Latest update: January 10th, 2013
The Genocide Convention criminalizes not only various acts of genocide, but also (Article III) conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. For the Convention to be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the state parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the state parties (Article VIII).
Though this has never been done, the United States, especially following the upcoming presidential election, should consider very seriously taking this particular step. Israel, too, should be an obvious co-participant in this call, but it is unlikely that any government in Jerusalem, historically aware of always-expanding global indifference to Jewish life, will seek formal redress under any multilateral conventions.
An alternative remedy/strategy could involve the issuance of specific criminal indictments for crimes against humanity, by Israel’s Justice Ministry, to the key Palestinian broadcasters and journalists now engaged in daily anti-Semitic harangues. In the words of Israeli attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, back in February 2004: “Those who operate Palestinian television and radio stations and the printing presses engaged in hate speech should be arrested along with the other suspected killers.”
Any public trial before an Israeli tribunal could carry very grave geopolitical risks. For one, as no Arab or Iranian authority could ever be expected to extradite alleged wrongdoers to Israel for trial, it would inevitably be up to Israeli military and police authorities to acquire physical custody over defendants. This is the case though such an expected Arab/Iranian disregard for Israeli extradition requests would represent a manifestly serious violation of peremptory international criminal law.
Even if an Israeli trial could afford opportunity for a direct evidentiary connection between Palestinian media incitement and Palestinian terrorism, much of the world would be focused instead on the extraordinary means by which Israel took custody of the inciters. After all, when Israel captured major Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1960, more states chose to condemn the abduction than to recall the prisoner’s role as murderer of one million Jewish children.
The Genocide Convention, the London Charter, and the December 2003 International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda are not the only authoritative codifications that could now be invoked against relentless media and leadership calls for the mass killing of Jews. The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should also be brought productively into play. This treaty condemns “all propaganda and all organizations which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form,” obliging, in Article 4(a), state parties to declare as “an offense punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons.” Article 4(b) affirms that state parties “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offense punishable by law.”
Further authority for curtailing and punishing Palestinian calls for genocidal destruction of Jews can be found in Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”
The overriding point of the judgments at Nuremberg was to ensure that all future crimes against humanity be identified, prosecuted, and punished. Fully aware of these judgments, the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda ruled, in December 2003, that “mere words” can contain substantial criminal liability, and may warrant very severe punishments. Understood in terms of ongoing homicidal and genocidal Arab and Iranian calls for violence against Israel, it is essential that every state in the United Nations now be reminded of its binding obligation not to encourage another Holocaust. This is a fully legal obligation, and certainly must not be taken lightly.
Now, especially in anticipation of November’s presidential election, there may be new opportunities in Washington to finally make things right regarding Israel’s fundamental security needs. It is imperative that any such opportunities be identified, and taken quickly, while there is still time, and certainly before a Palestinian state is declared unilaterally.
International law, which is always a part of the law of the United States, is not a suicide pact. If this law is ever to create a genuine peace in the Middle East, it must not be based upon any authoritative codification of enemy cries to “Slaughter the Jews.”
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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