Reform Jewish Movement Adopts New Resolution on Divestment from Sudan, Urges Secretary Rice to Begin Implementation of “Plan B” Sanctions, Offers New Resources for Congregations
Feldman: Divestment is a tactic to use in specific and appropriate situations. It is now time we apply this additional economic tool, along with our other strategies, to seek an end to this tragic violence in Darfur.
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WASHINGTON | April 26, 2007 - Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, wrote today to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informing her of a resolution recently passed by the Executive Committee of the Union for Reform Judaism's Board of Trustees supporting divestment from Sudan.
The Union's new resolution addresses the failures of the diplomatic process thus far in Darfur and calls for targeted divestment from Sudan of Reform Movement endowment funds to the extent feasible, as well as encourages congregations’ and congregants’ involvement in local divestment campaigns. Shortly after its passage, the Reform Pension Board also voted to divest its holdings in accordance with the targeted divestment campaign.
The letter to Secretary Rice also urges the Secretary to begin the implementation of the sanctions outlined in the Administration’s “Plan B.” Threatened by the Administration for several months, “Plan B” is an unspecified set of coercive measures aimed to weaken the Sudanese government if they continue to refuse entrance to United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur.
The Union’s resolution on divestment is available on the RAC's website, along with other materials including resources for congregations and individuals looking to divest, information on engaging mutual fund managers to create Sudan-free funds, and Reform Jewish values behind this and previous divestment campaigns.
Rabbi Feldman’s letter to Secretary Rice follows:
Dear Madame Secretary:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, I write to inform you of our recently adopted resolution in support of targeted divestment from Sudan.
In the Reform Jewish Movement’s 2003 Resolution on “The Need for Action in Sudan,” our community asserted its support for the people of Darfur and called upon the United States and Canadian governments, as well as the United Nations, to use diplomatic and political means to stop the genocide. Since the passage of that Resolution, as you know, the attacks on civilians and villages in the Darfur region continue to rage.
The crisis in Darfur marks the first time that violence has been labeled as genocide while still occurring, lending gravity to the situation as well as giving us a unique opportunity to put an end to such atrocities. We must assess all of the options available that may contribute to ending the atrocities, including nuanced and targeted divestment. A moral approach to divestment in a situation like Darfur should seek to undermine the perpetrators of the violence while ensuring that humanitarian programs remain intact and civilians are not further made to suffer.
Our call for divestment was not made lightly. The Reform Movement has supported such efforts where egregious crimes against humanity have taken place (e.g. opposing apartheid in South Africa) and have been critical of such campaigns in other circumstances, such as efforts that have unfairly targeted Israel. Yet the Jewish community, including the Reform Movement, knows well from previous divestment campaigns in which we have participated, such as that against apartheid-era South Africa, the power of divestment to bring about justice. Divestment is a tactic to use in specific and appropriate situations. It is now time we apply this additional economic tool, along with our other strategies, to seek an end to this tragic violence in Darfur.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for the attention the Administration, and your office in particular, has paid to this issue. The introduction this week of a Security Council Resolution calling for a hybrid United Nations – African Union peacekeeping force is an important indication of our nation’s ongoing commitment to the people of Darfur. The implementation of this force is the essential step towards establishing peace in the region.
Further, we call on the Administration to move now to implement “Plan B.” Time and again, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has failed to fulfill the commitments he has made, most notably agreeing to the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. Tighter economic sanctions on Sudan, and the individual targeted sanctions as the Administration has outlined, will increase both public and financial pressure on the government in Khartoum along the same lines as the effects of our targeted divestment campaign. By instituting these sanctions, the Administration can demonstrate the force of “Plan B,” as well as proving that the United States is committed to continuing to lead the effort to stop the genocide in Darfur.
We look forward to working with you in the critical months ahead on these issues of vital importance.
Rabbi Marla Feldman
Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
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