Iran’s president calls it "the struggle between the Islamic world and the front of the infidels."
At a conference on "The World without Zionism" in Teheran on 26 October 2005, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad demanded that Israel be "wiped off the map." He also menaced all peacemakers: "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury."
This is the same regime that is intransigent concerning Iran’s right to develop a nuclear capability.
The Iranian president’s call was part of a prepared address. His statement was not an emotional ad hoc addition as a response to a chanting crowd, but an element in a world view that denies the possibility of any peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel. In the same speech, he provided an Islamic historical overview: "The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world. The skirmishes of the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land."
The United Nations ("the international community") should heed these words, and in particular the theological reference to "the struggle between the Islamic world and the front of the infidels." This is the key to the strategic ideology of a Jihad-war (Jihad means ‘struggle’ – and Hitler’s Mein Kampf ‘struggle’ was not so very different in spirit, for it pitted ‘true Aryans’ against non-Aryans). In this twenty-first century, the clash will be between tolerant, democratic societies – whether ‘Western’ or otherwise – and those forces that wish to destroy the ‘Other’ in the West, East, North or South, because they are considered ‘infidels,’ and not ‘true believers.’
Such Iranian histrionics are not new and have been repeated annually since the Islamic Revolution. However, this is the first time since the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death in 1989 – soon after he had launched his lethal fatwa against Salman Rushdie – that an Iranian President has made a "direct and public incitement" in a public statement to destroy a Member State of the United Nations, coupled with a reiterated denial of the Holocaust on 8 December at the extraordinary OIC Summit at Mecca.
The genocidal Iranian strategy on Jews and Israel is similar to that of the Charter of Hamas
Iran backs Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and Hamas, all terrorist groups, whose principle aim – like Iran’s – is Israel’s destruction. In this politicidal/genocidal context, the 1988 Charter of Hamas ("Islamic Resistance Movement") is solidly against any Middle East peace process, as article 13 states: "There is no solution for the Palestinian Question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours." (1)
Its slogan-article 8 – copied from the Charter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1922, of which Hamas is a wing as stated in its article 2 – has inspired ‘Jihadist martyrs’ worldwide: "Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its constitution, Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes." The conclusion of article 28 is a racist-religious threat, which has never been condemned at the UN – although cited frequently by one of us since 1989: "Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. ‘May the cowards never sleep.’"
Like President Ahmadinejan, and the Iranian regime since 1979, Hamas is committed to an eternal Jihad against "the Jews" until Allah's victory is implemented. The land of Palestine must be cleansed from their impurity and viciousness. Muslims are obligated to fight and kill the Jews wherever they find them. This Jihadist ideology of genocide – in line with Iran’s – is justified by the oft-quoted hadith or ‘saying’, attributed to Muhammad, that concludes article 7: "Hamas aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him
and grant him salvation, has said "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslim! O Abdullah [servant of Allah], there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews’"
This controversial genocide hadith – preserved by the reputed ninth century compilers, al-Bukhari and Muslim – has since become a commonplace belief in Arab-Muslim lands, Iran included, and particularly among imams, mullahs, and Islamists. One example should suffice to understand the global connotations. The Palestinian Authority-nominated Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi delivered a Friday sermon on 12 April 2002 at Gaza City’s main Sheikh Ijlin Mosque that was broadcast live on PA television. He quoted extensively from this hadith – even including the reference to the "Jewish" Gharqad tree – while preaching his Jihadist war: "We believe in this hadith. We are convinced also that this hadith heralds the spread of Islam and its rule over all the lands (...) ‘from the ocean to the ocean ’." Sheikh Madhi concluded his sermon with a plea: "O Allah, accept our martyrs in the highest heaven (...) O Allah, show the Jews a black day (...) O Allah, annihilate the Jews and their supporters (...) O Allah, raise the flag of Jihad across the land (...) O Allah, forgive our sins." (2)
Invoking the Charter of the United Nations and the UN Convention on Preventing Genocide
Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide considers genocide to be those actions "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." Non-State parties – such as Hamas with its Charter, especially now that it is a key player in PA elections –are fully covered under punishment article IV of the Convention, and this should provoke "serious concern" at appropriate United Nations bodies.
The statements by Iran’s president are in breach of the 1945 UN Charter’s article II, 4: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."
Iran’s direct and public demand for the destruction of the State of Israel – with the extermination of a significant part of its population – is undoubtedly a call for genocide, whatever political explanations are put forward. Such direct and public incitement of genocide is punishable under article III of the Genocide Convention which states in its article III that "the following acts shall be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide."
Those who drafted the 1948 Prevention of Genocide Convention had in memory the long incitement to hatred against the Jews by the Nazi machinery. Few took the Nazis seriously in the mid-1930s and did not foresee that hate constantly repeated would lead to systematic genocidal action. Likewise, in more recent times, few took seriously the constantly repeated verbal attacks against the Tutsis in Rwanda over the radio ("Mille Collines") and in the press. Yet these attacks prepared the ground for the physical destruction of hundreds of thousands of people and created the regional instability which is still weakening the African Great Lakes region. The same goes for previous Jihad calls by the Khartoum National Islamic Front regime against "infidels" and "apostates" in regions of Sudan.
The still dormant Genocide Convention – in its provision concerning public incitement – sets the outer limits of political discourse. Groups, peoples, social classes or social categories are not to be attacked and threatened. Thus, the "Never Again" Genocide Convention is a constant reminder of the need to moderate political discourse so as to debate issues and policies, not peoples or any groups.
The Genocide Convention is not only a framework for civilized public discourse, it calls for the punishment of violators in its article IV: "Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals." This is very comprehensive and includes non-State actors!
Any UN State may invoke article VIII of the Genocide Convention: Now is the time to act
Article VIII envisaged action by any State Member of the United Nations, although it has never been invoked: "Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III." A direct and public incitement to commit politicide should be considered as "incitement to commit genocide." We have already proposed several times at the Commission on Human Rights, and in recent appeals to the UN on Iran (29 Oct. 2005) and on Darfur (7 and 10 Dec. 2005) (3) that the dormant mechanisms of the Genocide Convention be invoked by a State.
In regard to Iran, the European Parliament Conference of Presidents noted last week that "The expressions of indignation and the unanimous rejection by the European Union and the entire international community, as well as the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 17 November 2005, unfortunately have had no effect." On 16 December the European Union warned Iran that its denial of the Holocaust, and previous threats for "the Zionist entity to be wiped off the map" could have serious diplomatic consequences. The Dutch foreign minister, Ben Bot, declared that the EU’s relations with Iran were at an all-time low, and three days earlier the Swedish Parliament ceased all bilateral contacts with the Iranian Parliament. A French philosopher, writing in Le Figaro, called for the 25 EU ambassadors to leave Teheran immediately. (4) There was also a rebuke from the UN Security Council. In reply, Reuters reported the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman’s reaction on 18 December: "What the president said is an academic issue. The West’s reaction shows their continued support for Zionists."
The time for words and warnings is past. The time for urgent action is now. Only one State needs to call upon "the competent organs of the United Nations as they consider appropriate" in order to act under Article VIII of the Genocide Convention. If speedy action in calling for a meeting of the UN Security Council is not taken, we can be sure that there will be a further escalation in these genocidal calls by Iran and others. Such a move should be based on article III (c): "Direct and public incitement to commit genocide." It should be related to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words – and the yearly Iranian calls since 1979 for the destruction of Israel, a Member State of the United Nations. Harsh sanctions should be taken urgently.
René Wadlow and David G. Littman are representatives of the NGO Association for World Education to the United Nations in Geneva. This text is based on previous written statements to the UNCHR and the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, articles by one of the authors, all related to the recent events.
1. English website translation used for 1988 Hamas Charter: www.library.cornell.edu/colldev/mideast/hamas.htm
2. This hadith was often used by Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK, without stirring public concern. As early as 20 Jan. 1994, on a poster at the University College London Union Islamic Society (Chemistry Auditorium) for a lecture by Farid Kassim (Member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir): ‘Peace with Israel. A Crime Against Islam’; and on 21 Jan. 1994 at the Central Mosque, Birmingham by the same speaker on: ‘Battlefield. The only place for Muslims and Jews’ (showing a burial place with a Star of David). There was no reaction in the UK or at the UN then, or since then. On 13 July 2003, on the PA’s official TV, a Palestinian academic, Dr. Hassan Khader, founder of Al Quds Encyclopaedia, quoted this hadith during a lecture (Palestinian Media Watch, 14 July 2003 (www.pmw.org.il).
3. See our article in FPM, René Wadlow and David G. Littman, "Ignoring the Genocide in Darfur", 9 December.
4. Thérèse Delpech, "Les ambassadeurs européens doivent quitter Téhéran," Le Figaro, 16 December 2005, p. 20.
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