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A terrible silence

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  • Mato Ska
    Editor s Notes: A terrible silence By DAVID HOROVITZ Dec. 28, 2006 21:58 | Updated Dec. 31, 2006 12:58 The record, says Irwin Cotler, is shameful.In 1948,
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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      Editor's Notes: A terrible silence
      By DAVID HOROVITZ
      Dec. 28, 2006 21:58 | Updated Dec. 31, 2006 12:58

      The record, says Irwin Cotler, is shameful.In 1948, chastened by the abject
      failure of the international community to prevent Hitler's mass murder of
      the Jews, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and
      Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This imposed a responsibility among the
      signatories to punish not only the crime of genocide but also "conspiracy to
      commit genocide" and "direct and public incitement to genocide."
      If the title was a mite unwieldy, there was an easier way to remember the
      law: It was, in short, the "Never Again" convention. But it has proved to be
      the most criminal of dead letters, and its easy-to-remember nickname the
      most despicable of misnomers.
      "On no occasion has the UN acted to prevent a genocide," says Cotler, the
      former Canadian minister of justice and attorney general, a generally calm
      man whose voice rises involuntarily at the outrageous ineptitude.
      "Regrettably, we've had genocide again and again," he rails. "Either action
      has come too late or there has been no intervention at all."
      Darfur, he elaborates, "is a genocide in the making. The media is still
      using the 2002 figure of 200,000 dead. Actually, 450,000 have already died.
      The media is still reporting 2.5 million displaced people. It's 4 million
      according to the UN's former humanitarian aid coordinator. There are mass
      atrocities - mass rape, forced expulsions, the bombing and burning of
      villages. In 2005, the UN passed a resolution banning Sudanese offensive
      flights. It has not been enforced. In August, the Security Council mandated
      the establishment of a multi-national protection force. It has not been
      established.
      "In Darfur, the world knows and it is not acting. In Rwanda, the world knew
      and didn't act and 800,000 people were killed."
      And then we come to Iran, which, incidentally, signed on to that "Never
      Again" convention in 1949 and ratified it in 1956.
      "Ahmadinejad's genocidal criminality is as clear and compelling as any I've
      ever seen," says Cotler, who then delivers a sentence he has plainly
      polished many times over, and one that is all the more powerful for it:
      "This is advocacy of the most horrific of crimes, genocide; embedded in the
      most virulent of hatreds, anti-Semitism; propelled by a publicly avowed
      intent to acquire nuclear weapons for that purpose, and dramatized by the
      parading in the streets of Teheran of Shihab-3 missiles draped in the emblem
      "Wipe Israel Off the Map."
      The remedies are ready. In the face of such blatant culpability, the
      worldwide purported commitment to humane values and the rule of law has
      provided no shortage of avenues designed to avert genocide and bring its
      would-be perpetrators to justice.
      Cotler recites them with weary familiarity: punishment via that "Never
      Again" convention, which enables the UN to impose all manner of sanctions on
      the Iranian regime; debate and action initiated personally by the UN
      secretary-general, who has the UN Charter-enshrined authority to refer any
      matter that threatens international peace and security to the Security
      Council; UN or state-initiated referrals to the International Court of
      Justice (as employed over Israel's West Bank security barrier); criminal
      prosecution of Ahmadinejad at the International Criminal Court; all the way
      down to the immediate placing of Ahmadinejad and other suspects on watch
      lists that would bar their entry to concerned countries.
      The route to genocide prevention is clearly signposted and wide open. But
      where is the will to follow it?
      COTLER IS a frequent visitor to Israel and one of the driving forces behind
      a group - including fellow law professor Alan Dershowitz - now bidding to
      galvanize legal measures against Ahmadinejad's genocidal plans for the
      Jewish state.
      He says firmly that his home nation intends to take action. "I have spoken
      to the Canadian foreign minister and the prime minister. They are looking to
      exercise one of the remedies. They said to me that they will."
      He has been in discussion with members of the US Senate Judiciary Committee.
      He has held talks with the Hungarian government, which is looking into the
      matter, and with the Argentineans, who just weeks ago issued arrest warrants
      for former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and other Iranian officials
      found responsible for masterminding the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community
      center building in Buenos Aires in 1994. And he has, he says, "high hopes
      that Germany" - which should, of course, know best of all about the need for
      action - "will either go it alone or at the helm of the European Union from
      January 1." He has written to the new UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who
      branded Ahmadinejad's statements unacceptable on the very day he was sworn
      in.
      But what, you may ask, of Israel, the nation so explicitly and relentlessly
      targeted? Cotler has been meeting with the Israeli government, too. He held
      talks here back in September.
      "I don't know why Israel isn't acting," he sighs. "Israel could and should
      exercise some of these remedies, particularly since it is the threatened
      party, although international peace and security are threatened too."
      Presumably - though Cotler does not say this - Israel's defeatist
      ambivalence about invoking the mechanisms of international law is a factor.
      And it may be, Cotler allows, that Israel doesn't want to take the lead -
      doesn't want this turned into a head-to-head, wants the rest of the
      international community to internalize the full, wide, terrifying scale of
      the threat and address it. "But at the very least," he says, "Israel should
      be pressing other nations to act responsibly."
      Because the sorry, demonstrable fact is that nations don't recognize, don't
      even know of, their obligations.
      In 2004, when he was minister of justice, Cotler vouchsafes, "I can tell you
      that three [fellow] justice ministers in the G8 were truly unaware of the
      genocide-by-attrition taking place in Darfur.
      "People live in bubbles. We have to bring this to their attention and sound
      the alarm."
      Last June, the Iranians sent a delegation to the first meeting of the new
      (and obsessively Israel-bashing) UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that
      included a Teheran prosecutor named Saeed Mortazavi.
      Mortazavi has been implicated in the illegal arrest, torture and murder of
      Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi. Canada asked that he be
      arrested. Mortazavi didn't hang around to see whether the Swiss would take
      action. He fled Geneva.
      "This shows what you can do if the will is there," says Cotler.
      Three months later, by contrast, terrorist-training, would-be
      Israel-eliminating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew to the United States. No watch
      list entry prevented his admission. No indictment for inciting and
      conspiring to commit genocide awaited him. He was free to pontificate
      duplicitously about how to achieve "peace, tranquility and well-being for
      all" in a world beset by "military domination… and the spread of terrorism"
      to a rapt audience at the General Assembly of United Nations - a body
      ostensibly dedicated to prohibiting the threat or use of force against the
      territorial integrity or political independence of any state. The irony was
      evidently lost on his hosts. It was probably not lost on Ahmadinejad.
      Iran's recent Holocaust denial shindig prompted vast waves of outraged
      spluttering. Cotler isn't complaining. But why, he wonders, when so much
      concern is rightly directed at the misrepresentation of a past genocide, is
      so little devoted to preventing a new one? Neither the United Nations
      Security Council, nor the General Assembly, he notes, has ever so much as
      debated the Iranian president's avowed intent to destroy the Jewish state.
      Ahmadinejad has laughed off his UN hosts' belated, anemic anti-nuclear
      sanctions package, swaggering that nothing and nobody is going to stop
      Iran's power drive. Why would he think any differently, when "never again"
      has become an empty slogan?

      http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164882001609&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
    • Sol Salbe
      Dear Mato, A matter of Netiquette: It would be better if both the Jerusalem Post s name and the URL were placed at the beginning of the article instead of at
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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        Dear Mato,

        A matter of Netiquette:
        It would be better if both the Jerusalem Post's name and the URL were
        placed at the beginning of the article instead of at the very end.
        Being a connoisseur of the various members of the David
        Horowitz/Horovitz tribe I recognised which one it was, but not
        everyone else would be in the same position. As much as you think it
        is an important contribution to the debate, you should let people make
        up their own mind. If like me, they would skip this contribution on
        account of the source then so be it.

        Sol

        --- In GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com, "Mato Ska" <m_zehr@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Editor's Notes: A terrible silence
        > By DAVID HOROVITZ
        > Dec. 28, 2006 21:58 | Updated Dec. 31, 2006 12:58
        >
        > The record, says Irwin Cotler, is shameful.In 1948, chastened by the
        abject
        > failure of the international community to prevent Hitler's mass
        murder of
        > the Jews, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the
        Prevention and
        >
      • Mato Ska
        Sol, I certainly wouldn t be hostile to that idea of posting a URL but it cuts off the front part of the article from the Yahoo Message line at the website. I
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 1, 2007
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          Sol,

          I certainly wouldn't be hostile to that idea of posting a URL but it cuts
          off the front part of the article from the Yahoo Message line at the
          website. I must say I do find it curious that so many people find
          self-censorship as a remedy for political debate. I didn't know that anyone
          would be scared away if this was the same person as David Horowitz. I do
          recognize the Jerusalem Post as an authoritative news source, as I do
          Al-Ahram, Kurdishmedia.com, Asharq Alwasat, Dar Al Hayat, Z Mag, and other
          sources. The debate is much more varied then the discussions that we have
          had on Green-Left Discussion and even when I don't agree with them, I do
          find some new appreciation when articles are presented and the writers make
          the effort to make their case in a manner that is articulate and documented.

          The issue of the failure of the UN and the international community to act
          decisively to prevent genocide is a perfectly defensible and rational
          position. It may make some presuppositions regarding the ability to be all
          places at all times, but there are few who would justify the position of
          spectator in the midst of genocide. It was fortunate for the Cambodian
          people that the Vietnamese party and government has always had an
          internationalist perspective and acted decisively, though admittedly
          belately in stopping the mass murder of Cambodians.

          There is both a legal and a moral case that needs to be addressed. The Left
          presumes all too often that non-interventionism is the same as
          anti-imperialism and vice-versa. There is a lack of integrity in this
          position when given concrete episodes that could have be prevented through
          collective security and defense of human rights. As a non-interventionist
          myself, I do not pretend to have a non-violent solution once a systemmatic
          policy of genocide or mass murder has been implemented by a government,
          party or ethnic group or sect against another. I am certainly open to some
          concrete suggestions though.

          Those who choose to not believe the intentions of the Iranian government
          towards Israel offer poor advice and counsel to those who see very clearly
          the direction and intention of certain acts and policies. Hearing no evil is
          not a substitute for proposing solutions to scenarios that present real and
          present dangers to the peoples of the world, whether they are Palestinians
          or Israelis or Tutsis. Avoiding unpleasant or controversial presentations
          prevents us as individuals from taking the time and effort to challenge our
          own presumptions in regards to world events. I continue to find it to be a
          curious statement, in itself, when people are so dismissive of any article
          before they even read it.

          For others, not as informed as Sol, regarding David Horovitz:

          "David Horovitz was appointed editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post in
          October 2004, rejoining the paper having worked for The Post from 1983-1990.
          Since leaving The Post, he had worked at the award-winning newsmagazine The
          Jerusalem Report, where he was the editor from 1998 and publisher from 2001.
          Horovitz has also written from Israel for newspapers around the world,
          including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Irish Times and The
          (London) Independent. He has been a frequent interviewee on CNN, the BBC,
          NPR and other TV and radio stations.
          "Horovitz is the author of Still Life with Bombers: Israel in the Age of
          Terrorism (2004). Horovitz is also the author of A Little Too Close to God :
          The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel (2000). He edited and co-wrote,
          with other members of staff, The Jerusalem Report's 1996 biography of
          Yitzhak Rabin, Shalom, Friend, which was published in 12 countries and won
          the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction. He won the 1995 Bnai
          Brith World Center award for journalism for his coverage of the previous
          year's Buenos Aires Jewish community center bombing.
          "Horovitz was born on in London on August 12, 1962, and immigrated to Israel
          in 1983. He does his army reserve service in the Educational Corps. He is
          married to Lisa and they have three children."
          http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Horovitz.html

          Mato Ska

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Sol Salbe" <ssalbe@...>
          To: <GreenLeft_discussion@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, January 01, 2007 12:22 PM
          Subject: [GreenLeft_discussion] Re: A terrible silence



          Dear Mato,

          A matter of Netiquette:
          It would be better if both the Jerusalem Post's name and the URL were
          placed at the beginning of the article instead of at the very end.
          Being a connoisseur of the various members of the David
          Horowitz/Horovitz tribe I recognised which one it was, but not
          everyone else would be in the same position. As much as you think it
          is an important contribution to the debate, you should let people make
          up their own mind. If like me, they would skip this contribution on
          account of the source then so be it.

          Sol
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