A good NY Times story says the Steven-Spielberg-initiated Shoah Foundation in southern California has broadened its focus to include other victims of genocide, notably Rwandans. And there have been demurrals. Ian Lovett writes:
Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants who also teaches about law and genocide at Columbia Law School, said ....“My concern would be that we not blur the individual experiences of survivors of the Holocaust, or survivors of Rwanda, into one large blur. Every genocide is a separate act, and must be remembered and chronicled as such.”...
But even designating the atrocities in Rwanda or Cambodia as genocide can become a flashpoint in discussions about how the Holocaust should be remembered and commemorated.
Some historians argue that the Holocaust — in which the Nazis slaughtered 6 million Jews, many in gas chambers designed specifically for that purpose — was the only genocide in history, the only systematic effort to wipe an entire race of people from the earth. In Rwanda, around 800,000 people were killed during a few bloody months in 1994, many of them with weapons like machetes. Steven T. Katz, a professor of Judaic studies at Boston University, calls the killings in Rwanda “mass murder,” not genocide.
And while Professor Katz, too, supports scholarly efforts to document all cases of mass atrocities, he said the drift toward studying the Holocaust primarily alongside these other mass murders risks misunderstanding the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate the Jews from Europe as just one case of mass murder among many.
“With certain kinds of events, one needs to be able to say, this is new, or singular, or unprecedented,” he said.
Still, the trend to contextualize the Holocaust has continued. Some institutions, like the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, now address other genocides, and the Washington museum has set up a commission devoted to stopping future genocides