Never have I been more proud to be a Jew.
At the Save Darfur Now rally in Washington, DC, yesterday, I was shocked and almost moved to tears at the great Jewish response to the genocide in Darfur. I couldn't stretch out my arms without touching someone in a kippah, tzitzit, or carrying a Hebrew-language sign calling for justice for the oppressed.
In reality, I know that I shouldn't be surprised by the outpouring of Jewish support. We are, after all, a people that promised that an atrocity like the Holocaust would never happen again. If we do not protest the genocide of a people, be they Jew or gentile, what right do we have to defend the State of Israel? To expect help from other human beings when the world invariably turns its face away from us? To honor the Torah, which bids us to not stand idle while the blood of our fellow brothers and sisters is shed?
The answer: None. We have no right at all.
And you know what? We haven't done enough.
Where were we in 1994, during the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda when 800,000 people were murdered in only 100 days?
Where were we during the years between 1992 and 1995, when madman Slobodan Milosevic led the Serbs in the slaughter of 200,000 Bosnians?
We Jews need to stop talking about how evil genocide is and do something about it. Send letters to your representatives, your elected leaders, your local news stations, your friends. Spread awareness in any way you can. Lead a fundraiser. Start an organization. Donate money. Protest.
However, for all the ranting in this post, I am genuinely pleased that so many Jews showed up for this rally. Such attendance renews my faith and makes me want to be more active in the fight for justice in Darfur. Thank you to all who showed up and took a stand. Thank you to all those Jews who spoke when others could not, whether it be in Rwanda, Bosnia, or Darfur. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Appendix I: An apology.
Sorry for the rant. It kind of got out of hand.
Appendix II: Photos
These are some of the pictures that I took from Sunday's rally. Click on the thumbnails for to see them in more detail. (Please excuse the unprofessional layout. I'm not very good at this.)
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16.
1) An Israeli flag waving in crowd.
2) Crowd shot.
3) Another crowd shot.
4) Yet another crowd shot.
5) The Reform Jewish movement showed up.
6) An African man who I believe was from the afflicted areas. Throughout the rally, he whispered "Thank you" and "G-d bless you" under his breath to the crowd. Made me cry.
7) A kid in a tree... a personification of the youth movement.
8) "Vegan Jews Against Genocide." I wasn't aware that there was any other kind.
9) "I Saw It. I Escaped It. Stop It Now!!"
10) California Representative Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor.
11) California Representative Nancy Pelosi.
12) New Jersey Governor John Corzine.
13) Actor George Clooney (his father, who was a much better speaker, showed up too).
14) Illinois Senator Barak Obama.
15) Rev. Al Sharpton.
16) Activist and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Appendix III: Links
PBS: The Triumph of Evil-- Rwanda
United Human Rights Council: Bosnia Genocide-- Bosnia
Save Darfur-- Non-profit