Israeli Diplomats, Holocaust Survivors Planning to Sue Iranian President

Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Israeli Diplomats, Holocaust Survivors Planning to Sue Iranian President

Jerusalem ( - A group of Israeli diplomats and Holocaust survivors hope to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before the International Court of Justice in the Hague on charges of inciting genocide.

Ahmadinejad has publicly called for Israel's destruction, saying it should be "wiped off the map." In an interview on Iranian television, he declared Israel's existence was "the main obstacle faced by the Islamic nation," and in April, he called Israel "a rotten and dried-up tree that will be destroyed by one storm."

The president of Iran, which is a United Nations member, repeatedly has said that Israel, another U.N. member state, should be annihilated, said Dr. Meir Rosenne, who was the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. when Ronald Reagan was president.

Rosenne is among the diplomats who will attempt to have Ahmadinejad tried in the World Court.

"The statements by Ahmadinejad are clearly a crime," said Rosenne in a telephone interview. In the 1948 genocide convention, it is forbidden to incite people to eliminate another people, he said.

According to the 1948 United Nations Convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide, adopted by the General Assembly in response to the Holocaust, punishable acts include genocide, as well as incitement and conspiracy to commit genocide. Rulers, public officials and private individuals are all liable under the convention.

Iran signed the convention in 1949 and ratified it in 1956. (Israel also has signed and ratified the convention.)

But Rosenne said it is not just the fact that Ahmadinejad is making the statements but that the international community is not taking any action against Iran.

"What is shocking is that nobody reacts to it," said Rosenne.

Although Ahmadinejad's initial statements brought international condemnation, his successive tirades have drawn little attention.

Israel is being judged by a double standard when it comes to international principles and laws, said Rosenne. If a low-level Israeli official had said the kind of things Ahmadinejad is saying, the international community would immediately put sanctions on Israel, he added.

Rosenne said there are four reasons for taking the Ahmadinejad case to the International Court of Justice: First, it will focus international attention on the problem so that no one will ever be able to use the excuse, as they did following World War II, that they didn't know what was happening.

It also is necessary to break what Rosenne called the "conspiracy of silence" regarding anti-Semitism in Europe. While not all Muslims are anti-Semitic, Europeans are reluctant to admit that Muslims carry out most anti-Semitic attacks, he said.

It is "no secret" that Ahmadinejad is supporting and financing Hizballah and other terror groups in an attempt to destabilize the Middle East, and the attack is not just against Israelis, it's against Jews, he argued.

Rosenne said he is not looking for intellectual satisfaction, but for action such as cutting diplomatic ties with Iran or submitting a resolution condemning such verbiage from Iran.

"It's unforgivable and unthinkable that the world community stands by and hears statements accompanied by concrete acts of terrorism [and does nothing]," he said.

Rosenne differentiated between the current international attention focused on the Iranian nuclear issue and the lack of attention on Iran's anti-Israel sentiments. The nuclear issue is not only an Israeli problem, he said.

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