The Injustice of UN Justice
By Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank (the CyberRav)
There are a couple of issues that I would like to bring to your attention.
First of all, on Friday morning, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague will probably announce its decision that Israel's security fence is a breach of international law, demand that it be dismantled and damages paid to those Palestinians who have suffered by virtue of its construction. Our response to this travesty of justice should be swift and firm. Israel has every right, as a democratic nation, to erect such a barrier for security purposes. The security fence should not be used in a vindictive or retributive manner, and in accordance with Israel's own Supreme Court, the Jewish nation will alter the route of the barrier in order to underscore its security function. In fact, since its construction, the number of successful homicide bombings has dropped precipitously and the number of Israelis killed or wounded by such senseless violence has dropped dramatically. Obviously, 1000 dead Israelis did not sway the court to see the need for this humanitarian wall, nor did it seemingly consider the fact that in thwarting terrorist activity, Israel's unilateral disengagement and dismantling of settlements could proceed uninterrupted.
It is important to remember that in this case, the ICJ's decisions are advisory and not binding, and Israel will most likely ignore its recommendations. But the ICJ's decisions will further empower the anti-Israel camp to frame Israel as a rogue nation forever in defiance of international law. Jewish blood may be cheap in their eyes and the eyes of the ICJ, but it dare not be cheap in our own eyes. I am part of an effort sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations to prevail upon the various member nations of the UN to either abstain or vote against any sanctions that may be proposed against Israel. Our Israeli brothers and sisters deserve and will have our passionate support in whatever construction projects are necessary to maintain security and frustrate the designs of our enemies.
The supreme irony is that the ICJ's righteous condemnation of a barrier that has saved hundreds of lives is coupled with the United Nations tepid opposition to the unfolding tragedy in Africa's Republic of Sudan. Let's understand the facts as best as possible. Sudan is 55% Arab, 28% black, and 17% African immigrants. In the Northwest province of Darfur, Arab nomads and African farmers have been in conflict over water resources and arable land. The farmers have not perceived the Arab-dominated Sudanese government to be treating them fairly. Two African rebel groups attacked the government in February of 2003. The uprising, however unsuccessful, generated a violent response by the Sudanese government. More importantly, the government encouraged the Arab nomads to stage further attacks on the African farmers and their families. These Arab fighters are known as janjaweed (literally: a man on a horse with a gun) and have burnt down villages, slaughtered the men, and either enslaved or raped hundreds of women. The estimates of the murdered range between 10,000 to 30,000. More than one million people are thought to be refugees and liable to die within the next few months due to starvation or disease should the conflict continue and the area blocked from what must be a flood of humanitarian aid.
What can we do? First of all, we should write our representatives in Congress and let them know that this is a disaster that cannot be ignored. We should write Kofi Anan and let him know that this is a disaster which cannot be ignored. The United Nations must twist the arm of Sudan's leaders. It must freeze Sudan's assets in all foreign banks, ban all arms sales to the country, and restrict the international travel of its citizens. The grip of sanctions should grow tighter over time until Sudan can demonstrate that it has effectively disarmed the janjaweed and taken real steps to protect the non-Arab residents of its country.
Is Sudan a country worth Jewish concerns? Yes. We know our history and we know that those who are safe are forbidden to stand silent. That's why one day this past month, the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC suspended programming for 30 minutes, in order to focus attention on the mass murders in Sudan.
You may encourage your congregants to help the Sudanese refugees via the Internet at www.jcdr.org or by mail to:
Joint Distribution Committee
Jewish Coalition for Sudan Relief
Box 321, 847A Second Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10017
And write to:
His Excellency Kofi Anan
Secretary General of the United Nations
First Avenue and 46th Street
New York, NY 10017
At the end of the 40 year trek in the desert, when Moses and Eleazar the priest registered the Israelites on the steppes of Moab, all but two people had never known slavery in Egypt. Why? Because their ancestors had died. "For the Lord had said of them, "They shall die in the wilderness..." (Numbers 26:65). None of us know what the Lord has in store for these Sudanese refugees. But let's operate as if God has determined that these Sudanese people will live for His people care enough to bring this outrageous disaster to an end. Perhaps by acting passionately for God, we, like Pinhas, will earn God's brit Shalom.
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