Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

THE JEWISH COMMITMENT TO AFRICA

Adopted by the 109th Annual Convention of the
Central Conference of American Rabbis
June, 1998

Background

As Jews, living one generation after the near annihilation of our people, we know too well the danger, the horror, of global indifference. Too often, people turn their backs on those in need. Today, this is the case in Africa. In order to ensure that "never again" is not just a slogan, but rather a firm, moral commitment on our part not to stand by in the face of unspeakable hatred and violence, we must get involved. Recent events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia and Sudan appalled the world community. Our tradition forbids us to "stand idly by the blood of [our] neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). Thus, the Reform Movement must aspire to lend a helping hand, not turn a blind eye, to countries in Africa whenever possible.

In the Talmud, it is written that all people are descendants from a single person, so that no person can say, "my ancestor is greater than yours." God created us all from the four corners of the earth -- yellow clay, and white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, the earth can declare to no race or color of humankind that it does not belong here, that this soil is not their rightful home. This idea of equality is reinforced because, as Jews, we worship a universal God, a God concerned with the suffering and injustice of all people everywhere. In Africa, the Reform Jewish movement lends its voice most often when humanitarian aid and human rights issues must be addressed.

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THEREFORE, and in recognition of our commitment to international human rights and our long-standing dedication to fight oppression throughout the world, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, resolves to:

  1. Emphasize the need, as demonstrated by President Clinton's recent trip to Africa, for greater attention to the African continent and a coherent, consistent U.S. policy towards Africa;

  2. Encourage and advocate for humanitarian assistance in times of crisis in African countries or elsewhere;

  3. Support crisis intervention to forestall genocidal activity, such as that which took place in Rwanda and Burundi;

  4. Reaffirm our fervent commitment to basic international human rights, including, but not limited to pro-democracy movements, hunger and poverty eradication, health care, family planning, education, a healthy environment, and women's and labor rights;

  5. Support the use of economic sanctions and/or other punitive measures against oppressive regimes that infringe upon the human rights of their citizens;

  6. Advocate for a variety of increased economic development initiatives for African countries, including trade priorities, microbusiness, training and business programs, including those for women, and economically and environmentally sustainable development, as well as expansion of the Africa Development Fund; and reaffirm our dedication to combat global poverty by recognizing the priority of U.S. policies that focus on countries which are economically poor.