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"Save Darfur": Evangelicals + Establishment Jews

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    Save Darfur : Evangelicals and Establishment Jews by Yoshie Furuhashi http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/furuhashi280406.html It s embarrassing that America --
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2006
      "Save Darfur": Evangelicals and Establishment Jews
      by Yoshie Furuhashi

      It's embarrassing that America -- and the world -- will be witnessing
      a PRO-WAR rally in Washington, D.C. on April 30 (a project of
      SaveDarfur.org) that is far more highly publicized than an anti-war
      one (that appears to be poorly organized) in New York City on April
      29, even while Washington is still soldiering on in Afghanistan and
      Iraq and gunning for sanctions or war on Iran.

      Really, the LAST THING we need in America is ONE MORE WAR to get
      involved in -- the least of all in an oil state like Sudan (amidst
      loud complaints of higher gas prices, no less).

      Who is behind this astonishing pro-war rally in war-weary America
      (war-weary as far as the Iraq War is concerned, that is)? A rag-tag
      coalition of evangelicals and establishment Jews (those whom the
      corporate media designate as official leaders of Jewish communities):

      Keeping the peace within the diverse Save Darfur Coalition has not
      been easy. Tensions have arisen, in particular, between evangelical
      Christians and immigrants from Darfur, whose population is almost
      entirely Muslim and deeply suspicious of missionary activity.
      Organizers rushed this week to invite two Darfurians to address the
      rally after Sudanese immigrants objected that the original list of
      speakers included eight Western Christians, seven Jews, four
      politicians and assorted celebrities -- but no Muslims and no one from
      Some Darfur activists also have complained about the involvement in
      the rally of a Kansas-based evangelical group, Sudan Sunrise.
      Last week, after an inquiry from The Washington Post, Sudan Sunrise
      changed its Web site to eliminate references to efforts to convert the
      people of Darfur. Previously, it said it was engaged in "one on one,
      lifestyle evangelism to Darfurian Muslims living in refugee camps in
      eastern Chad" and appealed for money to "bring the kingdom of God to
      an area of Sudan where the light of Jesus rarely shines."

      Although it is not formally part of the Save Darfur Coalition, Sudan
      Sunrise helped arrange buses and speakers, and it is co-hosting a
      dinner for 600 people on the rally's eve. (Alan Cooperman, "Groups
      Plan Rally on Mall To Protest Darfur Violence: Bush Administration Is
      Urged to Intervene in Sudan," Washington Post, 27 April 2006: A21)

      Wow, fascinating.

      For this effort, the coalition has recruited major celebrities like
      George Clooney and Elie Wiesel to speak to those assembled. Though
      recent reports have indicated that the turnout might be lower than
      expected, organizers, while refusing to give a concrete number,
      believe it will be in "the tens of thousands."

      Little known, however, 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.

      And even now, days before the rally, that coalition is heavily
      weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of
      local and national Jewish groups.

      A collection of local Jewish bodies, including the Jewish Community
      Center in Manhattan, United Jewish Communities, UJA-Federation of New
      York and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, sponsored the largest
      and most expensive ad for the rally, a full-page in The New York Times
      on April 15.

      Though there are other major religious organizations, like the United
      States Conference on Catholic Bishops and the National Association of
      Evangelicals, both of which have giant constituencies that number in
      the millions, these groups have not done the kind of extensive
      grassroots outreach that will produce numbers.

      Instead, the Jewish Community Relations Council, a national
      organization with local branches that coordinate communal activity all
      over America, has put on a massive effort to bus people to Washington
      on Sunday. Dozens of buses will be coming from Philadelphia and
      Cleveland. Yeshiva University alone, in upper Manhattan, has chartered
      eight buses.

      Besides the Jewish origins and character of the rally -- a fact the
      organizers consistently played down in conversations with The
      Jerusalem Post - the other striking aspect of the coalition is the
      noted absence of major African-American groups like the NAACP or the
      larger Africa lobby groups like Africa Action. When asked to comment,
      representatives of both groups insisted they were publicizing the
      rally but had not become part of the coalition or signed the Unity
      Statement declaring Save Darfur's objectives.

      The coalition's roots go back to the spring of 2004 following a
      genocide alert, the first ever of its kind, issued by the United
      States Holocaust Museum. An emergency meeting was coordinated by the
      American Jewish World Service, an organization that serves as a kind
      of Jewish Peace Corps as well as an advocacy group for a variety of
      humanitarian and human rights issues.
      At the meeting, which was attended by numerous American Jewish
      organizations and a few other religious groups, it was decided that a
      coalition would be formed based on a statement of shared principles.

      After a year of programming that involved raising awareness about the
      genocide, the coalition came up with the idea for a rally in
      Washington. Planning began in the fall of 2005.
      David Rubenstein, the director or "coordinator," as he prefers it, of
      the coalition says that, given that the groups who started the
      coalition were Jewish, "it's not surprising that they had the numbers
      of more Jewish organizations in their rolodexes."
      He says that the Jewish community has been "extraordinarily responsive
      and are really providing the building for this thing," and yet he
      insists that the coalition has worked "very, very hard to be
      inclusive, to make sure there are people beyond the usual suspects."
      This is a sentiment echoed by Ruth Messinger, president of American
      Jewish World Service and one-time Manhattan borough president and
      Democratic mayoral candidate for New York City. The world service and
      Messinger personally have been at the forefront of planning for the
      rally. Much of the Jewish turnout has been a result of her lobbying
      efforts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
      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. (Gal Beckerman, "US Jews
      Leading Darfur Rally Planning," Jerusalem Post, 27 April 2006)

      Should we laugh or should we cry?

      Some say America is addicted to oil, but America is even more addicted
      to war (or economic sanctions when war is not in the cards). "Leaders"
      of almost all groups in America -- Republicans or Democrats,
      Christians or Jews or Muslims (many of whom rooted for the war in
      Afghanistan in the Carter-Reagan era and the war on Yugoslavia in the
      Clinton era), whatever -- come up with their own pet wars to promote,
      sooner or later.

      Thus is the job of the power elite made easy. As Raffi Khatchadourian
      notes in an op-ed in the New York Times, Washington is about to up
      its already considerable military assistance to Idriss Déby, the
      current ruler of Chad, whose forces have been fighting "hundreds of
      rebels backed by Sudan" (the largess extended despite "torture, rapes,
      summary executions and mass killings" that his forces have commited):

      The CIA armed [Hissène] Habré for years, and since 2003, the U.S.
      military has been training and equipping Déby's army, making his fight
      to stay in office America's fight, too.
      Last year, Chad took part in a vast, international military exercise
      organized by the United States -- the largest exercise of its kind in
      Africa since World War II, according to the Defense Department. This
      summer, American forces will continue to advise Chadian soldiers, and
      Congress is expected to allocate $500 million for a five- year program
      to train and equip several Saharan armies -- including Déby's.
      ("Blowback in Africa," 28 April 2006)

      Militaristic identity politics in America, in which each group clamors
      for its share of Washington's war chest for its cause, supplies the
      power elite with an excuse: "Imperialism? Far from it. We are here,
      by popular demand."

      Yoshie Furuhashi is editor of MRZine.


      5 Truths About Darfur
      By Emily Wax - waxe @ washpost.com
      Sunday, April 23, 2006; B03
      The Washington Post


      Heard all you need to know about Darfur? Think again. Three years
      after a government-backed militia began fighting rebels and residents
      in this region of western Sudan, much of the conventional wisdom
      surrounding the conflict -- including the religious, ethnic and
      economic factors that drive it -- fails to match the realities on the
      ground. Tens of thousands have died and some 2.5 million have been
      displaced, with no end to the conflict in sight. Here are five truths
      to challenge the most common misconceptions about Darfur:

      1 Nearly everyone is Muslim

      Early in the conflict, I was traveling through the desert expanses of
      rebel-held Darfur when, amid decapitated huts and dead livestock, our
      SUV roared up to an abandoned green and white mosque, riddled with
      bullets, its windows shattered.

      In my travels, I've seen destroyed mosques all over Darfur. The few
      men left in the villages shared the same story: As government Antonov
      jets dropped bombs, Janjaweed militia members rode in on horseback and
      attacked the town's mosque -- usually the largest structure in town.
      The strange thing, they said, was that the attackers were Muslim, too.
      Darfur is home to some of Sudan's most devout Muslims, in a country
      where 65 percent of the population practices Islam, the official state

      A long-running but recently pacified war between Sudan's north and
      south did have religious undertones, with the Islamic Arab-dominated
      government fighting southern Christian and animist African rebels over
      political power, oil and, in part, religion.

      "But it's totally different in Darfur," said Mathina Mydin, a
      Malaysian nurse who worked in a clinic on the outskirts of Nyala, the
      capital of South Darfur. "As a Muslim myself, I wanted to bring the
      sides together under Islam. But I quickly realized this war had
      nothing to do with religion."

      2 Everyone is black

      Although the conflict has also been framed as a battle between Arabs
      and black Africans, everyone in Darfur appears dark-skinned, at least
      by the usual American standards. The true division in Darfur is
      between ethnic groups, split between herders and farmers. Each tribe
      gives itself the label of "African" or "Arab" based on what language
      its members speak and whether they work the soil or herd livestock.
      Also, if they attain a certain level of wealth, they call themselves Arab.

      Sudan melds African and Arab identities. As Arabs began to dominate
      the government in the past century and gave jobs to members of Arab
      tribes, being Arab became a political advantage; some tribes adopted
      that label regardless of their ethnic affiliation. More recently,
      rebels have described themselves as Africans fighting an Arab
      government. Ethnic slurs used by both sides in recent atrocities have
      riven communities that once lived together and intermarried.

      "Black Americans who come to Darfur always say, 'So where are the
      Arabs? Why do all these people look black?' " said Mahjoub Mohamed
      Saleh, editor of Sudan's independent Al-Ayam newspaper. "The bottom
      line is that tribes have intermarried forever in Darfur. Men even have
      one so-called Arab wife and one so-called African. Tribes started
      labeling themselves this way several decades ago for political
      reasons. Who knows what the real bloodlines are in Darfur?"

      3 It's all about politics

      Although analysts have emphasized the racial and ethnic aspects of the
      conflict in Darfur, a long-running political battle between Sudanese
      President Omar Hassan Bashir and radical Islamic cleric Hassan
      al-Turabi may be more relevant.

      A charismatic college professor and former speaker of parliament,
      Turabi has long been one of Bashir's main political rivals and an
      influential figure in Sudan. He has been fingered as an extremist;
      before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks Turabi often referred to Osama bin
      Laden as a hero. More recently, the United Nations and human rights
      experts have accused Turabi of backing one of Darfur's key rebel
      groups, the Justice and Equality Movement, in which some of his top
      former students are leaders.

      Because of his clashes with Bashir, Turabi is usually under house
      arrest and holds forth in his spacious Khartoum villa for small crowds
      of followers and journalists. But diplomats say he still mentors
      rebels seeking to overthrow the government.

      "Darfur is simply the battlefield for a power struggle over Khartoum,"
      said Ghazi Suleiman, a Sudanese human rights lawyer. "That's why the
      government hit back so hard. They saw Turabi's hand, and they want to
      stay in control of Sudan at any cost."

      4 This conflict is international

      China and Chad have played key roles in the Darfur conflict.

      In 1990, Chad's Idriss Deby came to power by launching a military
      blitzkrieg from Darfur and overthrowing President Hissan Habre. Deby
      hails from the elite Zaghawa tribe, which makes up one of the Darfur
      rebel groups trying to topple the government. So when the conflict
      broke out, Deby had to decide whether to support Sudan or his tribe.
      He eventually chose his tribe.

      Now the Sudanese rebels have bases in Chad; I interviewed them in
      towns full of Darfurians who tried to escape the fighting. Meanwhile,
      Khartoum is accused of supporting Chad's anti-Deby rebels, who have a
      military camp in West Darfur. (Sudan's government denies the
      allegations.) Last week, bands of Chadian rebels nearly took over the
      capital, N'Djamena. When captured, some of the rebels were carrying
      Sudanese identification.

      Meanwhile, Sudan is China's fourth-biggest supplier of imported oil,
      and that relationship carries benefits. China, which holds veto power
      in the U.N. Security Council, has said it will stand by Sudan against
      U.S. efforts to slap sanctions on the country and in the battle to
      force Sudan to replace the African Union peacekeepers with a larger
      U.N. presence. China has built highways and factories in Khartoum,
      even erecting the Friendship Conference Hall, the city's largest
      public meeting place.

      5 The "genocide" label made it worse

      Many of the world's governments have drawn the line at labeling Darfur
      as genocide. Some call the conflict a case of ethnic cleansing, and
      others have described it as a government going too far in trying to
      put down a rebellion.

      But in September 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
      referred to the conflict as a "genocide." Rather than spurring greater
      international action, that label only seems to have strengthened
      Sudan's rebels; they believe they don't need to negotiate with the
      government and think they will have U.S. support when they commit
      attacks. Peace talks have broken down seven times, partly because the
      rebel groups have walked out of negotiations. And Sudan's government
      has used the genocide label to market itself in the Middle East as
      another victim of America's anti-Arab and anti-Islamic policies.

      Perhaps most counterproductive, the United States has failed to follow
      up with meaningful action. "The word 'genocide' was not an action
      word; it was a responsibility word," Charles R. Snyder, the State
      Department's senior representative on Sudan, told me in late 2004.
      "There was an ethical and moral obligation, and saying it underscored
      how seriously we took this." The Bush administration's recent idea of
      sending several hundred NATO advisers to support African Union
      peacekeepers falls short of what many advocates had hoped for.

      "We called it a genocide and then we wine and dine the architects of
      the conflict by working with them on counterterrorism and on peace in
      the south," said Ted Dagne, an Africa expert for the Congressional
      Research Service. "I wish I knew a way to improve the situation there.
      But it's only getting worse."

      Emily Wax is The Washington Post's East Africa bureau chief.



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