As an organization deeply committed to Jewish and democratic values, J Street is compelled to speak out against the horrific war crimes committed by Russian forces in the town of Bucha and elsewhere in Ukraine.
The discovery of mass graves and other clear evidence of the execution of Ukrainian civilians is truly appalling. For Jewish people, these crimes remind many of us of our own families’ history and the terrible atrocities that Jews experienced in Europe – indeed, within Ukraine itself – within living memory. We commend both US and Israeli officials for denouncing these actions by Russian forces as war crimes.
The horrors in Ukraine underscore the critical importance of international law and the institutions to enforce justice against those who violate it. These laws and institutions were created after the Second World War and the Holocaust precisely to deter such atrocities from ever happening again, and to ensure perpetrators would be held accountable. At a time when fundamental human rights are under attack not only in Ukraine but in other conflicts and countries around the world, it is critically important that these laws and institutions, including the International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice, should be defended and strengthened.
Calls to target and delegitimize these bodies are extremely harmful, undermining human rights and the rule of law around the world. Such actions play directly into the hands of Vladimir Putin and other war criminals. That is why J Street welcomed the decisions by the Biden Administration to rejoin and seek to improve the UN Human Rights Council, and to remove harmful and inappropriate sanctions that had been placed by the Trump administration on senior officers of the International Criminal Court. We reiterate our call on the US government and leaders around the world to do all they can to strengthen and respect international law and the enforcement of international justice.