January 20, 2009

From the desk of David G. Littman


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN Director-General Sergei Ordzhonikidze
UNHRC President Martin I. Uhomoibhi; UNHCHR Nevanethem Pillay
UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura

International Commemoration Day: Victims of the Holocaust: 27 January 2009

20 January 2009
Your Excellencies,

As reported by Reuters from Teheran on Sunday, two days ago (18 January 2008: 16:53):
A student-linked Iranian publisher plans to launch English – and Arabic – language versions of a book of caricatures and satirical writings about the Holocaust (…). The book deals with the "big historical distortion" of the Holocaust and the English and Arabic editions would be published at a ceremony in Tehran later this month when a message from Ahmadinejad would be read out, Fars News Agency said. It appeared to be translations of a book which official media in September said had been published about the "fiction" of the Holocaust. "The presentation ceremony will be held on Jan. 27 ... with the attendance of a number of government officials," said Mohammad-Mehdi Hemmati, who is involved in the project. (…) Iran's IRNA news agency said in September the book had 52 caricatures plus satirical writings over 108 pages. It was published by Martyr Shahbazi Publications and the Islamic student movement of the Science and Industry University. (...) Iran staged an international competition and exhibition of cartoons about the Holocaust in 2006.

On 26 October 2005, at a conference on "The World without Zionism" in Teheran, President Muhammad Ahmadinejad demanded that Israel be "wiped off the map." He also menaced all peacemakers: "Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury."
The Iranian president’s call was part of a prepared address. His statement was not an emotional ad hoc addition as a response to a chanting crowd, but an element in a world view that denies the possibility of any peaceful coexistence with the State of Israel. In the same speech, he provided an Islamic historical overview: "The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world. The skirmishes of the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land." Since then, he and other Iranian leaders have expressed similar views – in total contradiction with article II (4) of the UN Charter – while promoting, with the OIC, “Dialogue" and an "Alliance of Civilizations".

A week before this solemn moment – the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust – we appeal to you to heed the words and the constant acts of the Iranian President’s "direct and public incitement" for the annihilation of a Member State – punishable under article IV of the Genocide Convention. Article III states: "the following acts shall be punishable: (a) Genocide; (b) Conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide; (d) Attempt to commit genocide; (e) Complicity in genocide."

Those who drafted the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide had in memory the long incitement to hatred against the Jews by the Nazi leadership. Few took the Nazis seriously in the mid-1930s and did not foresee that hate constantly repeated would lead to systematic genocide. This book of caricatures and satirical writings on the Holocaust is more writing on the wall.

Yours respectfully,
René Wadlow ................................................... David G. Littman
Representatives of the AWE and the WUPJ to the United Nations Office in Geneva