Let me just preface this post with one thing I want to be clear on: I’m not being sarcastic on this one. Matter of fact, remind me not to use sarcasm as a regular method of blogging, it’s a lazy cop out I occasionally fall into. I digress, here’s the headline from the BBC today:
A group of Israeli diplomats wants to sue Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide.
Incitement to genocide is what it sounds like. And under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, it is a crime. Nevermind the punishment, I’m not here to worry about that. What interests me is the method this group of Israeli’s have chosen to use to combat the statements and the potential implications of those statements by the Iranian president. This is what I called civilized. Not bombs or soldiers or threats, legal action on an international scale. It’s how it would work in my slightly more idealistic version of the world.
But this interests me for another reason. During my days as a masters student here in the Amsterdam, I had a professor who was very involved with the UN and particularly concerned about the role of media that incites genocide. Think Rwanda, for example, where radio was the tool used by Hutu extremists to first incite more and more hate and eventually culminating in violence which, if I recall correctly, was coordinated by use of radio programs as well.
So my professor had this idea for the creation of a monitor under the UN umbrella. It would be a media monitor, and its function would be to watch media (all types) to proactively detect if and when it is being used to incite genocide. Now, you might already be asking “then what” but like I said before, one step at a time; and it would be a very important step to be able to catch these things BEFORE they happen.
It has been some time since I sat and talked with that professor, and this is all reminding me of his plan. And although this situation with Israel and Iran is slightly different, and I don’t claim to know if the Iranian president is guilty or not-STILL- I have the utmost respect for any government or group of citizens who put together a case to be presented before the international court and before the eyes of the entire world, pointing out the violation of a very important treaty, and when a leader could be inciting violence on a mass scale.
So we’ll see what happens. And whatever happens, the symbolic value, the example such an action represents in the form of using non-people killing methods, is big in itself.