Gratz College Offers an Online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

As world events churn perilously with ethnic hatred and violence, expertise in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies is needed more than ever. Atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups around the world and hate crimes on the rise in the United States and Europe make the promise of “never again” seem to ring hollow. In response to these acts, experts are needed to inform government policy, educate the public, and provide teachers with the tools they need to instruct the next generation on the dangerous repercussions of hatred and intolerance.

This fall, Gratz College will launch an online Ph.D. program in Holocaust and genocide studies, making this important field accessible to students everywhere. This program is the first in the United States to offer a Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, such as history or sociology. [Read more…]

The Arnold and Esther Tuzman Memorial Holocaust Teach-In

This biennial event draws hundreds of people to Gratz College for an afternoon of special programming on the Holocaust and genocide. Particularly exciting this year is the keynote address, which is being delivered by Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University professor and expert on Holocaust denial, who was sued for libel in the United Kingdom for labeling English historian David Irving a Holocaust denier. Lipstadt’s trial is the subject of the new motion picture “Denial.”

The keynote address will be followed by two sessions in which participants can choose among a list of seminars on a wide range of topics, including music from the Holocaust, survivor stories, discussions of other genocides and much more. Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih, a survivor of genocide in Darfur who was presented the International Women of Courage Award by Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, will share her experiences during one of these seminars. See the brochure for all seminar descriptions.

Schedule: Special programming for teachers begins at 9 a.m. Doors open for the main program at 1 p.m., with the program beginning at 1:30.

Admission Fees: General admission is $10; higher fees for teachers and attorneys seeking professional education credit.


Genocide in the 21st Century

The Last Survivor explores the idea of genocide in the 21st century as a platform for social action.

— by David Felder, Nancy Strong and Sharon Shore

The term “genocide” is of relatively recent origin. It was first coined by Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), a Polish-Jewish legal scholar, in 1944. Lemkin’s idea of genocide as an offense against international law was widely accepted by the international community and was one of the legal bases of the Nuremberg trials.

While most of us would prefer to think of genocide as something that belongs to another place and time, it is in fact, an evil that has occurred on nearly every continent in every century, and affects us all as human beings.

On January 28, 2012, Congregation Beth Hamedrosh of Wynnewood will present a program on genocide in the 21st century. The program will be informative and practical, focusing on specific actions that can be taken by individuals and organizations to help survivors of genocides in the 21st century. It will include a showing of the powerful documentary film, The Last Survivor, and a presentation by Dr. Henri Parens.

More after the jump.
Dr. Parens is a Holocaust survivor and a Professor of Psychiatry, Thomas Jefferson University, and a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia. There will be an opportunity for discussion following Dr. Parens’ presentation.

The Last Survivor is a character-based, feature-length documentary that follows the lives of survivors of four different genocides – The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo. By presenting these stories of loss, survival, and hope side by side, the film highlights the commonalities these individuals share, both as survivors and, more broadly, as human beings. Shot on location in five countries across four continents, the film focuses on the universality of the horror of genocide, combating the misguided
notion that genocide is something that happens “over there.” The Last Survivor has received national and international recognition including numerous film festival awards for best documentary.

The program will take place at 7:30 PM on Saturday, January 28, 2012 at Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, 200 Haverford Road, Wynnewood, PA. The charge for admission is $5.00 in advance and $8.00 at the door. Tickets can be obtained by contacting the synagogue office at (610) 642-6444.

Congregation Beth Hamedrosh is a mutually supportive community of families and individuals who are looking to grow, enjoy and share in an Orthodox way of life. We welcome Jews of all backgrounds and levels of observance. Through programs such as this presentation of The Last Survivor, CBH seeks to better understand how the Jewish community should respond to events in both the United States and the world.

Gratz Now Offers On-line M.A. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

— by Mindy Blechman

Gratz College launched a new Master of Arts degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the only one of its kind that can be completed entirely online.

The new program is particularly aimed at teachers, for whom it will provide a tool for combatting racism and intolerance, often accompanied by violence, pervasive in our schools. Full-time public and private school educators will benefit from a substantial tuition discount. The program is also directed at museum educators, social workers, and members of secular and religious community organizations.

More after the jump.
The program consists of 36 credits (12 courses), including two required courses, and a guided thesis or final project. Courses may be chosen from among over 20 electives, including a study-tour of Jewish Poland in July, 2012.  An 18-credit Graduate Certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies is also available.

For more information, contact Mindy Blechman at 215-635-7300 x 154, or Professor Michael Steinlauf at 215-635-7300, x 144 or visit the Gratz website.

In Sudan, Say ‘Never Again,’ And Mean It

A Genocide Scholar Looks at Jewish Obligation

–by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

The special obligation of Jews to combat genocide and eliminationist politics, even injustice more generally – by now almost a cliché – is linked to Jews having been the victims of the Holocaust and of a long and bitter history of persecution.

This call on Jews to urge the defense of the defenseless is pertinent again – sadly, it so often seems pertinent yet again -in the face of the renewal of two related things: The first is the Sudanese government’s eliminationist and exterminationist policies, this time being implemented in or threatening parts of recently independent South Sudan and two contested regions, South Kordofan and Abyei, where Sudanese forces have already killed and expelled from their homes masses of people, with potentially hundreds of thousands more to follow.
And the second is the reaction of our government and the world, which is to neglect, stand by and watch as it happens.

And the second is the reaction of our government and the world, which is to neglect, stand by and watch as it happens.

More after the jump.
Led by Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese government is a racist, political Islamic regime. For two decades it has waged a campaign of extermination first against the non-Muslim South, where the people are mainly non-Arab and Christian or Animist, and then against the people of Darfur in Western Sudan. In both areas, Bashir and his willing executioners have systematically brutalized and maimed, raped, expelled and killed an enormous number of people, with the total estimates being on the order of 2.5 million slaughtered and millions more driven from their home, regions and country. Bashir and his regime can certainly be counted among the worst mass murderers of our time.

Where do Jews come in? After the Holocaust, Jews have understandably, even laudably and repeatedly, said “Never again!” And this, rightly, has been a byword of Israel, whose people have been threatened regularly and continue to be threatened by enemies – from the grand mufti, to Nasser, to Ahmadinejad and the Iranian leadership and Hamas – who would like to do it again, and explicitly have said and threatened as much.

That this phrase was at first meant by Jews exclusively as self-protection and not as a universally applicable slogan and goal was understandable (if not justifiable), because the Jews had just suffered the most comprehensive large-scale genocide in human history, and also because Jews, no different from most non-Jews in the West, were inattentive regarding the eliminationist and exterminationist assaults that other regimes and other peoples were perpetrating elsewhere, especially against people of color in colonies and the developing world.

More recently, though, the phrase “Never again!” has come to be understood as a general principle that should apply to all groups and people. At the same time, it has become clear that the phrase is now hollow, devoid of real meaning. The international community has done little or nothing – take Cambodia, Guatemala, Bosnia, Rwanda and Sudan itself, among many other instances – as mass murderers have systematically slaughtered defenseless children, women and men.

And so, it is said – often by Jews – that Jews bear a greater duty to work toward making “Never again!” a meaningful phrase, a greater duty to press political leaders to pursue policies to stay the hands of mass murderers.

Frequently, when I lecture about the Holocaust or about genocide more generally, I am asked about this imputed higher duty. Such questioners are generally well meaning, sympathetically focusing on the Holocaust or drawing on aspects of Jewish tradition, and wish to mobilize Jews to stand shoulder to shoulder with the unfortunate current and potential future victims.

Albeit well meaning, this view is mistaken. Jews do not have a moral duty greater than others to combat mass murder. That is because Jews in this matter are positioned the same as non-Jews: They already have an absolute, universal moral duty – which they share with non-Jews, and which has nothing to do with Jews’ particular identities or histories – to do what they can to prevent innocent people from being slaughtered.

What differs for Jews, and what can be perhaps used particularly effectively to mobilize Jews, is not fictitious special moral duties or the discussion of them, which ultimately may – and should – ring empty. Rather, because of the Holocaust, Jews are more prone to identifying with the victims of genocide. Their empathy thus roused, they can more easily mobilize their emotions, including outrage, behind the acknowledgment of seemingly dry and abstract moral principles.

Most everyone thinks it horrible that the Sudanese political Islamists are eliminating and killing innocent people. But few onlookers summon the sense of necessity and urgency that we actually must go out of our way (yes, even at the cost of considerable resources) to stop perpetrators from brutalizing, raping, expelling and killing their targeted victims.

It is Jews’ psychological makeup, grounded in historical knowledge and often personal histories, that can reasonably make us expect that Jews should be more likely than many non-Jews to make the phrase “Never again!” mean something, to employ it as a genuine guide to action.

We ought to pressure our political representatives, especially the ultimate decision and difference maker, Barack Obama, to do at least as much for the helpless, innocent Sudanese as we are doing for Libyans.

We ought to declare that al-Bashir, the genocidal killer, has no more legitimacy than Moammar Qaddafi does in Libya and must be deposed, his totalitarian and murderous regime with him.
We ought to vigorously seek to carry out the International Criminal Court’s warrant to arrest and try Bashir for his mass murdering. We should selectively bomb his military forces and installations until his armed forces stop their killing and expulsions, and target Bashir personally from the air, the way we have targeted Qaddafi. We should extend our country’s Rewards for Justice program – which has been operating for two decades under Democratic and Republican presidents and led to the death and capture of many of Saddam Hussein’s followers in Iraq – to offer $1,000,000 rewards for the death or capture of al-Bashir and other leaders of his regime.

Would anyone reading this have wanted us to do less to help save the Jews of Europe during the years of the Holocaust? Why should it be any different for those people of Sudan whom Bashir is eliminating and exterminating, or threatening to do so?

As the specter of eliminationism and genocide afflicts and haunts Sudan and the world, let’s speak the language not of ethnicity or religion, but of moral duty buttressed with appeals that will rouse people’s empathy.

Let’s also rouse people’s empathy and create a sense of urgency to act on that duty however we can. For Jews, reminding them of the Holocaust is both an effective and laudable means for doing so. I have interviewed survivors of many genocides, including the Holocaust. Over and over, they say that they want the truth of what happened to them to be told, precisely in the hope that the same will not happen to others.

Let’s make the phrase “Never again!” mean something tangible. We can start by saying, “Not this time!”