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Comments by an Israeli cabinet minister, Rafi Eitan, to Der Spiegel are raising speculation about an Israeli operation aimed at kidnapping President Ahmadinejad of Iran and putting him on trial for inciting genocide. As the Telegraph recounts it in a dispatch we carry in today’s New York Sun, Mr. Eitan, a veteran of the Mossad operation against Adolf Eichmann, was asked if the Israeli spy agency still operated against the Nazis. “That era is over,” he said. “But that’s not to say that such operations are completely a thing of the past. It could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
The prospect that Mr. Ahmadinejad might be prosecuted before that body was first raised in these columns back on September 13, 2006, in an editorial headlined, “Ahmadinejad in New York.” We noted at the time that the effort to explore such a prosecution was centered at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and that it involved two former Israeli ambassadors to the United Nations, Meir Rosenne and Dore Gold. We noted at the time that the leader of Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, has stated that if the Jews “all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” and said, “it is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.” We further noted that Iran is a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which states that “Direct and public incitement to commit genocide” is punishable.
We don’t hold much stock in the way international law is administered at the Hague, where neither Israel nor America are members of the International Criminal Court; part of the greatness of the bringing of Eichmann to justice is that when the plotter of the Holocaust was captured he wasn’t dropped off at the Hague to be prosecuted by some international civil servant but brought to the Jewish state for a trial before three Israeli judges. But leave aside, for the moment, the matter of where Mr. Ahmadinejad should stand trial. Let us consider first the question of where he should be seized.
The Holocaust-denying, nuclear-bomb-building, terror-sponsoring Iranian leader has made a habit of fetching up in our city in September for the U.N. General Assembly. He has visited the Council on Foreign Relations and stopped at Columbia University. So if the Israelis are planning to capture Mr. Ahmadinejad, they could do it here at New York. And wouldn’t it be an illuminating moment — underscoring that while Eichmann was nabbed living under an assumed identity in Argentina, Mr. Ahmadinejad today visits openly at a world body founded on the ideals of living in tolerance and peace and at the most prominent institutions in the city with the largest Jewish population in the world. Whatever else one may say about Mr. Eitan, he is certainly right that this is a different era.