The high cost of Hatred … “I’M HATING IT”… Understanding genocide helps unpack SA’s own most difficult past

The Star (South Africa)
May 20, 2017 Saturday
The high cost of Hatred … "I'M HATING IT"… PAGE 17
Understanding genocide helps unpack SA's own most difficult past
THE BUILDING, as you travel up Joburg's Jan Smuts Avenue, is stark. It's drastically different from the ultra-luxurious Four Seasons hotel across the road, a world away from the ducks on Zoo Lake and light years from the mansions around the zoo itself.
The sides have lines that run the height of the walls that guard the perimeter and hold up the roof.
They're not straight, but might ultimately converge somewhere in the sky.
The symbolism is deliberate. This is the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre and the lines are railway lines because, when you murder people on an industrial scale, you need to transport them en masse – by train, mostly.
The brickwork too is European, the same pattern that was used at Auschwitz, one of the most notorious death camps that slew an estimated 1.1 million Jews; a sixth of the total number killed during Adolf Hitler's notorious 'final solution' to rid Europe and the world of Jews.
But it's also the same brickwork that you'll find in Joburg's Old Fort, back over a couple of ridges due south overlooking the Joburg CBD, the same brick that built the women's jail alongside it, long a site of repression and oppression – today an integral part of the Constitutional Court precinct where the nation's top jurists sit as a last legal defence against any abuse of our human rights.
The symbolism is deliberate, explains Tali Nates, the centre's director. The building was designed by architect Louis Lewin, who was part of the team that designed the Constitutional Court and the Soweto Theatre, among many other highly lauded Johannesburg projects.
"It was sheer genius how he blended the symbolism of progress and modernity with the prejudice and oppression that goes hand-in-hand with so much of it," she enthuses.
"This is not a museum where you come once and then say 'goodbye'; this is a place where you keep coming back. It's a centre of dialogue."
Inside, the centre is open and airy, a compelling blend of wood, steel, brick, rock and granite that is as much modern and European as it is African.
It isn't finished yet, it hasn't even been officially opened – that's only slated for early next year – but the centre is alive; there are school tours in the halls, staff are cleaning the seminar rooms as a US documentary-maker inspects the main auditorium for her film that is to be shown that night.
The week before, the centre had hosted the Joburg leg of 175 years of Jewish life in South Africa, a travelling exhibition from the SA Jewish Museum in Cape Town. On Thursday, it was hosting the commemoration of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
It's been like this since the change in the national education curriculum in 2007 to incorporate the Holocaust into the Grade 9 and Grade 11 Curriculum as part and parcel of understanding the nature and scope of human rights.
"We started the idea in 2007. We didn't know whether we wanted to do an outreach to schools or to be an archive of memory. We were following the example of the Holocaust centres in Cape Town and Durban."
The City of Johannesburg suggested a private/public partnership, leasing the land on which the centre stands, with the centre having to raise the funds itself for the building. Construction began in 2012 and the staff finally moved in last March.
There are three Holocaust Centres in South Africa under the umbrella of the South African Holocaust and Genocide Foundation, in Durban and Cape Town, with Johannesburg being the third. The Joburg Centre is deliberately different. It doesn't just focus on the Holocaust but on genocide, too.
"You know, no one cared about the Hereros (85 000 murdered in Namibia between 1904 and 1907) or the Armenians by the Ottoman Empire (1.5 million between 1915 and 1923) during World War I, but in 1948 the United Nations passed its Universal Declaration of Human Rights and convention for the prevention and punishment of genocide," Nates said.
"South Africa didn't sign," she notes wryly. "They couldn't, they were implementing apartheid; indeed the country only accepted it in 1998 with the promulgation of its own Bill of Rights."
Nates is well qualified, personally and professionally, to teach and proselytise about the horrors of genocide and the need to inculcate a respect for human rights.
The daughter of Holocaust survivors from Poland, her father and uncle were saved by the legendary Oskar Schindler. She has worked in the killing fields of Rwanda from the 1990s, after completing a BA at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a BA (Hons) and MA in history at Wits in Joburg.
Having a centre to study the Holocaust and genocide, to debate the causes and identify the signs of incipient catastrophe, makes it easier for South Africans, in particular, to come to terms with their own different and difficult pasts.
"It's easier to start discussing these issues if we start looking at it from a global perspective, where we can look at the Holocaust, which was essentially white-on-white, and moving to Rwanda, which was black-on-black, to understand the deeper concept of racism beyond colour."
In August, the centre will be hosting an exhibition with the Japanese government about the atomic bomb and its impact, from a human rights perspective. There have already been seminars on child soldiers in war, and exhibitions showing Germany confronting its painful past.
One of those led to the centre facilitating a trip for 39 Student Representative Council members from the University of the Free State's three campuses, with some of their lecturers. They travelled to Germany in the wake of the #RhodesMustFall movement to try to understand how a country can come to terms with its painful past, confronting issues like racism and fascism.
The key, she says, is to forever be a place of learning about human rights, not – she stresses – to be an advocacy group. Documentary films, seminars, school outreach programmes, young leader fellowships are all part of this process, in a blur of activity, even though the centre is still raising funds to be able to finish the building and officially open it next year.
She refused then to wait until the centre was built; she refuses now to stop with the different programmes. Top of her mind is how fast a functioning democracy can fall into fascism – and from there into genocide, as Weimar Germany did in the 1930s.
The other thing that compels her is the Rwandan experience, where more than 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered in 100 days – while South Africa was celebrating its rainbow miracle and birth as a non-racial democracy.
"It's the same continent, the same year, the same month; two different countries taking vastly different routes. It comes down to the choices exercised by the leaders, by the communities, by the people themselves. What do we learn from that? There's very little different from Jew hatred to minority hatred, as happened in Rwanda."
She mentions the 10 stages of a genocide: classification, symbolisation, discrimination, dehumanisation, organisation, polarisation, preparation, persecution, extermination and, finally, denial.
In Rwanda it was 'cockroaches', in Germany untermensch or 'vermin'. Germany built camps and created industrial-grade means to commit mass murder; in Rwanda people were bludgeoned to death in their houses with medieval savagery, using household implements, or herded into churches and stadiums, grenaded, machine-gunned and bayonetted.
In both societies, there was a theme of obeying orders, being conditioned not to question the status quo – indeed being punished for even having the temerity to do so.
At the centre, the emphasis is on teaching everyone who comes through not to be bystanders but to be upstanders.
Cohorts of young leaders are schooled on the importance of creating plurality in society, of accepting and encouraging different points of view, creating a fundamental resilience in their societies – much like is happening in South Africa at the moment, she notes, citing the rise of popular dissent and the roles that the courts are playing to ensure that there is space for all the disparate parts under one roof.
Walking through into the first permanent exhibition which begins with a display of the Herero genocide, before moving to Armenia, Germany and then Rwanda, Nates points at the windows set high in the wall facing Jan Smuts Avenue.
"There's light. Most museums don't have natural light in their display areas. We do. We insist that the exhibition is seen in daylight, because genocide occurs in daylight. Neighbours watch it happen. Look at the girls in Nigeria, look at the situation in Syria… "
Outside, a group of excited schoolgirls chatter as they cross through the reception area. As they enter the exhibition, they hush.
Nates stands in the vast triple-volumed reception area filled by warm mid-morning Highveld autumn sun. She's dwarfed by the railway lines that veer apart, stretching to the roof and the emptiness that engulfs her. The space is called the void. It symbolises the loss of all those killed by the Holocaust and through genocide.

Entertainment: ‘Fashion icon Armenian Queen!’ Kim Kardashian leads stars wishing Cher a happy 71st birthday as she posts over 20 tributes on social media

Daily Mail, UK

Kim Kardashian lead the birthday tributes for megastar Cher's 71st birthday.

The 36-year-old reality star posted over 20 times about the Believe hitmaker's special day all over her social media.

She was not the only one as Jennifer Lopez also took to social media to pay homage to the iconic entertainer.

Also among the stars who hailed the If I Could Turn Back Time singer included Rachel Zoe. 

Kim flooded her Instagram page with more than a dozen shots of the woman she dubbed the 'fashion icon Armenian Queen.'

The super-fan socialite posed a historical retrospective of shots of Cher from the 1970s, showing how the style queen superstar has been something of an inspiration to her, having mastered culminating a hip and evolving image in Hollywood spread over decades.

The Burlesque star was also hailed by megastar Jennifer Lopez, who used the hashtags '#risktaker,' '#trailblazer' and '#bossbabe' alongside a picture of Cher emblazoned with the star's quote, 'I’ve always taken risks, and never worried what the world might really think of me.'

The versatile star, who captured an Oscar for her work in 1987's Moonstruck, didn't rest on her special day, taking the stage for a concert in Las Vegas at the Park Theater.

It's a huge weekend for Cher, who will stay in Sin City, as she'll be at the T-Mobile Arena on Sunday, where Gwen Stefani will present her with the ICON Award at the Billboard Music Awards.

She'll also perform live for the first time in 15 years at an award show, as she's slated to sing her 1999 smash-hit Believe at the proceedings. She told Billboard in a statement she was 'honored … take the stage to celebrate my love of music with [her] fans' at the show.

'Seeing so many powerful artists – especially female artists emerge and take their place in history through the years has been incredible,' she said.

The Billboard Music Awards will air on ABC at 8/7c Sunday.

ANKARA: Bundestag rejects leaving İncirlik, while Turkey stays indifferent

Sabah, Turkey
May 19 2017

Bundestag rejects leaving İncirlik, while Turkey stays indifferent

Published May 19, 2017

Germany's conservative-left coalition government Thursday rejected a
motion filed by opposition parties to "immediately" withdraw German
troops from İncirlik Air Base, amid political tensions between Berlin
and Ankara.

The joint motion filed by the Socialist Left Party and the
environmentalist Green Party was rejected by Chancellor Angela
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) and their coalition partner the
Social Democratic Party (SPD) after a heated debate in parliament.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday that
Ankara would not beg if Berlin decided to leave Incirlik. "It is up to
them, we will not beg them," Çavuşoğlu said, accusing the German
government of trying to patronize Turkey on the issue. "We are telling
Germany that they cannot treat Turkey as they wish, Turkey will not
accept hypocrisy," he added.

Senior Christian Democrat lawmaker Roderich Kiesewetter criticized
Turkey for refusing demands by German lawmakers to visit İncirlik Air
Base but warned against making a hasty decision.

"A unilateral and immediate withdrawal of German troops is neither in
the interest of Europe, nor in the interest of Germany," he told
lawmakers ahead of the vote on Thursday night. Kiesewetter urged
lawmakers to wait for the outcome of discussions at next week's NATO
summit as well as ongoing talks with Jordan for the potential
relocation of German troops there.

At the suggestion of Christian Democrats and the Social Democratic
Party, the majority of lawmakers voted in favor of submitting the
motion to the Foreign Affairs Committee for further deliberation.

The rejection of the motion filed by the Left Party and the Green
Party is interpreted as gaining time ahead of the bilateral meeting
between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and German Chancellor Merkel in
Brussels at the NATO summit.

Merkel is expected to request that German lawmakers be granted the
permanent right to visit the air base whenever they want and Erdoğan's
reaction to Merkel's request will reportedly be decisive in the future
of German troops stationed at İncirlik.

The İncirlik crisis started on Monday after it was revealed that a
parliamentary delegation was not allowed to visit the air base for
several reasons. After news reports about the ban surfaced, the German
government threatened to pull out from İncirlik. Berlin has been
hinting at the possibility of moving personnel to Amman, Jordan.

Germany has repeatedly underlined the importance of such visits,
saying the German army was not under the control of the government but
rather parliament.

The two countries went through the same crisis almost a year ago. A
German parliamentary defense commission delegation was not allowed to
pay a visit to the İncirlik Air Base after the Bundestag adopted a
resolution regarding the Armenian events of 1915. Federal Parliament
approved a controversial motion labeling the 1915 events as

The crisis was solved months later after Von der Leyen was allowed to
visit the air base with a German delegation.

Since 2015, around 260 German troops, six high-tech Tornado
surveillance jets and a tanker aircraft have been stationed at
İncirlik Air Base, providing support for anti-Daesh operations.


Re: Texas House of Representatives Passes Armenian Genocide Resolution




Date: May
19, 2017

Danielle Saroyan

(202) 393-3434

[email protected]





WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Texas House of Representatives
unanimously adopted a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide by a vote of
137 to 0, reports the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).


Spearheaded by Texas State Representative Scott
Sanford (R-TX) with invaluable support from Representatives Rafael Anchia
(D-TX) and Jeff Leach (R-TX), House Resolution, House Resolution (HR) 191 says
in part: “During World War I, the crumbling Ottoman Empire began a systematic
campaign to eradicate its Armenian population, which then numbered more than
two million.” The resolution resolved that “the House of Representatives of the
85th Texas Legislature hereby recognize the Armenian genocide.”


"The Armenian Assembly greatly appreciates the
exemplary work and dedication of the Armenian American community in Texas,
especially Mihran Aroian who led the effort," stated Assembly Grassroots
and Development Associate Mariam Khaloyan. "We look forward to working to
ensure that all 50 states unequivocally affirm the Armenian Genocide and the
proud chapter in America’s history in helping save the survivors,” she added.


Mr. Aroian told the Assembly: “This is a proud
moment for Texas and for all those who support genocide affirmation and prevention.
I would like to thank Representative Scott Sanford for his leadership and for
all those who worked diligently to make this happen.”


Last month, Members of the Texas legislature had
the opportunity to view a screening of The
, an extraordinary film that depicts the events of the Armenian
Genocide, at the State Capitol in Austin.


Former Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill (SB)
482 in 2009, which created the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to help
preserve information and experiences of the Holocaust and other genocide
events. During the ceremony, he said: "In addition to the Holocaust, there
have been five major genocide events in the 20th century, including the
Armenian, Cambodian, Rwandan, Bosnian and Herzegovinian, and Sudanese
genocides. Survivors, liberators and others who witnessed these atrocities have
died without leaving their lessons of survival and humanity.”


Click here to see a list of U.S. states that affirm
the Armenian Genocide.


Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of
America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting
public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a
non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.






Photo Caption: Texas State Rep. Scott Sanford
(R-TX) (back, center), Mihran Aroian (front, center), and members of the
Armenian American community in Texas after the House hearing of HR 191 on April
24, 2017.


Available online: