Saperstein: “By acting pro-actively, our country can send a message to the rest of the world, saying not only that these acts of mass destruction are morally repugnant –but that we will do everything within our significant power to prevent them from happening in the future.”
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WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 9, 2008 – In response to the findings released yesterday by a special task force commissioned to help President-elect Barack Obama determine how to best respond to threats of genocide, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
We applaud the important joint effort of the U.S. Institute of Peace, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Academy of Diplomacy to create a task force designed to take a closer look at the United States’ current and potential responses to the threat of genocide.
In the findings released earlier this week, the task force concluded that the United States government is ill-equipped to play a major role in preventing genocidal activity, suggesting specific steps the president-elect should implement to remedy these infrastructure weakness. By scrutinizing our government’s present capability to handle threats of genocide and by identifying the logistical steps necessary to better equip the government to deal with such threats, this task force presents President-elect Barack Obama and his incoming administration with the opportunity to take real and tangible action toward curtailing acts of genocide worldwide.
We urge President-elect Obama to implement concrete steps to increase the United States’ ability to both prevent and respond to genocidal activity and others crimes against humanity, including giving serious consideration to assessing the task force’s suggestion of creating a high-level White House forum to focus specifically on intelligence analysis and effective responses to threats of genocidal activity.
How often have we prayed and promised, “Never again?” And yet how often has genocidal violence continued in locations across the globe, with acts of ethnic cleansing and genocidal activity carried out in Biafra, Cambodia, Kosovo, Rwanda and, now, in Darfur? By acting pro-actively, our country can send a message to the rest of the world, saying not only that these acts of mass destruction are morally repugnant –but that we will do everything within our significant power to prevent them from happening in the future. The time to address genocide, of course, is before it happens: That is the wisdom of the approach recommended by the panel this week.
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.