Global, Politics, Religion

Jewish Leadership on Darfur

Is the Jewish community helping the situation in Darfur by championing the Dafurians’ cause, or are we poisoning the well of potential solidarity through our leadership?
Obviously Jewish activism on Darfur is ecumenical.  And it is certainly promoted as such.
“The Save Darfur Coalition is an alliance of over 100 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations. Our mission is to raise public awareness and to mobilize an effective unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of two million people in the Darfur region.”
But the ecumenical language of the Coalition it is somewhat of a facade.  The Save Darfur Coalition is heavily (overly?) Jewish, and was created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Jewish World Service.
It appears that intensive Jewish leadership and organizational support is viewed with cynicism from other possible allies for the Darfurians, including crucial African-American organizations.  Like say, the NAACP, whose signature is notably absent on the Unity Statement.
Could it be that our commitment to Darfur is somehow viewed with suspicion when The Jews are calling for yet another intervention against Islamic aggression?  Is it unfair to suspect that the OU might need an ulterior political motive to stand alongside the Reform Movement other than a purely moral objection to the plight of the Darfurians?
Can we at least try to understand why some might be unwilling to give us the benefit of the doubt?
In the U.S., the Holocaust is the primary lens in which to view all genocides in the past and present.   In order to maintain credibility (which translates into continued and expanded Holocaust education, the major justification usually offered for Israel’s creation) don’t we have to react with alarm this way, or risk our mandate which allows us to promote our particular Jewish concerns provided we include universal ones?
If there is concern about our true intentions, and discomfort about what the Jews really want in the wake of Neocon support for the Iraq War and the broader Israeli push for U.S. pressure on Iran, including the possibility of a preemptive strike, does our heading the Save Darfur Coalition hinder, not help, its chance of receptivity?
Judging by the heavily Jewish signatures of the mission, it seems it may indeed be a hard sell, at least if The Jews are the ones selling it.
We may indeed only mean well.  But we are not the best strategists. This effort needs the prominent leadership of African-American groups to succeed. 
Or perhaps, just not a prominent Jewish leadership.   Perhaps the moral compass of the Jewish community no longer carries a lot of weight nor enjoys widespread trust– either internationally or domestically– when it comes to our calls for intervention, particularly one that may require military action.
Things are different now.

54 thoughts on “Jewish Leadership on Darfur

  1. kelsey, i’m surprised and disappointed by your remarks.
    “the world’s not acting on darfur because it’s a jewish issue and the world hates the jews.”
    other than the fact that you haven’t a lick of evidence to back your statements up (rwanda, somalia, cambodia, yugoslavia and all sorts of other genocides aren’t “jewish issues” and no one paid attention to them either), they seem woefully misguided, self-centered, and ultimately antisemitic, because, they ultimately equal: “the jews are responsible for inaction on darfur.”

  2. I hope the day is coming soon when no one will have to wonder why the Jews are taking a definitive stand on a humanitarian issue, because that will just be what we do.

  3. David, thank you for raising these issues in a thoughtful, intelligent, and provocative way! I’ve been organizing rabbinical students for the demonstration in DC later this month and have been concerned about these and similar matters; but, shamefully, until now have kept my mouth shut. I’ve found that any time issues about the motivations or tactics of the movement are raised in a public forum in the Jewish community, the person raising them is essentially treated like Korach and potential for productive conversation is stopped before it can begin (which leads me to ask – what’s goin on in the organized Jewish world that things work this way?). I think that every libratory movement has the obligation to be publicly self-critical about its motivations and tactics in order to A) be aware of any violence that is being done while pursuing justice so that we can attempt to pursue justice more justly and B) be more effective in that pursuit. Often there is a tension between these two things; this does not mean that the obligation to grapple with them somehow drops out.
    So I’m extremely curious about the absence of the NAACP and other prominent African American organizations from the coalition. You say that this appears to be because “intensive Jewish leadership and organizational support is viewed with cynicism.” I certainly share this cynicism for many of the reasons you note in your piece. And so I want to know more about what you’re basing this observation on. Have you read anything about this? Talked with people at the NAACP or other organizations?
    Also notably absent from the coalition is Africa Action (for whom Darfur is a huge issue)! I’m also wondering about other (lefty) organizations that are noticeably absent from the list (Jewish organizations like JFREJ and Christian organizations like the Americans Friends Service Committee). How much of this is about the way the leaders went about coalition building? How much is about the cynicism of these groups and/or their unwillingness to work with some of the coalition partners (and probably for good reason)? Anybody on the inside have insights and brave enough to let it out in public?
    I’ll certainly be at the march next week, but I want to know why Africa Action and the NAACP, who should be leading the coalition, aren’t members.
    Again, David, this conversation is certainly for the sake of heaven and I appreciate you doing the difficult work of getting it rolling!

  4. reluctance to get involved in Darfur is probably being driven by our quagmire in Iraq more than anything else.
    For myself, I do see antimuslim imperialist motivativations in some of the promoters of intervention there. The fact that they promoted the myth that this was Arab vs Black and Muslim vs Christian when in fact both victims and perps are black muslims, leads me to having suspicioun of the motivations of many of these people. The fact that the Congo has yeilded many times the number of deaths than the Sudan cause supicion too. The fact that the Sudan is considered a promising oil fiel is also supsicious. I don’t think it is specifically Jewish. Certainly most jews are not war hawks, and most of the war hawks are not Jews. Fundamentalist Christians are more jazzed about the war and intervention in darfur, and the clash of civilizations than any other group.

  5. During the Columbia Unbecoming episode, ZOA and the David Project sponsered an event at Columbia featuring the movie, and appearing were many of the usual suspects — Dersh, Phyllis Chesler, and Martin Kramer, to attack Middle East Studies departments. In the midde of all this, Charles Jacobs of the David Project trotted out several former slaves from Sudan and Mauritania, some Muslim, some Christian. They thanked the Jewish people and the state of Israel for helping them. I spoke to one of the former slaves afterwards — he told me he doesnt even like Israel, because of how the Palestinians are treated, but that when he came to the US and tried to get help from folks like Farrakhan, everyone said no — expect for Charles Jacobs, who runs both the American Anti-Slavery Group, and the David Project, and was a co-founder of CAMERA. I was appalled that anyone would exploit these people’s suffering for their own propaganda purposes. Check out: http://semitism.net/?p=51
    Take a look at the official Israeli stance — and Elie Weisel’s — on the Armenian genocide before you conclude some of us are not selective about which humanitarian causes we pick and why. And remember that Sharon as foreign minister opposed NATO intervention in Kosovo, precisely because he was worried it could set a precedent for international intervention on the Palestinians’ behalf: http://mondediplo.com/1999/05/10isbox

  6. I organized a Darfur event at BJ last night. Our guest, a Darfurian, told the audience that since his arrival in the US he has spoken in many synagogues – but not a single mosque. No one has invited him or his organization.
    He then went on to describe his feelings about Arabs…
    He said that the love and support for the people of Darfur is coming from Jews, and that his people will never forget that; and they are explicit about connecting Jews with Israel. He said that many Darfurians are no longer praying in Arabic, because of what the Arabs have done to them.
    This is a difficult issue that needs more airing. I’d like to see more posts on the relationship of the Jewish community to the Darfur issue.

  7. Kelsey, the NAACP won’t do anything because they simply aren’t organized to do anything real. The African-American community is woefully disorganized such that it can’t even deal with its own shit, let alone stuff that occurs overseas. Add to that the internal issues within the Black American community–specifically the tensions between Africans and Black Americans (many African immigrants and Islanders have adopted an anti-African-American ethos)–and you have a deadlock that has nothing to do with the Jews.
    True, Jews should care about the Darfur issue for non-Zionist causes alone. But the fact that the same Arab League that constantly condemns Israel simultaneously supports the Sudan’s actions in Darfur doesn’t hurt the case that the Arab world doesn’t care much about the Palestinians or ending the conflict by creating two States for two Peoples as much as it desires to eradicate and subjugate non-Arab peoples in the Middle East. It’s called imperialism–and the Arab league is in search of rebuilding its empire.
    And finally, xisntox, I know who you are! And, for the record, you’ sound like the worst type of racist, plain and simple. How dare you animalize the former slaves who came to speak at Columbia hoping that someone would heed their cry? The are proud human beings who make coalitions in order to get the word out about their people. Used for their propaganda purposes? Never. They are smarter than you–you who would use the fact that they partner with someone you detest for your own anti-Zionist screed.

  8. I think part of the issue is that perhaps other potential coalition partners wouldn’t be so wary if the Jewish community, as organized as it clearly has become regarding Darfur, if it involved itself in other issues of general concern (not Israel) both domestically and internationally as well. JFREJ (and others) did a great job getting the immigration ad into paper(s? i only saw the forward) last week, and select groups have been trying to do things here and there, but i think the wariness is understandable given the way so many heretofore uninvolved jewish groups and constituencies are reallying around darfur. we will have to see after april 30- perhaps it will act as a catalyst for people to stay involved, with groups like ajws, etc. as it should. but if everyone comes out for the rally and then crawls back into their little holes, i don’t know…

  9. A view from Canada –
    The Jewish community is THE major community pushing for action on Darfur – and we’re getting somewhere. STAND Canada (a student organization for action on Darfur) was born at the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students conference. The staff people in parliament hill who are organizing the lobbying efforts for Darfur are Jewish. Irwin Cotler – arguably the most visible Jew in Canadian politics has garnered national media attention for Darfur. The Union of Progressive Zionists and member of Hashomer Hatzair are largely responsable for a massive student protest taking place in Toronto on April 30.
    The fact is that the Jewish community started the Darfur movement here… but once the ball got rolling we’re seeing other groups from all ethnicities join in.
    A Sudanesse woman who escaped the terror said at a talk i heard once: the people of Darfur are thinking of the Jews. They know that the Jews have known suffering, and they are counting on the Jews to help save them.
    When we said Never Again – did we mean it?

  10. “Moral authority” is a tricky thing. I still have an image in my head of Louis Farrakhan hugging Black leaders at Coretta Scott King’s funeral. Then you have people like Cornel West supportin Al Sharpton. I’m sure some Jews would question their “moral authority.”
    Are you saying that we should go back to the days when Jews were too afraid to speak up for themselves let alone anyone else. That is what you seem to be saying.
    African American leadership is busy with situation of Black Americans right here and with the aftermath of Katrina. I searched the NAACP web site and the last mention of Darfur is July/August 2005.
    Now that I’m finished with my rant, I will add that we do want to be effective. We are more interested in helping the Darfuarians than in moral posturing.
    Dameocrat, who said anything about military intervention? I there needs to be military intervention, it should be the African Union. Nobody has said anything about American intervention. That is not what the rally is about.
    As for the invasion of Iraq, I vacillated back and forth, but I found the anti-war movment too antisemitic to join. I might be on the left, but I am not a masochist.

  11. David,
    Holocaust exceptionalism would actually encourage the opposite — a lack of agitation on Darfur out of concern that crying “genocide” would dilute the uniqueness of the Holocaust. I think this is why the Jewish community has not been all that vocal on other recent human rights catastrophes, most notably Bosnia/Kosovo. The fact that Jews are in the forefront of Darfur activism is an amazing thing.
    The Holocaust issue and the neocon issue are really separate matters. To conflate the two into an overarching “Jewish agenda” is simplistic (at best).
    And while some individuals and organizations might be motivated by the fact that the aggressors are Arab, and by the “Israel Isn’t So Bad By Comparison” line of thinking, it’s a bit cynical to presume this is the motive of all Jewish activists on the issue. It’s even more cynical to presume this is the way most people will view Jewish activism, or that the bankrupt ideology of neoconservatives pollutes and nullifies the integrity of each and every other Jewish movement. You cynical bastard!
    Finally, Darfur is a human rights issue, not (just) a “black” issue. The fact that NAACP is silent is their problem, and should have no bearing on what Jews decide to do.

  12. I second Mobius’ comment. This is a surprising and disappointing post. I will be at the rally in DC on April 30, and I doubt that the people in Darfur being raped, murdered, tortured, and ethnically cleansed will object to having me demonstrate for them… despite the fact that I am a Jew.

  13. Ariel and EV,
    I would like to think that the lack of critical black support has nothing to do with Jewish leadership on the issue, but I see no reason to believe that is the case.
    As Xisntox noted, adding Farrakhan would possibly add a lot more support on the street than we can do alone, and I don’t think this will happen with us holding the reigns, and not due to any “disorganization” on their part. Or am I being too “cynical” again?
    Adam, you wrote,
    “I doubt that the people in Darfur being raped, murdered, tortured, and ethnically cleansed will object to having me demonstrate for them… despite the fact that I am a Jew.”
    What they will probably not object to even more is a coalition that actually helps their cause, not just expresses emotional solidarity.
    Which are we more concerned about?

  14. DK-
    What makes you think that if the Jewish community kept silent in the face of this genocide that Louis Farrakhan would step in? What on earth makes you think this? Evidence please. It sounds to me like you’re saying that if not for the Jewish leadership, a “Coalition of Anti-Semites to Save Darfur” would rise up and take to the streets — which strikes me as being simultaneously extremely cynical and incredibly naive.
    The list that you linked to for the Save Darfur Coalition included American Society for Muslim Advancement, Alliance of Baptists, and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). They apparently weren’t scared off by the presence of the many Jewish organizations on that list.
    What they will probably not object to even more is a coalition that actually helps their cause, not just expresses emotional solidarity.
    The Save Darfur movement has already achieve more than just “emotional solidarity.” It’s now one of the biggest issues in the national conversation.
    Question: If Nicholas Kristoff were Jewish, should he not have written so many editorials for the The New York Times spreading awareness to this issue? I’m really not being glib, but I find it tremendously hard to understanding your perspective.

  15. What I’m most confused about are the alternatives to the type of action that the Jewish community has taken. Should we not encourage Jewish activism to stop the genocide? Should Rabbis stop speaking out about Darfur? Should organizations like American Jewish Committee stop holding lobby days on Darfur? Should we reduce our contributions to the Save Darfur Coalition? Or should we be scared off by thinking that people will be averse to hearing about Darfur because “the Jews” are involved in the issue? Thankfully, I don’t think any Jewish organization has stopped or lessened their efforts on Darfur.
    Some of the responses to the Jewschool post suggested that some very controversial, hateful people from other communities be invited to speak at the rally. But how does a hateful personality, however popular, add to the movement against genocide and against the kind of hate that leads to genocide? Unlike at many of the anti-war rallies, where I have felt very uncomfortable due to anti-Israel and anti-semitic messages, the message at the Save Darfur rally will be simple: Save Darfur

  16. I think that the situation in Darfur is one that demands that people speak out, and it upsets me when progressives and leftists ignore it (and I say this as a big ol’ uapologetic leftist). But the moral imperative to speak out on Darfur does not somehow absolve one of the need to speak out on other issues.
    Sadly, in Boston, there was just a prime example of a Jewish leader trying to use Darfur to distract from other issues. An article in the Jewish Advocate described a demonstration by a small group of young Jews outside the offices of AIPAC and the Jewish Community Relations council (JCRC) on the day before Pesach began (last Tuesday). The demonstrators set up a table and performed a mini-seder focusing on hunger, checkpoints, and rights violations among Palestinians and called on AIPAC and the JCRC to protect Palestinian rights. From what I’ve read, it was respectful and orderly, though obviously very emotionally charged to many.
    In the article in the Advocate, the Executive Director of the JCRC, Nancy Kaufman, was quoted as saying that she thought that it was “outrageous” that Jewis should protest other Jews just before Pesach WHEN THE JCRC HAS BEEN WORKING TO STOP THE GENOCIDE IN DARFUR” [caps added]. She didn’t say that she did or did not agree with the message on Israel/Palestine, but tried to use Darfur to deflect from the issue.
    The point is not whether she thought that the protest was completely out of line. It’s that Darfur is a moral and political crisis in and of itself. To try to point to Darfur to deflect criticism on another topic is a manipulation of this crisis and calls into account the JCRC’s motives. And that does not help to build a credible voice on the issue.

  17. Mr. Kelsey — My mention of Farrakhan was incidental. I suspect the reason he was uninterested in the former slave’s plight has more to do with his relationships with various unsavory North African regimes.
    mr. Beery:
    “And finally, xisntox, I know who you are!”
    ah well, i knew i’d get on the black list sooner or later.
    “And, for the record, you’ sound like the worst type of racist, plain and simple. How dare you animalize the former slaves who came to speak at Columbia hoping that someone would heed their cry? The are proud human beings who make coalitions in order to get the word out about their people. Used for their propaganda purposes? Never. They are smarter than you–you who would use the fact that they partner with someone you detest for your own anti-Zionist screed.”
    Anti-Zionist, my eye. I’m critical of anyone who use unscrupulous means for any ends, Zionist or not. Tho I’m quite flattered to be accused of anything by someone of your indubitable moral stature. And let’s remember, you’re the one who worked in the IDF spokesman’s office — in other words, a professional spin doctor. Read all about mr. Beery’s good works here: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/1/93516/90200
    I’m curious what you think of the following, Mr. Beery:
    http://semitism.net/?p=51
    So what’s the deal with Charles Jacobs? He presents himself as a humanitarian, a civil rights campaigner, an activist on behalf of enslaved Africans – but all his lines of argument eventually seem to turn into attacks on progressives, the media, etc. for anti-Israel bias.
    In 1999, Ismail Royer, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Muslim media outlet Iviews, did a little research on Dr. Jacobs’ background. According to his report, Jacobs has also served as a spokesperson for the National Unity Coalition for Israel and the President of The Mosaic Group, and has affiliations with several other right-wing pro-Israel groups.
    In The National Unity Coalition, Jews are collaborating with Christian Zionists to advocate for permanent Israeli annexation of the occupied territories (see my post from November 21). Americans for Peace Now accused members of the Coalition of deceptive proselytizing.
    The Iviews article and another in Shia News suggest that the American Anti-Slavery Group grew directly out of Jacobs’ pro-Israel advocacy. The group is associated with the South Sudan Independence Army (SSIA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which have reputedly received funding from Israel and have been accused themselves of human rights abuses. The Shia article quotes a colleague of Jacobs’ as saying, with regard to Mosaic, “Well, it’s not the name that he [Jacobs] goes under anymore. I think that sort of fell by the wayside when he renamed it the American Anti-Slavery Group”.
    It looks to me like Jacobs’ anti-slavery work is a front for hard right pro-Israel advocacy. To speak out about human rights abuses as a matter of conscience is admirable. To use human suffering as a propaganda tool is contemptible. Students should know about Jacobs’ background before they invite him to talk on their campuses. Columbia University should also take it into consideration in investigating the flap caused by his organization’s film. Mainstream American Judaism would do well to put a good distance between itself and operators like Charles Jacobs.

  18. Charles since the perps are black, not Arab, and the victims are muslim not Christian, I would doubt the sincerity of that speaker you heard. He does sound like a war hawk shill to me.

  19. DK:The trouble is that activist Judaism that is adl, aipac and other Jewish orgs are way to the right of most Jews, and yes they have sided heavily with the warhawks, on Iraq, now Iran and of coarse Darfur.
    I don’t feel that Farrakhan is a leader of the black communtiy and I don’t think he helps anyones cause anyway. While he can make a million or less men march, he offered no concrete proposals to help the people of New Orleans, or put pressure on the Bush administration. He is fundamentally conservative and he probably viewed New Orleans as being the fault of blacks.

  20. mr. Beery:
    “And finally, xisntox, I know who you are!”
    ah well, i knew i’d get on the black list sooner or later.
    “And, for the record, you’ sound like the worst type of racist, plain and simple. How dare you animalize the former slaves who came to speak at Columbia hoping that someone would heed their cry? The are proud human beings who make coalitions in order to get the word out about their people. Used for their propaganda purposes? Never. They are smarter than you–you who would use the fact that they partner with someone you detest for your own anti-Zionist screed.”
    Anti-Zionist, my eye. I’m critical of anyone who use unscrupulous means for any ends, Zionist or not. tho I’m quite flattered to be accused of anything by someone of your indubitable moral stature. And let’s remember, you’re the one who worked in the IDF spokesman’s office — in other words, a professional spin doctor. Read all about mr. Beery’s good works here: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/5/1/93516/90200
    I’m curious what you think of the following, Mr. Beery:
    http://semitism.net/?p=51
    So what’s the deal with Charles Jacobs? He presents himself as a humanitarian, a civil rights campaigner, an activist on behalf of enslaved Africans – but all his lines of argument eventually seem to turn into attacks on progressives, the media, etc. for anti-Israel bias.
    In 1999, Ismail Royer, the Washington Bureau Chief of the Muslim media outlet Iviews, did a little research on Dr. Jacobs’ background. According to his report, Jacobs has also served as a spokesperson for the National Unity Coalition for Israel and the President of The Mosaic Group, and has affiliations with several other right-wing pro-Israel groups.
    In The National Unity Coalition, Jews are collaborating with Christian Zionists to advocate for permanent Israeli annexation of the occupied territories (see my post from November 21). Americans for Peace Now accused members of the Coalition of deceptive proselytizing.
    The Iviews article and another in Shia News suggest that the American Anti-Slavery Group grew directly out of Jacobs’ pro-Israel advocacy. The group is associated with the South Sudan Independence Army (SSIA) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which have reputedly received funding from Israel and have been accused themselves of human rights abuses. The Shia article quotes a colleague of Jacobs’ as saying, with regard to Mosaic, “Well, it’s not the name that he [Jacobs] goes under anymore. I think that sort of fell by the wayside when he renamed it the American Anti-Slavery Group”.
    It looks to me like Jacobs’ anti-slavery work is a front for hard right pro-Israel advocacy. To speak out about human rights abuses as a matter of conscience is admirable. To use human suffering as a propaganda tool is contemptible. Students should know about Jacobs’ background before they invite him to talk on their campuses. Columbia University should also take it into consideration in investigating the flap caused by his organization’s film. Mainstream American Judaism would do well to put a good distance between itself and operators like Charles Jacobs.

  21. I read about half the comments then got bored. I’ll just say this. I dont care about ulterior motives of anyone when it comes to stopping genocide. If Pat Robertson is doing it because he feels the muslims are all terrorist, he is an ass, but I would still goto a rally he organized so long as the message was STOP GENOCIDE.
    Im sick of worrying what people think about why I or any jews are involved in Darfur. I simply dont give a shit. I am concerned with Darfur because it is a freaking genocide. People are being killed and tortured. If someone doesnt want to get involved because I’m jewish, 1-they are idiots and 2-they can go start their own organizations, which, unfortunetely, not many people have done…

  22. Dameocrat. Who is they? I can only read what TNR articles are free on the internet.
    I never said that Farrakhan was a black leader. I said that Black leaders allowed him on the stage at Coretta Scott King’s funeral and they hugged him. He should not have been allowed on that stage. His views are an anathema to everything CS King and ML King stood for., but there they all were smiling and hugging him.

  23. Adam,
    It’s about who more likely won’t step in because we’re the ones they would have to hold hands with as a junior member. As a junior member, Adam, different than us joining them. We are the ones leading this parade. Are you not aware that there is tension between Jews and African-Americans on a political and organizational level? Is this news to you? Do you think everyone we have tension with is going to stop and sing “We Shall Overcome” when we are conducting the choir, because we see the need to do so at this time?
    You wrote,
    “The list that you linked to for the Save Darfur Coalition included American Society for Muslim Advancement, Alliance of Baptists, and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). They apparently weren’t scared off by the presence of the many Jewish organizations on that list.”
    Oh, hurray! We got a couple! Adam, did I say it was exclusively Jewish? No, I did not. So you must therefore must disagree that it is a problem if the list is intensively Jewish. Do you see a genuine broad based rainbow coalition? Check the list again, Adam. Actually, you know what? That’s fine, but no complaining that any business or any university isn’t diverse enough as long as they have a few women or minorities somewhere, okay Adam? Because that’s obviously good enough for you. In fact, in general I really don’t care about that sort of thing, but here, it is a cause that is at least partially based on ethnic identity, and you it is hard to get away from that. And we aren’t the ones who will pull it off.
    How would we expect others to react if another group – not ours – led a human rights issue on Jews’ behalf in the U.S. (but for Jews elsewhere) – but our own organizations declined to join that demonstration or sign their statement.
    Would we want everyone to ignore our conspicuous absence, or would we expect them to be concerned and suspicious over why we weren’t leading the charge ourselves?
    Dameocrat,
    I don’t like many of the most famous current U.S. Black Leaders, including Farrakhan. So what? We can’t properly lead what will be perceived as a black issue IN ADDITION to being perceived as a universal human rights issue without working with them.
    If we can’t work with them, perhaps we shouldn’t be attempting to lead and mobilize a cause when its success might be increased if others were doing it, and specifically if we weren’t doing it.

  24. The problem with Farrakhan is that he simply doesn’t give a care about universal human rights. NOI are black seperatists. That is why, when he holds a million man march it is all focused on what the black community will do, and why he didn’t make a dent on the Katrina problem.

  25. Sue here is a Darfur group Dan once linked to.
    The post about Farrakhan was addressed to David Kelsey aka DK. I don’t dislike him as much as you do, but I don’t hold out any hope that he will address national or international issues. It isn’t part of NOI’s philosophy.

  26. DK,
    The tone of my response to you has been respectful, DK. Is it possible for you to respond to my arguments, DK, without resorting to condescending and patronizing speech, DK?
    You overstate Jewish involvement in the Save Darfur coalition. Are Jewish organizations overrepresented on that list given how small our population is in America? Of course! But take another look at that list and tell me if the signatories anywhere near tops 50%. As for the language invoking the Holocaust, again what do you suggest – removing every reference to the Holocaust in an anti-genocide movement? You don’t have to be Jewish to think that the lessons of WWII affected how we should respond to Rwanda, Somalia, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, or Darfur.
    Oh, hurray! We got a couple!
    Glib. Cute. But it’s a mischaracterization and you know it. Again, take another look at the list and tell me that there aren’t also many Christian, Muslim, and African organizations there. CAIR isn’t exactly an organization that readily aligns itself with Zionist causes (!), and it is one of the several Muslim organizations that is also involved.
    How would we expect others to react if another group – not ours – led a human rights issue on Jews’ behalf in the U.S. (but for Jews elsewhere) – but our own organizations declined to join that demonstration or sign their statement.
    Why do you think Louis Farrakhan represents the people of Darfur — because he’s black? It seems to me it’s up to the people of Darfur to decide their own alliances. Anyway, to answer your question, if (hypothetically) any other ethnic group lobbied against a (hypothetical) genocide of Jews elsewhere in the world, I would think that’s commendable. Even if American Jews were too complacent to join in.
    My question from before still stands: What makes you think a “Coalition of Anti-Semites to Save Darfur” would rise up and take to the streets if all the Jews step down from the movement? What makes you so sure that Farrakhan is just waiting to lead the movement if only the Jews step down? “They hate us, and we’re involved” does not mean “if we were not involved, they would take charge.” Do you honestly think that the movement would be helped if — instead of going to DC on April 30 — the Jewish community took up knitting instead? I have never encountered such an impassioned and smug argument for complacency.

  27. DK-
    My last post might have been too long, and didn’t pick up. Since I can’t answer everything you said, I’ll keep this brief. Three questions: (1) What makes you think that Jewish organizations are “leading” this movement, rather than just overrepresented in perspective to population? (Just an eyeball estimate of that website, I’d say 30% — the majority of signers are Christian, and there are various Muslim, African, and humanitarian orgs there as well.) (2) What makes you think that if Jewish leadership stepped down, demogogues like Farrakhan would even care to take its place, nevermind make it more “legitimate”? “They hate us” does not mean “if we were not involved, they’d join.” Incidentally, CAIR never aligns itself with causes that are perceived to be remotely “Zionist,” and they are part of the coalition. (3) Just to be clear: Are you suggesting that the Jewish community do nothing?

  28. Adam,
    1) Jewish organizations are “leading” this cause. AJWS and the Holocaust Museum are Jewish organizations, and are perceived as such.
    2) CAIR’s involvement is both the right thing to do and a brilliant strategic move, and AJWS is truly ecumenical in its goal and concern. As for your question, “What makes you think that if Jewish leadership stepped down, demogogues like Farrakhan would even care to take its place, nevermind make it more ‘legitimate’?” It’s not just Farrakhan, and I certainly can’t say for sure that anyone would care to take their place. But we are never the less facing limited interest in this coalition because the Jews are the ones leading this cause. Can you at least admit that?
    3) I would have preferred the Jews looking to take a backseat while others led. Perhaps that wasn’t possible, but perhaps we have been known to insist on leadership positions even if they weren’t appropriate or the best idea for a cause to succeed.

  29. AJWS and the Holocaust Museum are obviously Jewish organizations, but are they leading it? This is an honest question that I really want to know. It looks to me that they are just 2 of the 11 orgs on the executive committee.
    But we are never the less facing limited interest in this coalition because the Jews are the ones leading this cause. Can you at least admit that?
    Not without evidence. You can’t assume the very thesis you mean to prove. (Which was Mobius’ comment, as well.) Sorry. Is there tension between Jewish and African American organizations in America? Of course. Is that fact affecting this particular coalition? This has not been proven, it’s an awful gamble to step aside and hope that somebody else will fill the vacuum.
    On the other hand, if you can show that the Jewish leadership has prevented other organizations from taking part, you raise a valid concern that must be addressed.

  30. I’ll tell you what, though, you’ve gotten me curious. Let’s email Save Darfur.org and the NAACP — and ask why the NAACP’s signature is absent. Who knows? Maybe the organization will join once petitioned. Maybe not. But we’ll be closer to understanding the politics of the whole situation.
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

  31. There is no reason to believe other organizations are avoiding this movement because of heavy Jewish involvement.
    And in terms of effective strategy, there is no reason to believe a movement spearheaded by African American groups as opposed to Jewish groups would lead to real action on the issue. I think the contrary is more likely.
    Who cares what it looks like. What’s important is results. Jewish activism has the potential to show results, and that’s all that matters.

  32. And in terms of effective strategy, there is no reason to believe a movement spearheaded by African American groups as opposed to Jewish groups would lead to real action on the issue. I think the contrary is more likely.”
    The contrary? Why?

  33. Because the White Man doesn’t listen to blacks, DK. Come on, you know that! If that weren’t the case, New Orleans would not have drowned.

  34. EV #
    Because the White Man doesn’t listen to blacks, DK. Come on, you know that! If that weren’t the case, New Orleans would not have drowned.

    Interesting point? Why is there no protests over Katrina?

  35. EV,
    Americans have a different reaction to demands for aiding blacks in a situation outside of the U.S. See Band Aid and South Africa. They have the potential to care and get involved. This does not appear to be happening here.

  36. DK,
    You prove my point. Band Aid was a bunch of white people singing. And if I remember correctly, activism to end apartheid was not bound by color lines.

  37. DK,
    Point taken. There’s still a lot of questions though, including the main one: Are other organizations avoiding this movement because of heavy Jewish involvement? As EV and I are saying, you really can’t assume that.
    Also, there’s a difference between “founders” and “leaders.” Are AJWS, the HM, and Elie Wiesel _leading_ the Coalition, or did they just call for the urgent need for one by organizing the Darfur Emergency Summit? And since this summit happened in July ’04, about a year and a half after the conflict began, isn’t it very fortunate that they did? I don’t know if there were any earlier efforts.

  38. Band Aid was an Ethiopian benefit. I did react differently to that situation, but Geldorf wasn’t calling for troops after having gotten America involved in a war. The issue isn’t ethnicity of the indivduals, it is there advocacy of military interventionism which is costing Americans dearly. Witness Katrina. Giving Ethiopians commodity Corn is very inexpessive by comparison.

  39. EV,
    No, those movement were not suspected of being fueled by a Zionist agenda. It seems to me this may be different.
    Adam,
    You wrote
    “There’s still a lot of questions though, including the main one: Are other organizations avoiding this movement because of heavy Jewish involvement? As EV and I are saying, you really can’t assume that.”
    While a fellow Jewschool poster quoted the Forward’s approval for the rally, he failed to note that indeed, things are not expanding as we hoped: http://www.forward.com/articles/7676
    Perhaps I am being too negative. I don’t think I am.
    We will see how it plays out.

  40. Mobius: for those of us that don’t want to turn on our cookies, can you explain “why george bush doesn’t care about jews.” though he’s the spawn of the anglophilic establishment, he’s also a texas born-again; who even knows if he’s a christian Zionist or not? not that that means he cares about Jews….

  41. I will say that the balance and coalition building seems to be off for this rally. a friend, one of the key organizers for the anti-war rally happening here in NYC on 4/29 had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA about the rally for Darfur in DC the next day. This is someone who’s active in numerous social justice organizations, has ties to labor union leadership and works with communities of color, and she had no clue.

  42. A clarion call for quotas
    What a disgusting and shameful post, David Kelsey. Your arguments epitomize the case of someone who has internalized anti-Jewishness. Take a step back? Why the hell SHOULD we do that? Because the movement is perceived as TOO JEWISH? If you are worried that something is PERCEIVED as TOO JEWISH you are talking about anti-Semitism.
    Why don’t we just reinstate quotas at universities; too many damned Jews there. How about the media; listen to all those Jewish-sounding last names! Too Jewish! Leftist causes – omg WAAAAYYYYY too Jewish!
    So why don’t we forcefully even things out. Why don’t we force a large sector of the American Jewish community to abandon their leftist roots. We could send them to “re-education” camps a la Cultural Revolution so that there can be equal numbers of rightist and leftist Jews. What do you think about my modest proposal?
    Jews are heavily involved in the Darfur issue because they care about humanity. How disgusting you accuse Jewish leaders of ulterior motives. GENOCIDE is going on, and you are worried about the anti-genocide movement being perceived as TOO JEWISH? Have you been to Darfur? Would you like to go and ask the Darfurians if Jews should step back so that absent orgs such as the NAACP can take up their cause – becuase they’re black? Why should the NAACP be involved over the AJWS? Because they are black? What racist thinking.
    Are the views you’ve expressed liberal? No, there fascist, and racist.

  43. I’d like to find out more about the issue raised here re the possible multiple motives of some of the organizers of the Darfur campaign. A campaign for Darfur is most welcome, and I’ve been glad to be able to support it. However, for those of us who are progressives, at the same time it is concerning that prominent right wing Jewish leaders are the movers on this. There’s also been talk about this issue being manipulated by various interest groups. This seems to be one of those issues that is not simple and clear. Certainly the genocide is clear (I assume the news we’re getting from the NYT, etc is trustworthy on this.) And it is gratifying to have a movement to work to end the genocide. But at the same time I would be interested in hearing what’s been written about Jacobs’ and others’ involvement in this and if/how it overlaps with their other work, and why some obvious allies of this cause haven’t gotten involved. If anyone can direct me to sources, thanks. Ida

  44. What exactly is the Jewish involvement in Darfur all about? This is the question a person of African descent instinctively asks. Given the amount of crises impacting the African Continent [many of them created by a 21st century Scramble for Africa] suspicion immediately arises. Africans are belatedly but decisively coming to the realization that only they have their best interests at heart. Darfur is an African problem and must be solved by Africans. Seemingly altruistic interventions by outsiders raise questions like –What is in it for them? Why a Jewish clamour about Darfur and why now? Why wasn’t there a Jewish clamour about Katrina? Given the ongoing animosities in the Middle East, Africans wonder whether the Jewish interest in Darfur is an attempt to involve us in their bloody chess game with Arabs. Sorry, but no thanks. Please stay out of our affairs. Let your altruism like charity begin at home. Africans can, and will solve their own problems without the unsolicited intervention of groups which might or might not have ulterior motives. We are, with justification growing distrustful of outsiders.

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