April 12, 2013—
Ruth Messinger, President of American Jewish World Service, and Rabbi Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, sent the following letter to President Obama calling on the US government to renew our commitment to Sudan. Ms. Messinger, Rabbi Gutow, and Martin Raffel, JCPA Senior Vice President, are available for comment.
The letter can also be viewed online here.
Benjamin Suarato, Communications Manager and Press Secretary
firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-212-6031; 518-810-7225(c)
Joshua Ontell, Communications Associate
April 12, 2013
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Ten years ago, the Jewish community was spurred to action by reports of violence and massive human rights abuses in Darfur, which was later labeled as the first genocide of the 21st century. We joined together with other communities of faith, human rights activists and civic leaders from across the political spectrum to forge a movement called Save Darfur. Over time, we developed a wider understanding regarding the fundamental issues at play, not just in Darfur but in all of Sudan. Together with so many others, we continue to be as committed as ever to seeing a peaceful outcome in Sudan so that the people of that war-torn nation can pursue their dreams and enjoy the fundamental rights we hold so dear as Americans.
Recently, Jews across the United States sat down with their loved ones during Passover to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Remarkably, that story of our freedom from enslavement took place more than three thousand years ago in the same part of the world in which Sudan is located today. Moreover, the Exodus has been the foundation for the call for freedom for so many enslaved people throughout history. We know that at your White House Seder you also retold that story, which holds great power for you, your family, and members of your staff. Like you, we understand that this story has even deeper meaning if we bring it full force into the world of today. How much clearer a call can we have? We must help the people of Sudan and we must help them now.
As all of us renew our commitment to continue our work until a comprehensive peace can be achieved, we believe the United States Government must also renew its commitment and reorient its strategy to reflect new realities. In particular, we call on the administration:
- To provide high-level leadership at this critical juncture in Sudan’s history, including through appointment of a new U.S. Special Envoy with the experience, political stature and resources to tackle effectively the myriad of challenges facing Sudan today. With an uncertain future to the existing engagement of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel and continuing divisions within the United Nations Security Council, it is essential that this issue receives the high level political support necessary to carry out the complicated diplomatic tasks associated with Sudan.
- To support democratic transformation for all of Sudan, including financial and technical support for civil society organizations such as women’s groups, opposition organizations and political parties.
- To avoid the geographically focused peace initiatives of the past and concentrate on the core problems of political and economic marginalization and state violence against the Sudanese people that lie at the heart of Sudan’s problems.
- To work and to exert our political will with other countries to ensure the implementation of the numerous agreements that have been signed but never fully implemented.
- To continue to press for full humanitarian access for all people in need throughout Sudan and to ensure those efforts are adequately resourced.
The Jewish community will remain committed to achieving a peaceful Sudan, and we urge you to remain personally involved as well. In being inspired by the meaning of Passover, there is no clearer place to act today than by helping the people of Sudan achieve freedom and liberty. We look forward to continuing to work together with you to ensure a better life for the millions of Sudanese who have persevered and dreamed of a new era in which human rights are respected and the government works to protect and improve the lives of its citizenry.
Ruth Messinger, Rabbi Steve Gutow
CCs: Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, Stephen Pomper, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, National Security Staff
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David L. Marcus