Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Death defined along ethnic lines," June 22, 2000
Ms. Fuentes' editorial contains, as its central thesis, a morally repugnant and factually baseless claim. She is trying to undermine the strongest justification for the creation of Holocaust Memorials and Holocaust Museums claiming they are self serving. The opposite is true.
The study of the Holocaust assists students and the public at large in developing and understanding the ramification of prejudice, racism, and stereotyping in any society. It helps develop an awareness of the value of pluralism, and encourages tolerance of diversity. It helps us think about the role and responsibilities of individuals, organizations and nations when confronted with civil rights violation, or policies of genocide. History, unfortunately, is full of examples of atrocities and human brutality. Nonetheless, the Holocaust stands alone in the sheer scope of its murderous agenda.
I've just read a story from the A.P. that a Genocide Research Institute was launched in London on July 21 by scholars and scientists from across the globe dedicated to finding the cause of mass killing so the crimes are not repeated. Stephen Smith, co-founder and director of the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Nottingham, which led the drive to create the institute stated "...during the 20th Century, millions of people were systematically slaughtered just because they were Armenians, Gypsies, Jews, Rwandans..." Nobel Peace Prize Winners Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel serve as Patrons of this institute, believing in its mission.
I am concerned with Ms. Fuentes' motivation and inaccuracy in regards to apathy towards genocide by what she calls the "Jewish Lobby." May I share just two recent examples: during the crisis in the former Yugoslavia, April 1999, Jewish agencies sent plane loads of equipment, medicare, food and baby formula for the Kosovo refugees and set up field hospitals for all victims of the conflict, irrespective of religion or ethnicity. The so called "Jewish Lobby" raised tens of thousands of dollars for humanitarian aid for those in need and on a non-sectarian basis.
On July 18 of this year, the Jewish Agency flew a group of 45 Chechen and Russian orphans (only one of them is Jewish) to Israel. The orphans and 10 caregivers will spend four months resting and undergoing rehabilitation. The orphans, ranging from 6-17 years of age, were aided by the Jewish Agency last winter in an attempt to prevent starvation and freezing when they fled their orphanage on foot during the Russian bombing of the Chechen capital.
I hope this gives Ms. Fuentes a different perspective.