The speech Obama should give at the Holocaust Museum (JERUSALEM POST OP-ED) By RAFAEL MEDOFF 04/23/12)
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President Barack Obama is scheduled to speak at the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on Monday. Here’s what I
would like to hear him say:
“Nineteen years ago this week, my predecessor, president Bill
Clinton, stood on this very spot and recalled that even after the
American government knew that the Holocaust was taking place, ‘doors
to liberty were shut’ and ‘rail lines to the [death] camps within
miles of militarily significant targets were left undisturbed.’
President Clinton was deeply troubled by our nation’s ‘complicity’ in
the tragedy, and I am confident he would agree that we must learn
from the mistakes that were made then.
“One major mistake was our government’s hesitancy to acknowledge,
loudly and clearly, that the Jews were being singled out for mass
annihilation. During my years in the United States Senate, I said the
US should publicly recognize that Turkey perpetrated genocide against
the Armenians. Presidents, of course, face a unique array of
pressures and considerations, and during my first years in office, I
chose to use the Armenian term ‘Meds Yeghem,’ rather than ‘genocide,’
out of sensitivity to Turkey’s objections. But failing to acknowledge
genocide paves the way for future genocides. I cannot be a party to
that. From now on, I will not hesitate to state clearly that what the
Armenians suffered was genocide.
“Another major mistake during the Holocaust was our government’s
reluctance to take even minimal steps to rescue Jewish refugees.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, I pledged that when it came to
the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, America would not allow
mass murder to take place on my watch. ‘There must be real pressure
placed on the Sudanese government,’ I said.
“But as president, I have often preferred to heed the advice of my
more cautious advisers on this subject.
Ideas such as imposing a no-fly zone over Sudan or forcefully
challenging Sudan’s arms suppliers – Russia and China – were set
aside in order to avoid unpleasant confrontations with Moscow and
“We opted to refrain from trying to bring about the arrest of
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the
International Criminal Court for his role in the Darfur genocide. We
held back from criticizing countries that hosted visits by Bashir,
even when those countries were major recipients of US aid.
“Critics warned that if Bashir remained free, he would continue his
murderous ways. We did not listen.
“We should have. Today, the people of the Nuba mountains are paying a
steep price. In that region at the border between Sudan and South
Sudan, Bashir’s forces are again victimizing innocent men, women, and
“So today, the gloves come off. Today, we say to the world: We want
regime change in Sudan. We want Omar al-Bashir behind bars. Our
special forces around the globe will be employed, if necessary, to
bring him to justice. And those who remember how American commandos
apprehended the Achille Lauro hijackers, or Manuel Noriega – not to
mention how they dealt with Osama bin Laden – know we are serious
when we say to the Butcher of Darfur: You can run, but you can’t hide.
“An American ally, Israel, is today threatened with genocide. Iran’s
rulers have vowed to wipe Israel off the map, and they seem
determined to build the weapons of mass destruction needed to achieve
that goal. I have urged the Israelis to refrain from taking military
action against Iranian nuclear facilities so long is there is a
chance of stopping Iran’s nuclear development through pressure,
sanctions, and negotiations. Israel is concerned about the sanctions
process dragging on so long that it enables the Iranians to complete
construction of atomic weapons. Israel’s concerns are valid.
“And so today, I want to make it clear to Tehran that the round of
talks which is now under way will be the last round. These talks must
succeed within 30 days, or we will conclude that Iran was never is
not serious about a negotiated solution. And we and our allies will
“I want to conclude my remarks by announcing a symbolic step that I
will be taking, today, to reaffirm America’s commitment to preventing
genocide. Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated for the past 27
years for providing Israel with classified data that, among other
things, revealed attempts by certain extremist regimes to develop
weapons with which to destroy Israel. I am in no way condoning Mr.
Pollard’s actions when I acknowledge that he was motivated by a
desire to prevent a second Holocaust. As a small symbol of my
administration’s own commitment to preventing another genocidal
assault on the Jewish people, I have today granted clemency to Mr.
“Speaking out against genocide, interrupting mass murder,
apprehending the perpetrators, preventing the development of weapons
of genocide – these must be the hallmarks of American policy around
the world in the 21st century.” (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post
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