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Why Americans must say NEVER AGAIN

Why Americans must say NEVER AGAIN

Americans must never for Khojaly, Rwanda, Bosnia and other genocides and crimes against humanity.    

On February 26, Azerbaijanis around the world remember the 613 innocent Azerbaijani men, women and children who were slaughtered in Khojaly for the crime of being Azerbaijani.  Rabbi Israel Barouk wrote in Khojaly: A Crime against Humanity, “Of those who perished, 56 people were killed with particular cruelty: burning alive, scalping, beheading, gouging out of the eyes and the bayoneting of pregnant women in the abdomen.”  He noted that an additional 1,275 people were taken hostage.  Many of those who were held hostage were raped and tortured in the cruelest manner.

Many Americans may wonder, why should they care about what happened in Khojaly?  After all, Azerbaijan is very far away from America and it happened in the 1990’s.  However, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest leaders of the American Civil Rights Movement, once stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.   We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.   Whatever affects one directly affects us all indirectly.”  

This means that if there is no justice for the Azerbaijani victims, then there will be no justice for us either, as injustice knows no national borders.  For today, it could be innocent Azerbaijani civilians.  Tomorrow it could be another nation and then the following day, it could be my people. 

Then UN Secretary General Jan Eliason stated in 2015, “It is important that we examine why we continue to fail to prevent mass atrocities, despite lessons learned, despite knowledge of causes and drivers and despite our assurances of never again.  Genocide can only happen when we ignore the warning signs and are unwilling to take action.”  

As then Israeli President Reuven Rivlin stated at the UN General Assembly that same year, “On this day we must ask ourselves honestly, is our struggle, the struggle of this Assembly, against genocide, effective enough? Was it effective enough then in Bosnia? Was it effective in preventing the killing in Khojaly? Of Afghans by the Taliban? Is it effective enough today in Syria? Or in the face of the atrocities of Boko Haram in Nigeria? Are we shedding too many tears, and taking too little action?”

He concluded, “I am afraid that the United Nations “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” has remained a merely symbolic document. It did not succeed in realizing its commitment and fulfilling the objective that underpins the establishment of the United Nations Organization.”

Furthermore, if we continue to turn a blind eye to mass atrocities across the world, whether in Khojaly, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Syria, or some other place, then tomorrow a genocide could take place in America too, as ADL head Jonathan Greenblatt already warned it could happen in his recent book titled “It could happen here.”

According to Greenblatt, “None of us want to believe that America could end up like Germany in the 1930’s. As the American author Sincair Lewis ironically titled his 1935 novel—published before the full horror of Hitler became apparent—It can’t happen here. Even today, nobody wants to believe that illiberalism, fascism and violence could unfold on our shores. But I wrote this because we must confront that possibility.”

Greenblatt stressed that genocides become possible “when an underlying social context of hate arises and solidifies over time. From inside that context, hate seems normal and not especially dangerous. Someone shouts a slur at you or spits on you on the street or they refuse to serve you at a restaurant, or they break off a friendship with you. Life might be unpleasant, but it is not intolerable. And then, one day, the unthinkable happens.”

As Greenblatt wrote in his book, “America is a society saturated in hate. The ADL’s own data shows that the United States saw over eleven thousand incidents of extremism or antisemitism in 2019-2020, from coast to coast. Across society, hate is at an all-time high, with numerous groups emerging across the ideological spectrum. Hate groups are also more emboldened than they’ve been in recent memory.”    Thus, what began as ignoring Khojaly, Rwanda and other genocides abroad could lead to the unthinkable happening in America in the future, unless Americans start to care about crimes against humanity and to act against them.   Therefore, as Americans, we have a moral duty to remember what happened in Khojaly, as well as all other instances of genocide and crimes against humanity.  

 

Author

Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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