Western countries are signatories of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. This agreement aims to prevent future genocide, which is the greatest crime in the world. It also includes the commitment to act against incitement to genocide by a state. Such a transgressing nation may then be referred to an international court. However, hardly any European politicians reacted to the recent renewed calls for the annihilation of Israel by Iranian leaders. This goal can only be achieved by the genocide of Israel’s citizens. Conclusion: Many European politicians do not care much about major international laws when they are in Israel’s favor.
Furthermore, the European Union refused once again to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The EU however, does care a bit about human rights. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, keeps herself disproportionately busy by condemning Israel if it does something against her liking.
One key element of European multiculturalism is to look away as much as possible from criminality in the Muslim world, even if it is major. There are many manifestations of this. A journalist from a foreign broadcasting organization in Israel told me: "I have seen foreign correspondents with tears in their eyes when they saw Palestinian olive trees destroyed by Israelis. The same people made a major effort to explain away terrorist murders of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists."
In the morally degraded European political environment, the rare politician who addresses Muslim states’ transgressions of the Genocide Convention merits mention. A Dutch Parliamentarian, Wim Kortenoeven, who has recently left the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, put forward some frank questions to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs.
He wrote, "Do you share the opinion that the calls by President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian functionaries concerning the annihilation of Israel and thus genocide against its inhabitants, are a transgression of Article 3 of the Convention of Prevention and Punishment of Genocide? If not, why not?"
Kortenoeven also asked whether the minister took these calls for genocide seriously and added: "If not, why not?" He furthermore wanted to know how the Dutch government reacted to the latest Iranian call for genocide and what concrete actions the minister intended to undertake. He also inquired whether the minister was willing to request from states whose ambassadors had heard the speech of Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to publicly disassociate themselves from this call. He asked the minister if he was not willing to do so, to explain why.
A few ardent supporters
Kortenoeven furthermore inquired whether the size of the Iranian Embassy in The Hague was proportional to actual relations between Iran and the Netherlands? If not, would the minster be willing to expel these non-essential functionaries? His questions were accompanied by detailed background material.
The Israeli government could have acted forcefully in the Iranian matter in two directions. It could have tried to get more questions asked in Western parliaments regarding the points raised by Kortenoeven. Additionally, it could have exposed the huge failure of the European Union and its member states to address many of the major crimes in Muslim countries.
Such Israeli action is all the more important as Europe finds itself at a critical junction. Its most visible element is the crisis concerning the Euro. Every few days additional problems emerge whereupon new stopgap measures are announced. The European leadership is clueless about these problems magnitude and how to solve them.
This is leading to an even greater distrust by many Europeans in the democracy-deficient European Union and in their own politicians. People’s fear about their future grows. In the short term, many worry about keeping their jobs. In the long term, they fear for the nature of the society they will live in.
This psychological climate has both risks and opportunities for Israel. The crisis in societal institutions has always been dangerous for Jews and is now so for Israel also. One threat comes from the entrance of populist parties into national parliaments. Some are neo-fascist, or even neo-Nazi, such as the Hungarian Jobbik and the Greek Golden Dawn. Others have anti-Semites in their ranks, such as the German Pirate Party which is likely to enter Parliament in the next election. Others attack Jewish ritual customs, such as ritual slaughter or circumcision.
On the other hand, at a time when there is increasing disaffection with Europe, one can also mobilize Israel’s friends to show how many European bodies mistreat Israel. This requires thought and a clear agenda. Otherwise, one is dependent upon individual initiatives by a few ardent supporters, such as Kortenoeven.
The Israeli government has taken economic measures to anticipate and diminish fallout from the world’s growing economic crisis. There is however, far more to be considered than plain economics.
Manfred Gerstenfeld is a member of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, of which he has been chairman for twelve years.