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The holocaust and genocide industries will converge midway through the UN General Assembly’s general debate, at Cooper Union in New York City, when Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel teams up with Rwandan President Paul Kagame for “A UN Week Discussion in Prelude to the 20th Anniversary of the Rwanda Genocide and the International Response to the Syrian Chemical Slaughter.” “Kosher Sex” author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach will moderate and two Jewish billionaire moguls and philanthropists, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson, and hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt, will join him to answer the question, “Are the strong obliged to protect the weak?” (So long as the weak are not in Palestine or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.)
The Rwandan Genocide joined the Holocaust, a justification for U.S. military interventions, Special Forces, and covert operations, in the 2010 White House press release, FACT SHEET: President Obama Directs New Steps to Prevent Mass Atrocities and Impose Consequences on Serious Human Rights Violators.
Organization Matters. The President notes that, “66 years since the Holocaust and 17 years after Rwanda, the United States still lacks a comprehensive policy framework and a corresponding interagency mechanism for preventing and responding to mass atrocities and genocide.” The President orders the creation of an interagency Atrocity Prevention Board within 120 days from today so as to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to engaging “early, proactively, and decisively.”
The FACT SHEET’s companion volume, Mass Atrocities Response Operations, a Military Planning Handbook, is a joint publication of Harvard University and the Pentagon.
The institutional force behind all this has been in the works for a long time, no doubt longer than I can sketch out here. See Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for US Policymakers, Genocide Prevention Task Force (GPTF), Madeline Albright and William Cohen, co-chairs, a project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the United States Institute of Peace, which published its plans in 2008.
And here’s the bookjacket copy and Amazon promo of Phillip Gourevitch’s We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, published in 1998:
“In April 1994, the Rwandan government called upon everyone in the Hutu majority to kill each member of the Tutsi minority, and over the next three months 800,000 Tutsis perished in the most unambiguous case of genocide since Hitler’s war against the Jews.”
Gourevitch’s false equation of the Holocaust and the Rwanda Genocide presumes that the Rwandan Genocide began when Hutu extremists attempted to exterminate the Tutsi minority in Rwanda and ended 100 days later in 1994, and that that is the entire story. It ignores the manipulation of ethnic tensions by the US/UK and France, to advance their own agendas, and the Tutsi massacres of Hutus in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which were part of the previous years history of Burundi, part of the Rwandan Civil War and Genocide, and part of the ensuing 18 years of war and conflict in Congo, after Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi invaded in 1996.
Massacres of both Hutus and Tutsis have been the worst outcomes of the longstanding competition between these two so-called ethnicities – “so-called” because Hutu and Tutsi speak the same language and share the same culture. In “An Ordinary Man,” the book whose simplest heroic elements became the Hollywood movie Hotel Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina explains that the Tutsis were a feudal aristocracy, the Hutus a feudal peasantry, whom European colonialists divided more harshly and rigidly, first with their “scientific” race theory, and then in “the year 1933, when all people in Rwanda received identity cards known as books that specified their ethnic class.”
Rusesabagina also explains how 18th century explorer Jonathan Speke came up with a Biblical explanation of the Hutu-Tutsi class divide, which identified the Hutu peasants as descendants of Noah’s accursed son Ham, condemned to a life of servitude, and the Tutsi aristocrats as noble descendants of a lost Christian tribe. Other theorists, including East African Tutsis, have claimed that Tutsis are descended of Ethiopian Jews.
Whether these theories have had any influence on Rabbi Shmuley Boteach or not, he has been effusive on his Huffington Post blog, about the contemporary alliance between Israel and Rwanda:
“Rwanda might not be everyone’s idea of a family trip, but it’s one of my favorite places in the world and, after visiting last year to highlight the 1994 genocide and promote anti-genocide legislation during my run for Congress, I wanted my children and some notable Jewish personalities to experience it with me. Much has happened in that year, including Rwanda occupying the Africa seat on the United Nations Security Council and announcing that they will be opening an embassy in Israel imminently. . .That he [Rwandan President Paul Kagame] is a staunch friend and admirer of the Jewish people and the State of Israel is of great consequence, especially on the African continent . . .”
Rabbi Boteach and his friends’ heroization of President Paul Kagame is breathtaking in its dismissal of Rwandans now suffering under Kagame’s brutal dicatatorship, and of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where millions have died, millions more have become refugees or “internally displaced people (IDPs),” since 1996, when Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi invaded Congo, beginning 18 years of war, conflict, and occupation. For most of those years, Rwanda has been given victim’s license in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, like Israel in Palestine.
That license is now at least verbally limited, with even the U.S. State Department calling on Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 militia in Congo. However, the U.S. and the rest of the Security Council are still unwilling to say that Rwanda is “supporting” M23 out loud in session at the UN, much less to acknowledge that Rwanda’s top military officers are commanding M23, as documented in the 2012 UN Group of Experts on Congo’s report.
M23 chain of command in Kigali
. . .
32. Rwandan officials exercise overall command and strategic planning for M23. Politicians, current and former M23 members, Congolese armed forces officers and former Rwandan armed forces officers all confirmed that Gen. Ntaganda and Col. Makenga received direct military orders from the Chief of Staff of the Rwandan armed forces, Gen. Kayonga, who in turn acted on instructions from the Minister of Defence of Rwanda, Gen. Kabarebe (see annex 22 to the present report). The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Gen. Jacques Nziza, provides strategic advice and oversees the provision of logistical support to M23. Gen. Kabarebe and Gen. Nziza have also played an instrumental role in sustaining the political activities of M23. According to former Rwandan armed forces officers, current M23 members and former M23 officers, Gen. Ruvusha manages the provision of military ground support to M23.
33. Several current and former M23 officers also stated that senior Rwandan officials travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to hold meetings with M23 commanders. Gen. Kayonga has been at least three times to Runyoni to plan operations and reassure the rebels of the full support of the Government of Rwanda.
Although this won’t happen, except here in cyberspace, I like to imagine my Swiss Congolese friend BK Kumbi bursting in on Ellie Wiesel, Paul Kagame, Shmuley Boteach, et al, in New York at the end of September, as she burst in on Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon at a March 1st UN conference in Geneva, shouting:
“But what about people of the Congo, PLEASE? What about people of the CONGO? You don’t say anything about that! There’s been 8 million people killed and you’re making fictitious peace, and you’re telling us that this is peace, when AGGRESSORS ARE NOT NAMED. Rwanda has been known … has … is responsible of what is going wrong in the peace, in Congo, and nobody says something about that! Burundi! Uganda! You should say that! We are sick and tired of hearing every time people here just being so peaceful with AFRICA! You should let AFRICA in PEACE!”
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @AnnGarrison on Twitter.