A comparable legal case could just as easily have been made on behalf of Israel. Still reeling from an organized chorus of barbarous calls for individual and collective Jewish annihilation, Israel itself must now continuously remind the world of its own incontestable and established rights to self-defense. In addition to the widely-understood individual and collective right to resist armed force that is codified at Article 51 of the UN Charter and in customary international law, these rights also pertain to certain defiling images and language created in the Arab world. I refer, of course, to images and language that insistently glorify both terror and
genocide against Jews.
The particular case in question involves a December 2003 decision by the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR). Here, three African media executives were found guilty of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. These guilty verdicts were based upon provocative reports and editorials that had been published in the early 1990s before and during orchestrated mass murder of the Tutsi Rwandan minority by Hutus. Significantly, as Darshan-Leitner indicated, the defendants were not convicted of any specific acts of violence, but only of a heinous abuse of words.
What, exactly, has all this to do with Israel? Today, and for more than the past 40 months of intifada, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel diatribes are entirely standard fare on Palestinian Authority, Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Hizbullah television. As for the Arab print-media, the general and unrelenting theme is that Jewish “infidels” are distinctly less than human, inherently degenerate and suitable only for sacrificial killing. Indeed, as these media now routinely remind all of their readers, the murder of Jews, children and infants included, is always a religiously meritorious act. Currently, there is little to distinguish the bloodcurdling anti-Semitic cries of Arab television and newspapers from the Nazi propaganda of Der Stuermer or from Rwandan media exhortations during the frenzied 1994 genocide in that African country.
Genocide has always been prohibited by international law. In the words of the Genocide Convention, a binding multilateral treaty that codified post-Nuremberg norms and entered into force in 1951, the sorts of murderous acts long advocated by Arab leaders and Arab terror groups qualify very precisely as genocide. The Fatah organization website still calls openly for the “eradication” of Israel. This call echoes earlier genocidal codifications in the still unchanged Palestinian National Charter, in Fatah’s ongoing calls for Inqirad mujtama (the extinction of Israeli society), and in the Charter of Hamas (“There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad….I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.”)
War and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. Arab preparations for a Final Solution for the Jews are not only for an “unavoidable” war, but also for the extermination of an entire People. Regarding ties with PLO, the Hamas Charter says the following: “The PLO is among the closest to the Hamas, for it constitutes a father, a brother, a relative a friend.” On the primacy of hatred toward Judaism, not Israel, the Charter states: “Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish, and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.”
Under international law, all Arab calls for the killing of Jews – whether indirectly in Jihad or directly through mass murder – constitute calls for genocide. Ironically, the national and terror group authorities who issue such calls, including of course Nobel Laureate Yasir Arafat, are widely recognized by the international community outside the United States as official emissaries of “peace.” It is time now for this community to acknowledge that the same individuals who call for commission of the world’s most egregious crime cannot possibly be a proper source of partnership and reconciliation with Israel. At the same time, it is unlikely that such an acknowledgment will arise anywhere in Europe, where the view is currently widespread that Israel – a state less than half the size of Lake Michigan – is the world’s second most dangerous country (The most dangerous, of course, is the United States).
As ruled explicitly by the ICTR, media and government calls for genocide are an egregious offense, fully punishable under international law. Arab media and leadership elites assuredly do not have protected speech in their calling for the mass murder of Jews. In the precise language of the ICTR’s 350-page decision, governments and authorities have a distinct obligation to restrict speech that advocates “national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.” This language, of course, is derivative from already-existing codifications of international criminal law, especially the Genocide Convention, the earlier London Charter of August 1945, which defined and criminalized crimes against humanity, and a number of other sources that will be briefly noted below.
Following a recent suicide bombing in which small Jewish children were blown to bits, prominent Palestinian columnist Fahd al-Rimawi – writing with obvious approval of Yasir Arafat in Amman al-Majd, celebrated the monstrous act of terror: “Let us rejoice and applaud the operation with the sweetest of songs and ululations (sic). We greet that act of ingeniousness with the sweetest of chants and we bid farewell to our bold martyrs who have lit the night of Jerusalem… and given luster and meaning to Arab valor…. We will not apologize for the Jewish blood that will be spilt nor denounce the heroic actions of the mujahidin who represent the soul of this nation and echo the pulse of the masses and the Palestinian people’s conscience….”
Copyright (c) The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with genocide, terrorism, war and international law. Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for THE JEWISH PRESS, he is Professor of International Law at Purdue University, and is currently participating in the preparation of legal arguments for the prosecution of Saddam Hussein.