John T. Pawlikowski: Well, good afternoon and welcome back to our final session. The final panel is oriented towards summing up some of the issues that have been raised during the course of our two days together, as well as some of the issues that, perhaps, were not raised and need to be raised.
In one sense, I think this session may help forge a future agenda for not only the Committee on Conscience, but some of the other committees that operate within the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum.
My name is John Pawlikowki. I teach at the Catholic Theological Union at the University of Chicago, but I’ve been a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council since its inception in 1980. I was involved in the original effort to create a Committee on Conscience, and then since the formal establishment of the committee, as a member of that committee.
I should also add that Professor Buergenthal has asked me not only to serve as moderator, but to make some comments, as well will save those for the end.
Our three panelists today are all very capable, very knowledgeable, in the area of human rights. Our first speaker will be Professor Thomas Keenan, the associate professor of comparative literature at the State University of New York at Binghamton, and most importantly for this context, co-founder of International Justice Watch.
The second is Michael Posner, the executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. Again, their bios. are in the material, so I won’t say much more about them. He will actually be our second speaker.
Our third panelist is a last-minute substitute. We called him out of the bullpen as we might say. And coming from Atlanta -- usually, coming out of the Atlanta bullpen is a good thing. Unfortunately, one of our other panelists, Gay McDougall, the executive director of the International Human Rights Law Group, has taken ill with the flu.
So, Dr. Blumenthal, who has been a participant in the program, has graciously volunteered to be the third panelist. His biography is outside on the table, but since it wasn’t included in the materials, let me just add a few things about him.
First of all, he’s been a good friend and colleague over the years, and we’ve been in many contexts together and they have been extremely fruitful and meaningful to me. He is also a member of the Committee on the Church relations and the Holocaust here at the museum, which I chair.
Professionally, he is the Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Columbia University, and has also studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and in Paris.
He has written several books, including The Commentary of Hoter Ben Shelomo to the Thirteen Principles to Maimonides, and a volume titled The Philosophic Questions and Answers of Hoter Ben Shelomo. In addition, he is the author of a two-volume study of Jewish mystical text, Understanding Jewish Mysticism.
And so, we welcome him and we are grateful that he has agreed to be a panelist at the last moment.
So, let us begin now. I want to say this is also a session in which you will have an opportunity to add any kind of final reflections that you might have on the entire conference.
So, let us begin, then, with Professor Keenan.