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December 21, 2014 / 29 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘genocide’

Why I’m Traveling to Rwanda in the Middle of My Congressional Campaign

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I always promised myself that if I ever ran for public office I would highlight anti-genocide legislation as one of the principal planks of my platform. As such, I’m traveling to Rwanda this week where I will visit the main locations of the mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus in 1994. My trip is being organized by James Smith, my old friend from the UK who runs a genocide remembrance center in Rwanda. In addition, Samantha Power, President Obama’s principal advisor on Human Rights and Multilateral Affairs and the foremost anti-genocide advocate in the world has been very helpful in introducing me to the staff of the American Embassy in Kigali with whom I will also meet. Unexpectedly, my daughter Chana, who serves in the Israel army, was also helpful when her unit hosted the Rwandan Chief of Staff and she shared with him how much her father has read and written about the genocide, leading the Chief of Staff to kindly invite me to Rwanda.

The Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by Hutus happened at a rate even quicker than the liquidation of Jews at the hands of the Germans. The best estimate is that 800,000 were killed in a hundred days, which translates to 334 murders per hour, or about six murders per minute. Most of these were low-tech executions by machete. Tens of thousands of others were horribly maimed but did not die.

And why would a would-be Congressman from New Jersey travel across the globe in the Middle of his campaign to highlight the slaughter? Because Rwanda represents one of the lowest points in American foreign policy where the mightiest, richest nation on earth did not lift a pinky to rescue almost a million of the poorest people on earth.

As Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families, President Clinton, still haunted by the murder of American soldiers in Somalia, chose to take no action in Rwanda. Worse, his administration obstructed the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter.

On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide. But on the very same day, the Security Council, with the Clinton administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This in turn was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which “amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,” even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries “to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands… the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.”

In the end, eight African nations, fed up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene.

All this could be dismissed as something that happened 18 years ago and does not much matter now. But as we’ve learned, history is always destined to repeat itself.

Every day innocent men, women, and children die in Syria with the world scarcely giving a damn. Russia has blocked every UN effort to merely censure Bashar Assad for the slaughter, yet the United States has not even removed its Ambassador from Moscow to protest this protection of a head of state butchering his people.

Israeli Vice PM: Syrian Assault is Genocide

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, is calling Syrian President Bashar Assad’s war against opposition a “genocide”, and said Israeli support is behind efforts to overthrow him.

“A crime against humanity, genocide, is being conducted in Syria today, and the silence of the world powers is contrary to all human logic,” Mofaz told Israel Army Radio on Sunday.

The comments come as a continually severe crackdown on a 15-month uprising brought the death toll to approximately 16,200, with 52 civilians killed across the country on Saturday, according to the Voice of America.

Mofaz also chastised Russia for selling arms to Syria, calling their involvement anything from “irresponsibility” to “partnership in the slaughter”, and called on the western world to assist rebels in overthrowing Assad’s regime.  “We need to enlist the West. We need our voice to be heard. This slaughter is being carried out not far from Israel’s border,” Mofaz said. “We cannot get involved, for understandable reasons. But I think that the West, led by the United States, has an interest in safeguarding the threshold (so) genocide does not take place.”

Mofaz is the chairman of the Kadima party and joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on March 27, as part of a new coalition maneuver which brought Kadima into the government.

Leftist Campaign Against Purim Hits the Web

Monday, March 5th, 2012

A leftist campaign making the rounds in Israeli cyberspace is telling Israelis to think twice before celebrating Purim because Megillat Esther promotes genocide by Jews against its enemies.

The internet pamphlet plays on a popular Purim greeting, ‘Sameach u’mevadech’ (happy and humorous), and asks rhetorically if people really know what Purim is about. It proceeds to list verses from Megillat Esther that seemingly implicate the Jewish people in genocide. It ends by asking readers if they too think that genocide is “happy and humorous.”

To dispel any idea that it was a hoax, prominent Israeli blogger Yossi Gurevich posted it on a Facebook page titled ‘החברים של ג’ורג’ with text in Hebrew saying “let’s leave Purim to Bashar Assad and celebrate festivals that are a bit more human.”

Anti-Purim Internet Pamphlet

Beyond taking self-loathing to a height that only radical left-wing Jews can reach, it’s clear that the campaign organizers are neither masters nor students of Torah exegesis.

How come the Left always manages to take the fun out of everything, anyway?

If You Don’t See Where You’re Going, You Might Not See Where You End Up

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Purim is my favorite holiday, and I love to share the joy. I have spent previous years wandering around my neighborhood in costume. This year, I fully intend to celebrate with full cheer, and I want everyone to know why I plan to spend the day in costume, singing Shoshanat Yaakov at the top of my lungs.

Last night, as I was telling my enthralled neighbor the story of Esther, I realized that there was a tremendous hole in the plot. Haman is the all-powerful viceroy to the king. He has the King’s signet ring and he has the power of life and death over everyone around him. As he walks through the streets, trumpets sound and knees hit the ground in homage. Basically, he is the man in charge with the power of life and death, freedom and captivity, poverty and wealth over every person he sees. He has it all.

And yet, one person doesn’t cower before him and Haman goes berserk. The most powerful man in the country stops his busy schedule and decides to engage in a single-minded campaign of destruction against one man with absolutely no power. He most likely could have Mordechai executed on the spot, but even that wasn’t enough.

For comparison purposes let’s take Aishwarya Rai of India who has been called the most beautiful woman in the world by many different magazines. Can you imagine that she would go crazy with anger and revenge if one person didn’t find her the most beautiful? I imagine that she would confidently walk past him, convinced of her own beauty and self worth.

The viceroy here has no internal self worth and confidence. A single powerless person has defied him and he is utterly consumed by this defiance. The only thing that can make Haman feel better about himself is to commit genocide. That is more than using an elephant to crush an ant; I would argue this is using an atomic weapon to destroy the ant.

And in pursuit of that goal, he’s willing to give ten thousand talents of silvers to the king. For those of us in the modern world, a single talent is 67 pounds. That’s more than three tons of solid silver. Silver is around 33 dollars an ounce. At my calculations, that’s more than 35 million dollars. There’s a lot of people I dislike, but I’d much rather have the cash than trash them. So why did Haman flip out in such a self destructive way?

The answer came to me today as I cried on the shoulder of a friend. For the past two years I have been working in Israel advocacy. Dealing with bureaucratic board members, hostile organizations and just nasty people can wear on a person.

Sometimes, I would fantasize about letting out my anger in a vicious tirade. At desperate times, I would dream of getting some sort of revenge by going to the Dean or prominent organizations to get them into trouble. I knew I was right and I wanted the people who impeded the rightness of my cause to be held accountable and apologize for the damage they had wrecked upon the Jewish community. And yes, I know it would have gotten me nowhere – and that is my point. Revenge turns a logical feeling of distaste for injustice into a futile and ridiculous tilt at windmills.

At best, revenge is a distraction from your real goal, and at worst, it becomes a trap that ensnares and destroys those caught in it. Haman may have been a sociopath, but that wasn’t his fatal flaw. He just didn’t seem to know what his real goal was. Although I don’t know the man well, I imagine his goal was to achieve power.

Haman started out right. He had managed to survive the whims of a drunken and capricious king; he admits he has everything in the world. The sight of one measly person refusing to bow should have been annoying to him, but not something worth more a few moments of irritation. There was definitely no intelligent reason to go on the warpath like he did and we all know how well that ended. Once the most powerful man in the empire, he is today best remembered for a dessert that resembles his ears.

Haman’s fatal flaw of hubris made him unable to see past his own ego. It didn’t matter how much power he had, any slight flaw in his tapestry of life could not be tolerated. He could not see anything but his own dignity and missed the big picture, instead reverting to genocide as the revenge on one man. He was too ego-driven to realize that power is not something that is only external, but must be matched by an internal dignity.

Students Ask, ‘Where Was The NY Times During The Holocaust?’

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Last April, NYU student Emily Harrold embarked on the production of a film exploring why The New York Times under-reported the Holocaust during the 1940s. Now, a little less than a year later, the project has expanded to more than twenty students. Together the students have interviewed historians, journalists, Holocaust survivors, and American citizens who lived during the 1940s. They are currently working on finishing the project in order to submit it to film festivals across the United States.

“While the film is about The New York Times and The Holocaust,” explains director Harrold, “it is also about how American society understood and dealt with genocide in the 1940s. We are shocked today to learn that papers as well respected as The New York Times kept quiet on The Holocaust. But are we as a society reacting any differently to genocide happening today?”

The film, titled “Reporting on The Times,” was inspired by Laurel Leff’s book Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper. The film is currently fundraising on Kickstarter.com. The team has raised close to 50 percent of its $6,000 goal. Please visit http://kck.st/tq3zbv to make a donation. You can also learn more about the project and see the trailer at www.facebook.com/reportingonthetimes.

French Parliament Passes Bill Outlawing Denial of Armenian Genocide; Erdogan Furious

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the French Parliament’s approval of a bill Monday that makes it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, saying that it was the culmination of “racist and discriminatory” French attitudes toward Turkey.

Erdogan also threatened that Turkey would enact additional sanction if French President Sarkozy signs the bill into law.

The bill had already been a source of cooling relations, with Turkey breaking off economic, military, and political ties with France, and recalling its ambassador last month when when the lower house approved the bill.

Holocaust Scholars Criticize Obama

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Eighty-five prominent Holocaust scholars last week criticized President Obama for failing to respond to Libya’s hosting of a Darfur war criminal.

The new Libyan regime hosted a visit by Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for his leading role in the Darfur genocide. The Obama administration did not comment on the visit.

“Especially in view of the role the United States played in bringing about the overthrow of the Gadaffi regime,” the Holocaust and genocide scholars wrote, “the U.S. has a right, and a moral obligation, to demand that the new Libya join us in treating perpetrators of genocide as pariahs.”

The petition was organized by the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, in Washington, D.C.

The scholars’ petition urged President Obama to “speak out publicly against Libya’s embrace of Bashir and to make it clear to the international community that the U.S. regards the hosting of visits by Bashir as unacceptable.” They also called for “a firmer policy by the U.S. toward perpetrators of genocide and those who coddle them.”

The signatories included Prof. David S. Wyman, author of The Abandonment of the Jews; Prof. Yehuda Bauer, of Yad Vashem; and Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, best known for her courtroom battles with Holocaust denier David Irving.

(Jewish Press staff)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/holocaust-scholars-criticize-obama/2012/01/19/

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