Dont let it happen again

The genocidal slaughter of tens of thousands of black Sudanese tribespeople at the hands of the government-backed Janjaweed militia will not affect the cost of your morning cup of coffee.

After 18 months of death and mayhem, it’s just barely started to crack the evening news.

But the remoteness of the Darfur region of Sudan cannot veil the awful truth: This is genocide. This is one race attempting to wipe another off the face of the earth. Tens of thousands are dead and, without immediate aid and intervention, millions more will follow.

Too frequently, the brutal memory of the Holocaust is invoked, often as a cheap ploy to demonize Israel. But the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum made it very clear that this is no time for semantic debates when it rated the bloodshed in western Sudan a “genocide emergency” this week. This is an issue that Jews simply cannot ignore.

Simply put, is “never again” a saying or an ethos?

“The world looked away when 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust,” wrote Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service, one of many Jewish groups raising funds and awareness of the Sudanese genocide.

“As Jews who know firsthand the consequences of silence from the international community, we must do all that we can to prevent or stop deliberate attempts to annihilate any people.”

Congress’ recent avowal that the mass-killings in Sudan constitute genocide is a good sign. So is Secretary of State Colin Powell’s recent visit to the area and President Bush’s earmarking of $34 million in aid money.

But congressional bills and moderate humanitarian aid funding won’t solve this problem. Pressure must be brought upon Sudan’s ethnically Arab government to call off the Arab Janjaweed tribesmen. The United Nations would do well to redirect some of its vitriol to a country that thinks little of slaughtering its own citizens like vermin.

What can you do? Locally, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council is raising awareness on the issue.

Anything helps. Donating to the relief drives mentioned below could save the lives of starving, disease-ridden refugees. Writing letters to your elected representatives and media outlets would be a bullet in the armory of momentum.

Or, as Messinger wrote, “The question we must now ask about Sudan is: Are we to repeat history or make it?”

To donate to the AJWS Sudan emergency appeal, go to or call (212) 736-2597. To donate to the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief’s Sudan mailbox, go to or call (212) 885-0892.