the trenches. 

Furthermore, the same US war machine simultaneously backs up, trains, and funds the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). With the strength of their ammunition, influence, and capital, the IDF have murdered innocent children, women, and men along the Gaza Strip, and ever since the Israel state’s conception in 1948 after the first Nakba, the IDF has never stopped using a disproportionate amount of violence against Palestinians. Prior to the ICJ’s ruling, Israel had horrifically bombed hospitals, murdered journalists, and prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians as the world watched. 

The death of Filipino IDF soldier Sergeant First Class Cydrick Garin also highlights the relevance of the Israeli genocide to our own country. One Filipino life lost in this brutality has been and is already too much — but what about the 26,000 Palestinian lives lost, with most of them being children who have barely had the opportunity to live in peace? Who have never set foot on a free Palestine in their lifetime? What about them? 

The answer is simple: there should be no more bloodshed, and the Philippine government should stand with its people. All over the country, from Metro Manila, to Basilan, to South Cotabato, the Filipino people have already been organizing, protesting in the streets, and using their voices on online platforms to demand a ceasefire. It is the Philippine government’s time to catch up and make decisions on the international stage that reflects its constituents’ relentless desire for peace and solidarity. 

None of us are free until all of us are free! 

Our country stumbles time and time again in the face of imperialist pushback, especially as we struggle to remain independent in the face of mounting pressures from the US in our Southeast Asian Sea. President Marcos would be wise to learn what the Gaza struggle clearly displays: putting imperialist interests first and not striving for an independent foreign policy will end in bloodshed and inevitably, disproportionately harm the common Filipino. 

We must never forget that our national history is rooted in a centuries-long struggle against colonial occupation, the same way Palestinian history is. Palestine’s fight for liberation is similar to ours. Palestine’s fight for freedom against Israel, occupation, and oppression is ours because no matter the distance that separates us from one another, we all suffer from imperialism. 

Palestine’s fight is our fight, and our Filipino history of resistance is useless if we do not stand for Palestine’s liberation in the present. –

Mariya Angelo Pasyon is a second-year Political Science student and member of the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK). In her spare time, she is also a creative writer.

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