Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A case for inciting genocide against Ahmadinejad?

John Bolton's last hurrah as the US's ambassador to the UN comes in the form of an announcement today that he is moving to present a case against Iran's president for inciting genocide. It's no surprise that that move is also being supported by Alan Dershowitz, who is the one of the US's staunchest defenders of Israel.

Barely a week after he announced his resignation from the UN post, Mr Bolton will appear tomorrow among a panel of diplomats and lawyers calling for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be prosecuted. The panel has been convened by a Jewish umbrella group in the US, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organisations.
The call for legal action came as Mr Ahmadinejad repeated his onslaught against Israel at an international gathering of holocaust deniers in Tehran. The president, who has dismissed the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis as a myth told up to 70 visiting speakers that the Israeli state would soon be wiped out.

"Thanks to people's wishes and God's will, the trend for the existence of the Zionist regime is downwards and this is what God has promised and what all nations want," he said.

Legally, I doubt Bolton and his group really have much of a case here. I certainly am no apologist for holocaust deniers. How could anyone possibly be so ignorant that they wouldn't believe, in the face of all the documented evidence, that the holocaust didn't happen? It astounds me that anyone could be so utterly in denial.

Regardless, Ahmadinejad's latest words have been met with knee jerk reactions. From what I've read, he predicted that the governmental regime of zionism would come to an end just as the communist regime in the Soviet Union did. That's hardly a call for genocide as is outlined in the Geneva Conventions.

Similarly, the 'wiped off the map' comment that has received worldwide attention was most likely misinterpreted, as Juan Cole explains:

He made an analogy to Khomeini's determination and success in getting rid of the Shah's government, which Khomeini had said "must go" (az bain bayad berad). Then Ahmadinejad defined Zionism not as an Arabi-Israeli national struggle but as a Western plot to divide the world of Islam with Israel as the pivot of this plan.

The phrase he then used as I read it is "The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad)."

Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope-- that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government.

Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that "Israel must be wiped off the map" with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people. He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.

What is not ambiguous is this warning from Shimon Peres in May:

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Monday that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map."

Yet surely no one would accuse Peres of 'inciting genocide' based on that statement.

This type of case can be very difficult to prove unless there's actual evidence that someone is actually calling people to arms in order to commit genocide. I am not aware that Ahmadinejad has actually done that - although it's entirely possible since I certainly don't follow everything he says.

Mr Bolton will be joined in tomorrow's launch of the legal action against Mr Ahmadinejad by a Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, and the former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, together with experts from the US, Canada and Israel. A suit will be lodged with the international court of justice at The Hague, which will decide whether to hear the action. The panel said the Iranian president was guilty of inciting genocide "by making numerous threats against the United States, calling for the destruction of Israel and instigating discrimination against Christians and Jews".

I seriously doubt The Hague will take up this case. I think this is just a desparation move by the US to further isolate Iran, which is not cooperating with demands that its stop enriching uranium, and is a overt political move to try to oust Ahmadinejad from power.

Having said that (and this bears repeating because this post will no doubt attract cries of 'anti-semitism' as all of my posts about Israel do), let me make this perfectly clear: I do not support Ahmadinejad and I do not believe in the destruction of Israel - far from it. I believe peace is the only way to move forward. The holocaust deniers conference in Iran disturbs me greatly but I suppose even kooks have the right to congregate - just as we allow parade permits for wingnuts like the KKK here in North America who I would rather see relegated to the overstuffed closets of hatred they belong in.

The only thing I'm questioning here is the validity of a possible legal case being made against Iran's president in what looks like a matter of political pressure from the US and Israel lobbyists to marginalize an already extremely unpopular and radical leader.

Sidebar: From some unknown reason, Wolf Blitzer interviewed David Duke today who is in Iran for the holocaust denier's conference. I have absolutely no idea why CNN or Blitzer would think that was a good idea. Racist bigots like Duke don't deserve one second of airtime. We already know what an ignorant, hate-filled bastard he is.

Warning: I will not tolerate any comments stating that I have an agenda against Israel, Jews or that say I'm an anti-semite. Your comment will be deleted and you will be promptly banned.

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