July 30, 2014 · 3 Av

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Reform Jewish Leader Addresses Tens of Thousands at Save Darfur Rally
Today, Rabbi David Saperstein was one of the speakers that addressed the thousands amassed on the National Mall at the Rally for Darfur. Saperstein challenged our Nation’s leaders, noting "an 'A' for effort is not enough - your legacies and ours will be measured not by our efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide."

Rabbi David Saperstein

Saperstein: “Mr. President, Senators, and Representatives: We have gathered here today and will lobby you tomorrow to say: make no mistake, an ‘A’ for effort is not enough – your legacies and ours will be measured not by efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide.”

WASHINGTON, DC, April 30, 2006 – Today, Rabbi David Saperstein was one of the speakers that addressed the tens of thousands amassed on the National Mall at the Rally for Darfur. Saperstein challenged our Nation’s leaders, “Mr. President, Senators, and Representatives: We have gathered here today and will lobby you tomorrow to say: make no mistake, an ‘A’ for effort is not enough – your legacies and ours will be measured not by efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide.” The full text of Rabbi Saperstein’s speech follows:

We stand here on the Nation’s Mall, hearing still the echoes of Dr. King’s dream. But we, the Jews of America, we whose people have been the quintessential victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide, join with a rainbow of Americans of conscience to speak not of remembered dreams but of ongoing nightmares.

For I have a nightmare today that because of the world’s apathy and indifference hundreds of thousands more Darfurians will die. Will you let that happen?

I have a nightmare that we will act so slowly that this year thousands more women will be raped as a calculated Janjaweed tactic of war. Will you let that happen?

I have a nightmare that this year more villages will be scorched, more wells poisoned, and a million more innocent Darfurians driven out in this ongoing campaign to wipe them from the region. Will you let that happen?

I have a nightmare that the Government of Khartoum and the Darfurian rebels will take the world’s silence as a signal that it is better to fight than to sign a peace agreement. Will you let that happen?

I have a nightmare that despite the committed efforts of our President, Congress, and ourselves, we will commit the most tragic political sin good people can make – we will be too late. Will you let that happen?

Mr. President, Senators, and Representatives: We have gathered here today and will lobby you tomorrow to say: make no mistake, an ‘A’ for effort is not enough – your legacies and ours will be measured not by efforts alone but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide.

I have a nightmare that years from now, there will be a Museum of the Darfurian Genocide that will be part of the genocide trail. And tourists will go from Cambodia to Rwanda, from Auschwitz and Treblinka to Darfur, and they will gasp and they will sob, and many among them will doubtless wonder: Where were our parents? Where were our President and Congress? Where was NATO? Where was the EU? Above all, where was the UN? Did they not know? Did they not care? Will you let that happen?

And I have a nightmare that you and I have become so coarsened by violence that we can muster only a rally in Washington, thence go to our homes and resume our normal schedules? Surely that cannot be, that must not be. Will we let that happen?

This is why we are here: for the people of Darfur have no one else who will rescue them. Let us begin anew tomorrow: lobbying and calling our senators and representatives, demanding action now to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, adequately fund the African Union forces, and increase funding of humanitarian relief. But that is not enough; America cannot do it alone. So the Reform Jewish Movement is announcing today a campaign (endorsed by the National Council of Churches) that will ask America’s faith communities to join together to visit every embassy and consulate of the NATO and African Union nations, Russia, and China by June 2nd, before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Those visits will be taking place during the counting of the Omer, in which we move from the freedom given us at Passover to the responsibility that came with accepting God’s laws at Sinai. We will ask for urgent action from their governments to stop the genocide and support UN resolutions to create a robust, well-equipped, and effective peace-keeping force with a clear mandate to protect innocent civilian life. And we call on our co-religionists across the globe to publicly and forcefully demand such action from their own governments.

So in this moment of urgency and hope, we stand here in front of the Capitol – a symbol of our great democracy – to remember that justice is our duty, to recognize the image of the Divine in every human life, to renounce inaction in the face of such enormous tragedy; to demand an immediate response from our nation’s leaders and the leaders of the world on behalf of the people of Darfur, and, above all to affirm: Never Again. So I ask that here and now, you join with me in saying those words, “Never again. Never again. Never again.”

Having affirmed the promise, go forth then and do not cease your actions until we have transformed the nightmare – into a dream of hope, freedom, and security for all the people of Darfur.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's work on international issues
is supported by a generous contribution from Marilyn Herst Karsten.



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