News Release from
The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies
March 3, 2010
U.S. Envoy Criticized for Waffling on Darfur Genocide Prosecution
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:
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
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
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
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
Dr. Myrna Goldenberg
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (emer.)
Rabbi Prof. David Golinkin
President, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies
Prof. Henry Gonshak
Rabbi Dr. Irving (Yitz) Greenberg
Founding President, Jewish Life Network
Former Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council
Dr. Alex Grobman
Dr. Elvira U. Grozinger
Free University Berlin
Prof. Susannah Heschel
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
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
Prof. Rochelle L. Millen
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
Prof. Thane Rosenbaum
Fordham University School of Law
Prof. Robert M. Shapiro
Prof. Gerald Sorin
Dr. Gregory H. Stanton
President, Genocide Watch
Prof. Leon Stein (emer.)
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
Prof. Linda M. Woolf
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
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ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located in Washington, D.C., is a research and education institute focusing on America’s response to the Holocaust. It is named in honor of the eminent historian and author of the 1984 best-seller The Abandonment of the Jews, the most important and influential book concerning the U.S. response to the Nazi genocide.
The Institute’s Advisory Committee includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel, Members of Congress, and other luminaries.
The Institute’s Academic Council includes more than fifty leading professors of the Holocaust, American history, and Jewish history.
The Institute’s Arts & Letters Council, chaired by Cynthia Ozick, includes prominent artists, writers, musicians, and filmmakers.
(A complete list is available upon request.)