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Warren Graham's Blog

Postings by Warren on a variety of timely and (hopefully) interesting topics

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dr. Gilbert Kahn is a wonderful man and a scholar. I am proud to consider him a friend; however, it is rare, indeed, that we are able to find issues upon which we agree. The tragedy of Darfur is, I am glad to say, one of those exceptions. Recently, Gil wrote a superb piece for the April 27 Issue of the New Jersey Jewish News, and I followed up with a letter in support. Below is a reprint of Gil's Article. My letter, published in the May 4 Issue, is reprinted below that.


The world’s missing conscience

Many in the Jewish community throughout the area are readying to attend the rally this Sunday against the genocide being perpetrated and/or tolerated by the Sudanese government. In the course of this preparation, one is immediately struck by the deafening quiet within various elements of American society — as well as throughout the world — to the horrors transpiring in Sudan. As happened in Somalia and then in Rwanda, blacks in Africa — Muslims and some Christians — are slaughtering men, women, and children for no intelligible reason and the world is standing idly by.
A major national rally on the National Mall was projected to bring several hundred thousands to Washington to protest the world’s passivity to the tragedy. It has now been downsized to a rally where 50,000 attendees will be considered an achievement, of whom as many as 20 percent may well be Jews. While black churches have been raising funds for Africans in need, it is unclear what percentage of the attendees Sunday will be from the African-American community.
It seems that issues far less consequential than the genocide being perpetrated in the Sudan are seriously distracting religious and political leaders in the United States and around the world. Many African-American political and church leaders, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, are rallying behind a black stripper in Durham, NC, who was allegedly raped by white members of the Duke University lacrosse team, yet they are not galvanizing their followers to protest the slaughter of blacks in Africa. While something ugly certainly happened on the Duke campus, no one died in Durham.
American mainline church leaders are wringing their hands about what to do about the Palestinian people. Hamas won a democratic election. The Palestinian people voted for terrorists to lead them. The churches and humanitarian groups are struggling to find ways to feed and clothe the Palestinian people who, thanks to a Hamas leadership that does not even condemn a suicide bombing of a falafel stand in Tel Aviv, have had international funding cut off. Meanwhile, where are the outcries of world church leaders protesting the slaughter in Darfur, some of whose victims are Christian?
For months at the United Nations and in the African Union, there have been interminable debates and discussions concerning the plight of the victims in Darfur. These organizations recognize the tragic slaughter going on in the Sudan but still cannot agree on the makeup of a peacekeeping force to send into the country. White soldiers will not be accepted, but they cannot seem to decide if the black soldiers must come from Muslim countries or not. The UN debates, like the bloodbath, continue.
Many of the world’s leading Muslim countries have grown extraordinarily rich over the past year as world oil prices have skyrocketed. They have the funds, the resources, and the manpower — to say nothing of the power of persuasion — to prevail upon the Sudanese government to bring its oppression of Darfurians to an end. Does the peace-loving voice of the Koran justify this brutality and nonstop killing that includes Muslim against Muslim? Are there no serious religious leaders in the Muslim world who view the slaughter of innocent men, women, and children as an outrage? Where are the busloads of Muslims driving to Washington to petition the U.S. government to intercede on behalf of the victims of the genocide being perpetrated in Darfur?
Finally, the spokespersons for the Bush White House as well as the State Department express indignation at the suggestion that the president and his administration are not doing everything in their power to stop the killing in Darfur. At the moment, there are only two members of Congress on the speakers list for the Washington rally, but not one member of the administration.
Current plans suggest that there will be some church representatives and some African-American leaders, but very few, if any, of the heavyweights. The Jewish community will be well represented. Scheduled Jewish speakers include three rabbis, a Holocaust survivor, representatives from two additional Jewish organizations, and the world’s conscience on genocide, Elie Wiesel.
So why does memory not lead the world to action? Is it only for Jews that the concept of “never again” truly resonates into action? The Holocaust ended 61 years ago. Yom Hashoa was commemorated only this Tuesday. How quickly the world forgets despite the fact that the rally is taking place virtually in the shadow of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It is there that an exhibition is being mounted on the genocide being perpetrated in Darfur.
What will it take for the world to do more than just remember? What will it take for religious and public leaders to act to protect innocent human beings?
The world forgets. Jews remember too well. Hopefully, God is not laughing.

©2006 New Jersey Jewish News All rights reserved

To the Editors:

Bravo to Gilbert Kahn for his insightful piece, "The World's Missing Conscience" (April 27). He astutely observes the the so-called (and self-appointed) moral leadership in America and elswhere is obsessed with the sufferings of the media darlings of the world stage, the Palestinians, whose most recent humanitarian debacle, precipitated by their democratic election of Hamas is almost entirely self-imposed.
What have the victims of Sudanese rape and slaughter done to deserve their obscenely cruel fate? It is enough, apparently, that they live and breathe. Jews, of all people, seem, thank God, to relate to being in that quandry.
And where are the voices and expressions of outrage from African-American and Christian leadership? Where, indeed?

Warren R. Graham
New York City


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