The recent Annapolis “peace” conference – and President Bush’s subsequent visit to the Middle East – shows that where Israel is concerned, there is still nothing new under the sun. Once again, fundamental Israeli rights were shamelessly subordinated to the presumed rights of all others, including even of openly Arab defiant terrorists now conveniently disguised as an “Authority.” Once again, it seems, Israel had been called upon to offer land for nothing.
There is another thick layer of irony here. As we all already know, each and every day, the Arab and Iranian media is filled with explicit calls for violence against all Jews. These grotesque entreaties are not “simply” inexcusable on moral grounds. They are also in stark and profound violation of codified and customary peremptory norms of international law. So, we might now inquire, where are the appropriate demands of the “international community” for cessation of invitations to murder?
The answer is clear. There will never be any such demands until Israel first begins to speak up far more forcefully for itself. It is time for Israel’s representatives in all international organizations and forums to remind the world of its own incontestable and settled rights to self-defense. International law is not a suicide pact. Israel is under no obligation to commit national suicide in order to satisfy the voluptuous cravings of systematized Jew-hatred in various portions of the Islamic world. For its part, the United States, finally, should cease prodding Israel toward complicity in its own explosive disappearance. We already well know Jimmy Carter’s base motives in the Middle East, and although George W. Bush may be substantially better intentioned toward Israel, he is nonetheless substantially prone to manipulation by his extraordinarily weak secretary of state.
Back in December 2003, international law dealt with a glaring juridical case of organized hatred involving Rwanda. Here, the particular venue was the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR). More precisely, three African media executives were found guilty by ICTR 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 (a genocide that managed to murder, mostly by machete, 800,000 people in 90 days). Significantly, 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 present-day Israel? For a very long time, certainly for the past eight years, specifically anti-Jewish and anti-Israel diatribes have been standard fare on Palestinian Authority, Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Hizbullah television. As for the Arab print-media, even in “moderate” Jordan, the general and unrelenting theme remains that Jewish “infidels” are altogether less than human, inherently degenerate and suitable only for sacrificial killing (see my earlier columns in The Jewish Presson terrorism as a form of religious sacrifice). 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 precious little to distinguish the blood-curdling anti-Semitic cries of Arab/Iranian television and newspapers from the Nazi propaganda of Der Stuermer or from recorded Rwandan media exhortations during the frenzied 1994 genocide in that African country.
Genocide, as my regular readers are already well aware, has always been prohibited by international law. In the words of the Genocide Convention, a binding multilateral treaty that codified post-Nuremberg norms, and which entered into force in 1951, the sorts of murderous acts long advocated by Arab/Iranian leaders and Jihadist terror groups qualify very precisely as genocide. The “moderate” 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.”)
Of course, war and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. 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 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 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 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 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, is the United States.
As ruled explicitly by the 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, 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 authoritative sources that will be discussed next week, in Part II of this column.
Copyright © The Jewish Press, February 22, 2008. All Rights reserved.
LOUIS RENÉ 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.