Original Article Published On The Jewish Ledger
NEW HAVEN — Members of the New Haven community last week presented Rep. Rosa DeLauro with a petition asking the U.S. government to take action against the ongoing violence in Darfur, Sudan.
On Friday, Jan. 14, just days before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, members of the community, including representatives of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation leaders, including Federation President Dr. Alvin Greenberg and Federation Director Sydney Perry, and local ministers, gathered in the conference room of the New Haven Register to present the petition, which contained nearly 1,000 signatures.
Just last month, on Dec. 10 n “Human Rights Day” — the JCRC held another rally for Darfur at New Haven City Hall, co-sponsored by Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale.
At that time, statements of support by Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. DeLauro, Mayor John DeStefano, and Bishop Peter Rosazza were read to the gathering.
At the petition presentation last week, JCRC Chairman Dr. Milton Wallack presented DeLauro with the petition which in Wallack’s words expresses outrage at the “escalating human calamity of ethnic cleaning” in Darfur, Sudan.
The petition urges the government of Sudan to “take immediate and decisive action to disarm the militias and to allow relief workers to deliver humanitarian aid, without delay.”
Wallack noted the significance of the timing of the presentation of signatures and the focus on Darfur, which takes place on both Martin
Luther King’s weekend and on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps by the Allies in Europe. Rev. Eric Smith, president of Interfaith Cooperative Ministries, addressed the gathering and stressed the need for consistent U.S. and U.N. policy in the region. Smith pointed out that two U.N. regulations which have been passed have been subsequently ignored.
Sydney Perry recalled the words of Dr. King: “An injustice anywhere is an injustice against all of us!” “That’s why Jews are speaking out,” said Perry, who reminded the crowd that Jews worldwide are currently reading the biblical account of slavery in Egypt and will soon read of the Exodus from Egypt. “We always align ourselves with the victim, not the victimizer.”
DeLauro applauded the group and said she wished there was no need for a meeting like this one.
“Our humanity cannot survive unless we stand together against genocide,” DeLauro said. “I’m remembering what we didn’t do in Rwanda just ten years ago. Our humanity is at stake.”
DeLauro noted the outpouring of sympathy and support for victims of the natural disaster in South Asia and pointed out that “what’s happening in Darfur remains a serious man-made tragedy.”
“You have my wordI will get the petition to the Secretary of State, the Congress, the Sudanese ambassador and anyone we feel should receive it,” she said.
DeLauro praised the community for “exercising democracy at the highest level by going out to the people and getting them engaged. The government needs to take its lead from the people.”