Until the killing stops, we are all Darfurians

Here in the comfort of our cozy California lives, it’s sometimes easy to forget about those hidden corners of the world where human beings live every day in abject misery.

There is no better example than the Darfur region of western Sudan, where a ghoulish campaign of mass murder has been going on for years. Arab marauders known as the Janjaweed have been raping, exiling and slaughtering the Darfurian people with impunity. The death toll to date tops 400,000, with more than 2 million driven from their villages.

And the world has done far too little about it. In fact, a recent report to the U.N. from a special envoy to the region stated the violence was growing worse.

This ongoing crime against humanity has been reported on regularly in the world press, though for some reason the issue hasn’t quite captured the public imagination the way the South African anti-apartheid or Soviet Jewry movements did.

The suffering people of Darfur may be out of sight, but they must no longer remain out of mind. It is time for the world community to say as emphatically as possible “No more,” and intervene aggressively to stop the genocide.

Thankfully, and not surprisingly, Jews have been among the more active players in drawing attention to the crisis. The American Jewish World Service has been on the ground in the region since 2004, supplying all manner of humanitarian relief. The organization has also launched a broad advocacy campaign to increase awareness and spark international action.

Locally, the Jewish Community Relations Council, Dear Sudan (an interfaith group), American Jewish World Service, the S.F. Bay Area Darfur Coalition and others are sponsoring a series of events in April, including panels at Oakland’s Temple Sinai and S.F.’s Congregation Emanu-El, as well as a vigil at the Golden Gate Bridge and rally at Crissy Field on April 30.

The timing is not coincidental. April is Genocide Awareness Month. Yom Hashoah falls on April 25. We Jews know as well as any people on earth the horror of genocide. The wanton slaughter in Darfur is an affront to us as Jews and as human beings, and it cannot go on. The killing must stop, the killers brought to justice.

With ongoing global threats to the Jewish people — from Iran, from Hamas, from jihadists and anti-Semites everywhere — it is understandable that some in our community would prefer to place Darfur further down the list of Jewish priorities.

Understandable, but unacceptable.

We as a people must take seriously our mandate to pursue justice. The blood-soaked ground of Darfur cries out for it, and we must do all we can to assist the terrorized and stop the genocide. Until the killing stops, we are all Darfurians.

We can start by participating in those upcoming local events. Contact your synagogue (or those mentioned here) and see how you can help. Your voice is needed.