Contact: Alexis Rice or Danielle Hirsch (202) 387-2800
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2001 - Diamonds in Sierra Leone, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo - commonly referred to as conflict diamonds - have fueled and funded civil war and gross abuses against unarmed men, women, and children. American consumers purchase 65% of conflict diamonds worldwide. The Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism has become a leader in the campaign to end of the trade in conflict diamonds by supporting strong U.S. import controls to prevent such diamonds from entering the US market.
Welcoming the Senate introduction of the bi-partisan "Clean Diamonds Act," Rabbi David Saperstein, Co-Director of the Commission on Social Action for Reform Judaism, issued the following:
The Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism is proud to express support for "The Clean Diamonds Act," introduced today in the United States Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), and Mike DeWine (R-OH). The legislation prohibits diamond imports unless they come from countries that have adopted a verifiable and transparent system that excludes conflict diamonds at every stage of transfer. When passed, this legislation will significantly cleanse the diamond market, resulting in no further funding for the civil wars fueled by conflict diamonds, and allowing those nations that produce diamonds lawfully to continue their trade in diamonds.
The introduction of this new Senate bill is particularly meaningful because it represents an opportunity for a joint effort between members of the human rights, humanitarian and faith community, concerned members of Congress, and representatives of the diamond industry to work together to pass this meaningful legislation.
The Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism is proud to join with this remarkable coalition in working for the enactment of comprehensive and meaningful legislation to end the terror and bloodshed in Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is an issue that hits particularly close to home for the Jewish community. Jews, both historically and today, have been at the forefront of the diamond industry and are involved on every level from mining to retailing. Therefore, it is imperative that we also be at the forefront of putting an end to the human rights abuses caused by conflict diamonds.
We stand ready to do all we can to make sure that the sparkle of diamonds is able to shine free of the taint from supporting terror.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.