There is no hierarchy in genocide

                             Raja George Khouri
                              National Post

                              Re: Monument to Human Evil, Aug. 11.

                              As it concludes the 20th century, Canada seems poised to erect a
                              monument to crimes against humanity. A private members' bill
                              introduced by MP Sarkis Assadourian on Feb. 15 calls for an
                              exhibit "to recognize the crimes against humanity ... perpetrated
                              during the 20th century." Bill C-479 has been garnering support
                              from MPs of all political stripes, to the dismay of the Canadian
                              Jewish Congress, which has launched a campaign for using public
                              money to erect a museum dedicated to the Jewish Holocaust. Will
                              Canada choose to commemorate all 20th-century genocide, or only
                              the European Jewish experience during the Second World War?

                              A coalition calling itself Canadians for a Genocide Museum (CGM),
                              formed in November, 1998, has thrown its support behind Bill
                              C-479. The coalition of 24 organizations, representing 17 distinct
                              ethnic communities, has written to MPs and senators calling for an
                              inclusive genocide museum to serve as a monument to man's
                              atrocities against man, and educate Canadians about the human evils
                              of the 20th century.

                              The Canadian Ethnocultural Council (CEC), an umbrella of 33
                              ethnocultural organizations, including the Canadian Jewish
                              Congress, passed a resolution on May 24, 1998, calling on the
                              Canadian government to establish a "Canadian Museum of
                              Genocide [to] provide all communities that experienced genocide an
                              equitable opportunity to present their experiences." In prefacing its
                              resolution, the CEC described genocide as the "antithesis of
                              multiculturalism," which holds "important educational opportunities
                              for all Canadians."

                              The noble premise of Holocaust museums throughout the world is to
                              educate the general public about Hitler's horrendous crimes against
                              Jews during the Second World War -- so they would never happen
                              again. But genocide continues to happen: Rwanda and Yugoslavia in
                              this decade alone. CGM's message is simple: No genocide should
                              ever happen again. Commemorating all genocide alongside the
                              Holocaust does not denigrate it.

                              The enormity and uniqueness of Nazi genocide against European
                              Jews is not in question. Genocide, however, is most present in the
                              collective memories of those who have survived it and their
                              descendants. For all survivors, this memory is painful, haunting and
                              life-defining, and each memory is unique and enormous; to suggest
                              otherwise is arrogant.

                              Creating one monument to the Holocaust, and another combining all
                              other genocide, will send the wrong message: There is hierarchy in
                              genocide. It is fiscally irresponsible to spend public money on two
                              separate museums meant to serve the Canadian public in the same
                              manner. Why can't all genocide be commemorated under one roof?

                              The anguish experienced today by the remembrance of the
                              Holocaust is shared by many Canadian communities with historical
                              or contemporary experiences of genocide of their own. All
                              genocides are equally abominable and similarly deserving of official
                              commemoration. As we educate our children and the citizens of this
                              country about the viciousness of hate crimes, it is important to
                              recognize that any form of genocide, against any people, is

                              Canada has uniquely made multiculturalism integral to its cultural and
                              political identity. In such a society, there is no room for showing
                              more deference to one ethnic group, its memory, history, tragedies
                              and triumphs, than another. In using its public funds and living up to
                              its multicultural identity and values, Canada must commemorate all
                              genocide. By building the world's first inclusive genocide museum,
                              Canada will show valuable leadership to a world entering a new

                              Raja George Khouri, vice-president of the Canadian Arab


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