THE SPINE DECEMBER 19, 2006
Maybe you didn't notice it on the weekend. But I posted a small item, "Ahmadinejad and Genocide", on The Spine. It was about a Friday morning meeting in New York at which I spoke that was also addressed by Alan Dershowitz, the former Canadian minister of justice Irwin Cotler, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, Congressman Charlie Rangel and Professor Ruth Wedgewood, a very learned legal scholar at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. The purpose of this gathering was to mobilize international sentiment to get Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicted at the International Court of Justice in the Hague for inciting to genocide (against Israel and Jews), as stipulated in the Geneva Convention to which Iran is a signatory. That was before the ayatollahs were in charge. The Shah governed then, and in retrospect he was a benign, even liberal and enlightened, monarch when you compare him to the bloodthirsty men who have replaced him.
It's just possible that the Iranians have gotten a bit wary of
Ahmadinejad. The results of elections to the Assembly of Experts,
reported by Nazila Fathi in this morning's New York Times, show that voters weren't so entranced by their president's behavior. His candidate (and mentor), Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, which is a mouthful, was roundly and soundly defeated by former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, also a mouthful, whom the Times calls a "pragmatic politician." Not so fast. On November 9, 2006, Argentina ordered an international warrant for Rafsanjani's arrest in the bombing of the 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center in which 85 people were killed. This crime was apparently the act of a very nasty duo, Hezbollah and the holy Islamic Government of Iran. (Just Google "Rafsanjani" and "Argentina" and you'll see plenty.) Why did the Times not mention that fact of Rafsanjani's life? Go know.
It will be hard to get an International Court indictment of Ahmadinejad. (The Argentine warrant for Rafsanjani took more than a decade.) But there is one move that is simpler and more efficient. It's what I suggested at the gathering, and the proposal was endorsed by Professor Wedgewood, who is not only learned but also practical. It can be done government by government in the way that it was done against former U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim when he was president of Austria. He had denied that he had been a Nazi, an accusation first made in these pages long ago, once by Shirley Hazzard and then by me, by me ad nauseum. In any case, he was put on a "watch-list," and was never allowed to enter the United States again. In fact, the only place in Europe he was invited was to the Vatican. Whose deed was that? Who knows? But Waldheim was hardly the first Nazi around whom the Holy See had put its protective warmth.
So the U.S., the U.K., France, the Scandinavians, the Low Countries, every country that knows the ugliness which Ahmadinejad represents should place him on a watch-list, an interdict against crossing their borders. Maybe even some Arab states and some Muslim states would also declare the interdict against the Iranian president. It would be an important test, very important, indeed.