Last night’s Darfur rally in Zion Square drew about 350 people, by my estimate, primarily young Orthodox yeshiva and seminary students of non-Israeli origin, some of whom wore ever-so-neutral orange hatzilu et amei Darfur t-shirts. The speeches, given by Jewish students and educators from across the spectrum (secular to Orthodox), were primarily conducted in English with supplemental Hebrew, and invoked several biblical precepts regarding the love of one’s fellow and saving a world by saving a life. Attendants were also led in prayers and chants of “Never again!”
The highlight of the evening was the speech by “The Ambassador,” Eytan Schwartz, who drew attention to the fact that 250 Darfurian refugees are still behind bars in Israeli prisons, treated as enemies of the Jewish state (as I’ve reported on previously). He is helping coordinate an effort with The Holtine for Migrant Workers to grant these refugees asylum in Israel.
The event kind of reminded me of Tisha Ba’av at the kotel: Everyone was supposed there for a really intense, meaningful purpose, but instead stood around socializing. Nonetheless, it was an impressive turnout though I’m not sure about the coverage it received, other than in The Jerusalem Post. It did manage to raise awareness among some onlookers, as I myself was asked by several passers-by what the rally was all about.
The evening, somewhat ironically, concluded with maariv, with the men and women separated accordingly. (Gender oppression? Naw…) But it was moving to see so many young men and women praying for the Darfurian people, as it was superb finger in the eye of those who would dare suspect Jewish leadership on this issue of being motivated by anti-Muslim politics.
More photos here.