Prepared for the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
If your email program has difficulty viewing this page, see


February 16, 2007

To contact the Presidents Conference:
click here

In-Depth Issues:

Live Webcam: The Excavation at the Mughrabi Ramp in Jerusalem (Israel Antiquities Authority)

    See also Q and A with Archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar on the Mughrabi Ramp Dispute (Jerusalem Post)
    "The Mughrabi ramp is near the Western Wall of the [Temple Mount] compound, and it doesn't risk it's stability in any way. Moreover, it is of no risk whatsoever to the Al-Aksa Mosque, which stands about 100 meters to the east."
    "The same claim has been made with regard to my excavation in the City of David - 200 meters south of the Al-Aksa Mosque - declaring that the purpose of the excavation is to dig a tunnel under the mosque."

Israel HighWay
- February 15, 2007

Issue of the Week:
    The Kibbutz Movement Today

U.S.-Funded Palestinian University Holds Anti-American Symposium - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    Al-Najah University in Nablus, which receives funding from USAID, held a symposium for its law students, faculty and administration this week condemning the trial of Saddam Hussein and the American role in the trial.
    The $4 million in U.S. funding that Al-Najah has received since 2004 is for a current project at the university's faculty of law "for strengthening the rule of law."

The Eilat Suicide Bombing: It's Iran, Again - Eran Lerman (Omedia)
    A suicide bomber walked into a bakery in Eilat on Jan. 29, killing three of its workers and wasting his own young life.
    Like the previous "successful" operation in April 2006 in Tel Aviv, this one was carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a terror group led by Ramadan Shalah.
    PIJ may be hosted by Syria, but in essence it is subservient to the Iranian regime which funds, supplies, trains, and directs its operations.
    Across the region, Iran and its proxies are busy fomenting sedition and doing their best to destroy such meager chances as there may be for progress toward political solutions and practical compromises.
    The writer is director of the Israel/Middle East Office of the American Jewish Committee.

More Palestinians Entering Israel on Health Grounds (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs/Reuters)
    More and more Palestinians are entering Israel for medical reasons, said Dalia Bessa, the Health Coordinator for the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank.
    "We got 81,000 Palestinians permits to enter Israel for health reasons in 2006, a rise of 61% from 2005."
    Major Peter Lerner, in charge of humanitarian coordination in Gaza, explains: "Before 2003, we had three people doing this. Now 21 people coordinate humanitarian affairs in the Palestinian areas, leading to better services and operations."

Containing the Spillover from an Iraqi Civil War - Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack (Saban Center for Middle East Policy/Brookings Institution)
    This analysis examines the history of some dozen recent civil wars to reveal the general patterns by which such conflicts can "spill over" into neighboring states, causing further civil wars or regional conflicts.
    From this history, the authors propose policy options for the U.S. to employ to try to contain the spillover effects of a full-scale Iraqi civil war.
    The options include: don't try to pick winners; avoid active support for partition (for now); don't dump the problem on the UN; pull back from Iraqi population centers; provide support to Iraq's neighbors; bolster regional stability; dissuade foreign intervention; lay down "red lines" to Iran; establish a contact group; prepare for oil supply disruptions; manage the Kurds; strike at terrorist facilities; and consider establishing safe havens or "catch basins" along Iraq's borders.

Blood Feud - Zvika Krieger (New Republic)
    The Shia holiday of Ashura, which celebrates the martyrdom of the Imam Hussein at Karbala in 680 CE, generates an endless supply of gruesome images: thousands of enraged young men slicing their foreheads with swords, beating themselves with chains, and screaming their allegiance to Allah in the streets of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, and across the Muslim world - scenes that perfectly encapsulate Western fears of militant Islam.
    While you won't see any self-flagellation at Hizbullah's Ashura ceremonies, the movement has appropriated the ancient rite for its own political ends, and it is actually promoting a more dangerous form of violence.
    In the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hizbullah supporters marched and chanted "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" and adorned the streets with revolutionary quotes from Ayatollah Khomeini.

Walls Are Going Up All Over the World - Gwynne Dyer (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
    If good fences make good neighbors, then the world is experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of neighborliness.
    The latest country to start building a wall - a "security fence" - is Thailand, to stop terrorists from crossing into Thailand's restive Muslim-majority southern provinces from northern Malaysia.
    India's 3,000-km. barrier along its border with Pakistan is largely complete, and India is now building a 3,300 km. barrier to halt illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
    China is now building a fence along its frontier with North Korea as a precautionary measure to stop an immense wave of refugees if the regime in Pyongyang collapses.
    Pakistan is building a 1,500-mile fence with Afghanistan, Uzbekistan has built a fence along its border with Tajikistan, the United Arab Emirates is erecting a barrier along its frontier with Oman, and Kuwait is upgrading its existing 215-km. wall along the Iraqi frontier.
    Saudi Arabia has been quietly pursuing an $8.5 billion project to fence off its porous border with Yemen, but the highest priority now is to get a high-tech barrier built along the 900-km. border with Iraq.

Film Review: Close to Home - Kam Williams (News Blaze)
    Smadar and Mirit are typical eighteen-year-old Israeli girls who've been drafted into the army due to the country's policy of compulsory military service.
    They must spend most of their days in uniform on patrol in Jerusalem.
    This slice-of-life adventure is very effective at portraying the plight of young females who suddenly find themselves on the frontlines of the war on terrorism.
    It is obvious that Smadar and Mirit would really prefer to be anywhere else than to be hunting for suicide bombers.
    Close to Home is an uncanny coming-of-age examination of the different ways in which two women adapt to circumstances beyond their control to survive a situation bigger than either of them.

Smooth Sips from Israel - Julie Cope Saetre (Indianapolis Star)
    Next time you're in the mood for a new wine, venture beyond Italian or California vintages and pick up a bottle from Israel.
    The country plays host to 150 wineries, says Richard Hutchinson, national sales manager for Golan Heights Winery.

Send the Daily Alert to a Friend
    If you are viewing the email version of the Daily Alert - and want to share it with friends - please click "Forward" in your email program and enter their address.

Key Links 
Media Contacts 
Back Issues 
Fair Use 
Related Publications:
Israel Campus Beat
Israel HighWay
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:

  • Palestinian Power-Sharing Deal Complicates Rice's Mideast Trip - Glenn Kessler
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the formation of a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas complicates her peace mission this weekend, strongly suggesting that the new government falls short of standards that would allow a resumption of international aid. "Our position toward the Hamas government was very clear: It did not meet the international test," Rice said. "I have to say that we have not yet seen any evidence that this one will." Abbas' deal with his Hamas rivals has placed the U.S. in a quandary because, under Rice's formulation, he is a "mainstream" leader, while Hamas is an "extremist" group that needs to be isolated.
        After a weekend of meeting separately with Israeli and Palestinian officials, Rice intends to bring together Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday for a lengthy series of talks on the contours of a Palestinian state. Rice's hope is that the "political horizon" will provide a vision for a Palestinian state that will inspire the Palestinians, strengthen Abbas, and reduce the influence of anti-Israeli militants such as Hamas. (Washington Post)
        See also Rice Faces Uphill Battle for Mideast Breakthrough - Helene Cooper
    Bush administration officials, publicly lukewarm about the national unity government agreement, were angry with Abbas, saying the pact brings him closer to Hamas instead of bringing Hamas closer to Abbas. While Rice was angry about the Mecca deal, she said that she would nonetheless go ahead with the planned summit, but has warned Abbas that the U.S. would deal only with Palestinian government ministers who explicitly agreed to the three conditions: to recognize the right of Israel to exist, forswear violence, and accept previous Israeli-Palestinian accords. So what was supposed to be a summit that shored up Abbas in the eyes of the Palestinian people by discussing a future Palestinian state may now downgrade to one in which Abbas spends his time trying to defend the Mecca deal and convince the U.S. and Israel that he has not sold out to Hamas. (New York Times)
  • Pentagon Extends Arrow Funding Through 2013 - Barbara Opall-Rome
    The Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has agreed to a five-year extension of joint testing and upgrades of the U.S.-Israel Arrow system after a Feb. 11 test, conducted at night over the Mediterranean Sea, featured the debut launch of the Arrow M-4 interceptor jointly produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Boeing, its American partner. The upgraded defensive system demonstrated its ability to intercept targets at higher altitudes and longer ranges, so that fallout from mass destructive warheads would remain far away from Israeli territory, Israeli officials said. "We widened the defensive envelope," said Uri Sinai, manager of the IAI division which designed and produces the Arrow interceptor. (Defense News)
  • Japan Approves UN Sanctions on Iran
    Japan's Cabinet on Friday approved sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program under UN Security Council guidelines. The measures include a ban on supplying Iran with materials and technology that could contribute to its nuclear and missile programs. "It is necessary to take a firm response in consideration of the maintenance of the nonproliferation regime," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki. (AP/Newsday)
  • News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:

  • U.S. Will Boycott New Palestinian Unity Government - Avi Issacharoff
    The U.S. will boycott all Palestinian unity government ministers, including non-Hamas members, unless international demands on policy towards Israel are met, Palestinian officials and diplomats said on Thursday. A senior Palestinian official said: "The Americans have informed us that they will be boycotting the new government headed by Hamas. The Fatah and independent ministers will be treated the same way that Hamas ministers are treated." Abbas received word of the new U.S. position in a phone call from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch on Wednesday, Abbas' aides said. The U.S. government would still maintain ties with Abbas and his office, the aides added.
        During their meeting in Amman earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin also told Abbas that despite Russian statements supporting the Mecca agreement, Moscow would only cooperate with the new government if it accepts the Quartet's demands. (Ha'aretz)
  • Turkey to Inspect Mughrabi Gate Excavation - Herb Keinon
    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed Thursday to let a Turkish delegation inspect excavations at the Mughrabi Gate, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday after a meeting between the two in Ankara. Israel's Ambassador to Turkey Pinhas Avivi said the team would be made up of officials from the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv. Olmert said that anyone who wanted to come look at the work taking place at the site was invited to do so, and that Israel had "nothing to hide." "As a modern Muslim country, Turkey can play a role building ties between Israel and Muslim countries that do not have relations with Israel," Olmert added. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Palestinian Rocket Fire Continues
    Palestinians in Gaza fired three rockets at Israel's western Negev region Thursday. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):

    The Palestinians

  • The Art of the Possible Peace - Dennis Ross
    Many, including Secretary of State Rice, see Saudi, Israeli, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders as sharing a perception of Iran as a threat. With such common fears, the thinking goes, the leaders should be willing to accept the necessary hard compromises and end the Palestinian conflict so Iran can no longer exploit the conflict to build its following and put the region's moderates on the defensive.
        The assessment of the common threat perception is correct. But basing policy only on this misses an important regional reality. Priorities differ on how best to respond to the Iranian threat. For the Saudis, weaning Hamas away from Iran and producing intra-Palestinian peace is more important than trying to forge peace between Palestinians and Israelis. For the Israelis, however, an intra-Palestinian peace that entails accommodating Hamas (and that does not require Hamas to change its hostile posture toward Israel) is hardly a basis for reaching out to Palestinians in a way that would satisfy the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians.
        Is Israel likely to contemplate excruciating concessions on Jerusalem or territory with a Palestinian government led in part by those who refuse to acknowledge its existence or renounce terrorism? The political options available for peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians have been reduced. And Rice's efforts have to be guided by what is possible, not by what is most desirable. (Washington Post)
  • Next Steps in the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process - David Makovsky
    The Mecca accord is a victory for Hamas, which has achieved its goal of forming a unity government without agreeing to the conditions imposed by the Quartet - namely, no recognition of Israel, no disavowal of violence and no commitment to agree to past written agreements. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Abbas has legitimized an unrepentant Hamas. Secretary Rice's political horizon initiative was being done in no small measure in order to bolster Abbas at Hamas' expense. People who felt there was a logic to bolstering Abbas against Hamas' growing strength, and therefore supported the security mission of Gen. Keith Dayton and $86 million in non-lethal military assistance, must now wonder if the new Palestinian coalition alignment could lead to a very different outcome. The Mecca experience suggests that not everyone is on the same page. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • Teaching Terror: How Hamas Radicalizes Palestinian Society - Matthew Levitt
    If Hamas has one supreme objective, it is to mutate the essentially ethno-political Palestinian national struggle into a fundamentally religious conflict. Accomplishing this goal entails transforming Palestinian society - a relatively secular culture, compared to other Muslim societies in the Arab world - into one that is religiously zealous and politically extreme. Such a project of radicalization is the goal of all violent Islamist groups, from al-Qaeda to Egyptian Islamic Jihad. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The World Partakes of the Palestinian Arabs - Youssef Ibrahim
    For nearly 60 years, outside parties have decided what is good for the Palestinian Arabs based on what is good for those parties' interests. Saddam wanted suicide martyrs - as does Iran - to bug Israel. Should Iran and Iraq ever reach some mutually satisfying status quo with Israel, funds and training for these Palestinian Arab martyrs will dry up in a hurry. Saudi Arabia wants little Palestinian Arab Wahhabi jihadists running around and Saudi-style Islam spreading out in Gaza and the West Bank.
        In the midst of it all, disoriented Palestinian Arabs keep hoping for a leadership that is courageous and purposeful enough to chart its own course. It won't happen. What kind of leadership can be expected from a prime minister who says, "We are not seekers of office but seekers of martyrdom?" This is what the so-called Hamas government prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, is fond of repeating.
        The only common denominators between all figures of authority among Palestinian Arabs have been mediocrity and dishonesty. For those reasons and more, the latest agreement to calm Palestinian Arab internecine conflict will not end the Palestinian Arab conundrum. It is only a matter of time before Iran stirs its operatives in Hamas to disrupt the accord - if only to upset Saudi Arabia. (New York Sun)
  • Statehood for Palestine? Take a Good Look - Jeff Jacoby
    The wonder is not that the Palestinian Authority seethes with violence and instability; there are other places too where bloodshed is the daily fare. The wonder is not that the Palestinians, who receive copious amounts of international aid - more than $1.2 billion last year from Western governments alone - channel so much of their resources into weapons and warfare. The wonder is that so many voices still push for a Palestinian state.
        But has any population ever been less suited for statehood than the Palestinians? From the terrorists they choose as leaders to the jihad promoted in their schools, their culture is drenched in violence and hatred. Each time the world has offered them sovereignty - an offer that the Kurds or the Chechens or the Tibetans would leap at - the Palestinians have opted instead for bloodshed and rejectionism. (Boston Globe)
  • Secular Palestinians Surrender to Religious Fanaticism in Mecca Deal - Ray Hanania
    While Palestinians see themselves in a conflict with Israel, the real battle is among themselves. Will the Palestinian people be a democratic society based on tolerance and respect for all views and religions, or will it be dominated by a religious demagoguery that distorts religion into a self-serving political agenda? Mahmoud Abbas signed an "accord" with Hamas, the Islamicist organization whose entire existence has been based on violent rejection of compromise, not just with Israel but with the larger and dominant secular Palestinian movement.
        Hamas has always understood that its ability to prevent peace through the use of violence and even acts of terrorism and suicide bombings against non-military Israeli targets would serve to prevent a genuine peace accord. Today, with no sign of a possible peace accord on the horizon, thanks to Hamas intransigence on compromise, Hamas has forced the secular Palestinian leadership to surrender to its will. Hamas wants all of Palestine or nothing, willing to sacrifice Palestinians for an endless conflict. Despite the pain of an internal Palestinian civil war, the question of whether the future would be in the hands of Hamas or Fatah was too important to sign away in some pathetic deal in which Abbas has basically surrendered his leadership. Hamas is now the voice of Palestine, whose real goal is not Palestinian independence, but the greater goal of political Islam. (Ynet News)


  • Fight Iran with a War of Ideas - Azar Nafisi
    Ahmadinejad's violent rhetoric abroad and repressive measures at home stem not from a position of strength but weakness. There have been workers' protests in ten cities since January and others at universities, where students have greeted Ahmadinejad and his projects with slogans of "death to the dictator." He has been the target of severe criticism even within the ruling hierarchy, including the conservative camp. And he has been chastised in parliament for using bluster and violent rhetoric abroad to divert attention from domestic problems.
        The most effective war against the tyrants in Iran is through giving voice to the workers asking for their rights, to women fighting for equality, and to students, journalists, writers, and intellectuals fighting for freedom of expression. The writer is director of the Dialogue Project at the School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Terror Turnabout: Iran Attacked - Amir Taheri
    In Baluchistan in Iran, a bus carrying a dozen military officers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is stopped in broad daylight by a group of police officers, who ask its civilian driver to disembark. Minutes later, a car bomb explodes nearby, shattering the bus and killing the passengers. Since 2002, 75 Revolutionary Guards have been killed by assailants in the region.
        Jund Allah (the Army of Allah) claimed responsibility. It is a predominantly ethnic Baluchi outfit, led by Abdul-Malik Khan. The Baluch are distinct from the Persian majority thanks to their language and culture. However, the main cleavage is because Baluchis are Sunni Muslims while Persians are Shiites. Iran's Baluch community, more than 2 million souls, is part of a 20 million-strong nation spread across Pakistan, Afghanistan, Oman and the Persian Gulf states.
        Sunnis account for almost 12% of Iran's population of 70 million. They are not allowed to have their own schools and mosques outside areas where they form a majority. Tehran is home to some 2 million Sunnis, who are denied the right to have a mosque of their own. The mullahs have rewritten all textbooks to reflect only the Khomeinist brand of Shiite Islamic theology, history and rituals. The registrar of birth does not allow newborn babies to be given typically Sunni names. (New York Post)

    Other Issues

  • Israel's Deterrence After the Second Lebanon War - Maj. Gen. (res.) Uzi Dayan
    The Islamic fundamentalist war against Israeli and Jewish existence in the Middle East - which is being waged by both Hizbullah and Hamas - did not begin in 1967, and it is not going to end even if Israel redeploys along the 1967 lines. Hardly anybody in Israel thinks that if we give territories now, we will get peace in return. We left Lebanon and Hizbullah grew stronger, ending in a war. We left Gaza and received a stronger Hamas and Kassam rockets. Israeli is not suicidal and we are unlikely to try this strategy again in another place.
        If Iran achieves a nuclear weapons capability, it will proliferate very quickly to terror organizations, which is reason enough for Israel to defeat both Hizbullah and Hamas. Even if Hizbullah does not have nuclear weapons itself, it will be operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella, which could affect Israel's ability to respond effectively to attacks.
        Israel should tell the countries that are going to give hundreds of millions of dollars to the reconstruction of Lebanon that the money will be transferred only after we have a sign of life from Israel's kidnapped soldiers and they are released as stated in UN Resolution 1701.
        Signing an agreement with Syria will not change the situation, except to make Syria stronger in Lebanon. Talking with Syria does not start with the Golan Heights. It starts with terrorism, and the role that the Syrians play between Iran and Hizbullah in Lebanon. The writer served as Chairman of Israel's National Security Council and was the National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister. (ICA/JCPA)
  • Confront the Arab World's Gangsters - Rami Khouri
    With the international tribunal mandated by the UN Security Council to try those who will be accused of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the international community is confronting head-on the tradition of modern Arab political violence and intimidation. It seeks to end the impunity that criminal assassins have enjoyed in the modern Arab world, especially when those killers are part of, or hired by, ruling regimes and security agencies. The Hariri murder tribunal is the first serious attempt to counter the rule of the gangsters in the Arab world with the rule of law; to replace criminal impunity with judicial accountability. The process must be completed, or the Arab world will face many more decades of death on the world's last lawless frontier. The writer is director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut and editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star. (Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Perpetuating Refugees - Editorial
    In 1949, the UN established the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). Last week UNRWA launched a drive to increase contributions. In the 1980s the Arab world financed 8% of UNRWA's outlay. By 2006 its share was less than 3%. The very nations responsible for keeping the "refugees" displaced, and who whip up lust for revenge, do the least for them.
        Israel has withdrawn completely from Gaza, including dismantling settlements and even moving cemeteries. This was the moment the Palestinians claimed to be waiting for - complete territorial contiguity and not a single Israeli settler, roadblock, or military base in sight. Israel's withdrawal freed up substantial tracts of prime real estate. Yet nothing has been done to help the refugees find permanent homes.
        Florida-born children of Cuban refugees are no longer considered refugees. But UNRWA stipulates that refugee rights extend to "descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948."
        The time has come to impress on Western donors to cease shelling out millions that only impede peace, and to bring the UNRWA travesty to its overdue end. The Arab states need to start showing that peace, not Israel's destruction, is their solution to the refugee problem, and to stop doing their best to perpetuate the problem themselves. (Jerusalem Post)

    Weekend Features

  • Israel Information Dot Com - Michal Nissenson
    At a conference organized by the Netvision Institute for Internet Research at Tel Aviv University, Jonathan D. Halevi, former head of the IDF's Department of Information and Public Affairs, explained: "The Israeli approach, namely, that it is enough if we just tell the truth, is wrong." Israel's opponents are sure not to let their side of the story fade away, and Israel is playing on the Internet without a proper defense. The Palestinians are using the Internet to rewrite history and to create the past through their eyes. They fastidiously post historical documentation in scrupulous detail of their narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, thus putting Israel's very existence in question.
         "If we want to succeed in the information war on the Internet against the Palestinians, it would be very good if we copied how they do things. For example, the Israeli sites should appear in more languages, exactly like the Hamas site which appears in a large number of languages." (Omedia)
  • Video Games: The Latest Weapon in the Middle East - David Lasserson
    An exhibition of ideological video games from Arab countries at the Israeli Center for Digital Art outside Tel Aviv demonstrates the chilling potential of games as a propaganda tool. Special Force offers players a choice of missions in southern Lebanon against "the Zionist enemy." The game opens with a training center in which the shooting targets are portraits of Israeli leaders. A Syrian game called The Stone Throwers offers a sort of digital martyrdom, as the player takes the role of a lone Palestinian resistance fighter armed only with rocks against waves of Israeli soldiers.
        In the Israeli game Intifada, the player becomes a single IDF soldier facing stone-throwing demonstrators. In dealing with the demonstration, players must bear in mind the army's public opinion rating, and refrain from using live ammunition. If they cause casualties, the government is voted out of office, and available weaponry is reduced for the next game. An al-Qaeda game called The Night of Bush Capturing is sophisticated, set in a U.S. military camp where players must gather weapons and shoot down approaching soldiers. It turns out to be a direct adaptation of an earlier American game, Quest for Saddam. (Telegraph-UK)
  • Observations:

    Four Ways to Act Against Ahmadinejad - Joshua Rozenberg (Telegraph-UK)

    • What prospect is there of using the courts to undermine Ahmadinejad? Irwin Cotler, a former law professor who served as Canada's attorney general and minister of justice until last year, outlined four ways in which legal action could be taken against Ahmadinejad.
    • The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide of 1951 specifies that genocide is a crime under international law which its 138 parties, including Iran, undertake to prevent and punish. Among the acts punishable under the convention is "direct and public incitement to commit genocide." Offenders "shall be punished whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals." Nine men have been convicted of incitement to genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, including a former prime minister. Any country that has signed the genocide convention may call on the UN to take action, but no state has yet referred Ahmadinejad's exhortations to the Security Council.
    • Signatories to the convention can ask the International Court of Justice to deal with a dispute over a state's responsibility for incitement to genocide. Any other country could request a ruling from the UN court over whether Iran was responsible for its president's remarks and what amends the country should make.
    • An entirely different court in The Hague, the International Criminal Court, was established in 1998 to try the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It operates under the Rome Statute, which specifically provides that an individual shall be criminally liable if he "directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide." The main problem is that Iran is not a party to the Rome Statute.
    • An individual country could take action against Ahmadinejad under its own national laws. Under what is known as the protective or security principle, states can try foreigners for crimes abroad that are regarded as injurious to the state's security. It was on this basis that Israel tried Adolf Eichmann under the genocide convention.
    • There is also the principle of universality. States, including Britain, assume jurisdiction over some of most serious crimes against humanity, wherever they are committed. That was how an Afghan warlord received a 20-year sentence at the Old Bailey in 2005 for torture and hostage-taking in his own country. Even issuing an indictment against Ahmadinejad would have a significant public impact, and it would make it harder for him to travel abroad.

    Subscribe to the Daily Alert

    Unsubscribe from the Daily Alert