March 15, 2007
Ugly ties bind genocide past and present
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"Maybe we haven't seen the end of the struggle in Islam," he suggested, hopefully.
Much of the conference focused on academic issues, including taking a historical perspective, but there were a few voices asking for help in current crises.
"Intervention is not prevention," said Pierre Prosper, former U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes and former war crimes prosecutor on the UN international criminal tribunal for Rwanda.
Prosper was among the first prosecutors to arrive in Rwanda, where 1 million people were killed in 100 days.
"Prevention means stopping it before it begins -- not stopping it in its tracks," he emphasized. "It means really taking the hard steps so that this truly does not happen."
People of a society must feel they have recourse or redress, and the international community should focus all its attention on creating legal systems in those societies and looking at early-warning systems of genocide before they occur.
"It's not enough to compare this nation and its courage against other nations in the world," said Bruce Einhorn, a U.S. immigration law judge. "We have a special obligation," he said, not to be the world's policemen, but to take action against the perpetrators of genocide.
"Will the international community and the U.S. make the war against genocide as proactive as the war against terror?"
The program was part of the Pepperdine Institute's new International Human Rights Program, where law students spend their summer working for humanitarian causes around the world. In 2006, 10 students worked on almost every continent, focusing on issues such as human trafficking, HIV and religious liberty, said program director Melanie Howard, associate director of the Institute on Law, Religion and Ethics. "They said it was life-changing," she said of the students, noting that 100 have expressed interest for this summer. "The program fits with the overall mission of the law school -- purpose, service and leadership," Howard said.
Darfur is an example of action taken.
"It was the Jewish community to bring Darfur to the forefront and keep it on the forefront. We keep hearing so much about Darfur ... because of Jewish leaders," said conference founder Bayzler, referring to Rabbi Harold Schulweis, founder of Jewish World Watch, who spoke at the conference.
"Why is the Jewish community talking so much about Darfur? Because of the experience of the Holocaust. It's really the theme of 'never again.' Not just for our own people, but never again for other people," Bazyler said.
Many speakers argued that while religion can be an agitator, it can also offer salvation.
"What tools of religion can we use to combat the potential for genocide?" asked Michael Berenbaum, professor of theology and director of the Sigi Ziering Institute at the University of Judaism.
"If we look at Christianity, we have a perfect model of what we can do to get out of this quagmire [of religion causing genocide].
Christianity has de-emphasized the teachings [that might] have led to genocide, especially against the Jews."
Religion can play a positive role, not only in preventing genocide, but afterward, as well.
"Survivors in its aftermath have done something profoundly religious, biblical in proportion," he said, by deepening responsibility and pleading for the future. "The meaning of survival is not found in the accident of survival but what you do among the aftermath of survival."
1 | 2