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April 1, 2014 7:34 pm
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Rwandan Genocide Scholars Urge Jews to Recognize Iran Threat as Similar to Nazi Regime (INTERVIEW)

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Nyamata Genocide Memorial, Rwanda. Photo: WikiCommons.

Nyamata Genocide Memorial, Rwanda. Photo: WikiCommons.

Rwandan genocide scholars are urging Jews to recognize the threat posed by the Iranian regime to Israel as being as dangerous as the Nazis were to Jews in the Holocaust, based on how the Tutsis were vilified then massacred in Rwanda, according to scholar Dr. Charles Asher Small.

The revelation comes on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, as scholars are set to convene this week in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, to discuss the lessons for humanity that can be drawn from the tragedy, as part of the International Forum on Genocide.

Dr. Small, a professor at Stanford University and director of the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, ISGAP, said in a statement on Tuesday that he first began to understand the depth of the similarities between the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, and how that impacted perception today of the Iranian threat, when he was sought out by Rwandan scholars five years ago.

In 2009, after delivering a speech at the United Nations, in Geneva, at the Durban II Conference on international law and the manifestations of incitement to genocide, Dr. Small said “a group of Rwandan diplomats and scholars approached me and invited me to coffee.”

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Dr. Small said the Rwandans “were very much concerned about the future of Israel and the dehumanization by radical Islamists and the Iranian Regime against the Jewish people, and wanted to know why the American Jewish community were not as alarmed as they were.”

“The Rwandan group implored me to tell the Jewish community, its leaders, intellectuals, professionals and policy makers that the Iranians were using the same tactics against Jews, as the Tutsis had suffered in Rwanda, which was similar to the Jews during the Holocaust,” he said.

The Rwandan genocide, conducted over three months in 1994, claimed an estimated one million lives, or a fifth of the country’s population, when 70% of the Tutsis living in Rwanda were killed, while the world was silent.

In an interview with The Algemeiner on Tuesday Dr. Small said: “We must learn the lessons from the Holocaust and other atrocities, including the genocide against the Tutsis, and with great urgency.”

“When leaders of the Iranian regime and other Islamist social movements repeatedly call for the annihilation of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, which is actually consistent with their warped ideology, then the response must be unequivocal and strong,” he said.

“These days, all too often, leaders of the free world seem content to turn and look away. But history teaches us that the cost for all of humanity will only increase the longer we wait, when this evil is not faced and addressed directly.”

As part of the conference, Dr. Small said he will present his views to the Rwandan Parliament on Friday. His lecture will highlight the “deep bond between the Rwandan people and the Jewish people, born in the shared experience of tragedy,” he said.

The lecture is entitled, “The Threat of Contemporary Global Antisemitism: A Response to the Demonization and Incitement Against the Jewish people and Israel Within the Academy.”

Dr. Small is the Koret Distinguished Scholar at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the director and founder of ISGAP, in New York.

ISGAP was founded in 2004 and then housed at Yale University, from 2006 to 2011. The interdisciplinary research center studies the origins and contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism, as well as other forms of prejudice, including racism, as it relates to policy in the age of globalization.

ISGAP sponsors lectures and other academic programming on these themes at Harvard University, Columbia Law School, Fordham University, the University of Miami, Stanford University, McGill University and Sapienza University of Rome. It also hosts speakers at its offices in New York.

The group’s mission is to promote justice, understanding, respect and harmony in a globalized world through its pursuit of high-caliber scholarship.

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