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Is Rwanda the Israel of Africa?

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This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Well it seems that the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is on tour.  In the United States, Kagame will soon be hobnobbing with the chronicler of the Holocaust – and silencer of Jewish dissent on Israeli policies toward Palestinians – Elie Wiesel. He’ll also be traveling to Canada.

Misgivings about Kagame are many and growing.   You don’t have to be an expert on Rwanda’s domestic politics or its interventionism in the Congo to know a huge problem exists.  On Rwanda in the Congo, even the US government has had its say.  Nonetheless, Kagame and the Rwandan genocide are being used on the Syrian front.  Samantha Power is trumpeting this on her imperial Syrian interventionist prowl.

We have to speak our word on the issues of the day and how we see things evolving.  Linking the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide and chemical weapons in Syria is a no-no.  Academic language just won’t do.

Christopher Black, a barrister on the Counsel List of the International Criminal Court and Counsel of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, is on the Canadian case.  In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Canada, Black demands that Kagame be banned from entering Canada.  He also includes a letter of protest now circulating in Canada:

WE PROTEST!

The people of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, hereby represented in all their ethnic and cultural diversity by the Amahoro People’s Congress, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC-Ihuriro)  the Forces Democratiques Unifees (FDU-Ikingi) and the Social Party PS Imberakuri, protest the  visit to Toronto of  Paul Kagame, a war criminal of the first order.

WE PROTEST the visit of a man who has murdered hundreds of thousands of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda since 1990.

WE PROTEST the presence, in Canada, of a man who has murdered three African heads of state; President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda, and President Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi in 1994 and President Laurent Desire Kabila, of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire) in 2001.

WE PROTEST the mass murder of over 6 million Rwandans and Congolese peoples since 1996 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a mass murder committed by Paul Kagame, in a continuous war waged on behalf of western interests, and with their assistance.

WE PROTEST the Canadian government’s permission for the visit and its shameful support of a man who has crushed any attempt at democracy in Rwanda; of a man who has nothing but contempt for the human, civil and political rights of the Rwandan people, of a man who uses cruel tortures and assassination against those who speak out.

WE PROTEST the protection from prosecution granted him by the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal For Rwanda, which, though in possession of overwhelming evidence of 20 years of mass atrocities committed by Kagame in the Great Lakes region of Africa, have granted him complete immunity from prosecution, and thereby encouraged his crimes.

WE PROTEST AND WE DEMAND that Paul Kagame be charged with war crimes by the ICC, the ICTR and the Canadian government under its claimed universal jurisdiction under the Criminal Code and that the Prime Minister direct his Minister of Public Safety and the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Border Services Agency to immediately arrest Paul Kagame on his entry into the country and direct the Minister of Justice to commence criminal prosecutions against him forthwith.

WE PROTEST AND WE DEMAND that the Sheraton Hotel or any other hotels in Canada, refuse permission for Paul Kagame to stay on their premises and stain their reputation.

THE RWANDAN AND CONGOLESE PEOPLE PROTEST AND DEMAND ACTION AND JUSTICE

NO IMMUNITY FOR MASS MURDERERS!

JUSTICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE GREAT LAKES!

JUSTICE FOR AFRICA!

NO MORE DICTATORSHIP OF PAUL KAGAME,

NO MORE WARS

ARREST KAGAME-GIVE US PEACE

No doubt this is a partisan assessment of Kagame.  But if only a quarter of this indictment is true Holocaust warning bells should be ringing off the hook.  The opposite seems to be the case.  Mainstream Jewish leadership is fully on board.

Part of it is ignorance.  Africa is of little importance to Jewish leadership.  There are more obvious reasons: crank up the US war machine to deal with Syria and Iran to protect Israel.  Keep the Palestinian case for freedom on the perpetual back burner.

For years now, the Rwandan genocide has been used to breathe fresh air into Holocaust Remembrance events.  About the aftermath in Rwanda, we hear nothing. But, then, when the Holocaust is remembered nothing is said about Israel’s abuse of power either.   The memory of suffering is utilized – by being stripped of suffering in the present.

Is Rwanda the Israel of Africa?  Rwanda has taken more or less the same post-genocide road as Israel – aggressive militarism under the guise of innocence for past suffering.  If we speak the truth about post-Holocaust Israel and post-genocide Rwanda, Holocaust remembrance takes another turn.

Why don’t we face the truth?  When even the victims become perpetrators, the darkness we encounter deepens.

Memory should accord the victims of atrocity the only dignity they retain – not to become fodder for more victims.  Thus Holocaust Remembrance events should be augmented with analysis of how nations like Israel and Rwanda use the memory of suffering to cause suffering to others.  Using this yardstick, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum should add a category to their Holocaust inventory.  They should hold empowered Holocaust and genocide victims accountable.

Not in Our Name – “no” to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

Not in Our Name – “no” to instrumentalizing the Holocaust and genocide to enable more injustice.

Not in Our Name – “no” to honoring the Paul Kagame’s of our world.

The attempt to rebrand what is irretrievable, Israel and the Holocaust first and foremost, has failed.  But when political leaders like Kagame are brought in to rescue the relevance of the Holocaust and its link to Israel we are somewhere else.  We’re beyond irretrievable.  We’re driving down Blasphemy Lane.

“No Immunity for Mass Murderers!”

If only that had been the case.  Before it was too late.

If only that is the case.  Before it is too late.

 

 

 

Marc H. Ellis
About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His latest book is Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures.

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18 Responses

  1. September 24, 2013, 11:14 am

    An excellent video by the member of the present day South African Parlament talking in details about the lies behing the claims of Israel “apartheid” and how it damages the memory of the true apartheid in the old South Africa

    • Shmuel
      Shmuel
      September 24, 2013, 3:04 pm

      An excellent video by the member of the present day South African Parlament …

      Kenneth Meshoe and his Christian Zionist ministry. Can you find another?

      • September 24, 2013, 4:52 pm
      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 25, 2013, 12:39 am

        ” the system of racist laws that Australia had in place prior to the recognition of indigenous Australians as equal citizens in 1967 ”

        And we got over it. We changed. When is Israel going to change and accept non-Jews as equal citizens?

      • Shmuel
        Shmuel
        September 25, 2013, 1:24 am

        Israel, the un-apartheid state – a comparison with Australia.

        I would expect no less of “an Australian solicitor working for Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center in Tel Aviv”.

        My question was can you find another South African MP (btw, I believe Meshoe is no longer an MP) who shares Meshoe’s views on Israel and apartheid. After all, your argument was based on Meshoe’s authority as a South African politician — one who disagrees with the views of the ANC (for example) on Israel/Palestine.

      • September 25, 2013, 4:01 am

        Have you actually read what I posted. Read please

        But there is more to the elimination of racism in a society than repealing racist laws and passing laws outlawing racial discrimination. Practical outcomes of successful multi-culturalism and integration of minorities at all levels is the true measure of the elimination of racism in a society.

        And it is by this measure that Israel puts Australia and much of the western world to shame.

        The practical reality in Israel is that minorities achieve prominent positions at a far higher rate than in Australia.

        This is true in all areas of society: • Politics: In Israel, 10 percent of Israel’s Knesset are from Arab minority groups (Christian, Muslim and Druse).

        This includes over 4% from parties with racially mixed composition. This large representation of minorities has been a consistent feature since the early days of the state.

        Three members of religious and racial minorities, Nawaf Massalha (Muslim Arab), Salah Tarif and Raleb Majadele (both Druse) have served at ministerial level in the Israeli government, including the later two as Cabinet ministers.

        By contrast, only 1.3% of Australia’s current federal Parliament are from religious minorities (one Muslim and two Jews) and this itself is a huge increase from previous Parliaments that often featured less than 0.5% non-Christian representation. While there have been a similar number of Australian Jews who have served as ministers, no other religious minority has been so represented.

        • Judiciary: Israel has a judge from the Arab minority serving on its highest court (Salim Joubran). Sadly, Australia has not had a single High Court judge from a racial or religious minority for over 80 years, since Sir Issac Issacs! • Military: Israel has three Druse generals currently (or recently) serving in its defence forces (Major-General Yusef Mishleb and brigadier-generals Imad Fares and Hasson Hasson). Disturbingly, it appears Australia has not had a single general from a religious or racial minority for over 80 years, since Sir John Monash! The legislature, judiciary and military are the key sources of hard power in any society and the success of racial and religious minorities reaching these corridors of power is a litmus test of the true openness and lack of racism in a society. Australia’s scorecard on this test compares very poorly to Israel’s.

        But success of minorities in areas of soft power is an equally important measure, and here, too, Israel outclasses Australia.

        • Socio-Economic Statistics: In Israel the life expectancy, educational attainment and earnings of the Arab minority are on par with, if not better than, that of Arab minorities in virtually all Western European countries, and far above that of other Arabs in the Middle East. In Australia the life expectancy, educational attainment (including basic literacy) and earnings of indigenous Australians is nothing short of appalling, worse than many third world countries.

        • Popular Culture: An Israeli Christian Arab, Lina Makhoul, won The Voice Israel this year. In contrast, not a single person from a minority religion has won the equivalent Australian Idol.

        Salma Fiomy-Farij, a hijab-wearing Israeli Muslim Arab, came second in this year’s Israeli Master Chef (the winner was a German convert to Judaism).

        In Australia Master Chef has not had a single winner from a religious or racial minority.

        THUS BY both legal and practical measures Israel is a less racist country than Australia and as far from apartheid South Africa as any country could possibly be. Israel truly is an un-apartheid state, one of the freest, most open and non-racist societies in the world.

      • eljay
        eljay
        September 25, 2013, 8:08 am

        >> link to jpost.com

        Today, just like Australia and most western countries, Israel has strong anti-discrimination laws …

        Unlike Australia and most Western countries, Israel is a supremacist state devised as a “homeland” not just for its Jewish citizens, but for citizens in countries around the world who happen to be of the Jewish faith.

        Additionally, Israel remains a colonialist and expansionist state, occupying and colonizing land far outside of its / Partition borders.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 25, 2013, 9:17 pm

        It’s pretty obvious a lawyer wrote that.

        “But there is more to the elimination of racism in a society than repealing racist laws and passing laws outlawing racial discrimination.”

        Israel has yet to repeal its the racist laws.

        He bangs on about the number of religious minorities (concentrating on Jews, of course) in a few selected high positions. These positions have been cherry picked to provide the best contrast with Israel. He only looks at Federal positions, and ignores state positions.

        Jews only form 0.5% of the population of Australia, so at 1.3% they are over represented.

        (Arabs, on the other hand, are close to 25% of the population of Israel. They are underrepresented in the Knesset.)

        He says that John Monash is the only Jew to have been a general in the last 80 years. He does not point out that Monash had a university named after him, and that he is commemorated on the Australian $100 bill.

        Nor does he point out that, compared with Israel, in Australia the military is a smallish segment of society.

        He carefully refrains from mentioning that Australia has had two Jews as Governor General.

        He does not mention such people as:

        Jim Spigelman, AC Lieutenant Governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW.

        Mahla Pearlman AM Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court (1992 – 2003) the first woman chief judge in any state jurisdiction in Australia, first woman President of the Law Society of New South Wales (1981-1982), first woman President of the Law Council of Australia (1989-1990), Deputy Secretary-General of the International Bar Association (1988-1992), Chairman of the Board of Governors of the College of Law (1983-1988), Chairman of Guardian Trust Australia Limited (1991-1992) and Member of the Police Board of New South Wales (1991-1992). Born in Australia.

        “Jews participate in all major political parties, in commerce, medicine, law and all the professions; in the arts, sciences, academia and sport. Although some high-profile individuals have achieved great success in Australia, most Jews experience the same problems, enjoy the same rewards and live the same lifestyle as the general Australian public and are represented within all socio-economic groups.”

        http://www.ijs.org.au/The-Jews-in-Australia/default.aspx

        And he doesn’t mention Antony Loewenstein.

        http://antonyloewenstein.com/

        But even in relation to the Federal Parliament, he does not mention that MP Ian Goodenough, Senator Penny Wong (Minister in the Labor Government) and Senator Lisa Singh are of mixed race, that Senator Sam Dastyari was born in Iran, and Senator Mehmet Tillem was born in Turkey. (MP Ed Husic is the Muslim in the House of Representatives. )

        He is quite correct in pointing out that the position of the Aborigines is still very poor, but he does not look at the rest of society.

        http://mondoweiss.net/2010/11/let-americans-shift-on-gays-in-the-military-be-a-lesson-for-israelis.html#comment-253454

    • MahaneYehude1
      MahaneYehude1
      September 26, 2013, 12:19 am

      Well, I understand that the truth of a man lived under apartheid SA is little painful.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eu4BEu60a4&fb_source=message

      To his claim ”The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a lie, you are destroying the memory of the real apartheid” let me add:

      When each time when a Palestinian has to demolish his illegal house you say ethnic cleansing, you are destroying the memory of the real ethnic cleansing.

      When each time when an armed Palestinian is killed in clash you say genocide, you are destroying the memory of the real genocides.

      When each time Israel takes security measures like, unfortunately, walls and fences, you say apartheid you are destroying the memory of the real apartheid.

      When each time a terrorist kills civilians you say freedom fighter, you are destroying the memory of the sufferings of those innocent people and their families.

      When each time you see an illegal group of right-wing extremists in Israel calling death to Arabs you say pogroms you are destroying the memory of the real pogroms victims.

      When each time you see Palestinians in checkpoints only because our fear from terrorists, you say concentration camps, you are destroying the memory of the millions of concentration camp victims.

      Unfortunately, the list is long, very long. Several of you are confused between real and democratic criticism of the government of Israel activities, which I personally take part of it, and between delegitimize and dehumanize the state of Israel and the Israelis. By doing so, you are not promoting peace, only increase the distance between the peoples here. If your aim is not peace, but to undermine the state of Israel, please continue your great job, you are in the correct pathway. I hope I wrong and I hope many others want real peace. Presidents Obama and Rouhani’s speeches gave me some hope and shows me that the peace and truth will be victorious.

      I can imagine the replies I will receive. In addition to “but you are so and so”, part of the replies will say that the SA man is working with the Zionists and he is a liar and Hasbarist. Exactly like the following liars that work under the Zionist movement supervision and afraid to speak on their behalf:

      Turkish Muslim journalist liar:
      http://www.jewishjournal.com/opinion/article/muslims_stop_blaming_israel#When:21:33:00Z

      British Zionist liar:
      http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/dominic-lawson-so-who-still-thinks-israel-is-the-root-of-middle-east-problems-8794664.html

      Irish liar works with the Israeli Hasbara;
      http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/carol-hunt/ill-ask-this-only-once-what-has-israel-ever-done-to-us-29470834.html?utm_source=Newsletter+subscribers&utm_campaign=03b161a5dd-JTA_Daily_Briefing_6_18_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2dce5bc6f8-03b161a5dd-25432705#comments

      A Zionist Hasbarist pretends himself Saudi Arabian journalist:
      http://www.arabnews.com/arab-spring-and-israeli-enemy

  2. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 24, 2013, 11:19 am

    Rwanda is seriously overpopulated. I think that is what the war in DRC is about.
    Israel is more about US cover and religious delusion.

    But the mass murder under cover of goodness is the same.

    • Bandolero
      Bandolero
      September 24, 2013, 12:57 pm

      @Seafoid

      “Rwanda is seriously overpopulated. I think that is what the war in DRC is about. Israel is more about US cover and religious delusion.

      Please take into consideration that competition over eastern DRC resources may be a major driver behind the wars in Rwanda and Congo. Read what Paul Rusesabagina told Ann Garrison a couple of weeks ago:

      “Well, as I always say, behind each and every dictatorship in Africa, and in developing countries, there is always a Western superpower which is manipulating what is going on on the ground. The Rwandan Civil War began when the Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Army invaded Rwanda from Uganda in 1990. At that time, France was behind Rwanda’s Hutu government and Rwanda transacted business in French. But the English speaking powers, wanted more power in the region, so they supported that invasion by the Rwandan Patriotic Army, which was an army of mostly Tutsi refugees who spoke English because they grew up in Uganda and Tanzania. And their strategy was to get Rwanda to get into the Congo, which is enormously rich in minerals and oil. 

There’s a jungle between eastern and western Congo, and no modern infrastructure to connect the two, so France and the English speaking countries were competing for power in the countries on the eastern border of Congo, to get into eastern Congo. The Rwandan Civil War that ended in the genocide was a kind of economic war for the wealth of the eastern Congo.

      There was a loser and there was a winner, and the winner has been, and is still to this day, writing history.”

      Source: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/09/12/on-invoking-rwanda-to-attack-syria/

      I find resource competition a much more plausible reason for conflict than simply overpopulation.

      • seafoid
        seafoid
        September 25, 2013, 4:05 am

        Overpopulation leading to resource extraction. Lebensraum in other words.

  3. yrn
    yrn
    September 24, 2013, 11:54 am

    Is Rwanda the Israel of Africa?
    Sure, they are black as we are.

  4. Keith
    Keith
    September 24, 2013, 3:02 pm

    MARC ELLIS- Some quotes from Glen Ford on Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s democratic credentials.

    “One of the United States’ main allies in Black Africa recently declared himself the winner of a farcical presidential election with 93 percent of the vote. But there will be no outcry from Hillary Clinton’s State Department or Barack Obama’s White House, or even much of a fuss from the New York Times, because President Paul Kagame, of Rwanda, serves U.S. interests. You will never hear western governments and media call Kagame by his true name: a dictator and warlord from the minority Tutsi tribe that holds sway over the majority Hutu population through a reign of terror. Instead, western capitalists shower his regime with money and high praise as an example of how Africa should be governed.

    Compared to the Congolese genocide, stealing an election in Rwanda is child’s play. The majority of the Hutu population lives in terror of the Tutsi-dominated regime, which is rooted in the guerilla army that invaded Rwanda from its bases in Uganda and set off the genocidal tribal violence that killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and Hutus – although the Hutu victims of Paul Kagame’s army must be mourned in silence. It is a crime in Rwanda to even raise the question of mass killings of Hutus during the violence of 1994, as Kagame fought his way to power. Indeed, any criticism of Kagame’s regime is guaranteed to get one branded as a genocidaire – an advocate of genocide – or a proponent of “divisionism,” which means saying anything that might tend to undermine the people’s obedience to Paul Kagame. You might just turn up dead, as did several of the regime’s opponents in the run-up to the sham election. No serious opposition was allowed to compete. The Kagame police state has ways to ensure that almost everyone votes for The Leader. Voters mark their ballots with their fingerprints next to the chosen candidate, so no one’s vote is a secret.” (Glen Ford)
    http://blackagendareport.com/content/paul-kagame-americas-genocidaire-central-africa

  5. Nevada Ned
    Nevada Ned
    September 24, 2013, 4:52 pm

    Rwanda is one case where the Establishment successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of a lot of people, including myself. The Rwanda situation only became clear to me after the publication in Monthly Review of The Politics of Genocide.

    Don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself!

  6. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    September 25, 2013, 12:39 pm

    Marc,

    Regarding the Nuremberg trials, I am torn over the main role they play in thinking on the Holocaust. On one hand, of course I agree with their rejection of genocide. But it is troubling that at their most basic conceptual level, people who brutally killed others were themselves brutally killed. The problem I have, Marc, is that this feels very punitive – crime and punishment. There does not feel like room for redemption or forgiveness.

    Chomsky mentioned how when people were mean to German POWs in America, he gave them some food, because he felt alot of compassion even though they were on the side of evil. In other words, while it was vital to tell the world that genocide was wrong, the focus on brutal crime and harsh punishment seems to me harsh as well.

    In other words I don’t have misgivings about exposing the Holocaust, but about proposing Nuremberg as a model for thought and principle. That is, on one hand I feel grief, if not fear, when thinking about how the genocide’s victims were killed, but the system of punishment itself is also uncomfortable.

    Peace, my friend.

  7. libra
    libra
    September 26, 2013, 6:32 pm

    Professor Ellis: Thus Holocaust Remembrance events should be augmented with analysis of how nations like Israel and Rwanda use the memory of suffering to cause suffering to others. Using this yardstick, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum should add a category to their Holocaust inventory. They should hold empowered Holocaust and genocide victims accountable.

    Not in Our Name – “no” to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

    Finally Professor Ellis has scored a direct hit on his target. And if a prophet is merely someone who speaks out loud what is glaringly obvious but which no one else dares to utter then today Professor Ellis is truly prophetic.

    But just because its so obviously true doesn’t make this less important. Quite the contrary. For when the Palestinians finally get around to a mass non-violent struggle for equal rights and the Israelis react with inevitable violence, Professor Ellis has identified the point at which to not only force apart Zionism from Judaism but also force apart the US Government from Zionism.

    For the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is nothing less than the fulcrum point where Zionism asserts its power over the US Government under the guise of both Jewish and universal moral values. It’s such an overwhelming contradiction that at the right moment it will tear apart when people like Professor Ellis protest its failure to protect the Palestinians from violence. No amount of money and hasbara will be able to paper over the chasm, it will just make it worse as the Zionist machine goes into reverse and unravels. AIPAC overplaying its hand over Syria and Iran is just a foreshadow.

    But its also a reminder of why mass non-violent struggle by the Palestinians for equal rights is so important to create this moment. In the end, it’s their struggle and they are in the driving seat.

  8. MahaneYehude1
    MahaneYehude1
    September 27, 2013, 8:52 am

    Well, I understand that the truth of a man lived under apartheid SA is little painful.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eu4BEu60a4&fb_source=message

    To his claim ”The charge that Israel is an apartheid state is a lie, you are destroying the memory of the real apartheid” let me add:

    When each time when a Palestinian has to demolish his illegal house you say ethnic cleansing, you are destroying the memory of the real ethnic cleansing.

    When each time when an armed Palestinian is killed in clash you say genocide, you are destroying the memory of the real genocides.

    When each time Israel takes security measures like, unfortunately, walls and fences, you say apartheid you are destroying the memory of the real apartheid.

    When each time a terrorist kills civilians you say freedom fighter, you are destroying the memory of the sufferings of those innocent people and their families.

    When each time you see an illegal group of right-wing extremists in Israel calling death to Arabs you say pogroms you are destroying the memory of the real pogroms victims.

    When each time you see Palestinians in checkpoints only because our fear from terrorists, you say concentration camps, you are destroying the memory of the millions of concentration camp victims.

    Unfortunately, the list is long, very long. Many confuse between real and democratic criticism of the government of Israel activities, which I personally take part of it, and between delegitimize and dehumanize the state of Israel and the Israelis. By doing so, you are not promoting peace, only increase the distance between the peoples here. If your aim is not peace, but to undermine the state of Israel, please continue your great job, you are in the correct pathway. I hope I wrong and I hope many others want real peace. Presidents Obama and Rouhani’s speeches yesterday gave me some hope and shows me that the peace and truth will be victorious.

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