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Saperstein: Secretary Powell's statement strengthens urgently needed efforts to address the needs of a country that, after decades of being ravaged by war, today faces a crisis in which 1,500 die daily and hundreds of thousands of ethnically cleansed Africans face death from starvation and disease.
WASHINGTON, September 9, 2004 - In response to Secretary of State Colin Powell's appearance today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during which he declared the crisis in Sudan "Genocide," and in response to the Administration's circulation of a draft UN resolution threatening Sudan with economic sanctions, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The Reform Jewish Movement applauds the Administration for its leadership in addressing what has been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Ethnic black Africans have been singled out for genocidal slaughter. Entire villages and towns have been bombed and scorched. Water and food stores and sources have been destroyed and civilians have been systematically targeted for mass killings, rape, and slave raids. Secretary Powell's statement strengthens urgently needed efforts to address the needs of a country that, after decades of being ravaged by war, today faces a crisis in which 1,500 die daily and hundreds of thousands of ethnically cleansed Africans face death from starvation and disease. In specifying the role and responsibility of the government of Sudan, together with the Janjaweed militias, for the genocidal activity and crimes against humanity, the United States challenges the international community to respond urgently to this crisis.
We urge the U.S. to keep pressure on the UN and international community to take all feasible steps to halt the violence, provide immediate humanitarian relief to the victims of this crisis, and begin the steps necessary to create the conditions that would allow the displaced populations to return to their homes in an atmosphere of stability and security.
Jewish tradition teaches us, "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16). Already, too much blood has been shed on Sudanese soil. We welcome Secretary Powell's statement and urge that the Administration follow words with action to save the lives of the 2 million Sudanese currently at risk.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's work on international issues is supported by a generous contribution from Marilyn Herst Karsten.
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(CCAR) whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.