Holocaust Museum Exhibit Highlights Killings in Darfur

By Nathan Guttman

Published November 24, 2006, issue of November 24, 2006.
  • Print
  • Share Share

As American officials warn of a renewed wave of violence in Darfur, the walls of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum have been transformed, for one week, into huge projection screens carrying the images of the African genocide.

The facade facing busy 15th Street, only a block away from the Washington Monument, is now bringing pictures of Darfur to commuters, passers-by and tourists in downtown Washington, with 40 square-foot photos of children who have lost their families, villages burnt to the ground, and warriors, carrying machine guns, who have terrorized the region.

The exhibit, “Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?” will be projected on the exterior of the Holocaust museum every evening through Thanksgiving week. It’s the boldest attempt to call attention to the Darfur genocide, which so far has claimed the lives of about 400,000 Sudanese and has displaced more than 2 million people. It is made up of photos shot in Darfur in the past three years by a former U.S. Marine and by several photojournalists who contributed their works to the museum.

Andrew Natsios, President Bush’s special envoy for Sudan, said Monday that violence in Darfur has escalated since the signing of an accord last year. Natsios added that there is new optimism following the signing last week in Ethiopia of a U.N.-brokered accord under which Sudan has agreed to accept a stronger international force.

Taking on the issue of the Darfur genocide is part of the mandate of the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, which states that the committee should “alert the national conscience, influence policy-makers, and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of genocide or related crimes against humanity.”

While the Jewish community has been at the forefront of the campaign to save Darfur, there are some who feel that the Holocaust museum was wrong in making Darfur its number-one priority. “If they want to go into politics and talk about current concerns, then the existential threat Israel faces from Iran should be the first issue,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom synagogue in Washington. Though the Holocaust museum did put out a press release condemning the antisemitic rhetoric of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his threats against Israel, Herzfeld claims that this is not enough. “The moment they get into contemporary politics, then their relative silence on Iran becomes deafening,” he said.

John Heffernan, director of the Committee on Conscience’s Genocide Prevention Initiative, responded by defending the museum’s decision to focus on Darfur. “There are a lot of issues out there that do pose threats, whether it be the Congo, Darfur or Chechnya,” Heffernan said. “But Darfur — when you have three or four hundred thousand people dead, and most of these people have been killed for who they are, it was an obvious connection for us.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.