Stoking fear of ‘genocide,’ an academic pushes Israel to war

Israel/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
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Gregory Stanton
Dr. Gregory Stanton, professor of Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University, says Iran wants to commit “genocide” against Israel.

An American academic who was one of the creators of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and was later fired by the State Department is riling up fear about Iran, claiming that it is about to commit “genocide” against Israel. Gregory Stanton, professor at George Mason University and founder of Genocide Watch, stated last week in a lecture at the Hebrew University that the Islamic republic has already embarked on a path to eliminate Israel, according to the Times of Israel.

“One of the best predictors of genocide is incitement to genocide,” said Stanton, “and I believe that is exactly what Iran is doing today.”

The Times of Israel relates the substance of Stanton’s presentation:

Often, genocide goes unrecognized. In the opening slide of Stanton’s lecture three perplexed diplomats, clutching attaché cases that label them as representing the EU, the US and the UN, look around at a patch of desert, Darfur, that is stained with the bodies of the dead. ‘Well…’ says one; ‘Genocide, genocide…’ says another; ‘Difficult question…’ says the third.

Iran, he said, had classified and symbolized Israel through exclusionary ideology and hate speech; dehumanized it – ‘overcoming the normal human revulsion against murder’ — by portraying the potential victims as a ‘cancer’ in need of eradication; organized fanatical militias (the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps); polarized the society by repressing dissent and arresting moderates; prepared for the killing by denying a past genocide and by constructing weapons of mass destruction; and, through global terrorism, even begun the seventh of his eight stages: extermination.

Stanton is known in academic circles for creating an eight-stage system of indicators to determine if a country is going to embark on annihilation. In his lecture, Stanton placed Iran in the seventh—maybe even eighth—stage. But his logic has gaping holes; Stanton is unable to explain why anti-Israel rhetoric from Iran confirms that nuclear war is on the horizon. This same line of thinking was espoused a few days later on “Meet the Press,” when Benjamin Netanyahu said,

Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism. It’s the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?

The professor’s resume is not only that of an influential scholar of genocide; his diplomatic past includes abuses of Foreign Service privileges to evade prosecution. While working for the Foreign Service in 1998 Stanton allegedly rammed his car into a Virginia video rental store owner after becoming incensed over a $4.50 late fee. At the times the Free Lance-Star reported:

Stanton was accused of hitting Hassan Mostafavi, a McLean video store owner, over the head with a videocassette, then driving his car at the man, knocking him through the plate glass front of a restaurant.

After the incident, Stanton fled to Amsterdam on his diplomatic passport, but then returned to the United States and turned himself in.

A year after the assault charges, Stanton was fired by the State Department for unrelated cause; according to the Times of Israel, Stanton gloated over his dismissal during his Jerusalem lecture:

[I]n the late nineties, he was fired from the State Department. His supervisor, frustrated with his efforts to document what he called ‘the appalling cowardice’ of the Department in April 1994 — when it voted to withdraw all UNAMIR peacekeepers in Rwanda in the face of a mounting genocide — wrote the type of evaluation that she knew would eventually terminate his career. ‘Greg apparently does not understand that the State Department is a hierarchical organization,’ he quoted, with obvious pleasure, during the lecture.

Despite his checkered past, Stanton’s latest lecture demonstrates that the push to war is gaining support from not only government officials, but academics. And in this case an academic who has built a career out of a desire to prevent crimes against humanity. The bulk of Stanton’s published work concerns prevention of genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda.

It cannot be said that Stanton is seeking to understand global politics; instead he is pushing to prosecute and isolate Iran. At Hebrew University he said the Iranian government should be taken to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and he advocated that other countries should follow Canada’s lead and cut diplomatic relations with Iran.

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