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October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘Rwanda’

Rabbi Boteach Shoots Back at Critics and Calls Susan Rice a ‘Bully’ [video]

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach delivered a masterful response on CNN Sunday night to critics of his organization’s New York Times full-page advertisement that described National Security Adviser Susan Rice as “blind to genocide.”

The advertisement was a response to Rice’s statement that Netanyahu’s speech to Congress tomorrow is “destructive” for the relationship between the United States and Israel.

Major American Jewish organizations and the White House harshly criticized the advertisement with adjectives ranging from “outrageous” to “perverse.”

The advertisement hit a raw nerve, and Rabbi Boteach explained to CNN’s Poppy Harlow that the goal of the publicity was “to raise consciousness in Americans to the indiscriminate slaughter of innocents around the world.”

He clearly illustrated that the Iranian threat to destroy Israel is only one of several threats or realities of genocide that the United States has not tried to stop. The problem is not the details of a deal with Iran. The problem is the fact that the Obama administration is even talking with Iran.

Harlow asked him to explain his goal by placing in the advertisement a picture of Rice next to skulls, with the headline “blind to genocide,” which smacked right in the middle of America’s conscience.

He answered:

We all have a blind spot when it comes to genocide, which is why we had Cambodia and Rwanda…. We have seen too many slaughters. This administration needs to step up and do something.

Iran is threatening the annihilation of the Jewish People. It is perverse that these negotiations are taking place without a demand that Iran first totally renounce their genocidal intentions against Jews.”

Rabbi Boteach justified his association of Rice with being blind to genocide based on a statement attributed to her by Samantha Power, her predecessor and now the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

He said that Power stated in 1994 that Rice, who was an adviser to Bill Clinton, had declared that genocide in Rwanda could not labeled as such because it would harm Democrats in mid-term elections.

“The reason those pictures [of skulls] are there – those are skulls…from a church…in Rwanda. I was in that church. 800,000 people were hacked to death, and the United States did nothing.

We have to begin to intervene in genocide.

Rabbi Boteach added, “God gave us this military power…. That is our responsibility.”

As for the criticism of Jewish organizations, the ones who are armchair Zionists and carry the traditional torch of die-hard Diaspora Jews who want Israel to make them feel comfortable where they are, Rabbi Boteach said:

We don’t have our principles and convictions determined by popularity or by praise. We believe in the infinite human value and dignity of human life. We believe the United States has to intervene when it comes to genocide.

We believe Susan Rice should not be condemning the leader of a tiny little Middle East country, which is facing a nuclear threat from the foremost sponsor of terrorism around the world. She should not be saying on national TV that he has no right to speak out and [that] if he does he will harm the relationship with the United States.

That is a form of bullying… It is unfair. This country believes in the freedom of speech.

The interview with Rabbi Boteach on CNN can be seen here.

Rwanda Foreign Minister Visits Ashkelon

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Louise Mushikiwabo toured the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Monday, accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The foreign ministers visited the situation room at the regional council, observed the Iron Dome missile defense system in action, met with soldiers at Kibbutz Zikkim, and visited a home damaged several days ago at Netiv Ha’asara.

Foreign Minister Liberman thanked Mushikiwabo for visiting Israel during Operation Protective Edge, and added that he attributes great importance to the visit. “It is very important that she sees with her own eyes what is happening here. The Israel Foreign Ministry is working to maximize diplomatic credit in order to enable the IDF to complete its mission,” Liberman said.

Liberman also noted the significance of the visit given Rwanda’s current position on the Security Council, and praised her for making an effort “to understand the vastness of the challenge which we in Israel are facing.”

FM Liberman added, “Beyond the diplomatic importance of the visit by Rwandan Foreign Minister Mushikiwabo, we came to support the IDF soldiers, who are the most humane and bravest army in the world. They are doing everything to defend the State of Israel, while maintaining their moral values. We are committed to doing everything to strengthen our soldiers and provide them with the best conditions to complete the tasks entrusted to them.”

Mushikiwabo’s visit to Israel came on the heels of Liberman’s visit to Rwanda last month during a seven-country African tour. On June 12, the foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen business and economic ties between the two countrys. More than 200 Rwandan and Israeli businesspeople attended the MoU ceremony.

“I see great importance to investment in Africa, in the humanitarian, economic and political spheres,” said Liberman at the time. “There are many areas where Israel can help with aid and development: Agriculture, water management, medicine, combating terrorism, and more.”



Liberman Begins African Tour

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman arrived in Rwanda for the first leg of a 10-day African tour that will also take him to Rwanda, the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya. 

Liberman began the visit by placing a wreath at a memorial site to the 1994 victims of the Rwandan genocide. He also opened the Israel-Rwanda joint economic seminar, with the participation of 200 business people and met with Rwanda President Paul Kagame and with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Louise Mushikiwabo. The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to upgrade diplomatic relations.

The foreign minister also met with Rwandan Minister of Agriculture Dr. Agnes Kalibata, inaugurated the Rwanda-Israel Center of Excellence for Horticultural Development, a joint project of the Rwandan government and MASHAV,  Israel’s agency for international development cooperation

The Center of Excellence, based on an India-Israel model of cooperation, was established following a request by Dr Kalibata to facilitate and serve all levels of the Rwandan farming community, from small holder farmers to commercial farmers.The center will be defined by four main products: transfer of knowhow, capacity building and demonstration; agro-inputs (nurseries for better seedlings and varieties) and fresh produce. The center will display a whole range of technologies for horticulture production under cover and open field, and will be made available for applied R&D, training and exhibition.

Prior to the visit, FM Liberman stated: “I see great importance to investment in Africa, in the humanitarian, economic and political spheres. There are many areas where Israel can help with aid and development: Agriculture, water management, medicine, and more. We have established partnerships with various countries for investment in Africa, including the United States, Canada, and Italy, and the highlight is the African Initiative, a joint project with Germany that was decided upon during the last meeting of the Israeli and German governments.”

Solar Power Field in Jewish-Sponsored Youth Village in Rwanda

Monday, February 17th, 2014

The first utility-scale solar power field in East Africa will be built on land belonging to a Jewish-sponsored youth village in Rwanda.

The nearly $24 million project was announced Monday by Yosef Abramowitz, the president of Gigawatt Global Cooperatief, which arranged for its financing.

Construction has already started on the solar field on land belonging to the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village  for orphans from the 1994 Rwandan genocide and founded by the late Anne Heyman, who died earlier this month in a horse-riding accident in Florida.

rowanda solar field under construction

The solar field will feed electricity into the national grid under a 25-year power purchase agreement with the Rwanda Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority. It is expected to be operational this summer.

“It takes a global village to raise a solar revolution,” said Abramowitz, who also is CEO of Energiya Global Capital, Gigawatt’s Israeli affiliate, which provided seed money and strategic assistance for the project. Gigawatt Global was founded by Arava Power Company’s American founders. Arava Power Company has developed six solar power plants in Israel.

Abramowitz called the solar field, which will provide an 8 percent increase in the country’s energy supply, “a game-changer for humanity and the environment.”

The youth village is leasing land to the solar facility and will use the proceeds to fund its charitable mission.

“Anne Heyman, our founder of blessed memory, held to a vision in which the village practiced tikkun olam, the Jewish teaching to help heal the world,” said Laurie Toll Franz, the youth village’s newly elected board chair. “In addition to our work with Rwanda’s most vulnerable children, we’re now helping to improve the lives of thousands of people through sustainable electricity generation.”

Jewish Philanthropist Killed in Horseback-Riding Accident

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Anne Heyman, a Jewish philanthropist who founded a Rwandan youth village for children orphaned in that country’s 1994 genocide, died in a horse-riding accident.

Heyman, 52, died Friday afternoon after falling off a horse during a jumping competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Florida, The Palm Beach Post reported.

Heyman’s interest in aiding Rwanda was spurred by a 2005 talk on the genocide that she and her husband, Seth Merrin, attended. Together they raised $12 million to create Rwanda’s Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, according to the Post.

The village opened in December 2008, and 500 Rwandans age 14-21 currently live and study there. The village was inspired by the youth villages in Israel that resettled young Jews orphaned by the Holocaust.

Rwandan government officials expressed sorrow over Heyman’s death.

“RIP ‪#AnneHeyman‬ – your legacy will live on forever, our thoughts are with your family and hundreds of youth in ‪#ASYV‬ who just lost a mother,” Jean Nsengimana, Rwanda’s youth minister, tweeted.

Originally from South Africa, Heyman has been involved in numerous American Jewish philanthropies. She is a former board president of Dorot, a Jewish nonprofit that organizes volunteers to help the elderly and reduce their social isolation.

Elie Wiesel and Kagame of Rwanda Discuss Genocide & Syria

Monday, September 30th, 2013

There were several important news making items that emerged from our historic discussion on genocide that our organization, This World: The Jewish Values Network, together with NYU Hillel, staged on Sunday night, 29 September, at Cooper Union’s Great Hall in New York City – the venue that brought Abraham Lincoln to national prominence in 1860 – before 1000 people. The event – introduced by philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and Michael Steinhardt and which I moderated – was historic because it brought together the two biggest names in global genocide remembrance: Prof. Elie Wiesel, the living embodiment of the martyred six million of the holocaust, and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the only man alive who can claim to have stopped a genocide when his RPF forces conquered Rwanda in 1994 and ended the slaughter that had taken the lives of nearly one million Tutsis.

As to the discussion of whether President Franklin Roosevelt did enough to stop the murder of Europe’s Jews, Elie Wiesel came down firmly on the side of those who say he failed at this great moral responsibility. He deserves credit for defeating Hitler, Wiesel said, but as a someone who confronted a genocide and did not limit it, he deserves to be severely criticized.

I then turned the question to Kagame, adjusted to the Rwandan genocide. Did he harbor anger toward the United States, a moral and righteous superpower who blew it completely in Rwanda, doing next to nothing to stop the genocide and, arguably, even obstructing the efforts of other nations to assist. No, the President said. We’re way past that. It’s not about anger but our conclusion that we alone can protect ourselves and can never rely on a fickle world for our defense. Rwandans can rely on Rwandans for their defense.

I pointed out to the president that Israel came to the same conclusion about its defense in general, and is now pondering whether it will apply that principle by striking Iran alone, now that President Obama has decided to engage the Iranian president even as he continues to enrich Uranium and fund Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists.

I asked Elie Wiesel about Syria. Given the Bible’s commandment ‘not to stand idly by the blood of your neighbor,’ did the United States have a moral obligation to punish Assad for gassing children, even if he surrenders his chemical arsenal? Wiesel was unequivocal. Both the American political, and Jewish communal leadership had failed on Syria. Chemical gas was a trigger point for genocide and mass murder. The fact that Assad had paid no price for gassing children was a tremendous moral failure that had to be corrected, and the Jewish community should have been at the forefront of saying so.

President Kagame echoed that sentiment. Those who use either chemical, or even conventional weapons to slaughter innocent people must be held accountable or nothing will check further aggression and murder. Here were the world’s two leading voices on genocide were being jointly critical of the American government’s decision to commute the military attack on Assad to simply destroying his arsenal. Even if he did so he still had to pay a personal price for mass murder.

My close friend Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had already announced, at a press conference we convened in October of last year, that Rwanda would be opening an embassy in Israel. I turned to the President and said to him that countries like Rwanda can understand Israel’s security situation in ways that few others could. The similarities between the two countries is striking. They are of similar size. They have terrorist enemies on their borders. Israel has Iran-funded Hezbollah and Hamas and Rwanda the FDLR in Eastern Congo. Both are regularly criticized unfairly by the UN. Both have had frictions with France which has at times assumed a curiously negative posture toward both countries. And, of course, both have experienced genocides of staggering proportions.

In light of the unique relationship between the two countries, I asked the President would it not be proper for Rwanda to open its embassy not in Tel Aviv but in Jerusalem, becoming one of the first nations to affirm the holy city as Israel’s eternal and undivided capitol? The President was surprised by the question but answered graciously. Rwanda and Israel indeed share similar histories and security challenges. He was very happy that they were increasing their bilateral relations with Rwanda opening an embassy in Israel. It was an important step in an evolving relationship and opening an Embassy in Jerusalem would be too great a leap for now. He and I both smiled at his response, with the President knowing I had put him on the spot and with me knowing that he had artfully dodged my question.

I turned to Professor Wiesel and told him that the full page ads he took out in America’s major publications in March, 2010, mildly rebuking President Obama, with whom he is close, for his pressure on Israel to cease building in parts of Jerusalem were widely credited with reversing the Administration’s policy. Would he be consider taking out similar ads questioning the President’s decision to open diplomatic relations at the highest level of the Iranian leadership without first demanding that Iran cease funding Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, or enriching Uranium? Wiesel said that Iran’s holocaust denial was dangerous and delusional, and that opening diplomatic relations with the Iranians before they had formally renounced their genocidal aspirations against the Jewish state was unacceptable. He would consider the ads.

At last, I asked Professor Wiesel about a subject he and I had discussed many times. Why was it inappropriate to hate those who have committed genocide? Should we not despise the SS who murdered his family, or Hutu genocidaires who hacked children to death with machetes? Wiesel was adamant. Once you start hating, the emotion is internalized and you cannot control its spread and growth. It’s not long before it is directed even at those whom it is inappropriate to hate.

I have been close to Wiesel for 25 years. He is my hero and teacher. But on this one point, I remain unsure, and continue to despise those monsters who would murder a child because of his nationality, religion, or race. Never again must mean just that, Never again.

Genocides All Over the Place

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Last night I received the following press release from my new Secretary of State, John Kerry, which caused me an initial double take:

Commemoration of 19th Anniversary of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

The United States stands in solidarity with the Rwandan people as together we remember and honor the victims of those tragic 100 days 19 years ago. We mourn with you not only for the lives lost, but for the families torn apart, and for the survivors of the genocide who continue to live with their grief to this day. At the same time, we admire the resilience and spirit of the Rwandan people who have made such progress in overcoming this tragedy.

We look with you to the future and pay tribute to the gracious and determined character of the Rwandan people.

Is it possible? I asked myself. Two memorials for national genocides on the same day? Are we so packed with genocidal events on this miserable blue ball that we now have to observe them two at a time?

I checked the Rwanda.net website, and came back with the following information:

April 7th is the beginning of the Genocide Memorial Week. It is a time to remember the atrocities committed against our fellow man while the world sat back and watched. If you are not familiar with the genocide in Rwanda, I would recommend reading about it. There are many books that shed light on this terrible event in our history. Below is a summary from the government about why they have time each year to remember such a horrific event. Remember, it happened before, it happened in 1994, and it can happen again. The only way to prevent events in the future is to learn from the past. I know there is a lot below, so if you don’t read all of it, PLEASE at least read what I think are the important parts highlighted.

April 7th is Rwanda’s National Mourning Day for the Genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. It is observed:

– To remember what happened during the Genocide

– To sympathize with, and provide support to, Genocide survivors as they go through tough moments of remembering atrocities

– To restore the dignity of our beloved ones who were killed, by burying them properly, remembering the good things about them and giving tribute to those who struggled to save lives during that period.

– To reflect on the crime of Genocide, and other related crimes against humanity, and to resolve to “Never Again” allow Genocide to occur.

– To observe a minute of silence at 12 noon on April 7th.

Now, to be fair, the reason we observed the Jewish Holocaust memorial day on April 7th at night is because this year this is when the 27th of Nissan fell, and next year it’ll be observed on Sunday, April 27. So the day actually belongs permanently to the Rwandan people, and we’re only using it this year.

Next year, we’ll be competing for memorial turf with the commemoration of the institution of Apartheid in South Africa — the passing of the “Group Areas Act,” which formally segregated the races, on April 7, 1950.

Also, in 1813, American troops captured Toronto. But, I suppose, whether this was a sad or a joyous event would depend on your current location vis-à-vis the border.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/genocides-all-over-the-place/2013/04/08/

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