Feldman: “The circumstances in Darfur are such that divestment is timely, appropriate and likely to be successful. We commend the House of Representatives for its vote today [on the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act] and hope the Senate similarly will recognize the importance of divestment as a step to ending the tragic violence in Darfur.”
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Washington, DC, July 31, 2007 – In response to today’s passage of the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We applaud the passage today in the House of Representatives of H.R.180, the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act. This legislation works to starve the resources of the genocide by protecting the rights of states to divest from Sudan. It also requires the federal government to publish and maintain a list of companies that do business in or with the government of Sudan, prohibits U.S. government contracts with these companies and authorizes states to do the same.
Since the start of the violence in Darfur in 2003, approximately 400,000 civilians have lost their lives and 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes. During that same time, the Sudanese government’s revenue stream has continually increased, specifically through investment by foreign firms and particularly those in the oil sector. The Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act is a crucial step towards cutting off this revenue that funds the horrific violence in Darfur. A moral approach to divestment should seek to undermine the perpetrators of the violence while ensuring that humanitarian programs remain intact and civilians are not further made to suffer; this legislation does that.
Jewish tradition teaches that “whoever can prevent any person throughout the world from committing a sin but does not, is responsible for that person’s sin” (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 54b), yet blood continues to be shed on Sudanese soil. Our obligations to our neighbors include the use of conscientious investment and spending policies as a tool for positive social change. We recognize that divestment is a specific tactic to be used only in extreme situations. Yet we also recognize the failures of the diplomatic process thus far and support targeted divestment from Sudan. The circumstances in Darfur are such that divestment is timely, appropriate and likely to be successful.
We commend the House of Representatives for its vote today and hope the Senate similarly will recognize the importance of divestment as a step to ending the tragic violence in Darfur. We hope and pray that this and other positive courses of action, including the deployment of a hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force and a renewed dedication to the peace process, will soon stem the flow of innocent Darfuri blood.
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