WASHINGTON - Nearly 500 rabbis of all streams urged President Obama in a letter to name a new special envoy to Sudan, saying the work there is not yet complete.
The May 24 letter was initiated by Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service, and Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. It was signed by 492 rabbis from across the United States.
The letter calls for the appointment of a high-level special envoy “with the experience, political stature and resources to tackle effectively the myriad of challenges facing Sudan today,” increased humanitarian access for Sudanese people in need and a U.S. policy which will help in that country’s democratic transformation.
Princeton Lyman, the most recent envoy, stepped down in March. Envoys in recent years have helped broker the creation of the new nation of South Sudan, as well as the shaky peace in Darfur province.
In the letter, the rabbis say that while Jewish community advocacy was at first limited to Darfur when reports first emerged at the beginning of the last decade about genocide in that province, there was now an understanding that the crisis in Sudan encompassed the entire country.
“Over time, we developed a wider understanding regarding the fundamental issues at play, not just in Darfur but in all of Sudan,” the letter says. “Together with so many others, we continue to be as committed as ever to seeing a peaceful outcome in Sudan so that the people of that war-torn nation can pursue their dreams and enjoy the fundamental rights we hold so dear as Americans.”
The letter said the Jewish community would continue to press for peace in Sudan “and we urge you to remain personally involved as well.”
The Jewish community has been active in fighting violence and human rights abuses in Darfur and has joined with other religious to form the “Save Darfur” organization.