In this 65th anniversary year of the Genocide Convention, the international community must bear in mind -- again, as the jurisprudence from the Rwandan genocide, including the Mugasera case decided by the Supreme Court of Canada reminds us -- that incitement to genocide is a crime in and of itself. Taking action to prevent it, as the Genocide Convention mandates us to do, is not a policy option; it is an international legal obligation of the highest order. The answer is that the international community will only prevent the killing fields of the future by heeding the lessons from past tragedies. What, then, are these lessons, and, as Annan asks, what can we do?
As we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah -- defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide -- we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews, and millions of non-Jews, is not a matter of abstract statistics. For unto each person there is a name, an identity; each person is a universe. As our sages tell us, "whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe." Conversely, whoever has killed a person, it is as if they have killed an entire universe. Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself.