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.