Friday, July 09, 2004

The folks at Sudan: The Passion of the Present argue why Labels do matter: Call Darfur a "genocide".

They say: "Both Kofi Annan and Colin Powell—as well as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International—are ducking the use of the term 'genocide.' They prefer not to venture into uncharted waters of international law and intervention. They prefer the status quo of slow diplomacy and UN Security Council resolutions—and perhaps eventual UN peacekeeping forces. Unfortunately, the past shows clearly what happens under the status quo: nothing."

They quote from an excellent editorial article at The Scotsman, How many deaths to make it 'genocide'?

You get the drift. But the one word not being used is 'genocide', despite the confident assertion by Andrew Natsios, director of the US Agency for International Development, that a minimum of 300,000 black African Darfurians, at best, and more than a million at worst, will die as a result of the attacks on them by Sudan’s Arab, Islamic fundamentalist government, its armed forces and Janjaweed militias.

And why is the word "genocide" not being used? Because it would require us to DO SOMETHING to stop genocide. And that something would probably involve the use of force, to stop the Sudanese government from sending troops and Janjaweed militia to drive people from their homes, kill the men, rape the women, and send them to die in the desert.

The lesson is that words do matter - very much. But the international community does not want to take ultimate action over Darfur, so the top men studiously avoid the word genocide. Do you remember Tony Blair’s hubristic speech to the Labour Party conference three years ago in which he trumpeted: "I tell you, if Rwanda happened again, we would have a moral duty to act." Well it’s happening again. Mr Blair will not bring himself to say "genocide" and, while the people of Darfur die, his 2001 speech will go down in history for hypocrisy and platitude dressed up as morality on a grand scale.

The question I'm starting to ask myself is: why is this issue not being raised by Jewish organizations? Why is Elie Wiesel not speaking up in every available forum? Why are Jewish newspapers not raising this as their main editorial every week? Why are synagogues not organizing information sessions and fundraisers for the humanitarian organizations? If any of this is going on, please let me know. I'm not aware of anything.


  1. I've seen Elie Wiesel speak passionately on Darfur on several news programs, calling with full voice for intervention, calling it genocide, and decrying the insufficient response.

    Um, maybe you don't flip around each evening to be sure to catch all the network news and PBS as well? (No criticism intended; pray forgive; you asked.)

    Meanwhile I applaud your attention to Darfur, of course.

  2. Gary,
    Thanks for letting me know ... I guess I haven't been catching enough of the TV news shows. I did note in the posting just above this one that Wiesel has been working on the issue of the Sudan for several years.