By Louis Rene Beres
Readers of daily newspapers are now well acquainted with unending Palestinian calls for the annihilation of Israel. What might not be apparent, however, is that such calls - sometimes in the carefully whispered voice of the Palestine Authority, more often in the strident voice of PA accomplices in Hamas and other related terror groups - constitute an especially serious crime under international law.
Moreover, as this crime centers on genocide, such grotesque calls should have a uniquely disturbing resonance for the Jewish State.
Genocide has always been prohibited by international law. In the words of the Genocide Convention, a binding multilateral treaty that codified post-Nuremberg norms and entered into force in 1951, the sorts of murderous acts long advocated by Arab leaders and terror groups qualify very precisely as genocide. For example, the 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.")
War and genocide need not be mutually exclusive. Palestinian preparations for a Final Battle with "The Jews" are not only for an indispensable and unavoidable war, but also - ultimately - for the extermination of an entire People. Regarding ties with PLO, 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, PLO/Hamas calls for the killing of Jews - whether indirectly in Jihad or directly through mass murder - constitute calls for genocide. Ironically, the PA authorities who issue such calls, including of course Nobel Laureate Yasir Arafat, are widely recognized by the international community outside the United States as official emissaries of "peace." It is time for this community, especially Europe, 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.
Following a recent suicide bombing, prominent Palestinian columnist Fahd al-Rimawi - writing with obvious approval of both Yasir Arafat and his new Prime Minister in Amman al-Majd, celebrated the genocidal act of terror: "Let us rejoice and applaud the operation with the sweetest of songs and ululations (sic). We greet that act of ingeniousness with the sweetest of chants and we bid farewel to our bold martyrs who have lit the night of Jerusalem...and given luster and meaning to Arab valor....We will not apologize for the Jewish blood that will be spilt nor denounce the heroic actions of the mujahidin who represent the soul of this nation and echo the pulse of the masses and the Palestinian people's conscience...."
While most of the world outside of Washington and Jerusalem chooses to ignore such calls for the crime of genocide, international law has an unswerving obligation to stop and take notice. Expressed by leaders of the major states in world politics, the norms and principles of international law should be invoked in time - before the calls for genocide against Israel's Jews are allowed to become the materialised foreign policy of certain Islamic states armed with chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons.
The Palestinian Authority and its associates are obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel. The Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) states, at Article XXII, that Israel and the PA "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other...." In the Note for the Record which accompanies the Hebron Protocol of January 15, 1997, the
PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding "Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement." Similar if more general reaffirmations can be found in the presently operational "Road Map."
What is not widely understood is that the Genocide Convention criminalizes not only the 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). Although this has never been done, the United States should consider very seriously taking this step while there is still time.
Israel, too, should be an obvious co-participant in this call, but it is unlikely that a Sharon Government, correctly aware of continuing global indifference to Jewish life, will seek redress under broad multilateral conventions.
The Genocide Convention is not the only authoritative criminalization that should be invoked against interminable and illegal Palestinian calls for mass murder of Jews. The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination could also come 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, at 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 at 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 point of the judgments at Nuremberg was to ensure that all future Crimes Against Humanity be identified, prosecuted and punished. This point should now be kept in mind as "moderate" Palestinian leaders and their allies advocate genocidal extermination of Israel. Palestinian suicide bombings, inasmuch as they are clearly designed to further such extermination, are themselves a punishable Crime Against Humanity.
Louis Rene Beres is Professor of International Law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international law.