U.N. International Days of Commemoration – All Victims of All Genocides and International Holocaust Day

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INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION AND DIGNITY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE AND OF THE PREVENTION OF THIS CRIME

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.

The 9th of December is the anniversary of the adoption of 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the “Genocide Convention”).

The proposal for this day of memory for all victims of all genocides in the world was made to the U.N. by Armenia.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION IN MEMORY OF THE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST On January 27 each year, the United Nations (UN) remembers the Holocaust that affected in particular people of Jewish origin during World War II.  This day is called the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Editorial Statement on recognition in Israel of the INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION OF VICTIMS OF GENOCIDE AND OF ITS PREVENTION

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December 9 is a day proclaimed by the United Nations as a memorial to all the victims of genocide of all peoples: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF COMMEMORATION OF VICTIMS OF GENOCIDE AND OF ITS PREVENTION.

December 9 is the day that in 1945 the United Nations passed the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

It is interesting to note that the proposal for this memorial day was introduced by Armenia. The Armenian people were the greatest victim of genocide in the 20th century before our Holocaust, and to many researchers, the Armenian Genocide paved the way for the Holocaust. It should also be noted that Armenia passed this decision after it managed to enact such a memorial day for all the victims of genocide in the world on the Armenian calendar.

To the best of our knowledge, until now, in the first years since the proclamation of the UN international day of commemoration of all victims in 2015, the State of Israel has not participated in any meaningful way.

It seems to us that it is appropriate to participate actively in this memorial, beginning with the Jewish tradition that places so much emphasis on the value of life of every created being, and as a further expression of our ‘special role’ as a chosen people for suffering, and of course based on our understanding of the grim lessons of our own Holocaust.

We, Jews and citizens of the State of Israel, wholeheartedly applaud Armenia for the initiative.

We extend through the media in Israel a declaration congratulating Armenia on its initiative to enact an International Day of Remembrance for all the victims of genocide worldwide.

At the same time, we note that we call upon the State of Israel to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide that claimed the lives of 1.5 million Armenians and a similar number of Assyrians, Yazidis, Greeks, and others.

Needless to add, beyond any practical political considerations, we are deeply ashamed of a Holocaust-stricken people for not recognizing the factual nature of the Armenian Genocide. Moreover, the attempt to legislate recently in the Knesset to recognition of the recent genocide of the Yazidi people (and there are reports that it continues to this day) was rejected as if it were out of lack of interest and not from any consideration of realpolitik.

When all is said and done, we Israelis-Jews are earning for ourselves an identity as leading deniers of genocides.

Prof. Israel Charny and Prof. Yair Auron
Chairs of the Institute for the Study of the Holocaust in Genocide, Jerusalem

It should be noted that we were both awarded the Armenia Prize and the Gold Medallion from the President of Armenia for our contributions to international recognition of the Armenian Genocide

Nili members will remember that during the Armenian Genocide period they warned the Yishuv that of course it was under Turkish control, that there is still a similar fate for the Jews, and indeed there were two periods of divorce of Jews by the Turks in Palestine and the deaths of several thousand people.

Sara Aharonson of Nili was a direct witness to the murder of the Armenians in Turkey, and among other things she described trains loaded with people and bodies that had been discarded and replaced by other Armenians …

Prof. Yehuda Bauer, a leading Holocaust historian, appearing in the Knesset Committee in December 2011, said:

“I would suggest that the Education Committee approach the Ministry of Education and ask for a very warm recommendation to teach the Armenian genocide in all schools, in all communities and in all sectors, and to recommend to the academy to do the same thing.” I also propose that on April 24, To pass a resolution in the Knesset to recognize the Armenian genocide.”

Editorial: What Yad Vashem Doesn’t Understand and Doesn’t Present

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The Armenian studies program and the Henry Madden Library at Fresno State University, California together with the Memorial de la Shoah of Paris are exhibiting “Genocides of the Twentieth Century.” The exhibition was designed, created and distributed by the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris – curators Georges ben Soussan, Joel Kotek, and Yves Ternon. The exhibition is a presentation of a comparative approach to three cases of genocide during the 20th century – in chronological order, the genocide of the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, the Holocaust of the Jews by the Nazis, and the Rwandan genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutu. According to the organizers, whose basic function is memorial to the Shoah, “Knowledge about the Holocaust helps to fight against all forms of racism and intolerance.”

For many years Yad Vashem has resisted any display or serious reference to any other genocide other than the Holocaust. The fact that Yad Vashem is an arm of the Israeli government devoted brilliantly to research and remembrance of the Holocaust is entirely correct, but for many of us our dream as Jews and people has been that the understanding and memory of the Holocaust would serve as a major tool for the prevention of other genocides in our destructive world.

Yehuda Bauer Decries Israel’s Approval of Polish Censorship of Holocaust Information as “Betrayal, Betrayal, Betrayal…,” and also Calls Israel’s Failure to Recognize the Armenian Genocide a “Betrayal”

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Professor Yehuda Bauer, doyen of Holocaust studies in the world, who is academic advisor to Yad Vashem said in a radio interview about Poland’s newly announced position of suspending criminal penalties in a law that criminalized blaming Poles for Nazi crimes, that Yad Vashem/Israel’s approval of the correction “borders on betrayal”

Bauer said about the Polish legislation itself that it constitutes “betrayal, betrayal, betrayal, betrayal of the great Polish liberals out there, truly wonderful people, who are telling the truth, who are investigating.”

He also used the occasion to weigh in on Israel’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide and described this failure also as a “betrayal.”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (July 4, 2018). Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer slams Israel’s detante with Poland. JTA.

A Resounding Commitment to Democracy by New Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, who Is Hailed by Time Magazine as One of Four People Who Have Fought to Defend Democracy

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Armenia’s new prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, led the protests that toppled the previous government of Armenia.  He insists, “I had no personal motivations.  All I wanted was to win freedom and happiness for my homeland and people… From the very first day, we kept saying we would not to resort to violence against anyone, even if we were met with brutality…I am convinced that we will move forward in building democracy, fighting corruption, establishing an independent judiciary and rule of law, and protecting human rights and economic competition.  For us democracy is not a component of regional interests or foreign-policy orientation but a reflection of values and convictions.  I believe Armenia will be one of the strongest democracies.”

Excerpted from Walt, Vivienne; Bajekal, Naina and Perrigo, Billy (July 19, 2018). TIME Hails Pashinyan ‘Crusader of Democracy.’   California Courier.

Roger Smith Awarded Doctor of Letters Degree by Saint Andrews University

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Roger W. Smith, a member of the International Council on the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt) degree by St. Andrews University in December 2017 in recognition of his contributions to genocide studies and political theory. St Andrews is Scotland’s oldest university (1413), and it appears that the Winter Graduation ceremony has changed little in over at least the past 300 years. As we left the graduation hall (me in my ‘medieval’ robe) we were led by the piper, followed by three mace bearers with their fifteenth century maces, the Chancellor, and the rest of us in academic regalia of many colors. It was a bit cold and windy, but a wonderful occasion and experience. My wife and I have never received more gracious and elegant hospitality than that at St Andrews. A lot of memories to keep. –Roger Smith

Poland Removes Jail Penalties for Statements on Polish Participation in the Holocaust But Retains as Civil Crime

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Davies, Christian (June 27, 2018). Poland makes partial U-turn on Holocaust law after Israel row: Threat of jail removed for those who attribute crimes of Nazi Germany to Poles. Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/27/poland-partial-u-turn-controversial-holocaust-law

Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, has signed a legal amendment to decriminalise the false attribution to Poland and Poles of crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, signalling a partial retreat on contentious legislation enacted this year…Anyone who “publicly and against the facts” accuses the Polish state or nation of being “responsible or complicit in” Nazi crimes will be guilty of a civil rather than a criminal offence.[1]

 

INTERPRETATIONS

  • Shmuli, Itzik, Member of the Israeli Knesset (Zionist Union) (June 14, 2018). Despite Netanyahu, Knesset to vote on Armenian Genocide motion. California Courier.

“The day on which the prime minister of the state of the Jewish people agrees to be a collaborator with the denial of the genocide of another people, who were slaughtered in concentration camps and on death marches, this is a black day and a deep moral stain on all of us. What would we have said if the world had refused to recognize the Holocaust because of diplomatic unpleasantness and economic interests? If we become partners in the denial of the tragedies in history we will never succeed in preventing those that may come in the future. I call on the government to set aside political considerations and do the necessary historic justice.”

Six months after its approval in parliament, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced on Wednesday his intention to backtrack the controversial Holocaust law, which criminalized anybody accusing the Polish nation of complicity in Nazi crimes… His office stated that the government feels the law did not achieve its goal of “defending the good name of Poland”: Morawiecki wants the law amended, so as not to impose criminal responsibility and a prison sentence on violators…The prime minister’s office also stated that the Institute of National Remembrance would continue to fight for the “historic truth” using the “civilian” tools at its disposal.

Speaking on a news show on Israel’s most distinguished radio station, Reshet Bet, Yehuda Bauer, who is considered the world’s preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, spoke up impassionedly and angrily that by signing a joint agreement with Poland, Israel had no less than “betrayed” the Holocaust.  He said that Israel had now legitimized the Polish law which retains civil charges against anyone speaking up about Poles’ participation in the Holocaust. “Were they born on the moon?”, Bauer asked furiously.  “It’s Poles.”

Bauer emphasized the Poland would still impose civil law on scholars who spoke truthfully about Polish murders of Jews.  Haaretz quoted Bauer as saying, “They will demand money from them, they will impoverish them, they will keep funding from them.  And we are legitimizing [this]… They will say:”What do you want, the Israelis agreed to this, why are you making noise?”

Robert Fisk Joins International Council of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide

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The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem is proud to announce that the iconic English writer for the London Independent has joined the International Council of the Institute.  Robert Fisk has been Middle East correspondent for some 40 years, much of the time based in Beirut.  He is an Arabic speaker and was among the few Western journalists to interview Osama bin Laden (on three occasions).  He has been honored with numerous awards including British Press Awards, International Journalist of the Year, and Amnesty International.

 

Who Sent the Jews to the Ghetto?

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The Associated Press  and Aderet, Ofer  (March 22, 2018). Poland Disavows PM’s Father’s Claim That Jews Moved to Ghettos to Get Away From non-Jews. Haaretz English Edition. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/poland-disavows-pm-s-father-s-ghetto-claim-1.5935141.

In a revealing sequel to the original legislation criminalizing any reference to Poles as perpetrators in the Holocaust which was stewarded by Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, the father of the prime minister, Kornel Morawiecki, claimed in an interview that “Jews were not forced into ghettos by Germans but went willingly because ‘they were told there would be an enclave where they could get away from the nasty Poles.’  He also said that Jews had abetted the Germans.”

Morawiecki, the father, also asked, “Who sent the Jews to the Umschlagpatz?” referring to the gathering of Jews from a ghetto for transport to the concentration/death camps.  “‘Was it the Germans?  No, the Jewish police.'”

The Polish government subsequently stated that the father’s claims “do not reflect the position of the government.”

USC Shoah Foundation Acquires Testimonies from Armenian Genocide Survivors

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Published in the California Courier (March 15, 2018).

The USC Shoah Foundation announced the receipt of one of the largest collections of testimonies from survivors of the Armenian Genocide.

The testimonies were recorded over several decades beginning in the 1970’s by Richard Hovannisian, a leading scholar on the genocide and the son of a genocide survivor.  The collection includes more than 1,000 interviews, making it the largest non-Holocaust-related collection added to the Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.  It is also the archive’s only audio-only collection.

The collection also includes documents and photographs relating to each interview, along with transcripts and translations.  Many of the testimonies were recorded in Armenian, but about 20 percent are in English and some are in Turkish and Spanish.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians died in the World War 1-era genocide.  “The figure ‘a million and a half’ can roll right over our shoulders,” Hovannisian said.  “But it’s different when you take those individual interviews and start listening to them one by one.  And then it becomes a million-and-a-half individuals and the loss of a civilization, of a way of life, a space where people lived for more than 3,000 years, and everything that space contained.”

The Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education includes 55,000 testimonies from eyewitnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides.

Israel and Poland Find It Difficult to Acknowledge the Facts of History

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Fisk, Robert (15 February 2018). In the cases of two separate holocausts, Israel and Poland find it difficult to acknowledge the facts of history. London Independent.
Reprinted with permission of the author.

While Poland has decided to outlaw any claims that their countrymen participated in the  extermination of the Jews, Israel continues to ignore the Armenian genocide.

The Israelis have been mighty pissed off with the Polish government these past few days. I don’t blame them. In fact – and I’m not referring to the racist, extremist military occupation government of Benjamin Netanyahu – the Israeli people and Jews around the world are quite right to be enraged at Poland’s latest Holocaust denialism.

The Polish decision to criminalise any accusation of Polish complicity in the Holocaust, passing a law which effectively prevents any Pole from acknowledging that Poles themselves assisted in the genocide of six million European Jews, is iniquitous. Its purpose is not to elicit the truth, but to bury it. It certainly constitutes part of the denialism of the Jewish Holocaust.

But – to give a taster to what this column is also about – I will say one word: Armenia. And reveal henceforth one of the most remarkable coincidences in recent publishing history. It involves century-old telegrams – hitherto regarded as forgeries, but in fact real – ordering the mass extermination of more than one million Christians, a truly courageous Turkish historian, and a total denial of the Armenian Holocaust by the one nation which should acknowledge its existence. But first, Poland.

So let’s get the facts – “just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts,” as Sgt Joe Friday never actually said in Dragnet – out of the way. Jews accounted for 10 per cent of the Polish population in 1939. Pre-war Polish governments took anti-Semitic measures to exclude Jews from important state posts. When the Germans invaded, they regarded the Poles as Slavic “untermenschen”, but understood all too well how latent anti-Semitism stained the Christian nationalist state of Poland.

Poland lost two million non-Jewish citizens at the hands of the Nazis. Polish Jews were virtually annihilated. Many Poles hid Jews from the Nazis and fought alongside them against the Wehrmacht and the SS.

But the Germans used Polish police forces to guard Jewish ghettoes, the last transit point before the Jews were sent in their tens of thousands to the extermination camps on Polish soil. No, they were not “Polish death camps” – both the Poles and the Israelis agree on that – but Polish collaborators (the “Blue Police”) did enforce curfews against Jews and assisted in the liquidation of the ghettoes.

There is clear and unimpeachable evidence that some (perhaps more than “some”) Poles blackmailed Jews in return for keeping their hiding places secret. In eastern Polish towns, Poles in a few cases participated in the murder of their Jewish neighbours. The massacre at Jedwabne comes to mind. But Poles were the first to reveal the facts of the Jewish Holocaust to the Allies, and at least one Polish resistance group saved thousands of Jewish lives by producing forged papers and finding escape routes for Jews.

As in most German-occupied European nations, morality – or immorality – was coloured grey. Think Vichy, and the French “maquis”. Think Italian fascism, and the Italian communist resistance.

In 2015, Ukraine passed laws that forced its citizens to honour nationalists who briefly collaborated with the Nazis and participated in the mass killing of Jews. No uproar from the West, of course, since we currently support brave little Ukraine against the Russian beast that has gobbled up Crimean Sevastopol.

But now to the incredible timing of the Polish legislation. For even as this disreputable law was actually passing through the parliament in Warsaw a few days ago, that most brave of Turkish historians, Taner Akcam, was publishing a short but revelatory book (Killing Orders, published by Palgrave Macmillan) which proves, finally and conclusively, that the extermination orders of Talat Pasha, a leader of the Young Turks and one of the Three Pashas who ruled the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, to destroy the entire Armenian Christian population in 1915 were real.

Not forgeries as Turkey’s apologists and denial historians would have the world believe. Not concocted by Armenian counterfeiters, or fiction created by a non-existent Ottoman official, as these wretched people would have us think. But as copper-bottomed and terrible as the Nazi documents which prove Germany’s responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust – and the evidence that proves Poles sometimes joined in the slaughter.

The facts of the Armenian Holocaust – for “Shoah” (holocaust) is the very word that many honourable Israelis use for the Armenian genocide – are well known but need, however briefly, to be repeated. In 1915 and in the immediate years that followed, the Ottoman Turks deliberately set out to liquidate a million and a half of their Armenian Christian citizens, sending them into the desert on death marches, butchering the men, raping the women, spitting the children on bayonets or starving them to death with their mothers and other family members in what is now northern Syria.

The Kurds, sorry to say, assisted in this barbarity. Taner Akcam has written extensively and with immense authority on this appalling period of Turkish history – which the Turkish government, to this day, shamefully denies – and has as a result been abused by hundreds of right-wing Turkish extremists who have even tried to place him on an American “terrorist” list (he teaches at Clark University in the US).

Akcam’s new book contains a dark and haunting – almost frightening – geography, for most of the 1915 massacres he writes about took place in or near towns which carry their own fearful message of slaughter and horror to us today: Mosul, Raqqa, Deir ez-Zour and, yes, Aleppo.

It was in the Baron Hotel in Aleppo – still standing today, the descendants of the then owner Mazlouiyan still (just) occupying its lobby – that a set of original telegrams from Talat Pasha, along with other liquidation messages memorised by an Ottoman official, Naim Bey, were handed over to an Armenian Holocaust survivor called Aram Andonian. He paid cash for the documents. We don’t know how much.

Until now, Turkish historians and their supporters in the West have regarded these vital papers as false. They claimed that Naim Bey did not exist, that Andonian was a forger, that the cypher in which Talat’s telegrams were written did not match the Ottoman cypher system of the time. They ignored the mass of evidence presented to the existing but quickly suppressed post-war trials in Istanbul, archives which subsequently went missing. And they held up telegrams – real enough but deliberately misleading – that “proved” Talat had the best interests of the Armenians at heart when he deported them.

Akcam’s unravelling of the truth is both a detective story and a volume of sudden, inconceivable horror. He proves the cypher numbers were real, that Naim Bey did indeed exist; an Ottoman document on a corruption investigation – in which Turkish officials accepted bribes from Armenians in return for their lives – identifies him as “Naim Effendi, the son of Huseyin Nuri, 26 years of age, from Silifke, former dispatch official for Meskene, currently the official in charge of Municipal Grain Storage Depots”. And more powerfully than any previous historian, Akcam proves – along with papers from the archive of a dead Armenian priest – that the Ottoman authorities were sending two sets of telegrams about the Armenians. One set expressed the government’s insistence that food and tents should be provided for Armenian deportees and that their confiscated property should be recompensed. The other set insisted upon their secret liquidation, preferably away from the cameras of prying US diplomats (America was neutral until 1917) and German officers allied to the Turkish army.

The Nazis told their Jewish victims that they were going to be “resettled” in the east rather than gassed. They also tried to cover the traces of the gas chambers of Treblinka before the Red Army arrived. But the “double” instructions sent by Talat Pasha and his 1915 genociders demonstrate that the pretence of humanitarian resettlement was conceived even before the organised genocide began. Some of the young German officers who witnessed the killings of 1915 turned up 26 years later in the Soviet Union, overseeing the slaughter of Jews.

And here is one very short account (courtesy of the Turkish historian Akcam) of an Armenian witness to his people’s destruction, which could – if the identities and locations were changed to the Ukraine or Belarus – have been written during the Second World War: “In order to eliminate the last remaining Armenian deportees…between Aleppo and Deyr-i Zor [sic] who had managed to survive…Hakki Bey…evicted all the deportees along the Euphrates, starting from Aleppo… Close to 300 young men and boys…surviving in the camp Hamam were sent to the South in a special convoy… Solid reports about them arrived that they had been killed in Rakka [sic]… Elsewhere, we learned in no uncertain terms that in the area around Samiye, 300 children were thrown into a cave opening, gas was poured in and they were burned alive.”

So here’s the real hypocrisy of this story. The Israeli government, so outraged by Poland’s Jewish Holocaust denialism, refuses to recognise the Armenian Holocaust. Shimon Peres himself said that “we reject attempts to create a similarity between the [Jewish] Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. What the Armenians went through is a tragedy, but not genocide.”

The Americans, I should add – Trump included, of course – have been equally pathetic in their failure to acknowledge the Armenian truth. But oddly, not Poland.

For 13 years ago, the Polish parliament passed a bill which specifically referred to the “Armenian genocide”. The speaker of the Polish parliament, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, said at the time that the Armenian genocide did indeed take place, that responsibility fell on the Turks, and that Turkish documents – though not yet those which Akcam has just revealed – “confirm” this.

So there you have it. Poland punishes anyone who speaks of Polish participation in the Jewish Holocaust, but accepts the Armenian Holocaust. Israel insists that all must acknowledge the Jewish Holocaust – and Poland’s peripheral guilt – but will not acknowledge the Armenian Holocaust.

Mercifully, Israeli scholars like Israel Charny do so. And mercifully, Turks like Taner Akcam agree. But how many times must the dead die all over again for nations to accept the facts of history?

 

Shamai Davidson, MD 1926-1986

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Professor Shamai Davidson, MD, at the time of his death, Director of the Shalvata Mental Health Hospital and Center, and Associate Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, was one of the three founders of the Institute – together with Eli Wiesel and Israel Charny.

Shamai Davidson dedicated himself in particular to psychiatric treatment of survivors of the Holocaust. We remember very clearly his descriptions of how he would drop everything at the hospital when he learned that a Holocaust survivor had been admitted as a new patient. As a person whose close relatives perished in the Nazi death camps, and as a committed Zionist, Shamai Davidson elected to leave his home in Ireland – where he also received his medical training, and made aliyah to the relatively newly founded State of Israel. Sadly, his productive and creative work was brought to an unexpected halt when he suddenly in surgery.

A collection of Shamai Davidson’s work on treating Holocaust survivors was published posthumously: Shamai Davidson (1992).  Holding on to Humanity – The Message of Holocaust Survivors: The Shamai Davidson Papers. New York: New York University Press.

 

The following biography and appreciation of Shami Davidson was published in Hebrew in and Israeli journal of psychotherapy: Witzomb, Eliezer and Margolin, Jacob (March, 2017).  Shamai Davidson, 1926-1986.  SichotIsraeli Journal of Psychotherapy,  31(2), 162-167 (Hebrew).

Read the full text here.

Uproar Continues: IAGS Censors Critique of Journal of Genocide Research and Denies Scientific Validity of Study of Bias in the Journal, but Leaves Intact Major Criticisms of the State of Israel

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Listserv of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) Publishes a Report on Polish Criminalization of References to the Holocaust, Allows Criticism of Israel as a Denier of Genocides and Seller of Arms, but Censors Critique of the Journal of Genocide Research.

On February 7, 2018, an article was posted on the IAGS Listserv about an interview with Israel Charny (on TV station i24 that broadcasts internationally in English from Israel). See on this website: Poland Seeks to Criminalize any Reference to Polish Participation in the Holocaust.

However, the editor of the Listserv chose to censor a sentence which referred to denials of the significance of the Holocaust in the Journal of Genocide Research (the post was subsequently published in full in the California Courier). In contrast, the Listserv left intact the strong critiques of the State of Israel as a denier of the Armenian Genocide as well as currently the genocide in Myanmar, and as a shameful exporter of arms to countries engaged – or seen as threatening to engage – in genocide. These comments were left on the post, but even a brief reference to the studies that refer to JGR publishing denials of the Holocaust such as that the Wannsee Conference in no way pertained to Jews was erased by the editor.

Charny filed an appeal of the IAGS censorship.

The following is the reply he received from the IAGS Advisory Board on April 11, 2018, followed by his response to the Advisory Board.

 

DECISION BY IAGS ON APPEAL TO CANCEL CENSORSHIP

April 11, 2018

Dear Dr. Charny,

We are writing with the decision of the IAGS Advisory Council regarding the appeal filed on February 13, 2018, in reference to a line that was removed from a post you submitted to the IAGS Listserv prior to this date (no date was given in the appeal documents). Here is the originally submitted message, as you presented it to us, with the text that the Listserv moderator removed in bold and highlighted:

When asked by the television interviewer, Tracy Alexander, whether denials were particularly common among right-wing bigots, Charny replied that regrettably denials are very widespread and are to be found in quite unbelievable places, such as Israel’s denials of several genocides including the Armenian Genocide and currently the genocide in Myanmar, as well as the shameful record of Israel’s sales of arms to several countries even as those countries were committing genocide. Denials are even to be found among bona fide genocide scholars and academic institutions such as the Journal of Genocide Research which published a series of articles minimizing the significance of the Holocaust, even including an article which denied that the Wannsee Conference in any way addressed a Final Solution specifically to the Jews.

On February 11, 2018, IAGS Listserv Moderator Geoff Hill apologized for not discussing with you removal of the sentence before posting the modified submission. While the rules do not strictly require that the Moderator communicate with the author regarding a post, the Advisory Council agrees that this is appropriate editorial practice and is in the process of developing revisions for Listserv Rules that would include this requirement.

As to your appeal that the submission should be published on the IAGS Listserv in its original form, our decision is not to grant your appeal. There are a number of factors that weighed in our decision.

(1) While the Listserv Moderator did fail to communicate with you about removing the line ultimately removed, this in itself does not warrant publication if his grounds against publication of the full post have merit, and we have found they have merit.

(2) Listserv Rule #2 prohibits Listserv posts that “include personal attacks or insults.” This terminology clearly refers to publications, organizations, etc., in addition to individual people. The 2015-17 IAGS Executive Board and Advisory Council found there existed too great a risk to the Association if our listserv were to act as a republisher of your article. Instead, they opted to allow you (through your editor) to announce the publication of the article and to direct interested readers to an external site. In absence of any further discussion of your article on the listserv, and after the initial conflict generated by its publication external to the listserv, including international publicity that was unflattering to the IAGS, the moderator elected to close further discussion of the matter. We see no compelling reason to reopen this debate now.

(3) The IAGS Listserv is a moderated listserv. The moderator does have discretion regarding what is published on it, similar to the role of a newspaper or journal editor. What is more, the IAGS Listserv Moderator has a responsibility to ensure that what is published on the Listserv is consistent with the mission of IAGS. While clearly open debate and discussion among scholars is generally a positive thing for the organization, extending a discussion after all sides have had a fully adequate chance to state their cases not only does a disservice to IAGS members by adding repetitive posts to their email inboxes, but can actually chill discussion and debate, when members stop participating because of this repetition. You have had ample opportunity to post on this issue to the Listserv in the past, and the Moderator in fact made a decision to close debate on this issue as of a certain date, after which he has rejected numerous posts on this issue, the majority in support of those you have labelled deniers. Similarly, the Moderator has a responsibility to exclude attacking or insulting comments without proper scholarly foundations, because publishing (or even republishing) such comments opens IAGS to legal sanction and can contribute to a negative public image that reflects poorly on all members, not just the individual making such comments. Finally, an important goal of IAGS is to maintain respectful relations with all legitimate related organizations and publications. The insufficiently supported accusation of denial your submission included threatened to increase tensions with the editors of the Journal of Genocide Research and the membership of the International Network of Genocide Scholars that published it. While the leadership of IAGS is ready and willing to take clear stands against proven denial, your accusation of genocide denial is based on what experts consulting for IAGS have determined to be a flawed survey methodology.

We wish to add that the Advisory Council has tremendous regard and gratitude for your service to IAGS and founding role in our discipline. But, we must decide any appeal based solely on the evidence, without regard to the person or people involved.

With deepest respect,

The IAGS Advisory Board

 

REPLY BY ISRAEL CHARNY TO IAGS ADVISORY BOARD

April 17, 2018: Response to the IAGS Advisory Board via Henry Theriault

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your serious and hard work in response to my appeal of February 13, 2018, and the detailed and thoughtfully prepared reply from you of April 11.

I also certainly want to acknowledge with much appreciation your warm salute to me for my “service to IAGS and founding role in our discipline.”

I do understand, and respect, the stipulation that posts on the IAGS listserv must remain respectful to colleagues and colleague organizations – even and the more so in the context of controversy.  Yet, I will ask does this mean that if a colleague organization of genocide scholars engages in out-and-out denials of genocide(s) that there should not and cannot be strong and persistent criticism of such denials?  Thus I will ask hypothetically if Noam Chomsky were to be a member of a genocide study association, it would or would not be appropriate to criticize his positions and indeed him himself for his “serial denials” — or at least serial associations with deniers of genocides – including the Holocaust, Cambodia, and Rwanda! (Adam Jones: “Why on earth has Pilger – together with Chomsky – warmly endorsed a tract co-authored by none other than Edward Herman which brazenly denies the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994?”).

In the case of the Journal of Genocide Research (JGR), we are talking about a series of denials including categorical statements that the Holocaust played absolutely no role and had no influence on the proceedings of the United Nations in the development of the U.N. Convention on Genocide and somewhat later the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, and a ‘learned article’ devoted brazenly to the thesis that the Wannsee Conference in which the Nazis formulated their “Final Solution” and established their statistical quotas of victims was not intended towards the Jews.

Further, I resent very strongly the statements that my studies were on the face of it “without properly scholarly foundations” and based on “a flawed survey methodology.”  These were the allegations that were spread immediately in response to the studies by authors of the JGR articles. I myself am a trained social science researcher and have published various empirical studies in the past as well as supervised research dissertations on the university level, and I really am quite capable of knowing what is a legitimate scientific study.  In our case we are talking about the responses of 76 identified genocide scholars plus 30 students in a number of courses on Holocaust and genocide – the results were so consistent that we did not need to separate the groups for the analysis – and it is their voices that speak in repeated criticisms of each of 7 articles in JGR and then of the Journal as a whole.  These are bona fide research findings.  How would we feel if such a 106 were to identify publications of our IAGS as committed to basically wrong and prejudicial values?

Please note that I myself have carefully maintained my membership in INOGS from the outset to this very day and am committed to a maximum positive cooperation between the two organizations, but never at the expense of compromising with open and shut denials of genocide or any form of racism and prejudice.

A final note: The results of my studies, which were gathered by an outside independent survey company, are and always have been fully available to any and all researchers and to any re-analyses of data.  The initial study of N=76 is publicly available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-26BHWS3W/.  The subsequent study of N=30 (students) which was handled by another survey company is available upon request.

______

We will post this correspondence exchange between us on the website of our Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem (www.ihgjlm.com) .  I will also submit a brief note to our IAGS Listserv (smile) calling attention to this exchange.

In continuing commitment to genocide studies and to the basic values implicit in our professional commitment.

Israel

Jewish Professor Requests Information From Israeli Gov’t on Armenian Genocide

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by Harut Sassounian
California Courier, January 11, 2018.
Prominent Israeli scholar Yair Auron filed an official request with Israel’s Foreign Ministry on December 21, 2017 asking for all internal documents on agreements and commitments undertaken by the State of Israel with Turkey and Azerbaijan not to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The request sent by Auron’s attorney Eitay Mack to the Foreign Ministry, states that “official Israeli denial of the Armenian Genocide is tied to its diplomatic and military relations with Turkey, and in recent years to the relations with Azerbaijan.”
Prof. Auron’s request under Israel’s Freedom of Information Law explains that “Turkey has purchased from Israel training and military systems worth billions of USD. The arms deals included the upgrading of planes and tanks, radar and monitoring systems, missiles and munitions.” Azerbaijan has also purchased from Israel close to $5 billion worth of advanced weaponry.
In 2011, during Knesset’s deliberations on the Armenian Genocide, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Alex Miller, Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, unequivocally ruled out the possibility of Israel recognizing the Armenian Genocide in order not harm relations with Azerbaijan — Israel’s “key strategic ally in the Islamic world.”
Prof. Auron’s letter also quotes from several leaders of the right wing “Yisrael Beiteinu” party stating that they will ensure that the Knesset does not recognize the Armenian Genocide. “Yisrael Beiteinu” is led by Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Arye Gut, a propagandist for Azerbaijan and spokesperson for the International Israel-Azerbaijan Association, has affirmed that “Lieberman is one of the architects of the Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership.” In an interview with RTV-TV, Lieberman announced that the Armenian Genocide “was a theoretical, disputed historical issue and that the lack of recognition was not necessarily related to Turkey, but primarily to [Israel’s] strategic relations with Azerbaijan.” Prof. Auron stresses that these arguments sound very similar to those who deny the Jewish Holocaust.
As an example of Israel’s close relations with Azerbaijan, Prof. Auron’s letter reports that “613 trees were planted” on February 26, 2016, “at the Chaim Weizmann (1st President of Israel) Forest, to mark ‘24 years to the Khojaly genocide,’ in memory of 613 victims, attended by MK [Member of Knesset] Avigdor Lieberman. Only Azerbaijan and Turkey mark this ‘genocide’ event. In recent years, official Israel has become a direct and indirect supporter of the purported Khojaly genocide claim. The battle of Khojaly took place in February 1992, in the midst of a cruel war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno Karabagh province. There are several versions as to what happened there, including the number of those who perished, but one thing is not disputed among the international community — no genocide by its common definition took place there.”
Prof. Auron’s concludes his request from the Israeli government by stating: “one suspects that not only does the State of Israel ‘trade’ in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but that it has taken upon itself real commitments on this matter, in agreements with Azerbaijan and Turkey.”
Consequently, Attorney Mack specifically demands that the Israel’s Foreign Ministry should disclose the following information:
1)  “Any documentation of agreements, understandings, commitments vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkey as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
2)  “Any correspondence with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
3)  “Any documentation of meetings or communications between the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
4)  “Decisions and position papers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in view of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s objection.”
It remains to be seen if the Israeli Foreign Ministry complies with Prof. Auron’s legal request. Both the American and British governments, which have similar laws on requirements to disclose internal information, have responded to similar requests from their own citizens, making public secret documents on the Armenian Genocide. It would be understandable if certain portions of the disclosed documents were to be blacked out by the Israeli government for confidential reasons, to protect the identities of those providing the information or for national security reasons.

Erdogan Turkey Continues Ottoman Empire

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A Smoking Gun!: Erdogan Calls Turkey the ‘Continuation of the Ottoman Empire,’ So It Is Unmistakably Turkey that Committed the Armenian Genocide

Turkey’s current (and who apparently hopes to join the growing list of rulers of countries who stay on and on accruing greater and greater power) president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has himself provided the absolute justification for seeing contemporary Turkey as the continuation of the state that committed the Armenian Genocide 100 plus years ago.

For a long time, many Turkish officials would make the absolute distinction between the earlier Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic that followed and which continues today.  The argument was that the Ottoman Empire indeed was responsible for whatever massacres did take place of Armenians — though God forbid they continued their denial that it was a basic genocidal plan.

The Times of London reported as follows: “Last week, the president said that modern Turkey is a ‘continuation’ of the Ottoman Empire – a direct contradiction of Ataturk’s ideology, which cast the Imperial era as backwards, stale and to be discarded and forgotten rather than celebrated.

“We see Sultan Abdulhamid II as one of the most important, most visionary, most strategic-minded personalities who have put their stamps on the last 150 years of our state,” Mr Erdogan said. “We should stop seeing the Ottomans and the Republic as two eras that conflict with one another.”[1]

The following is a powerful editorial column written by Harut Sassounian, publisher of the excellent Armenian-American newspaper, the California Courier.

Pres. Erdogan Admits that Turkey is…The ‘Continuation’ of the Ottoman Empire

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN, PUBLISHER, CALIFORNIA COURIER · FEBRUARY 20, 2018

http://www.thecaliforniacourier.com/pres-erdogan-admits-that-turkey-is-the-continuation-of-the-ottoman-empire/

For many decades Turkish officials have outright denied the occurrence of the Armenian Genocide. In recent years, however, some Turks have made the excuse that today’s Turkish Republic is not responsible for the Armenian Genocide because it was committed by the Ottoman Empire, a defunct state.

With this pretext, the issue is no longer whether genocide was committed or not, but who is responsible for it. Those who use this justification, claim that the Republic of Turkey is neither the successor nor the continuation of the Ottoman Empire, but a new and separate state!

This argument has gradually grown weaker as Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan began speaking and acting as an Ottoman Sultan! Two weeks ago, the Turkish leader made matters worse for his country when he, according to The Times of London, asserted that “modern Turkey is a ‘continuation’ of the Ottoman Empire — a direct contradiction of Ataturk’s ideology, which cast the Imperial era as backwards, stale and to be discarded and forgotten rather than celebrated.”

By stating that Turkey is a ‘continuation’ of the Ottoman Empire, Erdogan effectively concedes that today’s Turkey is responsible for the actions of the Ottoman Empire. In other words, the Republic of Turkey, which inherited the Ottoman Empire’s assets, also inherited its liabilities!

To confirm his allegiance to the Ottoman dynasty, Erdogan attended a ceremony earlier this month to mark the centenary of the death of Sultan Abdulhamid II, the ‘Red Sultan,’ who has been rehabilitated by the current government. Erdogan conveniently ignored the fact that the Red Sultan had ordered the killing of 300,000 Armenians from 1894 to 1896, known as the Hamidian massacres. As reported by The Times of London, “The descendants of one of the last Ottoman sultans are to be given Turkish citizenship, ending almost a century of outcast and ostracism.”

According to the Times of London, “Abdulhamid II ruled from 1876 to 1909, and was much maligned in Kemal Ataturk’s modern Turkish republic for his authoritarianism, anti-Westernism and clampdowns on the media. Yet, in the era of President Erdogan he has been rehabilitated. A television series, ‘Payitaht’, which depicts the life of Abdulhamid in glowing terms has been lauded by Mr. Erdogan as essential viewing for Turkish youths to find out about their country’s history…. ‘We see Sultan Abdulhamid II as one of the most important, most visionary, most strategic-minded personalities who have put their stamps on the last 150 years of our state,’ Mr. Erdogan said. ‘We should stop seeing the Ottomans and the Republic as two eras that conflict with one another.’ Abdulhamid died in 1918 and at celebrations for the centenary this week, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that he would personally oversee the granting of citizenships to the family.”

Arrogantly, Erdogan then warned that U.S. soldiers in Northern Syria would soon receive the ‘Ottoman slap,’ according to Reuters. He was “referring to a half-legendary Turkish martial move that involves a potent open-palm hit, resulting in a one-hit knockout or even skull fractures and death.” An illustration published by the pro-government Turkish media shows Pres. Donald Trump receiving an ‘Ottoman slap’ by Pres. Erdogan. Furthermore, Reuters quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu stating that Washington was backing the YPG [Kurdish forces in Syria] because it shared the same “Marxist, communist, atheist” ideology!

Returning to the issue of whether the Republic of Turkey is a brand new and separate entity from the Ottoman Empire, Prof. Alfred de Zayas, an international law expert, explained in an essay titled, “The Genocide against the Armenians 1915-1923 and the relevance of the 1948 Genocide Convention,” that a ‘successor state’ is responsible for the crimes committed by its predecessor regime. Moreover, a state that is a ‘continuation’ of a previous entity is even more responsible because there is no difference between the two, as admitted by Erdogan two weeks ago.

In addition, Alfred de Zayas quoted in his study Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni stating that “In international law, the doctrine of legal continuity and principles of State responsibility make a ‘successor Government’ liable in respect of claims arising from a former government’s violations.” Prof. de Zayas concluded that “the claims of the Armenians for their wrongfully confiscated properties did not disappear with the change from the Sultanate to the regime of Mustafa Kemal.”

Finally, Prof. de Zayas affirmed that “the principle of responsibility of successor States has been held to apply even when the State and government that committed the wrongs were not that of the ‘successor State.’ This principle was formulated, inter alia, by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Lighthouse Arbitration case.”

We can conclude that Pres. Erdogan, by affirming that today’s Republic of Turkey is the continuation of the Ottoman Empire, has inadvertently admitted that Turkey is responsible for the genocidal, territorial and economic damages caused by the Ottoman Empire to the Armenian people. Erdogan’s confession should be presented as evidence when demands emanating from the Turkish Genocide of Armenians are submitted to the World Court.

 

[1] Roberts, Heather (February 13, 2018). Turkey opens the door to exiled Ottoman royals.  The Times (UK). https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/turkey-brings-ottoman-heirs-in-from-the-cold-n0ddzqsh2

 

Netanyahu and Kagame: Their Hands Are Full of Blood by Prof. Yair Auron

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According to the media, the “summit meeting” between the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of Rwanda at Davos evoked more interest than Netanyahu’s earlier meetings with the German Chancellor, the French President, and even the President of the United States.  The two leaders are trying to ‘iron out the wrinkles’ and ‘close the deal’ that would allow for the continued deportation of refugees from Israel via Rwanda, at times to their death, at other times to hell on earth.

It seems inconceivable that this is being done by two peoples who have experienced genocide in recent times – us in the 1940s (and the last Holocaust survivors are still among us), and the Tutsi in 1994. The quickest genocide in history was not stopped by the international community, but by Tutsi forces that came from outside the state, led, among others, by the incumbent Rwandan President. Around a million people – the actual number may never be known – were murdered in just a hundred days; that is, about 10,000 human beings per day, 416 per hour. That is, seven human beings just like me and you, were murdered every minute. And the world knew, and saw, and kept silent, turned its back and did nothing.

We, in Israel, saw and kept silent. We did send a mobile hospital to save lives, but at the same time, we also sent arms for killing, whilst the genocide went on, and did it knowingly and consciously. Even if we did not know the exact number of the massacred, we have watched hundreds of bodies floating down the river – on the two TV channels we had at the time. The weapons were sent by the Government of Israel to the murderous Hutu government, not by private arms dealers. And yes, the Israeli government at the time was sadly the Rabin-Peres-Meretz coalition.

The ‘leftist’ Supreme Court has repeatedly refused our request to expose documents that the state admits are in its possession, which prove unequivocally the crime committed according to both Israeli and international law. That crime is, in fact, complicity in the crime of genocide. Sending arms to Rwanda during the genocide is quite similar to sending arms to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. These are difficult things to say, but they must be said.

The Rwandan President, an ethnic Tutsi and son of genocide survivors, knows this very well. But that did not prevent him from coming to Israel for the late President Shimon Peres’s 90th birthday celebrations; it has not prevented him from receiving Netanyahu at the Genocide Museum in Kigali, keeping silent about Israel’s crimes during the genocide. His government ministers even tried to deny it ever happened, because the mention of those arms deals may jeopardize the current weapons deal hatched between the two governments, who are still trading heavily.

Senior Rwandan officials are denying any deal regarding the deportation of refugees, but and under careful analysis, official statements reveal contradictions, and it is safe to assume that many lies are being disseminated.

Two peoples who have experienced genocide, for whom genocide is possibly the most important component of their identity, are now sending refugees to their horrific fate. Such fate has been documented by extensive evidence and testimonies of survivors, who often say they’d rather die than choose that route.

It must be said: both governments are involved in human trafficking. There is no other definition for these dealings: the government of Israel pays a sum (perhaps $5,000 ‘per head’) for every refugee that Rwanda agrees to allow to pass through its borders. Both peoples must have learned a disastrous lesson: That there are human beings – members of your own group – who are worth more, and there are others, who are worth less, and then there are those who are worth nothing at all. There are no moral restrictions, and survivors are allowed anything, with impunity.

All this takes place in front of our eyes on the eve of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27). When I contemplate this, I know that evil, almost any evil, is still possible now. True, this is neither the Jewish Holocaust nor the Rwandan Genocide, but it is horrific enough, unthinkable enough, and so deeply disheartening …

And yet the mobilization in recent weeks of broad and diverse publics in Israeli society, who are currently awakening for protest, is an injection of hope that compels us to keep protesting until the deportation decree is aborted.

Prof. Yair Auron is a genocide scholar and the Associate Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide.

This article was also published in the Hebrew and English editions of Haaretz on February 1, 2018. for the English edition see: Auron, Yair (February 1, 2018). Genocide Victims as Refugee Dealers: It’s hard to believe that the people behind the deal to expel asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda are the leaders of two peoples who suffered genocide recently. Haaretz English Edition. https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-genocide-victims-as-refugee-dealers-1.5784452

Poland Seeks to Criminalize any Reference to Polish Participation in the Holocaust

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Published in the California Courier

January 28, 2018 – The Polish parliament has approved a law that forbids use of the term “Polish Death Camp,” and forbids any other mention of the participation of the Poles in crimes committed during the Holocaust.  Anyone who violates the law, including non-Polish citizens, will be liable to receive a fine or up to three years of imprisonment. [1]  [2]

Legal authorities and others were quick to point out that the law in principle could be attached to anyone who reports or produces records of persecution by Poles of them or their families during the Holocaust, or researchers into the history of the Holocaust who are seeking to get more detailed records of events.

With regard to murders by Poles in the Holocaust, an article in Haaretz has reported that “According to the most extreme estimates, over 100,000 Jews were murdered over the course of the Holocaust with Polish assistance.” [3]

Speaking on the “Crossroads” TV show on Channel i24, Israel Charny, Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem gave as his opinion that the Poles were justified in insisting that the camps were not “Polish death camps.”  Charny said, “The camps were set up by the Nazis, and even though there were clearly Poles who participated in the operation of the camps, their actions came under the Nazi regime which had occupied Poland in entirety.  However, in my opinion it would have been better to make this legitimate point a declaration by the government rather than a criminal law.”

He continued, “When it comes to the issue of Poles contributing to the Holocaust, it is well known that there were numerous incidents in which the Poles turned in and/or murdered Jews during the Holocaust as well as after the Holocaust.  Two famous massacres were the pogroms in Jedwabne in 1941 and then after the war in Kielce in 1946.”

The same position has been taken by Yad Vashem, acknowledging the legitimacy of the demand not to refer to the camps as Polish, but protesting severely the law against any mention of Polish responsibility for deaths of Jews in the Holocaust.

Charny emphasized that the law as a whole was a clear-cut example of one of the many strategies of denials of the Holocaust, in this case combining a legitimate restriction of charges of responsibility for the concentration camps with denial of historical truth as well as denials of freedom of expression and research, as if the legitimate restriction could hide or justify the subsequent denial of the Holocaust.

When asked by the television interviewer, Tracy Alexander, whether denials were particularly common among right-wing bigots, Charny replied that regrettably denials are very widespread and are to be found in quite unbelievable places, such as Israel’s denials of several genocides including the Armenian Genocide and currently the genocide in Myanmar, as well as the shameful record of Israel’s sales of arms to several countries even as those countries were committing genocide.  Denials are even to be found among bona fide genocide scholars and academic institutions such as the Journal of Genocide Research which published a series of articles minimizing the significance of the Holocaust, even including an article which denied that the Wannsee Conference in any way addressed a Final Solution specifically to the Jews.[4]

The following appears in a New York Times International editorial:

“In a striking coincidence, the Polish bill was passed just as the leader of a major Muslim institution in Saudi Arabia, a sternly Islamic kingdom better known for its virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli positions, publicly proclaimed the Holocaust “among the worst human atrocities ever.” “One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime?” demanded Mohammad Alissa of the Muslim World League in a letter to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

“Indeed, that is the question Poland should be asking, and in fact many Poles have been asking and should be encouraged to keep asking.”

[1] Eglash, Ruth and Selk, Avi (January 28, 2018). Israel and Poland try to tamp down tensions after Poland’s ‘death camp’ law sparks Israeli outrage. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/01/27/it-could-soon-be-a-crime-to-blame-poland-for-nazi-atrocities-and-israel-is-appalled/?utm_term=.2b15ee66d4ff

[2] Spiegel Online (January 27, 2018). Israel kritisiert polnisches Gesetz zu NS-Todeslagern. http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/polen-kritik-aus-israel-an-strafvorschrift-zu-ns-todeslagern-a-1190160.html

[3] Aderet, Ofer (January 28, 2018).  Poland criminalizes mention of ‘Polish crimes’ in Holocaust.  Haaretz English Edition. https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-poland-votes-to-criminalize-any-mention-of-polish-holocaust-crimes-1.5767561

[4] New York Times International (January 31, 2018). Poland’s Holocaust Blame Bill: In an effort to rewrite history, the Polish Parliament is debating a bill to criminalize discussion of the nation’s role in the Holocaust (Editorial).

Israel W. Charny is the author of The Genocide Contagion: How We Commit and Confront Holocaust and Genocide, and in 2011 was the recipient of the Armenian Presidential Medal in part for his “significant research in the field of genocide denial.”  Prof. Charny is a Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist and Executive Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem.

See also the discussion of the denials of the Holocaust by Poland and the denials of the Armenian Genocide by Israel in an article by Robert Fisk in the London Independent:

Fisk, Robert (February 15, 2018).  In the cases of two separate holocausts, Israel and Poland find it difficult to acknowledge the facts of history. (London) Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/holocaust-israel-poland-history-difficult-acknowledge-netanyahu-jewish-polish-government-a8212071.html

SPECIAL AUTHOR’S DISCOUNTS OF 30%: THE GENOCIDE CONTAGION / A DEMOCRATIC MIND / PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR A DEMOCRATIC MIND

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The Genocide Contagion: How We Commit and Confront Holocaust and Genocide. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.  Awarded SPIRITUALITY AND PRACTICE BOOK AWARD 2016. 
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 A Democratic Mind: Psychology and Psychiatry with Fewer Meds and More Soul. Rowman & Littlefield and Lexington Books (2016).

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Psychotherapy for A Democratic Mind: Treating Tragedy, Intimacy, Violence and Evil  will be published by Rowman & Littlefield and Lexington Books in 2018.

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COVER BLURBS A DEMOCRATIC MIND

Groundbreaking
“The argument for freedom of thought in our work and in our lives is emblazoned in this groundbreaking book for our times. A Democratic Mind marshals cogent arguments against the social and psychotherapeutic trends toward the surrender to imposed constraints on thought and action, and toward the suggestion that rule-bound ideas of mental health and illness will suffice. If you long for a unifying call for freedom of thought, read this book!”—David E. Scharff, MD, International Psychotherapy Institute and the IPA Committee on Family and Couple Psychoanalysis.

Compelling
“This compelling book held my interest throughout. It is written by a man who loves life and speaks with candor, clarity, and courage. A Democratic Mind is a critical exploration of the limits of contemporary psychotherapy, and a passionate plea to expand its agenda to not only treat the individual, but also the impact that he/she has on his/her family, community, and world. Israel Charny stresses the necessity of cultivating open, compassionate, and engaged people who embrace life. Charny’s writing is lucid and interesting; his work is passionate and lively.”—Michael Berenbaum, PhD, American Jewish University

Empowering
“The release of A Democratic Mind could not be at a better time, as the world contends with polarizing forces that pit tribal populism against global democratic principles. Israel W. Charny offers a metaphor of the ‘Fascist versus Democratic Mind’ as a new framework with which to understand symptoms and direct treatment. Like Albert Bandura’s Moral Disengagement, Charny offers readers an approach to assessment and psychotherapy that is firmly grounded in democratic, life-affirming values, and that emphasizes the choice between good and evil. He expands assessment of the rigid, fascist mind—how we humans hurt ourselves—to how we also hurt others. The addition of these relational considerations is critical for a full understanding of the human condition. To be mentally healthy in the twenty-first century is to cultivate calm in the midst of uncertainty, to embrace and learn from diversity, and to hold our own and others’ behaviors accountable as life-affirming. Charny offers an empowering and integrative psychotherapy to achieve these goals. We need this approach now more than ever.” —Susan McDaniel, University of Rochester Medical Center; Past President, American Psychological Association

Fascinating
From the Foreword to the book by Allen Frances, MD, Editor of DSM IV:
“This is a fascinating book, expressing noble aims. Charny’s premise is that our species is limited by a fairly primitive mental apparatus that needs a “software upgrade” to provide us with the tools to live more at peace with ourselves and with each other. Diagnosis and treatment must also extend beyond the individual to encompass relational problems at the family and societal level. We must not be satisfied with treating pathology; instead, we must strive to create goodness where once there was evil. Would it were possible, but I fear it isn’t. I believe in human happiness, but not in human perfectibility. Let the reader decide between my skeptical reservations and Dr. Charny’s hopes. I hope he is right.”

***

COVER BLURBS PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR A DEMOCRATIC MIND

Captivating
“Israel W. Charny provides a captivating journey exploring a framework for therapy that charts a course for today’s and tomorrow’s mental health professionals. Charny’s therapeutic wisdom and existential insight into the human condition, combined with his pioneering work on the Holocaust and genocide studies, informs his courageous approach to perplexing issues. He provides essential truths, including a prescription for therapists and patients alike, to achieve a ‘free mind’ that does no harm to one’s own life or that of others. This book provides approaches to diagnosis and therapy that must be studied, savored, and implemented.”—Robert Krell, MD University of British Columbia

Original
“This is one of the most original psychotherapy books I have ever read. Israel W. Charny does not flinch when describing evil in the human experience. He calls on therapists to see psychological health as inclusive of how personal behavior affects the well-being of others, and to make the connection between political democracy and democracy in the mind and heart. There is an ethical consciousness at work on every page, which is much needed in today’s world.” Bill Doherty, PhD, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota

Creative
Psychotherapy for a Democratic Mind presents a creative focusing of Israel W. Charny’s general concept of democratic and fascistic minds to a crucial field of application. An unusual blend of material from clinical psychology, personality theory, and political psychology, its core terms symbolize broad personality types. The result is a set of novel and thought-provoking ideas for clinical theory, diagnosis, and treatment.”—Peter Suedfeld, PhD, University of British Columbia

Brilliant
Response to Rap Poem-Like Closing Chapter, “Author’s Voice: What Is Going to Happen to All of Us? What Can I Do in MY Time?”
Psychotherapy for A Democratic Mind concludes with a brilliant summation of an extraordinary life spent grappling with the human condition. Truth is in essence dialectical, and this book is a twenty-first century embodiment of the rabbinic concept of “yetzer hara/yetzer tov” (in Hebrew: the good impulse and the bad impulse). Israel Charny offers a profound understanding of the human story. There is so much substance, depth, and truth in Charny’s life perspective.” — Samuel Karff, Temple Beth Israel, Houston and University of Texas Medical School

Wonderful
From the Foreword to the book by Douglas Sprenkle, Ph.D., Former Editor of the Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy
“This is a wonderful book. It is the most provocative—very much in a positive sense– book I have read on psychotherapy in the past decade. All of the chapters are enlivened with case studies that reflect the author’s exceptional wisdom, sensitivity, and courage. It is rare to read a book that offers a synergy of theory, research, and practice in a way that is so scholarly, compelling, and practical. I felt that it was a privilege to be drawn into the consulting room of a master clinician who handles very difficult cases with such sensitivity and brutal honesty.”

 

Yair Auron Asks What In the World Perpetrators of War Crimes and Genocide are Doing as Visitors to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem?

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“How do we act with regard to genocide committed by other nations?  We deny the Armenian Genocide.  The State of Israel (and not private arms dealers) sold arms to the government of Rwanda at the time they were committing the most rapid genocide in history.  Israeli government authorities prevent scrutiny of the documents that reveal these crimes of the State of Israel.  To send arms to a government that is committing genocide is an act that is similar – forgive the comparison – to sending arms to Nazi Germany at the time of the Holocaust.  The heads of our government did this knowingly and in doing so they insulted the memory of the Holocaust.  They turned me and also you into criminals, accomplices to a criminal act, and accomplices to the commission of genocide.”

“We say ‘Never Again’ but official Israel gives aid to regimes that are committing ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and explusions, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and even to regimes that are committing genocide.  In many cases we are not even what is called the ‘third party’ but we ourselves are among the killers and not among the victims.  To our great shame, we cause it to happen over and over again, and then we bring perpetrators to Yad Vashem.”

Auron, Yair (December 10, 2017).  What do people who are involved in war crimes have to do at Yad Vashem?  Every official visitor to Israel is required according to protocol to visit Yad Vashem.  Last week the chairman of the parliament of South Sudan visited.  He represents a murderous regime that is committing these very days crimes against humanity.  ‘Never Again’?  It depends to whom. Sicha Mekomit [local conversation] – A web news magazine in Israel Mekomit.co.il​

Campaign to end Israeli arms exports to rogue regimes gets Knesset push

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Event co-organized by lawmakers from left-wing Meretz and right- wing Likud

By Judy Maltz | Dec. 26, 2017 | 9:41 PM

Prompted by growing evidence of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, a diverse group of Israelis from across political and religious spectra are putting increased pressure on the government to end arms exports to rogue regimes.

On Tuesday, they were out in full force at a first-of-its-kind, Knesset- sponsored gathering dedicated to creating public awareness about a topic long considered taboo. The eclectic group included both left-wing and right- wing politicians, religious and secular Jews, and rabbis from across denominations.

>> ‘These weapons are killing our people’: Rohingya activist urges Israel to halt arms sales to Myanmar >>

 “This is definitely not something I would call routine,” remarked MK Tamar Zandberg, of the left-wing Meretz party, observing the crowd. “We have here people who represent diverse and often conflicting worldviews, but at least on one issue we can all agree – that Israeli weapons are meant to defend us and not to be used to perpetuate crimes against humanity.”

She said the Knesset gathering, co-organized with MK Yehudah Glick of the Likud, was the first in a series of planned events aimed at drawing public attention to the ramifications of Israeli arms sales to regimes known for violating human rights.

The most recent example is Myanmar, where evidence has mounted of atrocities committed by the army against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority. Last month, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was no longer selling weapons to Myanmar, but it did not say when it had stopped.

Several panelists at the Knesset event expressed skepticism about the statement, noting that on various occasions in the past, Israel was known to have lied about arming rogue regimes.

“It is important that people in Israel know what is happening, so that then they can come out and say, ‘Not in my name,’” said Zandberg.

The other panelists at the event included Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Israeli government minister and founder of a now defunct dovish Orthodox party; Yair Auron, an international expert on genocide; and Naomi Chazan, a former Knesset deputy speaker and professor who has focused her academic research on Israel’s relations with Africa. The gathering was attended by human rights and social activists, legal experts and Jewish educators.

Explaining his commitment to the cause, Glick, an Orthodox lawmaker known as a political hawk, said: “I believe that the state of Israel is the greatest wonder in the history of humanity, and this obligates us to be the most moral, most humane and most just society that exists.”

For that reason, he continued, Israel cannot be complicit in human rights violations carried out elsewhere in the world. “There cannot be a place in the world where a soldier rapes a woman using an Uzi,” he said, referring to the well-known, Israeli-made submachine guns.

Legislation prepared

In order to prevent Israeli arms from reaching the hands of human rights offenders, Zandberg and Glick have drawn up three legislative initiatives, all of which are pending approval. One is an amendment to the law governing weapon sales, which would require the committee that approves export licenses to take into consideration ethical concerns. The second is an emergency act that would put an end to all Israeli arms exports to Myanmar until further notice. The third is a bill that would impose a cooling-off period on army officers and defense ministry officials seeking employment in arms sales.

Attorney Eitai Mack, who has been a driving force in recent years in the campaign for increased transparency and public oversight of Israeli arms exports, said he was also disturbed by the government’s silence amid reported atrocities in Myanmar. “Even if Israel has some [security] interest in being involved in selling arms there, which I don’t believe it has, we haven’t heard any words of condemnation from senior officials about what’s happening there,” he said. “When Israel remains silent, it is the equivalent of endorsing what is going on.”

Mack represented a group of human rights activists in a recent petition to the High Court of Justice demanding an end to Israeli arms sales to Myanmar. A gag order was issued on the ruling, which was handed down in late September.

“There is no excuse for hiding what is being sold in our names,” said Chazan. “There has to be transparency in weapons sales.”

Avidan Freedman, an Orthodox high school teacher who has been active in mobilizing religious leaders to speak out against weapon sales to Myanmar, told the gathering that he had tried without success to get David Lau, Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi, to take a stand.

Another activist, Eli Yosef, said he planned to organize a hunger strike outside the Knesset starting mid-January, since other tactics had failed.

Auron, who teaches at The Open University, likened Israel selling weapons to rogue regimes to “selling arms to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust – and I know people don’t want to hear this.”

Israel Sells Arms to Countries Committing Genocide

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A Major Critique: ​​Israel Sells Arms to Countries Committing Genocide

Prof. Yair Auron, Associate Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, has  published courageously in Israel’s most influential newspaper, Haaretz -both in the Hebrew and  English editions- ​a powerful critique of Israel’s arm sales to countries engaged or known to be threatening ​genocide.

The critique refers to current sales to Myrammar, and Azerbeijan, and past sales to Serbia and Rwanda.

For those, like Yair Auron and all of us at the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, who  love Israel, the critique is offered with a heavy heart, but with a conviction that these arms sales must be opposed — the more so, as Auron points out, by the people who suffered the Holocaust.

Israel, partner in genocides
https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.815169

Sending weapons to a government that’s guilty of genocide is very similar to sending weapons to Germany during the Holocaust

By Yair Auron

Haaretz — Oct. 2, 2017  The State of Israel is sending weapons to a country that’s carrying out ethnic cleansing. Once one couldn’t even imagine such a thing, but then it turned out that during the 1990s the Rabin-Peres-Meretz government was selling weapons to the genocidal governments of Rwanda and Serbia.

To send weapons to a government that’s guilty of genocide is very similar to (excuse the comparison) sending weapons to Nazi Germany during the Holocaust. Our leaders nevertheless did this knowingly and desecrated the memory of the Holocaust in the process. It’s important to stress that they turned both you and me into criminals, into accessories to a crime and to abettors of genocide.

In Myanmar there is now a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” going on, as per the United Nations. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman can equivocate and lie, but the bitter reality is sad. Israel is the only democratic country, at least according to press reports, that is still sending weapons to Myanmar. European and North American countries have stopped doing so, even though there is no official embargo.

Eitay Mack, who has for years been leading the struggle against the criminal weapons exports by Israel – not private weapons merchants, but the State of Israel – to dubious regimes, petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop the defense exports to Myanmar. His petition was rejected and in an unprecedented move there was a gag order imposed on the full ruling, even though the case was handled in open court.

I had the privilege of submitting petitions with Mack against the sales of weapons by Israel to the murderous regime in Serbia, which conducted ethnic cleansing campaigns in the early 1990s, and at least one massacre in Srebrenica in Bosnia, and another petition against the weapons deliveries to the Hutu government in Rwanda, which conducted the fastest genocide in human history.

There’s a connection between the rejection of our petitions back then and the current reality. The petitions then were submitted after the fact, regarding crimes that had already been committed. The current petition and struggle is about the present. Today there are children and elderly people being murdered and women raped in Myanmar. There will almost certainly be more tomorrow.

We told the “leftist” High Court that exposing documents under the Freedom of Information Law could signal to the Israeli government that there are limits and restrictions on the sale of weapons to murderous regimes. The petition was rejected on grounds that it would undermine state security and the state’s security exports. But the success of the current struggle can save lives.

I’ve learned one thing from dealing with the Holocaust and genocide, and that’s the sacred value of human life and the equal value of human life, because we are all human beings created in God’s image. When we remember this basic fact, a lot of things become simple.

Prof. Auron is a genocide researcher who works to get the genocides of other peoples recognized.

“The Holocaust, Rebirth and the Nakba” by Yair Auron (English and Hebrew editions)

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Auron, Yair (in press 2017). The Holocaust, Rebirth and the Nakba: Memory and Contemporary Israeli-Arab Relations. Landham, MD: Lexington Press. [Translated from an earlier edition in Hebrew].

אורון, יאיר (2016). הבנאליות של החמלה: על הצלת ילידים יהודים בכפר הצ’ירקסי-מוסלמי בסלניי שבקווקז ב-1942.  תל אביב: רסלינג.

Publication of Worksheet for Describing and Categorizing a Genocidal Event

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Charny, Israel W. (July 19, 2016).  Worksheet for Describing and Categorizing a Genocidal Event: A New Tool for Assembling More Objective Data and Classifying Events of Mass Killing. Social Sciences, 5(3), 31.

For the pdf version, click here.

For the pdf of the Worksheet Chart for Describing and Categorizing a Genocidal Event, click here.

New Books on Rescuers by Yair Auron

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About the Circassians/Muslims

אורון, יאיר (2016). הבנאליות של החמלה: על הצלת ילידים יהודים בכפר הצ’ירקסי-מוסלמי בסלניי שבקווקז ב-1942.  תל אביב: רסלינג.

About Charles Aznavour’s Family

אורון, יאיר (2016) (מצילימ (צדיקים) ולוחמים: משפחת אזנבור ו “המודעה האדומה” בפריס הכבושה על-ידי הצבא הנאצי

[Rescuers (Righteous) and Warriors: The Aznavour Family and the “Red Poster” in Occupied Paris by the Nazi Army]. Published by aznavour.book@gmail.com.(Hebrew). English edition in preparation.

“The Genocide Contagion: How We Commit and Confront Holocaust and Genocide” by IW Charny

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NEW BOOK BY ISRAEL W. CHARNY: 

Charny, Israel W. (2016). The Genocide Contagion: How: We Commit & Confront Genocide“a book for learning about ourselves BEFORE!”

gc

The book has been adopted as a textbook at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

The instructor writes: The text is highly informative. Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 7 and also the Learning Exercises will be the key text of the course. This book leads the reader to think about their own contexts, especially those of us who come from regions where there are official silences on genocide for political expediency and fear of truth. The book will definitely go a long way in making us think about genocide, the more so when people are asked to think and act as this book recommends.

A new Amazon review will also be of interest:

The Genocide Contagion by Israel Charny charts the psychological journey of “regular” people who become murderers – even mass murderers, responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people.

It is a fascinating study that led me to me better understand the psychological mechanisms and processes that can lead to total evil.

To the considerable scientific and political evidence the author presents, he also brings his extensive knowledge and experience as a clinical psychologist and family therapist. The result is fascinating.

The book is well-written and kept me riveted from beginning to end. I particularly appreciated how the author is personally present in the book as a human being and not as someone who is above the human condition. The book has provided me with many new insights and considerable food for thought.

If you are interested in seeing this book for possible adoption for courses on Holocaust and Genocide, please contact the publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, Att: Carli Hansen, chansen(at)rowman.com. Please also send a copy of the request you make to the publisher to me at encygeno(at)gmail.com.

Click here for reviews, discount order form for a 30% reduction in price and table of contents.
Click here to purchase the book from Amazon.com

R2L RIGHT TO LIFE News Release

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NEWS RELEASE by the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem

A new world organization by the name of R 2 L -RIGHT TO LIFE has been proposed by the Genocide Recognition Network in Athens.  The Network represents three ethnic organizations of peoples, each of whom has suffered genocide in its history, the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece, Armenian National Committee, and PanHellenic Union of the Assyrians.

Meeting in Athens to honor the United Nations Declaration of December 9 as a day of remembrance of the victims of all genocides, the Network passed a resolution to create an “International Association of Nations, themselves victims of Genocide, as well as those who have a consideration for the human right to life.”

On December 9, the day after the conference which is officially the UN “International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime,” a five-member delegation visited the Parliament House in Athens in order to deliver the resolution.  The delegation included the prior mentioned three groups, and the President of the Pan-Macedonian Confederation of Greece, and a representative of the Federation of Greek Refugee Associations.

The proposal to create “R 2 L – RIGHT TO LIFE” as a “Worldwide Union of Genocide Victim Peoples – and all Caring People – on behalf of the Right to Life of All People” was originally developed by Israeli-American genocide scholar, Israel W. Charny, director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem.  This proposal was also presented originally in Athens in 2010 to an international conference which was devoted to respecting the co-victimhood of Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian peoples in what is generally known to us as the “Armenian Genocide.” Since then the proposal has also been delivered in talks in Armenia and in Israel, and was published in several publications.

The Network has advised Charny that they would like him to be a counselor to the project in the event that they will have the means to activate the world organization, a decision that will be made in the next few months.  Furthermore, the stated hope of the Genocide Recognition Network is that if Greece proves unable to undertake the initiative by itself that it will be implemented by an international group such as the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

RESOLUTION OF THE GENOCIDE RECOGNITION NETWORK (GREECE)

December 8, 2016

All of us who gathered here today, on Thursday the 8th of December 2016, at the Cultural Center of Athens, responding to the invitation of the Genocide Recognition Network, seizing the opportunity of the UN introduction of the 9th of December as the day of remembrance of the victims of Genocide, state that:

– We bow down before all of the world’s nations who have suffered the crime of Genocide, and are assuring toward every direction that we will continue the struggle both for the international recognition of the Genocides which were carried out in the past, as well as the prevention of any others in the future. A fight which the great humanist Raphael Lemkin has initiated, and which we proclaim “Just” for the Greeks, the Armenians and the Assyrians.

– We demand from the Greek Parliament to proceed toward the recognition of the Genocide suffered by the Assyrians, following the recognition of the Genocides imposed upon other Christian nations of the East, which eventuated within the same context, by the same perpetrator in the early 20th century, as well as the Genocide suffered by the Yazidi from the Daesh terrorist organization, held in Syria and Iraq nowadays.

– We demand from the Local government administration to proceed with the erection of monuments in central points of Greek cities, regarding the Genocide imposed upon the Christian nations of the East.

– Finally we recommend to the International Association of Genocide Scholars (I.A.G.S) and to other relevant organizations, to proceed with the establishment of a body with the symbolic name: R 2 L (Rıght to Lıfe), which would constitute an international association of nations, themselves victims of Genocide, as well as those who have a consideration for the human right to life.

– Our motto for the struggle toward the recognition of the Genocide of the Christians of the East, (Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians) is as follows:

One Genocide, One Strategy, One Monument, One Battle, One Recognition.

for the Genocide Recognition Network: DR PAVLIDIS ANTONIOS for the Armenian National Committee:KOUGIOUMTZIAN SERKO
for the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece: SOTIRIADOU ATHENA
for the Panhellenic Union of the Assyrians: BATSARAS KYRIAKOS

-English translation by Athina Kehagias

The proposal for a “Worldwide Union of Genocide Victim Peoples – and All Caring People – On Behalf of a Right to Life of All People (R2L)” was originally developed by Israel W. Charny and was presented at an International Conference “Three Genocides, One Strategy,” in Athens in September, 2010.

 

Steven Leonard Jacobs Publications and Lecture including on Lemkin

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1) “Lemkin on Three Genocides: Comparing His Writings on the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides” in George N. Shirinian, ed., Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks, 1913-1923 (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017), 253-273.
2) “We Charge Genocide: A Historical Petition All but Forgotten and Unknown” in Scott W. Murray, ed., Understanding Atrocities: Remembering, Representing, and Teaching Genocide (Calgary: The University of Calgary Press, 2017), 125-143.
3) Lecture, University of Texas at Dallas, “From Barbarism and Vandalism to Genocide: The Unlikely, Untold, and Unknown Story of Raphael Lemkin”, 25 January 2017.

Unique Cooperative Planting by Israelis and Palestinians

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Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas and Other Palestinian Leaders Joined Jewish Israelis in Memorable Planting of Olive Trees

A noteworthy event where Israelis and Palestinians celebrated together took place on February 11, 2017 in Neveh Shalom, Israel, the only shared Jewish and Palestinian community in Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the PA, sent an olive tree to be planted at the village entrance, as well as a plaque in three languages bearing the words: “In honor of peace heroes among Palestinians and Israelis.” Among those present in the Palestinian party were Ruhi Fatouh, former speaker of the Palestinian Parliament; Dr. Mohammed Odeh of the Department for External Affairs; Bishop Abdullah Yulio; Dr. Ziad Darwish, of the PA Department for Interaction with Israeli society; Dr. Anwar Abu Eyasheh, former Minister of Culture and currently professor of law at Al-Quds University. Also attending was the Ambassador of the European Union, Lars Faaborg-Andersen and others.

This special project was initiated by Prof. Yair Auron who worked closely with Ziad Davish of the PA. Auron is a well-known genocide scholar who is the Associate Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide Jerusalem. He is currently working on a book on the rescuers in the Hebron massacre of 1929, including Palestinian individuals who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors who were facing the threat of being killed and the stories of Jews who risked their lives for Palestinians who were also facing grave danger.

Thus far, in Auron’s words, “unfortunately and shamefully,” Israeli media, in Hebrew and English, that were sent information on this unique cooperative event between Israelis and Palestinians have failed to provide any coverage.

Auron comments further: “I believe that frequent interactions and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis is a necessity if we truly hope to achieve lasting peace one day. Unfortunately, I do not believe that in the near future the political leaders of both people will have the courage and integrity to achieve a two state solution. Without real human relationships and mutual respect and trust between both sides, peace will not exist.”

Accompanying entertainment was provided by world-famous Israeli singer, Achinoam Nini who sang two songs, one by the Lebanese singer Fairuz which she sang in Arabic, and a song she had composed and sung together with Palestinian singer Mira Awad at the Eurovision song contest.

NIGHT by Elie Wiesel

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Elie Wiesel was a co-founder of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem together with Israel W. Charny and the late Shamai Davidson, M.D.

Newly Unearthed Version of Elie Wiesel’s Seminal Work Is a Scathing Indictment of God, Jewish World 

In Wiesel’s uncensored Hebrew ‘Night’ manuscript, unveiled here for the first time, the author expresses desire to take revenge on the Hungarians, lashes out at fellow Jews and describes sexual scenes from the train to Auschwitz.

by Ofer Aderet May 01, 2016 Haaretz English Edition

The 150-page work that historian Dr. Joel Rappel pulls off the shelves of his vast library is a difficult document to read. It’s not the handwriting that makes the task hard – it’s actually quite legible. The content – a searing indictment against God and anyone who believed in him during the Holocaust – is what causes the reader to shudder.

“We believed in miracles and in God! And not in fate … and we [fared] very badly not believing in fate. If we had, we could have prevented many catastrophes,” writes the author. “There is no longer a god in the heavens; he whispered with every step we put on the ground. There is no longer God in heaven, and there is no longer man on the earth below. The universe is divided in two: angels of death and the dead,” he continues.

And then: “I stopped praying and didn’t speak about God. I was angry at him. I told myself, ‘He does not deserve us praying to him.’ And, really, does he hear prayers? … Why sanctify him? For what? For the suffering he rains on our heads? For Auschwitz and Birkenau? … This time we will not stand as the accused in court before the divine judge. This time we are the judges and he the accused. We are ready. There are a huge number of documents in our indictment file. They are living documents that will shake the foundations of justice.”

Who is this man who wants to settle accounts with God and shake faith to its very roots? The author’s name appears at the top of the first page: Eliezer Wiesel.

That is how Elie Wiesel, arguably the most famous Holocaust survivor, wrote his name at the beginning of his journalistic and literary journey. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been one of the most significant voices of the Jewish world since the second half of the 20th century. However, the wider public has not been able to read this particular work, which he wrote in the late 1950s.

Wiesel intended to turn it into a special, expanded Hebrew version of his best seller “Night” – one of the most widely sold, read, translated and quoted Holocaust works internationally. However, before he completed his task, he decided to shelve the text, placing it deep in his archive. Even Haim Gouri, who translated “Night” from the French to Hebrew, didn’t know of its existence.

Thus, the archived book was buried for decades, awaiting the moment of its rediscovery.

The man who finally located the archived work was Dr. Rappel, and it was no easy task when you consider that Wiesel’s archive at Boston University – where he served as a professor for over 35 years – contains about a million documents, stored in 330 boxes. The archive has many of his manuscripts, among them early versions of his articles, drafts and incomplete chapters from books that were never published.

These writings document, among other things, Wiesel’s life in the Transylvanian town of Sighet (then Hungary, now in Romania), where he was born in 1928, and New York, where he has lived since the 1960s; his experiences in Auschwitz and Buchenwald; his career as an Israeli journalist after the Holocaust; his work on behalf of Soviet Jewry and human rights around the world; and his career as a successful writer who rubs shoulders with world leaders.

Wiesel has known Rappel for decades. He was the one in 2009 who asked Rappel to organize and manage his archive, and it took Rappel – a historian and former Israel Radio staffer who specializes in researching the Land of Israel, the Jewish nation and Judaism – seven years to accomplish the complex task of classification and organization. He dedicated two-and-a-half of those years to detective work on locating Wiesel’s lost manuscript.

Rappel’s interest in the archived work was spurred after a document on display in the university library caught his eye. It was a photograph of a page in Hebrew in Wiesel’s handwriting, whose content reminded him of “Night.”

“An alarm bell went off inside of me,” Rappel recalls. “Indeed, Wiesel wrote ‘Night’ in French [also Yiddish] and Gouri translated it into Hebrew, so I asked myself, ‘What is another Hebrew version of this book doing here?’” When he posed the question to Wiesel, the author answered, “There is something like that but I don’t know where it is. I would be very happy if you can find it.”

Rappel realized that he wouldn’t be able to rest until he found the manuscript, but the task proved difficult. “Go find 100-plus pages among a million documents, which are still not organized like a real archive,” he says. He combed through some 500 pages a day, looking for hints as to the location of the missing manuscript. After two-and-a-half years, when he was “completely despondent, but very much stuck with the will to succeed,” he was surprised to find a package of papers in Hebrew among other documents. When he examined it, he realized he had found what he was looking for.

Criticizing God and fellow Jews

“Night” was Wiesel’s first book, written in the 1950s and translated into English in 1960. It describes his experiences as a young Jew in the Holocaust, grappling with harsh existential, identity-related and faith-based questions, and brought him international recognition.

The archived version of “Night” is hugely different to the published one. It contains entire sections that don’t appear in the finished book, as well as different versions of pieces that were included.

As well as the sharp criticism of God, the archived version also included harsh criticism of many Jews who either yielded to temptation or were tempted to believe that nothing bad would befall them. Wiesel settles accounts with those among his people who shut their eyes and ears to what was happening, and blames them for paving the Nazis’ way to committing their horrors. He calls them “false prophets.”

“Eternal optimists … it would not be an exaggeration on my part if I were to say that they greatly helped the genocidal nation to prepare the psychological background for the disaster,” he writes, adding, “In fact, the professional optimists meant to make the present easier, but in doing so they buried the future. It is almost certain that if we had known only a little of the truth – dozens of Jews or more would have successfully fled. We would have broken the sword of fate. We would have burned the murderers’ altar. We would have fled and hidden in the mountains with farmers.”

He also reserves criticism for the Jewish leadership, both in Palestine and globally. “We didn’t know a thing [in Europe], while they knew in the Land of Israel, and they knew in London, and they knew in New York. The world was silent and the Jewish world was silent. Why silent? Why did it not find it vital to inform us of what was going on in Germany? Why did they not warn us? Why? I also accuse the Jewish world and its leaders for not warning us, at least about the danger awaiting us in ambush so that we’d seek rescue routes.”

He also describes at length his Christian-Hungarian neighbors, who joyously watched the Jews of his hometown being deported. “All the residents stood at the entrances of their homes, with faces filled with happiness at the misfortune they saw in their friends of yesterday walking and disappearing into the horizon – not for a day or two, but forever. Here I learned the true face of the Hungarian. It is the brutal face of an animal. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I were to say the Hungarians were more violent toward us than the Germans themselves. The Germans tended to shoot Jews.”

Wiesel also discusses the desire for revenge that arose in 1945. “At the end of the war, I refused to return to my hometown because I didn’t want to see any more the faces they revealed behind their disguises on that day of expulsion,” he writes. “However, from one perspective, I am sorry I didn’t return home, at least for a few days, in order to take revenge – to avenge the experts of hypocrisy, the inhabitants of my town. Then it would have been possible to take revenge!”

It’s fascinating to compare what Wiesel originally wrote with what appears in the final, softened version. Take, for example, the archived version revealing that originally Wiesel wrote an additional passage about sexual relations among those being transported in the cattle cars to Auschwitz.

He wrote in detail in the archived text: “Under the cover of night, there were some young boys and girls who had sexual intercourse. The initial impact of the disaster was sexual. The tension of the final days sparked the desires that now sought release. And the heat also added its own touch, so that the sexual scenes did not provoke protest in the carriage. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

Why did Wiesel, now 87, write this text in Hebrew if he decided ultimately to present Israeli readers with the version translated from French? What is the meaning of the differences between the Hebrew version and the one translated into Hebrew from French? Why did he never publish it, but rather store it away among a million documents? And if he wanted to dispose of it, why not simply destroy it – as he did with some of his other manuscripts?

Rappel, who returned to Israel from the United States last summer, has also pondered these same questions. “The first question that arose for me was why this manuscript was not published,” he says. “I wondered if someone wanted to make it disappear and get rid of it.”

Because of his health, it is now no longer possible to ask Wiesel these questions. But the writer, as is his wont, added a little mystery to the matter when Rappel – one of the people closest to him – asked him about the archived text. “This is the version of ‘Night’ that Wiesel wanted the Israeli reader to see. He didn’t write it for anyone else. Therefore, it was so important,” Rappel explains. “Wiesel knew that many Holocaust survivors from Auschwitz and Buchenwald, as well as many Jews living in Israel, would read this version, and so he put more emphasis on the Jewish aspect.”

If that’s true, why did Wiesel store it away, deep in his archive? “He knew that, someday, someone would find this manuscript and leave it for the following generations,” believes Rappel.

Feverish writing

Whatever the reason, in order to place the writing of this work in the oeuvre of Wiesel’s life, one must return to 1954 – nearly a decade after he was liberated from Buchenwald. He was then a young journalist, filing copy for Yedioth Ahronoth from Paris, and was sent on a journalistic assignment to Brazil. On the way, in a small cabin on a boat, he began writing the book that was destined to transform him from a journalist writing in Hebrew for the Israeli public to a respected, renowned and wealthy author.

In his 1995 memoir “All Rivers Run Into the Sea,” Wiesel described the process of writing “Night”: “I worked in my cabin for most of the journey. I wrote feverishly, with shortness of breath, without rereading … The pages piled up on my bed. I slept fitfully. I didn’t participate in the activities onboard, and I typed incessantly on my little portable typewriter, ignoring my fellow passengers, concerned only that we would get there too soon.”

Wiesel was then 26. A decade before, he was being tossed between life and death in the Nazi camps, where he lost his mother, father and one of his sisters. At this point, he decided to break the vow of silence he had taken upon himself and “to open up the gates of memory,” as he put it.

By the time he had finished writing, he had 862 pages in Yiddish describing what had happened to him during the Holocaust. He published this work in 1956, in an abridged, 254-page version in Yiddish with the title “And the World Remained Silent.” The book was published in Argentina by Mark Turkow, brother of the actor Jonas Turkow. Two years later, an even shorter French version was published.

The person who encouraged Wiesel to publish the book in French was François Mauriac, one of France’s great authors. The men met for the first time in 1954, when the journalist Wiesel interviewed Mauriac, who had won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1952. When Mauriac told Wiesel about “the image of cattle cars filled with Jewish children at the Austerlitz train station,” Wiesel told him, “I was one of them.” Mauriac immediately understood that Wiesel’s recollections and experiences deserved to be published, and he encouraged him to further edit down the Yiddish version, change the name to “Night,” and introduce other changes that would make it appealing to as wide an audience as possible.

“Please listen to an old man like me: We must talk – we also need to talk,” Mauriac told him, according to Wiesel. And so was born “Night,” the 158-page, abridged version of “And the World Remained Silent.”

Mauriac wrote in the foreword that “Night” is “different, distinct, and unique,” and wished that the number of readers “should be as numerous as those reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank.’”

The book was translated into 35 languages, among them English and Hebrew, and is mandatory reading on the Holocaust in schools around the world. Indeed, it was many readers’ first encounter with the Holocaust. Another generation was exposed to it after Oprah Winfrey chose it for her book club in 2006.

Rappel estimates that Wiesel wrote the archived Hebrew manuscript in the late 1950s, during the period when he was in talks with Dov Yudkowsky – the then-editor of Yedioth Ahronoth and his closest friend in those days – about translating the French edition into Hebrew. When the talks got serious, he stopped writing the Hebrew version and gave the translation job to Gouri.

Decades later, Gouri himself no longer remembers who asked him to translate “Night” into Hebrew, but stresses that it was the first book he had translated from French. The two met in the early 1950s, when Wiesel was writing for Yedioth in Paris and Gouri was there on a scholarship. The two stayed in touch for many years, despite differences of opinion over Wiesel’s decision to live in the United States.

“As a radical Zionist, I thought that he, as a survivor, would come to be one of us,” recalls Gouri now. “[Then-Mayor] Teddy Kollek also offered him an apartment in Jerusalem, but he said that the United States gave him the home he was lacking. Many didn’t forgive him for this choice. Even after he received the Nobel Prize [in 1986], they wrote some harsh words about him. But over time, a new generation accepted him. When they attacked him, I said, ‘I wasn’t in Auschwitz. He was there.’ It’s impossible to hurt a person who survived Auschwitz. Perhaps if he had moved to Israel, he would have been one of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors.”

Elie Wiesel: Auschwitz Survivor and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Dies at 87

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Website editor’s note: Elie Wiesel was one of the three co-founders of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, together with Shamai Davidson, M.D., Director of the Shalvata Psychiatric Hospital, and a specialist in treating Holocaust survivors, and Israel W. Charny  who has served as Executive Director of the Institute from 1982.

by Joseph Berger, International New York Times, July 2, 2016
Katie Rogers, Eli Rosenberg and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

Elie Wiesel, the Auschwitz survivor who became an eloquent witness for the six million Jews slaughtered in World War II and who, more than anyone else, seared the memory of the Holocaust on the world’s conscience, died on Saturday at his home in Manhattan. He was 87.

Menachem Rosensaft, a longtime friend and the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, confirmed the death in a phone call.
Mr. Wiesel, a charismatic lecturer and humanities professor, was the author of several dozen books. In 1986, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But he was defined not so much by the work he did as by the gaping void he filled. In the aftermath of the Germans’ systematic massacre of Jews, no voice had emerged to drive home the enormity of what had happened and how it had changed mankind’s conception of itself and of God. For almost two decades, the traumatized survivors — and American Jews, guilt-ridden that they had not done more to rescue their brethren — seemed frozen in silence.

But by the sheer force of his personality and his gift for the haunting phrase, Mr. Wiesel, who had been liberated from Buchenwald as a 16-year-old with the indelible tattoo A-7713 on his arm, gradually exhumed the Holocaust from the burial ground of the history books.

It was this speaking out against forgetfulness and violence that the Nobel committee recognized when it awarded him the peace prize in 1986.
“Wiesel is a messenger to mankind,” the Nobel citation said. “His message is one of peace, atonement and human dignity. His belief that the forces fighting evil in the world can be victorious is a hard-won belief.”

Mr. Wiesel first gained attention in 1960 with the English translation of “Night,” his autobiographical account of the horrors he witnessed in the camps as a teenage boy. He wrote of how he had been plagued by guilt for having survived while millions died, and tormented by doubts about a God who would allow such slaughter.

wieselbunk
Wiesel is in the second row of bunks, seventh from the left

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed,” Mr. Wiesel wrote. “Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky. Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever. Never shall I forget the nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God himself. Never.”

Mr. Wiesel went on to write novels, books of essays and reportage, two plays and even two cantatas. While many of his books were nominally about topics like Soviet Jews or Hasidic masters, they all dealt with profound questions resonating out of the Holocaust: What is the sense of living in a universe that tolerates unimaginable cruelty? How could the world have been mute? How can one go on believing? Mr. Wiesel asked the questions in spare prose and without raising his voice; he rarely offered answers.

“If I survived, it must be for some reason,” he told Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times in an interview in 1981. “I must do something with my life. It is too serious to play games with anymore, because in my place, someone else could have been saved. And so I speak for that person. On the other hand, I know I cannot.”

There may have been better chroniclers who evoked the hellish minutiae of the German death machine. There were arguably more illuminating philosophers. But no single figure was able to combine Mr. Wiesel’s moral urgency with his magnetism, which emanated from his deeply lined face and eyes as unrelievable melancholy.

“He has the look of Lazarus about him,” the Roman Catholic writer François Mauriac wrote of Mr. Wiesel, a friend.

President Obama, who visited the site of the Buchenwald concentration camp with Mr. Wiesel in 2009, called him a “living memorial.”

“He raised his voice, not just against anti-Semitism, but against hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its forms,” the president said in a statement on Saturday. “He implored each of us, as nations and as human beings, to do the same, to see ourselves in each other and to make real that pledge of ‘never again.’”

Mr. Wiesel long grappled with what he called his “dialectical conflict”: the need to recount what he had seen and the futility of explaining an event that defied reason and imagination. In his Nobel speech, he said that what he had done with his life was to try “to keep memory alive” and “to fight those who would forget.”

“Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices,” he said.
A year earlier, on April 19, 1985, Mr. Wiesel stirred deep emotions when, at a White House ceremony at which he accepted the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement, he tried to dissuade President Ronald Reagan from taking time from a planned trip to West Germany to visit a military cemetery there, in Bitburg, where members of Hitler’s elite Waffen SS were buried.

“That place, Mr. President, is not your place,” he said. “Your place is with victims of the SS.”

Mr. Reagan, amid much criticism, went ahead and laid a wreath at Bitburg. Paradoxically, the confrontation led to Mr. Wiesel’s first postwar visit to Germany. He said afterward that he had been extremely moved by the young German students he met and the depth of their painful search for an understanding of their country’s past. He urged reconciliation.

“Has Germany ever asked us to forgive?” Mr. Wiesel asked. “To my knowledge, no such plea was ever made. With whom am I to speak about forgiveness, I, who don’t believe in collective guilt? Who am I to believe in collective innocence?”

Mr. Wiesel had a leading role in the creation of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, serving as chairman of the commission that united rival survivor groups to raise funds for a permanent structure. The museum became one of Washington’s most powerful attractions.

“He was a singular moral voice,” said Sara J. Bloomfield, the museum’s director. “And he brought a kind of moral and intellectual leadership and eloquence, not only to the memory of the Holocaust, but to the lessons of the Holocaust, that was just incomparable. There is nothing that can replace the survivor voice — that power, that authenticity.”

Denouncing Persecution

In his 1966 book, “The Jews of Silence: A Personal Report on Soviet Jewry,” Mr. Wiesel called attention to Jews who were being persecuted for their religion and yet barred from emigrating. “What torments me most is not the Jews of silence I met in Russia, but the silence of the Jews I live among today,” he said. His efforts helped ease emigration restrictions.

Mr. Wiesel condemned the massacres in Bosnia in the mid-1990s — “If this is Auschwitz again, we must mobilize the whole world,” he said — and denounced others in Cambodia, Rwanda and the Darfur region of Sudan. He condemned the burnings of black churches in the United States and spoke out on behalf of the blacks of South Africa and the tortured political prisoners of Latin America.

Yet the plight of Jews was foremost. In 2013, when the United States was in talks with Iran about limiting that country’s nuclear weapons capability, Mr. Wiesel took out a full-page advertisement in The Times urging Mr. Obama to insist on a “total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure” and its “repudiation of genocidal intent against Israel.”

Central to Mr. Wiesel’s work was reconciling the concept of a benevolent God with the evil of the Holocaust. “Usually we say, ‘God is right,’ or ‘God is just’ — even during the Crusades we said that,” he once observed. “But how can you say that now, with one million children dead?”

Still, he never abandoned faith; indeed, he became more devout as the years passed, praying near his home or in Brooklyn’s Hasidic synagogues. On the airplane that was to take him to an Israel darkened by the Arab-Israeli war in 1973, he sat shoeless with a friend, and together they hummed Hasidic melodies.

“If I have problems with God, why should I blame the Sabbath?” he once said.

Mr. Wiesel had his detractors. The literary critic Alfred Kazin wondered whether he had embellished some stories, and questions were raised about whether “Night” was a memoir or a novel, as it was sometimes classified on high school reading lists.

Mr. Wiesel blazed a trail that produced libraries of Holocaust literature and countless film and television dramatizations. While some of this work was enduring, he denounced much of it as “trivialization.”

What gave him his moral authority in particular was that Mr. Wiesel, as a pious Torah student, had lived the hell of Auschwitz in his flesh.

Eliezer Wiesel was born on Sept. 30, 1928, in the small city of Sighet, in the Carpathian Mountains near the Ukrainian border in what was then Romania. His father, Shlomo, was a Yiddish-speaking shopkeeper worldly enough to encourage his son to learn modern Hebrew and introduce him to the works of Freud. Later in life, Mr. Wiesel was able to describe his father in less saintly terms, as a preoccupied man he rarely saw until they were thrown together in Auschwitz. His mother, the former Sarah Feig, and his maternal grandfather, Dodye Feig, a Viznitz Hasid, filled his imagination with mystical tales of Hasidic masters.

He grew up with his three sisters, Hilda, Batya and Tzipora, in a setting reminiscent of Sholom Aleichem’s stories. “You went out on the street on Saturday and felt Shabbat in the air,” he wrote of his community of 15,000 Jews. But his idyllic childhood was shattered in the spring of 1944 when the Nazis marched into Hungary. With Allied troops fast approaching, many of Sighet’s Jews convinced themselves that they might be spared. But the city’s Jews were swiftly confined to two ghettos and then assembled for deportation.

“One by one, they passed in front of me,” he wrote in “Night,” “teachers, friends, others, all those I had been afraid of, all those I could have laughed at, all those I had lived with over the years. They went by, fallen, dragging their packs, dragging their lives, deserting their homes, the years of their childhood, cringing like beaten dogs.”

“Night” recounted a journey of several days spent in an airless cattle car before the narrator and his family arrived in a place they had never heard of: Auschwitz. Mr. Wiesel recalled how the smokestacks filled the air with the stench of burning flesh, how babies were burned in a pit, and how a monocled Dr. Josef Mengele decided, with a wave of a bandleader’s baton, who would live and who would die. Mr. Wiesel watched his mother and his sister Tzipora walk off to the right, his mother protectively stroking Tzipora’s hair.

“I did not know that in that place, at that moment, I was parting from my mother and Tzipora forever,” he wrote.

In Auschwitz and in a nearby labor camp called Buna, where he worked loading stones onto railway cars, Mr. Wiesel turned feral under the pressures of starvation, cold and daily atrocities. “Night” recounts how he became so obsessed with getting his plate of soup and crust of bread that he watched guards beat his father with an iron bar while he had “not flickered an eyelid” to help.

When Buna was evacuated as the Russians approached, its prisoners were forced to run for miles through high snow. Those who stumbled were crushed in the stampede. After the prisoners were taken by train to another camp, Buchenwald, Mr. Wiesel watched his father succumb to dysentery and starvation and shamefully confessed that he had wished to be relieved of the burden of sustaining him. When his father’s body was taken away on Jan. 29, 1945, he could not weep.

“I had no more tears,” he wrote.

On April 11, after eating nothing for six days, Mr. Wiesel was among those liberated by the United States Third Army. Years later, he identified himself in a famous photograph among the skeletal men lying supine in a Buchenwald barracks.

Only after the war did he learn that his two elder sisters had not perished.

A Postwar Mission

In the days after Buchenwald’s liberation, he decided that he had survived to bear witness, but vowed that he would not speak or write of what he had seen for 10 years. “I didn’t want to use the wrong words,” he once explained.

He was placed on a train of 400 orphans that was diverted to France, and he was assigned to a home in Normandy under the care of a Jewish organization. There he mastered French by reading the classics, and in 1948 he enrolled in the Sorbonne. He supported himself as a tutor, a Hebrew teacher and a translator and began writing for the French newspaper L’Arche.

In 1948, L’Arche sent him to Israel to report on that newly founded state. He became the Paris correspondent for the daily Yediot Ahronot as well, and in that role he interviewed Mr. Mauriac, who encouraged him to write about his war experiences. In 1956 he produced an 800-page memoir in Yiddish. Pared to 127 pages and translated into French, it then appeared as “La Nuit.” It took more than a year to find an American publisher, Hill & Wang, which offered him an advance of just $100.

Though well reviewed, the book sold only 1,046 copies in the first 18 months. “The Holocaust was not something people wanted to know about in those days,” Mr. Wiesel told Time magazine in 1985.

The mood shifted after Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina by Israel in 1960 and the wider world, in watching his televised trial in Jerusalem, began to grasp anew the enormity of the German crimes. Mr. Wiesel began speaking more widely, and as his popularity grew, he came to personify the Holocaust survivor.

“Night” went on to sell more than 10 million copies, three million of them after Oprah Winfrey picked it for her book club in 2006 and traveled with Mr. Wiesel to Auschwitz.

Mr. Wiesel wrote an average of a book a year, 60 books by his own count in 2015. Many were translated from French by his Vienna-born wife, Marion Erster Rose, who survived the war hidden in Vichy, France. They married in Jerusalem in 1969, when Mr. Wiesel was 40, and they had one son, Shlomo Elisha. They survive him, as do a stepdaughter, Jennifer Rose, and two grandchildren.

For Mr. Wiesel, fame did not erase the scars left by the Holocaust — the nightmares, the perpetual insecurity, the inability to laugh deeply. “I live in constant fear,” he said in 1983. In 2007, a 22-year-old man who called Mr. Wiesel’s account of the Holocaust fictitious pulled him out of a hotel elevator in San Francisco and attacked him. (The man was convicted of assault.)

From 1972 to 1976, Mr. Wiesel was a professor of Judaic studies at City College, where many of his students were children of survivors. In 1976 he was appointed the Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Boston University, and that job became his institutional anchor.

In an effort to promote understanding between conflicting ethnic groups, Mr. Wiesel also started the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. Through a synagogue acquaintance of Mr. Wiesel’s, it invested its endowment with the money manager Bernard L. Madoff, and his decades-long Ponzi scheme, revealed in 2008, cost the foundation $15 million. Mr. Wiesel and his wife lost millions of dollars in personal savings as well.

Mr. Wiesel lived long enough to achieve a particular satisfying redemption. In 2002, he dedicated a museum in his hometown, Sighet, in the very house from which he and his family had been deported to Auschwitz. With uncommon emotion, he told the young Romanians in the crowd, “When you grow up, tell your children that you have seen a Jew in Sighet telling his story.”

Israeli Jews and Arabs plant ‘Garden of the Righteous’ to Honor Forgotten Holocaust Heroes

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Alternative memorial in mixed Israeli village to commemorate rescuers in all genocides, including some Holocaust saviors never acknowledged by Yad Vashem.

By Judy Maltz | Haaretz English EditionJul. 14, 2016 |

NEVE SHALOM – A makeshift sign tacked onto an olive tree is for now the only clue to the grand plan in store for this stretch of woods overlooking the Ayalon valley in central Israel. “Honoring the Circassians who saved the lives of Jews,” it reads.

If all goes as planned, this several-acres-large plot will become the site of an ambitious memorial project commemorating courageous individuals around the world who, during periods of war, ethnic cleansing and genocide, risked their lives to save others. Alongside the tree commemorating the tiny Muslim Circassian village in the Caucasus that saved 32 Jewish children during the Holocaust, there will be others — many others, in fact.

Within the next few years, according to the latest blueprint, the entire area will be covered with plaque-bearing trees and other monuments paying tribute, among others, to Turks who saved Armenians during the World War I genocide, Palestinians who rescued Jews during the 1929 Hebron riots, Jews who saved Palestinians during the Jerusalem riots that same year, Armenians who saved Jews in Budapest during the Holocaust, Jews who saved gypsies from the Nazis, as well as Hutus who rescued Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide — in short, any rescuer, no matter their origin or creed, not officially acknowledged by Israel’s state institutions.

As locations go, this one carries special symbolism: Situated halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace in Hebrew) is the only community in Israel jointly founded by Jews and Muslims — a tiny hub of peaceful coexistence in a region long associated with deadly conflict.

“Anyone who risks his life to save another human being, and it doesn’t matter who that human being is, for me that is the ultimate act of grace,” says Yair Auron, a resident of the village and the driving spirit behind the new “Forest of the Righteous” project.

“Such individuals,” he adds, “must be honored.”

The official declaration establishing the “Forest of the Righteous” states that its purpose is to honor “those who during dark periods of man-made humanitarian disasters, ethnic cleansing and genocide did not succumb to the popular current.” The Neve Shalom site has already been incorporated into the“Garden of the Righteous Worldwide” network, an Italy-based organization that has helped launch similar projects around the world, most recently in Rwanda, Armenia and Poland.

Yad Vashem, the Israeli national institution responsible for Holocaust commemoration, has a large department devoted to “Righteous Among the Nations” — the term it uses to honor non-Jews who put their lives at risk to save Jews during the Holocaust without demanding compensation in return. Since its inception, it has honored more than 26,000 such rescuers. Still, many applications for “Righteous Among the Nations” status are rejected by Yad Vashem, either for lack of evidence or failure to meet its criteria.  That would include the case of the inaugural honorees of the Neve Shalom memorial — the 32 Muslim Circassian families from the small Caucasian village of Besleney, who, at great risk to their lives, each provided shelter to a Jewish orphan.

Yad Vashem has said that not enough evidence was provided to substantiate this claim.

His forest, Auron promises, will serve as an alternative commemoration site for these and other rescuers who have not passed muster at Yad Vashem and, therefore, never received the acknowledgement they deserve.

A scholar of genocide studies at The Open University, Auron developed a first-of-its kind academic program in Israel to teach the subject. Much of his recent professional life has been devoted to getting Israelis to understand that Jews are not the only people in the world who have experienced terrible suffering. In a country still living under the trauma of the Holocaust — where challenging the singularity of this event is often considered heresy — his message has not always gone down well, with Yad Vashem expressing criticism over his project.

“Yad Vashem applauds the actions of the brave men and women who saved fellow human beings throughout history. We believe that these people should be praised and celebrated, and that their actions should emulated and taught as lessons to all humanity,” the institution said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, the term Righteous Among the Nations is rooted in Jewish tradition, and the title Righteous Among the Nations has been established throughout the world to indicate those ‘non-Jews who risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocaust,’ as stated in the Yad Vashem Law passed in 1953. Over the past six decades, Yad Vashem has recognized over 26,100 non-Jewish people as Righteous Among the Nations. They come from over 50 nations and include Christians of all denominations, Muslims and other religions.

“Therefore, using this term Righteous Among the Nations for the acknowledgement of other humanitarian deeds not related to its historically and widely accepted meaning is a conflation of varied and distinct historical narratives, and thus is not only misleading, but also diminishes the uniqueness of the title.”

Auron is the first to admit that his campaign to get the Israeli government to officially recognize the Armenian genocide has become a personal obsession of sorts. More recently, he has been waging a low-key battle with Yad Vashem over its refusal to recognize Circassian rescuer — a story he spent years researching and which eventually became the subject of his Hebrew-language book, “The Banality of Compassion: On the Rescue of Jewish Children in a Muslim Circassian Village in the Caucasus in 1942” (RESLING Publishing, 2016).

Since the recent groundbreaking ceremony at the brand new “Forest of the Righteous,” Neve Shalom has hosted several events honoring rescuers, one paying tribute to Palestinians who saved their Jewish neighbors during the 1929 Hebron riots and another to the Circassians who saved the Jewish children. The latter was attended by four relatives of the rescuers who hail from the Israeli Circassian village of Kfar Kama in the Galilee.

Partnering with Auron in this rescue commemoration project is his neighbor Dyana Rizek, director of Neve Shalom’s soon-to-be-launched Peace Museum. Born in Nazareth, Rizek is one of the original residents of Jewish-Arab village, having moved here more than 30 years ago. As a Palestinian whose people have been victimized, she says, the project resonates with her in a personal way. “It is important for there to be solidarity between victims of persecution,” she says. “Humane actions unite us at the level of our common humanity.”

Together, they have already recruited several prominent Jewish and Palestinian sculptors to the project.  Both Dani Karavan, a Jewish Israeli, and Nihat Dabit, an Arab Israeli, have agreed to donate special commemorative monuments to the site, Auron and Rizek say.

A small area at the bottom-most part of the designated plot has already been cleared of debris to make room for these and other installations. The final design, though, is still under discussion and it is unclear when the memorial will open to the public.

The project has already obtained approval from the local zoning authority, and enough seed money has been raised to begin basic infrastructure work. But Auron says his greatest challenge lies ahead: finding enough space on the plot to commemorate every act of rescue recorded in his already bursting files.

הבנאליות של החמלה: גילוי של אומץ בארץ הצ’רקסים [The Good There Is In A Place of Evil]

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אברהם בורג
Haaretz Hebrew Edition
May 20, 2016

Review of Auron, Yair. The Banality of Compassion: On the Rescuing of Jewish Children in the Circassian Muslim Village in 1942. Published in Tel Aviv.  Riesling, 2016.  (Hebrew)

ספרו של יאיר אורון עוסק בסיפור לא ידוע ונוגע ללב על הכפר הצ׳רקסי־מוסלמי בסלניי שבקווקז, שהתגייס להציל ילדים יהודים יתומים ב-1942

הבנאליות של החמלה: על הצלת ילדים יהודים בכפר הצ’רקסי־מוסלמי בסלניי שבקווקז ב–1942
יאיר אורון. הוצאת רסלינג, 
179 עמודים, 72 שקלים

יש בעולם כל מיני ציידים. יש אנשים שצדים חיות, אחרים צדים שיטפונות בחורפים המדבריים. פרופ’ יאיר אורון הוא צייד מסוג אחר לגמרי: צייד ג’נוסיידים וחֶמְלוֹת. אורון הוא היסטוריון שהקדיש פרק ארוך של חייו המקצועיים לעיסוק בשני צדי המשוואה האנושית של העת החדשה: השמדות עמים, שואות וג׳נוסיידים, וכנגדם הגיבורים השקטים שהצילו נפשות והצילו את נשמת אפה של האנושיות. אורון, עד לאחרונה איש האוניברסיטה הפתוחה, יזם בה תוכנית ייחודית בנוף האקדמי הישראלי — לימודי ג’נוסייד, השמדת עם. בתוכנית הלימודים הזאת השתתפו כבר כ–15 אלף תלמידים. במסגרתה גם נכתבו ופורסמו ספרים רבים שהקיפו את התופעה הכלל אנושית הנוראה והמבעיתה הזאת.

עכשיו מפרסם אורון את מחקרו האחרון “הבנאליות של החמלה: על הצלת ילדים יהודים בכפר הצ׳רקסי־מוסלמי בסלניי שבקווקז ב–1942″. הסיפור לא ידוע כלל, והוא קטן וענק, נוגע ללב, מרוחק וקרוב בבת אחת. בסלניי הוא כפר של איכרים פשוטים וישרי דרך בקווקז, בארץ הצ’רקסים. זה סיפור על מפגשן של שתי היסטוריות המתחילות הרבה לפני השנה המדוברת. מאה שנים — 1763–1864 — לחמה רוסיה הצארית בשבטים הצ’רקסיים בצפון־מערב הקווקז. מאות אלפי צ’רקסים נהרגו, נטבחו, נשחטו וגורשו באכזריות על ידי החיילים הרוסים. בתום המלחמה נותרו בשטחים הצ’רקסיים פחות מ–10 אחוז מהאוכלוסייה שחיה בהם קודם למלחמה. הנותרים הצליחו לשמר את המסורות והמנהגים שלהם, ה”אדיגה חבאזה”. זה קוד חברתי, התורה הצ’רקסית שבעל פה, שהיא למעשה מערכת החינוך והנורמות הצ’רקסית האישית והקולקטיבית. היא כוללת קטגוריות מוסריות כמו: “כבוד, יושרה, יושר, אמת, בושה, ואת היכולת להתנהג בחברה; רגישות, הקשבה, כבוד למבוגרים, לבני המין השני וכו’. המנהגים הבולטים הם: כיבוד הזקנים, בשל ניסיון חייהם עתיר השנים, כיבוד הורים, הכנסת אורחים, נדיבות לזולת, חשיבות מעמד האשה”. הזיכרון ההיסטורי הטראומטי, יחד עם מערכת הערכים הייחודית הזאת, עמדו למבחן כשנפגשו עם הרכבת ההיסטורית השנייה שדהרה מולם.

״לנינגרד היתה אחת הערים שזכו לתואר ‘עיר גבורה’. כשגברה הסכנה שהצבא הגרמני יכבוש את לנינגרד, היה ברור שהילדים היהודים יועמדו בפני סכנה גדולה במיוחד ולכן הוחלט לפנותם… ב–10 באפריל 1942 יצאה שיירה של ילדים מכמה בתי יתומים מהעיר. הם הועלו לרכבות משא ונדדו (ארבעה חודשים) בדרכים אל עבר הרי הקווקז, מאחר שלא שיערו שהגרמנים יכבשו את האזור. בימים האחרונים של יולי 1942 או בתחילת אוגוסט 1942 הפציצו הגרמנים את הרכבת וילדים רבים נהרגו”.

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פתאום, בבוקר אחד ב–16 באוגוסט 1942, קרה משהו יוצא דופן בשדות הכפר השלו והתמים. “בכפר נותרו רק זקנים, נשים וילדים, הגברים גויסו לצבא האדום… השיירה עברה בכפרים אחדים, אך תושביהם סירבו לקבל את הילדים בשל הרעב הכבד וגם מהפחד מפני הנאצים. תושבי בסלניי ראו בדרך העוברת במבואות הכפר ארבע עגלות רתומות לסוסים, ובהן ילדים תשושים, חולים, הנראים הרבה יותר מבוגרים מגילם (3–14), חלקם למעשה גוססים ומקצתם אפילו מתים. ילדי הכפר בסלניי היו הראשונים שפגשו בהם וראו שהם תשושים וחולים. הם ניסו לדבר איתם אבל הילדים מלנינגרד לא השיבו. אחר כך באו האמהות מהשדות ולקחו 32 ילדים. כל אחת לקחה ילד אחד. זהו סיפור הצלה שבמרכזו נשים. בבוקר היום שלמחרת, או לפי גרסה אחרת לאחר יומיים, נכנסו חיילים גרמנים לכפר. הם חשדו שיש ילדים יהודים בכפר, חיפשו ואיימו לירות בתושבים ולשרוף את הכפר על יושביו אם יימצא ולו ילד יהודי אחד. במשך 152 הימים שבהם שהו החיילים הגרמנים בכפר אף אחד לא הוסגר”.

זאת תמצית הסיפור שנגלתה לאורון באקראי, אגב שיחה בירושלים עם מאבטח צ’רקסי ישראלי מכפר כמא שבגליל. “גם לנו היה ג׳נוסייד”, השיח הצעיר לפי תומו ומסע חייו של אורון הוסט אל הקווקז.

הספר, מעט המכיל את המרובה, כתוב במתכונת שמשלבת מחקר היסטורי קפדני, השואף להגיע אל מרב העובדות והנתונים של התקופה, האישים והמקומות, בלי לוותר על מחויבות לערכים אנושיים אוניברסליים. בסופו של הספר דיון פילוסופי־היסטורי: “מדוע אנשי כפר אחד מצילים ואנשי כפר אחר רוצחים?” או מה הקו המפריד בין רוצח לחסיד, בין מציל אנושי לפושע נגד האנושות? הספר כולל רקע על ההיסטוריה הצ’רקסית, על מלחמת העולם השנייה ומוראותיה, היסמכות על מחקרי ג’נוסייד עדכניים וראיונות אישיים מרתקים, שנעשו בישראל ובקווקז, עם שארית הפליטה של הניצולים והמצילים.

אורון אינו מהסס לנקוט עמדה נגד הגזענות של “יד ושם”, במיוחד בעת הזאת: “הטענה שבין 32 הילדים שניצלו היו גם לא יהודים, ולפיכך אין לתת למי שהציל לא יהודי תואר חסיד אומות העולם, תפישה כזאת מנוגדת למערכת הערכים של המצילים: קדושת חיי אדם ושוויון ערך חיי אדם באשר הוא אדם”.

לפי אורון, במהלך המאה ה–20 נהרגו למעלה מ–170 מיליון בני אדם בפשעים נגד האנושות. אסור לנו להסתפק בקידוש שמם של שישה מיליון מהם בלבד. כי הרוע הוא כלל אנושי והשואה, השואות, הן אנושיות ולא ייחודיות אך לנו היהודים. לא בכדי משתמש אורון בביטוי “בנאליות” של חנה ארנדט ככותרת לכמה מספריו, גם זה שלפנינו. הוא דוחה את הדיכוטומיה הישראלית, הציונית הקלאסית, שעל פיה השואה התרחשה על פלנטה אחרת, והשואה היא רק שלנו, ולא קשורה לכלל חולייו של המין האנושי. בכל מקום שבו הרוע, אומר אורון, שמה הטוב: “במעשה ההצלה של הכפר בסלניי באה לידי ביטוי ייחודי, אישי וקבוצתי האנושיות בביטוייה הנעלים ביותר: ‘הבנאליות של החמלה, החסד והאנושיות'”.

טוב תעשה מערכת החינוך אם תהפוך גם את הספר הזה לספר חובה בכל תוכנית לימודים אפשרית, באזרחות, בהיסטוריה, בלימודי השואה, בספרות. ולו כדי שיגדלו בקרבנו כמה ישראלים לא ציניים, שיממשו את דרכו העיונית של אורון בעולם המעשה הקשה שלנו.