February 26, 2001
In the Talmud, it is written that all people are descendants from a single person so that no person can say, “My ancestor is greater than yours” (Sanhedrin 37a). “God created us all from the four corners of the earth – yellow clay, and white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, the earth can declare to no race or color of humankind that it does not belong here, that this soil is not their rightful home” (Yalkut Shimoni 1:1). As Jews, we worship a universal God, a God concerned with the suffering of all people and with injustice everywhere.
As Jews, living in the shadow of the near annihilation of our people, we know too well the danger, the horror, of global indifference. Too often, people turn their backs on those in danger or in need. Today, this is the case in many parts of Africa. We should not permit “never again” to be a mere slogan. Rather it must represent a firm, moral commitment on our part not to stand by in the face of unspeakable hatred and violence, or unmitigated poverty. We must get involved. The world is appalled by the recent events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi~ Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sudan. The nations of the world, especially our own, have a responsibility to fight oppression and poverty throughout the world.
We are living in a time when one-quarter of the world’s population lives in poverty, 1.2 billion have no reliable access to safe drinking water, and 2 billion live without electricity. According to a USAID report, 31,000 children die every day in the developing world from low birth weight and other pregnancy-related complications, and 63% of all people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa. In recognition of those who are in dire need of basic resources – food, clean water, medicine and adequate health care – world leaders must take responsibility to assist those Africans in need to achieve the benefits of prosperity, peace and security that people in developed countries enjoy.
In light of the above, the JCPA and its member agencies:
- Emphasize the need for greater attention to the African continent;
- Encourage and advocate for humanitarian assistance to and humanitarian intervention in African countries during times of crisis;
- Call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the United States all world leaders, and members of the 107th Congress, to condemn acts of violence against innocent populations, such as those perpetrated against the people of Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Sudan, as well as the horror of slavery, still practiced in such countries as Sudan and Mauritania;
- Reaffirm our commitment to basic international human rights, including, but-not limited to- political organization, free assembly, free speech, health care, family planning and reproductive freedom, education, a healthy environment, women’s rights and core labor rights, and the elimination of hunger, poverty and discrimination;
- Advocate for a variety of increased economic development initiatives for Africa, including trade priorities, debt relief where appropriate, micro enterprises, training and business programs (including those for women), which serve as catalysts for sustained growth and equitable development while protecting the environment;
- Advocate expansion of government funds for African development, including the U.S. Development Fund for Africa and the U.S. Agency for International Development, to meet the pressing needs of civil society, such as measures to prevent the spread of HIV and sleeping sickness disease, develop treatments for AIDS, and eliminate hunger; and
- Reaffirm our dedication to combat global poverty and hunger by recognizing the priority of policies that focus on poor countries.
- Commends the State of Israel for its support of economic and social development and humanitarian and medical assistance in Africa, and urges recognition of Israel’s positive role by governments and the media.