Latest update: January 10th, 2013
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 that entered into force in 1951, the sorts of murderous acts long advocated by Arab/Iranian leaders and jihadist terror groups qualify very precisely as criminal. The “moderate” Fatah organization’s June 2009 congress even called openly for the eradication of Israel.
This call echoed still earlier genocidal codifications in the resolutely 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. Certain Arab/Iranian 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 the PLO, which still lives in a variety of other institutional incarnations, 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/Iranian 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 that issue such calls are now widely recognized by the “international community” as official emissaries of “peace.” It is time, now, for this international community to acknowledge that the same individuals who call for commission of the world’s most egregious crime cannot simultaneously 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 now widespread that Israel, a state less than half the size of Lake Michigan, is the world’s second most dangerous country. In this view, the most dangerous, of course, remains the United States.
As ruled explicitly by the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR), media and government calls for genocide are an egregious offense, and fully punishable under international law. Arab/Iranian media, and pertinent leadership elites, 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 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 authoritative sources.
Some years ago, following one of the devastating suicide bombings in which several small Jewish children were blown to bits, prominent Palestinian columnist Fahd al-Rimawi, then writing with approval of Nobel Peace laureate Yasir Arafat in Amman al-Majd, gleefully 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 Mujahideen who represent the soul of this nation and echo the pulse of the masses and the Palestinian people’s conscience….”
While most of the world still chooses to ignore such calls for international crime (a few years ago, the UN’s International Court of Justice at The Hague chose not to rule on the manifest illegality of Palestinian terrorism or Palestinian calls for genocide, preferring instead to consider the legality of Israel’s “fence” that is designed to prevent anti-Israel terror and genocide), international law has an unswerving obligation to act. Expressed by leaders of the major states in world politics, the relevant norms and principles of international law should be invoked in time, before calls for genocide against Israel’s Jews are allowed to become the materialized foreign policy of certain Islamic states, and/or terror groups that are armed with chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
Lest anyone be too viscerally dismissive, the fusion of genocidal intent with genocidal capacity is now almost within reach of several states anxious to excise the “Jewish cancer” from the Dar al Islam, the world of Islam, in the Middle East.
There remains a special and continuing urgency regarding Iran, which is making steady and final progress toward nuclear weapons capacity despite so-called sanctions from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Further, President Obama has accepted the rules constraining a “moderate” Palestinian Authority. The PA and its associates are distinctly obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel.
Going back even to the legal antecedents of the current peace process, the Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) stated, in Article XXII, that Israel and the PA “shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other….” In the Note for the Record, which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding “Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement.” Substantially familiar if more general reaffirmations can readily be found in the current Road Map.
(Continued Next Week)
Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of political science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.
About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.
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