U.S. Envoy Criticized For Waffling On Darfur Genocide Prosecution

News Release
June 16, 2010

WASHINGTON – Fifty-seven leading Holocaust scholars have criticized the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan for “waffling” on the issue of prosecuting Sudan’s president for the Darfur genocide.

Last year, the International Criminal Court indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for sponsoring the Arab militias that have carried out genocide in Darfur.

Until now, U.S. officials have indicated that the administration supports prosecuting Bashir. But when U.S. envoy Scott Gration was asked at a March 4 State Department briefing to explain the U.S. position on prosecuting Bashir, Gration replied: “[W]e support efforts to ensure that President Bashir answers the questions that the ICC has posed, and we support the process continuing as it’s outlined in the international system. And that’s–we’ll have to see where that one goes.”

(A full transcript of the reporter’s exchange with Amb. Gration can be found at:
http://www.state.gov/s/sudan/rem/2010/137833.htm )

In response, 57 Holocaust scholars issued a statement saying they were “deeply disappointed that Ambassador Scott Gration waffled when reporters asked him about the U.S. position on prosecuting Bashir.” The scholars said that Gration’s statement that Bashir had to “answer questions” rather than face prosecution, “could be understood to mean that the U.S. is backing away from its previous support for prosecuting Bashir.” They urged the U.S. government to “reaffirm its support for the ICC’s effort to prosecute Bashir.”

The Holocaust scholars emphasized that bringing Bashir to justice “is crucially important to deterring future would-be perpetrators of genocide. ”

The scholars’ statement was organized by the Washington, D.C.-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, which has led many public protests regarding Darfur.

Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff said: “One hopes Ambassador Gration’s statement does not represent the beginning of a repeat of the period in the 1940s when the State Department, for political reasons, opposed prosecuting most Nazi war criminals.” It was only when U.S. envoy Herbert Pell, in 1945, publicly exposed the State Department’s position that the Roosevelt administration reversed itself and agreed that all Nazi war criminals should be prosecuted.

The Wyman Institute sponsors the “Bashir Watch” project, which tracks Bashir’s travels and encourages international action to arrest him. Other recent Wyman Institute efforts include a July 2009 letter by 100 Holocaust and genocide scholars to the government of Uganda, praising it for discouraging Bashir from attending a summit in Uganda; an August 2009 petition by 100 Jewish leaders to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when he visited the U.S., criticizing him for welcoming Bashir to Egypt; an October 2009 letter to President Obama by 119 rabbis, urging active U.S. intervention in Darfur; and a November 2009 letter by 220 prominent Christian and Jewish clergy, on the anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, urging U.S. action to bring Bashir to justice.

The full text of the 57 scholars’ statement, and the list of signatories, follows:

As Holocaust and genocide scholars, we believe the United States has a moral obligation to bring perpetrators of genocide to justice. The U.S. should help implement the International Criminal Court’s warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Bashir for his role in the Darfur genocide. We are deeply disappointed that Ambassador Scott Gration waffled when reporters asked him on March 4 about the U.S. position on prosecuting Bashir. His remark supporting “efforts to ensure that President Bashir answers the questions that the ICC has posed” –while pointedly failing to endorse prosecution– could be understood to mean that the U.S. is backing away from its previous support for prosecuting Bashir. We urge the U.S. government to reaffirm its support for the ICC’s effort to prosecute Bashir. Bringing war criminals to justice is crucially important to deterring future would-be perpetrators of genocide.

Prof. Irving Abella
University of Ottawa

Prof. Mark J. Allman
Merrimack College

Dr. Yehuda Bauer
Hebrew University & Yad Vashem (emer.)

Dr. Michael Berenbaum
American Jewish University

Prof. Thomas Bluger
University of Winnipeg

Dr. Ron Bombardi
Middle Tennessee State University

Prof. Daniel Burston
Duquesne University

Prof. Rebecca I. Denova
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Gemma Del Duca, S.C.
Co-Director (Israel), National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education
Seton Hill University

Prof. Liba H. Engel
Queens College, City University of New York

Stuart Erdheim
Director, “They Looked Away”

Dr. Helen Fein
Board Chair, Institute for the Study of Genocide

Prof. Saul Friedman
Youngstown State University

Prof. Allon Gal
Ben-Gurion University (emer.)

Prof. Zev Garber
Los Angeles Valley College (emer.)

Prof. Jay Geller
Vanderbilt University

Dr. Myrna Goldenberg
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (emer.)

Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin
President, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies

Prof. Henry Gonshak
Montana Tech

Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg
Founding President, Jewish Life Network
Former Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

Dr. Alex Grobman
Brenn Institute

Dr. Elvira U. Grozinger
Free University Berlin

Prof. Susannah Heschel
Dartmouth College

Prof. Ron Hollander
Montclair State University

Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs
The University of Alabama

Prof. Katharina von Kellenbach
St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Dr. Neil J. Kressel
William Paterson University

Prof. Michael Kuelker
St. Charles Community College, MO

Vincent A. Lapomarda, S.J., Ph.D.
Coordinator, Holocaust Collection
The College of the Holy Cross

Prof. Fred Lazin
Ben Gurion University

Prof. Laurel Leff
Northeastern University

Prof. Marcia Sachs Littell
Richard Stockton College of NJ

Dr. Erich Loewy
University of California, Davis

Prof. Ze’ev Mankowitz
Hebrew University & Yad Vashem

Dr. Rafael Medoff
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies

Prof. Robert Melson
Purdue University

Prof. Rochelle L. Millen
Wittenberg University

Prof. Stephen H. Norwood
University of Oklahoma

Prof. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, Ph.D
Director, Catholic Theological Union

Dr. Susan Pentlin
Central Missouri State University (emer.)

Prof. Allen Podet
State University of New York at Buffalo (emer.)

Prof. Eunice G. Pollack
University of North Texas

Prof. Peter I. Rose
Smith College

Prof. Thane Rosenbaum
Fordham University School of Law

Prof. Robert M. Shapiro
Brooklyn College

Prof. Gerald Sorin
SUNY-New Paltz

Dr. Gregory H. Stanton
President, Genocide Watch

Prof. Leon Stein (emer.)
Roosevelt University

Dr. Samuel Totten
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Dr. James Waller
Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation

Dr. Kenneth Waltzer
Director, Jewish Studies – Michigan State University

Prof. Chaim I. Waxman
Rutgers University (emer.) & Van Leer Jerusalem Institute

Dr. Racelle Weiman
Temple University

Prof. Linda M. Woolf
Webster University

Prof. David S. Wyman
University of Massachusetts – Amherst (emer.)

Prof. John C. Zimmerman
University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Dr. Bat-Ami Zucker
Bar Ilan University