Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

THE CRISIS IN SUDAN

Adopted by the 115th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Toronto, Canada
June, 2004

Background

The affirmation of the sanctity of all people, which flows from being created in God's image, is entrenched in Judaism at its very foundation. As a people intimately acquainted with the horrors of genocide, we are obligated to speak out and take action when other peoples are similarly threatened with annihilation. As Jews, we cannot remain silent.

The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, drafted in 1948 with significant participation by the Jewish community, defines genocide as "any of a number of acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group; killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." Sadly, events in Sudan meet this definition.

Civil war has been raging in the Sudan for over twenty years. The toll in human lives lost and disrupted is almost unimaginable. The lighter skinned, predominately Muslim population of the north has been fighting the darker skinned, predominately Christian and Animist population of the south. The Sudanese Government has tried to impose a harsh form of Sharia (Islamic law) throughout the country, similar to that of other fundamentalist groups like the Taliban and the Wahhabis. Government-backed militias have been engaging in systematic abuses of human rights against the population of the south - including kidnapping, slave raids, torture, and massacres. The Muslim government in Khartoum has turned a blind eye to this situation, and, in some cases, has even facilitated and participated in these atrocities. Over the years, close to two million people have been killed (more than Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo combined); and four million people have been displaced. Today, under cover of civil war, ethnic Muslim militia groups are engaged in ethnic cleansing of communities of black farmers in the province of Darfur. So far, almost a million citizens have been internally displaced in Darfur or fled into neighboring Chad. These people are in dire need of emergency health aid, access to food, clean water, and sanitation. Even under the best circumstances, U.S. officials have estimated that 350,000 people will die. If these needs are not met, it is estimated that up to 2.2 million people will die in the next 6 months.

In 2002, the U.S. Congress passed the Sudan Peace Act, calling upon President Bush to impose sanctions against the Sudanese government as an incentive for it to negotiate with the Sudan People's Liberation Army to reach a peace agreement and put an end to all genocidal acts. April 21, 2004 was the deadline for the President to impose sanctions. President Bush has decided not to do so, apparently believing that the Sudanese government was negotiating in good faith and that a peace agreement was near. However, a recent cease-fire in Darfur has been breached numerous times, and the area is still unsafe for aid workers.

Concurrent Resolutions have been passed by the U.S. Congress(S. Con. Res. 99 and H. Con Res. 403), condemning the Government of the Republic of the Sudan for its attacks against innocent civilians in the impoverished Darfur region of western Sudan; calling on the international community to strongly condemn the Government of Sudan for these attacks and to demand that they cease; urging the Government of Sudan to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance for the people in the Darfur region; and urging the President to direct the United States Ambassador to the United Nations to seek an official investigation by the United Nations to determine if crimes against humanity have been committed by the Government of Sudan or its agents in the Darfur region.

While there are numerous international relief agencies doing commendable work in this troubled region, we note with particular pride the work of the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), which works to alleviate poverty, hunger, and disease around the world. AJWS supports humanitarian assistance efforts in the Darfur region, using emergency funds to ensure access to clean water, construct sanitation facilities, provide primary and reproductive health care, and support survivors of gender-based violence.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis:

  1. Call upon President Bush to impose sanctions on the Sudanese government, as prescribed under the Sudan Peace Act of 2002, as a means of putting pressure on Sudan to make peace with all warring factions and put an end to the genocide;

  2. Call upon the U.S. and Canada to use their influence in the United Nations Security Council to put forward a resolution to invoke its authority to call for the immediate deployment of international monitors and peacekeeping forces under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, and to establish a high level panel to investigate the commission of war crimes in Darfur;

  3. Encourage the U.S. and Canadian Governments to support the United Nations relief efforts, and to provide humanitarian aid to the refugees and displaced persons of Darfur;

  4. Urge the Canadian government and parliament to invoke an all-party resolution condemning the atrocities of the Sudan Government and its agents for prosecuting the genocide in Darfur;

  5. Encourage the American Jewish community to support the humanitarian work of the American Jewish World Service in Darfur and elsewhere;

  6. Call upon our membership to educate our congregations about the genocide happening in the Sudan, and to urge them to communicate with their elected officials to to address the humanitarian crisis; and

  7. Work with the Religious Action Center to prepare sample sermons, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, and letters to Congress for use by our congregations and leadership, to educate the public and spur action on behalf of the people of the Sudan.