If only one country,” declared Adolf Hitler in 1941, “for whatever reason, tolerates a Jewish family in it, that family will become the germ center for fresh sedition. If one little Jewish boy survives without any Jewish education, with no synagogue and no Hebrew school, [Judaism] is in his soul.”
Today, these sorts of views sound entirely familiar. The president of Iran has emphasized that “Israel must be wiped off the map” and that “anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury.” Only recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a conference in which, ironically, he denied that the Holocaust had ever happened.
Hitler and Ahmadinejad are the two most unlikely of ideological bedfellows. One was a secular fascist bent on an Aryan world cleansed of Jews. The other is a theocratic Muslim bent on an Islamic world empire. And yet, one idea unites them: their goal of genocide. Just as Hitler did, Ahmadinejad believes that genocide is the only way to rid the world of Jews. While he tends to refer to the infernal destruction of “Israel” instead of “the Jews,” he does not mean the Muslims who live in Jerusalem or Haifa; he means the Jews who live in Jerusalem, Haifa, Eilat and Tel Aviv. This is clear from the anti-Semitic propaganda, disconnected to Israel, fostered by his regime. For example, state-sponsored Iranian television broadcasts news programs in which Jews are referred to as being “genetically bloodthirsty and criminal.”
The world, on the other hand, looks very different today than it did in the 1940s. International organizations such as the United Nations and the ICC were created in order, among other things, to make sure a Nazi Germany did not rise again. In order to live up to these stated goals, these organizations should prosecute Ahmadinejad for incitement to commit genocide.
On Dec. 9, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 260 (III) A. The resolution stated, among other things, that the following acts “shall be punishable: … (c) Direct and public incitement to genocide.” This resolution was widely accepted, and rightly so. Encouraging genocide can lead to genocide itself. Ahmadinejad, who has done little less than encourage and prophesy genocide for the state of Israel, is in clear violation of this resolution.
Ahmadinejad’s talk is not cheap. It is common knowledge that he has been working on a nuclear weapons program. The Western powers have been trying to cut a deal with him, and yet Ahmadinejad remains intransigent; he will not cease the program or submit to international inspection. If Ahmadinejad acquired nuclear weapons, the logic of his rhetoric leads us to one conclusion: that he will use them against the state of Israel.
If Resolution 260 (III) A had been taken seriously with regard to Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur, the world would look much different from how it does now. The U.N. General Assembly ratified the resolution because the nations of the world believed that people like Ahmadinejad, the Janjaweed, Hitler and Pol Pot must be confronted before they commit crimes against humanity. There have been too many failures. It’s time to take the words of this resolution to heart.
Aaron Rothstein is a sophomore in Branford College. Ben Bokser is a sophomore in Morse College. Both are members of Yale Friends of Israel.