June 20, 1982 | International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide opens in Tel Aviv

20 June 1982: The International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide opens in Tel Aviv, despite attempts by the Turkish government to cancel it, as it included presentations on the Armenian genocide. (Source)

Hilton Tel Aviv, where the conference took place. (Source)

The International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide was the first major conference in the field of genocide studies, held in Tel Aviv on 20–24 June 1982. It was organized by Israel Charny, Elie Wiesel, Shamai Davidson and their Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide, founded in 1979. The conference’s objective was to further the understanding and prevention of all genocides; it marked the shift from viewing genocide as an irrational phenomenon to one that could be studied and understood.

The Turkish government tried to have the conference cancelled because it included presentations on the Armenian genocide, which Turkey denies. Turkey threatened to close its borders to Syrian and Iranian Jews fleeing persecution, thereby putting Jewish lives in danger. These threats led the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attempt to cancel the conference and persuade attendees not to come. The official Israeli Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, and many high-profile participants, including Wiesel, withdrew from the conference. The organizers refused to remove the Armenian Genocide from the program and held the conference anyway. Both the Turkish and Israeli governments faced criticism for their infringement on academic freedom. (Source)


I am Volker Schunck and live in Dresden, Germany. First I was an industrial clerk, then I studied theology. Through my engagement with Zen, I became aware of the Christian mysticism. Meanwhile, I go my own way. For me, faith is not a world-view but a being. It is important to me, not to live lost in thought but aware and intensely. For me, this also includes careful handling of other people. The NVC (Nonviolent Communication), which I learned during my training as a mediator, helps me with this.

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