Exploiting African Genocide for Propaganda
by Ned Goldstein, WW4 REPORT
The death toll in the Darfur region of western Sudan has reached between 200,000 and 400,000 as of Oct. 1, with 2.5 million displaced. The UN warns that the death toll could escalate precipitously if the situation is allowed to deteriorate. The dictatorial — and genocidal —Khartoum regime led by Omar al-Bashir, is possibly the world’s most brutal and murderous.
The conflict in Darfur is rooted in the long oppression of marginalized groups seeking political and economic equality. Ethnic identification has become increasingly polarized in Darfur, the tribes from which the rebels draw their numbers generally characterized as Black Africans, and the Sudanese army and its proxy militias described as Arab.
While the debate over what to do about Darfur continues, the Sudanese government and critics of the US-based Save Darfur coalition have continued to accuse the movement (or, at least, elements of it) of having ulterior motives: namely, to benefit Israel—both by diverting attention from Israeli war crimes to those of the Khartoum regime and its supporters in the Arab world, and, more ambitiously to actually destabilize Sudan’s Islamist government.
Khartoum and Israel: Mutual Exploitation?
The Sudanese government has, unsurprisingly, stressed the participation of Zionist and Jewish groups in the Save Darfur movement—and flatly accused Israel of being behind the insurgency in Darfur.
As early as Dec. 21, 2004, Republic of Sudan Radio reported that Sudanese Interior Minister Ahmad Harun, flanked by two other government ministers, “accused the Zionist entity of supplying the rebels with weapons in the framework of Israel’s plan that targets Arab nations.”
In May 2005, the Sudanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Samir al-Shaybani told a Syrian interviewer: “We can even say that these powers want to dismember Sudan and replace this government with another one that serves their strategic interests, represented in obliterating Sudan’s Arab identity. Top among these powers is the Zionist lobby, which considered the Darfur issue primarily a Jewish issue requiring solidarity between the Jews and some African tribes, which claim to be in conflict with Arab tribes. The Darfur issue has thus been depicted within the framework of mass annihilation. The Zionist groups and US Administration played on this theory and dedicated huge resources and large media and diplomatic campaigns to promote this erroneous diagnosis of the conflict.”
Some of the Sudan government’s accusations are rooted in the history of the 30-year civil war, in which Israel is believed to have aided the southern rebels. This war came to an end last year in a power-sharing agreement between Khartoum and the southern guerilla groups, even as the situation in Darfur was escalating towards genocide. Another factor is prominent Israel advocate Charles Jacobs’ anti-slavery efforts targeting Sudan. But the most pronounced accusations started after the Darfur crisis first erupted in 2003.
The Jerusalem Post reported Dec. 16, 2004, that for the first time, Israel was providing aid to relief efforts in Sudan, in order to “help alleviate the humanitarian crisis” in Darfur. The Post said “Israel joined with several US Jewish groups, including the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the Union for Reform Judaism, the New Jersey MetroWest Federation and UJA-Federation of New York in sending $100,000 to support the International Rescue Committee and aid children in Sudan and Chad orphaned by the civil war in Sudan’s Darfur region.” Darfur native Muhammed Yahya said his countrymen were “grateful for the assistance and astonished by its source.”
“We have been taught for all our lives, from the primary school to the university, that you are the top enemy for Muslims and Arabs all over the world,” Yahya said of the Jews and Israelis behind the $100,000 effort. Now, he said, “we realized that what we have been taught all our lives is a kind of a rumor. When we have been killed, you are protecting us; when we are displaced, you are trying to save us; when our people are murdered and raped, you are there trying to help us.”
Ayre Mekel, Israel’s Council-General in New York at the time, said “The State of Israel is following the developments in Darfur carefully, and as a people who has gone through persecution, we could not sit idly on the sidelines through such a devastating humanitarian disaster. This is according to the Jewish values.”
In 2004, the Save Darfur coalition was launched in the US. An article in the April 27 2006 Jerusalem Post, describing the April 30 rally in Washington DC, the first large mass action on the Darfur issue, declared, “US Jews leading Darfur rally planning,” and introduced the “Save Darfur” coalition that is now placing full-page ads in major newspapers and ubiquitous television spots. “Little known, ” the paper said, ” is that the coalition, which has presented itself as ‘an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization’ was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.” The paper adds that it continues to be “heavily weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of local and national Jewish group.” In New York, the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs sponsored the first full-page ad in the New York Times. The paper also noted that while large evangelical Christian groups were in the coalition, that these groups had not done the “kind of extensive grassroots outreach that will produce numbers.”
The Washington Post reported April 27 that the rally organizers scrambled at the last minute to add two speakers from Darfur because of objections from Sudanese immigrants that the speakers list contained eight western Christians, seven Jews, four US politicians, several celebrities, but no Muslims and no one from Darfur. James Zogby of the Arab-American Institute participated, explaining that “it was important that Arab Americans make clear our deep concern with the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Our presence in this multi-ethnic multi-religious coalition sends this message.”
Zogby did admit to some reservations, but concluded: “And while we may have had questions about… the groups involved in the Save Darfur effort, the coalition included significant respected US and international organizations as well. The International Crisis Group, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Amnesty International, the AFL-CIO/Solidarity Center and a number of US Muslim groups had signed on as sponsors.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), a national organization which “coordinate[s] communal activity” nationwide — including pro-Israel advocacy — chartered buses from all over the country, eight from upper Manhattan alone. The JCRC in San Francisco is currently headed by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) top honcho Thomas Dine. An Israeli flag was waving prominently at the rally. Predictably, the Sudanese regime denounced the rally as more Zionist pressure.
The April 27 Jerusalem Post also claimed the main organizer behind the rally was former Manhattan borough president Ruth Messinger and the organization she heads, the AJWS, which acts as a Jewish peace corps worldwide. In 2006, Messinger ran for a seat in the World Zionist Congress on the left-liberal “Hatikva” slate.
Messinger told the Washington Post on April 27, “we are interested because this is a humanitarian crisis and we are the Jewish organization that responds to crises around the world. But we are also interested because this is a genocide which has particular meaning to Jews who have sworn never again.”
The AJWS started organizing the coalition after the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC issued a first-of-its-kind “genocide alert,” about Darfur. Critics have noted that mass death in conflicts in Ethiopia, the eastern Congo, the Central African Republic, Sierra Leone, and Uganda, where the violence is seen as African-on-African, rather than Arab-on-African, have not elicited similar responses from the Holocaust museum. Many of the other concerned parties in the west that have focused on Darfur have likewise ignored conflicts of similar scale elsewhere in Africa. Neither the UN nor the European Union have been willing to apply the “genocide” label to Darfur, as the US has.
The Jersualem Post also said: “There are critics who say the heavy Jewish involvement might have deterred some other groups from joining. The fact that the aggressors in Darfur are Arab Muslims – though it should be said that the victims are also mostly Muslim – and are supported by a regime in Khartoum that is backed by the Arab League has made some people question the true motives of some of the Jewish organizations involved in the rally.”
While the Jewish organizers tried to play down the Jewish composition of the rally, large African-American groups like the NAACP and Africa Action were noticeably absent. By the time of the coordinated global action for Darfur on Sept. 17, the NAACP was on board. But at the Sept. 17 rally in New York’s Central Park, African-American participation was still small, despite outreach efforts on the part of the Save Darfur coalition. One speaker from Harlem, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, noted that the coalition was so tenuous that if they got together in a room to discuss other issues in the Middle East, it would quickly fall apart. He echoed the rest of the speakers in condemning Khartoum’s behavior, but disagreed about calling for UN peacekeepers, warning that the Darfur issue was being exploited by those who sought to destabilize Sudan and gain access to its oil. Abdur-Rashid instead preferred pressure on the Khartoum regime and the rebels to go back to the negotiating table.
Abdarahmane Wone, a North America representative of the African Liberation Forces of Mauritania (FLAM), who attended the rally, told WW4 REPORT that he supported the call for UN peacekeepers, but regretted that the political left has ceded the initiative to the right wing on the Darfur issue.
Darfur as Strategic Distraction
Israel advocates had hoped the Save Darfur movement would do more to renew the Black-Jewish alliance that went back to the civil rights era in the US. However, on Sept. 29, after a pro-Israel rally in the wake of the Lebanon war, an organizer identified as a “Jewish official” admitted to New York’s Jewish Week “that all the Jewish support for Darfur, trumpeted in Jewish newspapers earlier this year as a harbinger of a renewed alliance between Jews and blacks, proved to be a bust. Jews continue to be the backbone of the Darfur rallies but at the Israel rally, he said ‘there were speakers who were black but there was not a concerted black turnout.'”
An article titled “Slavery, Genocide and the Politics of Outrage” in the Spring 2005 issue of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) journal, states that “Israel and Zionist organizations have long been interested in issues of race and ethnicity in the Arab world.” Israel has been accused of arming the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in southern Sudan, and more recently, through the SPLA, rebel forces in Darfur. Both the SPLA and Israel deny the charges.
But a Washington Post story of April 17, 1987 claimed: “Recent visitors to [SPLA leader John] Garang’s headquarters at Boma in the southeast reported seeing crates of weapons supplied by Israel. Israel aided an earlier generation of southern rebels during the 1955-72 civil war as part of a policy to destabilize Arab governments.” The SPLA also received 20 million in “non-lethal” aid from the US government in 1996. According to his BBC obituary following his death in an air accident last year, Garang was also trained in the US at Fort Benning, GA.
Israel has also reportedly trained Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq. Both the southern Sudanese and the Kurds were seen as local ethnic groups facing Arab imperialism. MERIP notes that “the Zionist concern for minorities in the Arab world is strategic: by focusing on how Arab states (mis)treat their minorities, pro-Israel scholars can shift the spotlight from Palestine, highlight Arab double standards, demonstrate how the subordinate status of minorities in the Middle East necessitated a Zionist project to lift Middle Eastern Jews ‘up from dhimmitude’ and show how Israel protects minority rights better than any other state in the region.”
MERIP also notes, “Given the American Jewish community’s silence over the Congo, Uganda and Sierra Leone, it seems the outrage over Darfur is as moral as it is political. ‘Now millions of African people face genocide and the UN’s top priority is condemning the Israeli security fence that saves lives on both sides of the security barrier,’ stated Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).”
Charles Jacobs: Anti-Slavery as Political Stratagem
The divide on the Darfur issue has roots that go all the way back to 1993, when long-time Israel advocate Charles Jacobs first started to target Sudan, over the issue of slavery. Almost immediately, Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan denounced Jacobs as a “Jewish consultant,” and took Sudan’s side, questioning whether there really was a slavery problem. At the time, the NOI received millions of dollars in support from Libya, which was then collaborating with the Sudan regime and was even implicated in the importation of slaves. Jesse Jackson and others who participated in the 1995 Million Man March with Farrakhan were reluctant to alienate him, and Jacobs and columnist Nat Hentoff both charged Jackson’s refusal to alienate Arab states also caused his silence on Sudan.
Beyond members of the congressional Black Caucus, there was little organized African-American support for Jacobs’ American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG). The AASG also used a highly controversial means to fight the Sudanese slave trade: they bought slaves’ freedom from their captors, a practice known as “redemption” that critics, including UNICEF, argued worsened the situation by fueling the Sudanese slave market—and by extension the Sudanese regime’s war against the Christian and animist south, where slaves from captured villages were a goad for pro-government warlords. Most of the support for the AASG came from mostly conservative Christian organizations, including Christian Solidarity International (CSI) which eventually lost its UN NGO status for its relationship to John Garang.
Another Jewish supporter of Jacobs’ efforts was Barbara Ledeen, wife of prominent neo-con columnist and political operative Michael Ledeen, and director of a conservative think tank, the Independent Women’s Forum. Ledeen charged, “The fact that Farrakhan is a player, protecting the government of Sudan and the government of Mauritania, sends a message to other African-American leaders that they better not mess with this.”
Another early supporter of Jacobs was right-wing Israel advocate Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for the Boston Globe, and a speaker at the 2004 convention of the pro-Israel media watchdog, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
Senators Lincoln Chafee and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy all expressed doubts about the efficacy and morality of Jacobs’ efforts. Richard Miniter of the Wall Street Journal related in a 1999 article for the Atlantic Monthly how he turned against the efforts of Jacobs and his allies during a trip with Christian Freedom International (CFI) to Sudan. “As I spoke with [district government spokesman Adelino Rip] Goc,” Miniter said, “a crowd of villagers encircled us. ‘Does anyone here support slave redemption?’ I asked. No one did. One man said that I should talk to Machar Malok Machar. In a previous raid on Akoch, Machar was captured and marched into the desert. Before sunrise on the second day he crawled away and hid. He waited for hours until the Muslim slave raiders departed. Then he walked home, with his hands still tied behind his back, to find his wife and family missing, his hut burned, his cattle and goats gone. After I heard his story, I asked him about slave redemption. ‘It is bad,’ he said. ‘They do these terrible things to put shillings in their pockets. They are crazy for the money. Why would you give it to them?'”
Even CFI head Jim Jacobson, who Miniter accompanied on that Sudan trip, started to discourage the practice of slave redemption after what he saw in Sudan. Jacobs was undeterred, saying the important thing was getting slaves out of “the hands of monsters.” Jacobs claimed he would stop if it was proved slave redemption did more harm than good, but he has rabidly attacked criticism of his efforts. Jacobs has also criticized Israel for normalizing relations with Mauritania.
Although Jacobs claims to be a liberal, he often associates with the right-wing. This seems to be a pattern for Israel advocates, including many neo-conservative officials who started out as liberals, and commentators such as Phyllis Chesler, David Horowitz and Alan Dershowitz.
Jacobs was the co-founder of CAMERA, and its executive director for a period in the ’80’s. He also founded the David Project, which backed the “Columbia Unbecoming” project, to expose supposed anti-Israel bias at Columbia University, charged by its critics as a McCarthyite witch-hunt. This was undertaken in cooperation with Campus Watch, run by the right-wing and (many say) Islamophobic Daniel Pipes. The David Project is funded by the Charles and Lynn Shustermann foundation, and is an affiliate member of the Israel on Campus Coalition, which, in cooperation between the Shustermanns and Hillel, brings a heavily right-wing roster of Israel advocacy speakers to campuses. Jacobs is also an advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), whose board and staff include Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former CIA director R. James Woolsey, Virginia’s Rep. Eric Cantor, and such conservative heavy hitters as Gary Bauer, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Frank Gaffney and Richard Perle. Another supporter is Lebanese scholar Dr. Walid Phares, alleged to be associated with the fanatically anti-Palestinian Guardians of the Ceders (GOTC), responsible for several massacres during Lebanon’s civil war.
The late investigative journalist Robert Friedman wrote in The Nation June 6, 1987 that CAMERA was “created specifically to keep the U.S. press in line…At least in one case, it has assigned freelance reporters to dig into the personal lives of liberal journalists whose views deviate from the narrowest spectrum of pro-Israeli opinion. CAMERA, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the rest of the lobby don’t want fairness, but bias in their favor. And they are prepared to use McCarthyite tactics, as well as the power and money of pro-Israel PACs, to get whatever Israel wants.”
Jacobs is also a client of Benador Associates, a PR firm run by Eleanor Benador, whose list of clients reads like a neo-con who’s who. Benador supplied to the media many of the op-eds and talking heads that pushed for the Iraq war, and now push for war on Iran, including the famously bogus piece by Iranian emigre Amir Taheri which falsely claimed a new law would compel Iranian Jews to wear yellow insignia.
Jacobs also served as the spokesperson for the National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCI), consisting of 500 fundamentalist Christian and right-wing Jewish supporters of Israel. The group was so right-wing that Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a leader in coordinating Christian Zionist support for Israel, said he resigned from the NUCI’s board because of the group’s “anti-Rabin, pro-Likud” positions. On Jan. 21, 1998, the New York Times quoted Jacobs saying the NUCI was “‘giving voice’ to evangelical Christians who are ardent Zionists.”
Jacobs also put out a press release protesting the US government for its Oct. 17, 2005 decision to upgrade Sudan’s human trafficking status from Tier III — the worst possible ranking — to Tier II. Ironically, among countries ranked as Tier II is Israel.
In 2000, Jacobs and other Sudan activists started a campaign to divest from Sudan, targeting mutual funds like Fidelity that invest in oil companies doing business in Sudan. In 2002, Jacobs’ Israel advocacy and Sudan activism visibly converged when a movement to divest from Israel briefly gripped some prominent US universities, including Harvard. In an Oct. 4, 2002 op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, titled, “WHY ISRAEL, AND NOT SUDAN, IS SINGLED OUT,” Jacobs’ noted that Harvard’s president Lawrence Summers denounced the divestment from Israel campaign on his campus as anti-Semitic “in effect, if not in intent.” Jacobs attacked Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for “investigat[ing] false reports of Jews massacring Arabs,” and asked why they don’t “care so much less about Arab-occupied Juba, South Sudan’s black capital?”
It is “a human rights complex” Jacobs explains, “and is not hard to understand. The human rights community, composed mostly of compassionate white people, feels a special duty to protest evil done by those who are like ‘us.'” Then comes the laundry list: “The biggest victims of this complex are not the Jews who are obsessively criticized but the victims of genocide, enslavement, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing who are murderously ignored: the Christian slaves of Sudan, the Muslim slaves of Mauritania, the Tibetans, the Kurds, the Christians in Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt.”
In 2005, Jacobs trumpeted the success of his Sudan divestment initiative with a note on the AASG website: “SudanActivism.com—a website devoted to empowering college students with the tools to launch their own divestment campaigns—is launched. Campaigns at Harvard, Stanford, and Dartmouth succeed in pressuring the schools to divest holdings in companies operating in Sudan. Their successes spawn similar campaigns at schools across the country.” Harvard president Summers, who found divesting from Israel to be anti-Semitic in effect, said of the Sudan divestment effort: “This is the right thing to do in light of the ongoing events in Darfur.”
Jacobs-Speak Crosses the Pond
Jacobs often assails progressives for attacking Israel and ignoring Sudan, but ironically many self-identified progressives (like Jacobs) are leaders of the battle against divestment from Israel. ENGAGE, formed in response to the British academic boycott of Israel, states in its website:
“Engage is a single issue campaign. It focuses on one issue, antisemitism, and is therefore concerned also about the demonization of Israel, and of Jews who don’t think of themselves as anti-Zionists. We believe that a new commonsense is emerging that holds Israel to be a central and fundamental evil in the world. We disagree with this notion and we think that it is dangerous. The danger is that this kind of thinking may well lead to, and license, the emergence of a movement that is racist against Jews in general. ”
However, amidst posts calling out anti-Semitism and attacking Israel boycott campaigns, the one other issue Engage increasingly addresses is Darfur. On Oct. 1, David Hirsh, a sociologist and one of the leading forces of Engage, titled a post, “Death in Darfur.” Hirsh writes: “It is not ‘the Zionists’ who are ‘using’ Darfur to deflect attention from Israel’s human rights abuses; it is the genocidaires in Darfur who are using ‘Zionism’ to deflect attention from their genocide. The ongoing human catastrophe in Darfur has continued to accelerate, while the alleged ‘world community’ is either paralyzed or, in some cases, actively collaborating with the criminals.”
Engage also uses the construct that boycotting Israel is anti-Semitic in effect, if not intent. John Pike, a founding member of the group, denounced the short-lived boycott of Israeli academics by the British teacher’s union NAFTHE. “Does that amount to anti-Semitism? I think it does, in effect, if not intent.”
British anti-Zionist commentator Mark Elf of the blog Jews Sans Frontieres told WW4 REPORT: “Engage has recently turned its ire on Jews for Justice for Palestinians because of their campaigning against the occupation. Before that their targets were Jews Against Zionism and organisers of the academic boycott like Stephen and Hilary Rose. All the while the main organiser of Engage – David Hirsh – claims to be a non-zionist and yet his own position on zionist rule is indistinguishable from that of another Engage ‘contributor’ – John Strawson – who ran for a seat on the World Zionist Congress under the banner of Meretz.”
Jacobs and the Assault on Mideast Studies
It was the “Columbia Unbecoming” imbroglio that thrust Jacobs and his efforts into the spotlight most fully. The episode allowed elements of Jacobs’ multi-pronged Israel advocacy to converge: media campaigns, attacking Middle Eastern studies departments, using student activists—and Sudan activism. Columbia Unbecoming was a combined effort of the David Project, campus Israel activists, and media, especially the right-wing New York Sun. Columbia Unbecoming produced an eponymous video in which mostly Jewish and sometimes Israeli Columbia students claimed harassment and anti-Semitism by professors in MELAC, or Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. A Columbia committee eventually exonerated the named professors.
At the height of the Columbia Unbecoming affair, Columbia Professor Dan Miron told the New York Sun: “Israelis are put to a test that is not applied to anyone else. You will not hear any murmur about the people of Sudan but…Israel is singled out in a way that is racist.”
In their March 2005 coverage of a public screening of the film, the Jewish Week reported: “Charles Jacobs, founder of the David Project, one of the event’s sponsors and the man behind the ‘Columbia Unbecoming’ documentary, called Jewish critics of the film, including some Columbia professors, ‘Marranos of Morningside Heights,’ a derogatory reference to Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid the Spanish Inquisition…. Jacobs added that Middle East departments in the United States are controlled by two trends: Palestinianism and Saidism, named after the late, controversial Columbia Professor Edward Said, a champion of the Palestinian cause. Palestinianism, Jacobs said, ‘is a cult that obscures any credible academics regarding Israel. It’s a highly cultivated weapon of mass distraction.’ Saidism, on the other hand, is a ‘gag order on Westernism that enforces silence,’ he said.”
The account went on to describe a telling incident. “Immediately following the speech by Jacobs, in which he introduced a small band of black Sudanese to talk about their torture by Arabs, the documentary was screened. As the film, which has gone through a number of edits, ended, a few students featured in it spoke.”
Each one of the Sudanese — and Mauritanian — ex-slaves got up to thank Israel and the Jewish people for their freedom.
The event was co-sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), which opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. Morton Klein, the head of ZOA, told the audience, “There is no occupation,” referring to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another featured speaker was feminist writer Phyllis Chesler, who has been featured on the ENGAGE website as well. Chesler, author of The New Anti-Semitism, told the audience: “The largest practitioner of apartheid on the planet is Islam, in terms of both religious apartheid and gender apartheid…” Cheered on by the crowd, Chesler said the Palestine Solidarity Movement, a national campus movement to divest from Israel, “is a group in my opinion that’s quite similar to the Ku Klux Klan, or to the Nazi party.” The situation deteriorated after Chesler brought up Jenin. As the Jewish Week described it:
“When Chesler defended Israel’s actions regarding the 2002 battle in Jenin, one woman in the audience shouted, ‘We should have bombed them from the start’ —referring to the Palestinian residents of Jenin. ‘We should have killed them all,’ a man yelled.”
When an activist from Jews Against the Occupation rose to ask a question, stating that he had once been shot by the Israeli army, he “was drowned out by a sea of invectives.” One audience member shouted “Too bad they missed.”
The account also reported harassment of the reporters on hand. “The Jewish Week’s reporter was approached with…demands for identification and was flash-photographed repeatedly by a woman in the audience. When asked to stop, the woman said, ‘We’re taking pictures of you. We want to know who you are.’ A New York Times photographer, taking photos of the silenced dissenter from Jews Against the Occupation leaving the room, was surrounded by a large group of people telling her to put down her camera. ‘You have no right to do this,’ one woman yelled, waving her hand in the photographer’s face. Another man said, ‘It’s our event, not his. Don’t distort it like the Times always does.’ The photographer left the auditorium.”
Which Way Forward?
WW4 REPORT asked Jen Marlowe, a Jewish film-maker and activist who recently co-authored a film and a book about Darfur, what she thought would be the most useful role for Jewish activists on the issue. She replies, “I feel certain that the motivations of the majority of Jewish activists on Darfur are simply trying to protect human life and have a feeling of connection with the horror of genocide. However, Jewish groups need to share the space and the ‘stage’ with Darfurian groups and Muslim groups as truly equal partners in leading the activist efforts.”
Marlowe also said that in order for there to be legitimacy in criticizing regimes that violate human rights, including boycotts and sanctions, there cannot be a double standard. “If Jewish Darfur activists make any connections between Sudan and Israel at all, I would like to see it be because they are calling for the end of human rights violations in both places,” she says.
Marlowe says there are many Arab-Americans who are outraged at what is happening in Darfur, but feel uncomfortable with the current coalition, because of a feeling that it may be combined with other agendas. Marlowe concludes: “A clear message from Jewish activists that Darfur is not being co-opted for other purposes would allow others, including Arabs and Muslims, to come on board, and there would be more true diversity in Darfur activism.”
American Anti-Slavery Group
“Slavery, Genocide and the Politics of Outrage”
MERIP, Spring 2005, Issue 234
The Jewish Week, Sept. 29, 2006
The Jewish Week, March 11, 2005
“Darfur: The Overkill The Janjaweed Spin Out of Control” by Rene Wadlow
WW4 REPORT #113 September 2005
Special to WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Oct. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution