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Saperstein: Make no mistake - our legacies will be measured not by our sentiments or even our efforts - but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide, by whether we save the children or they perish on our watch.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 27, 2009 - Today Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, was arrested on the steps of the Sudanese embassy in Washington DC along with Representatives John Lewis (D-GA), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Jim McGovern (D-MA), as well as Jerry Fowler, Executive Director of Save Darfur and John Prendergast, Co-founder of the Enough Project.
The act of civil disobedience was in protest of the ongoing suffering in Darfur, exacerbated by Sudanese President Bashir's recent expulsion of more than a dozen aid agencies from the region. (Save Darfur's press release can be found below, and a March 2009 statement from Rabbi Saperstein regarding the expulsion of aid agencies can be found online here .)
Excerpts from Rabbi Saperstein's remarks follow:
Dr. King described the most tragic political sin good people can make - that we will be "too late." As he said, "We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now." Later, there will be time for regret for past failures; now is the time for action. For make no mistake - our legacies will be measured not by our sentiments or even our efforts - but by whether in the end we stop or fail to stop this genocide, by whether we save the children or they perish on our watch.
A few years ago when I visited the camps, courageous mothers and grandmothers and dedicated relief staff were making unbelievable strides in saving the children. But no longer. This past year, the situation has deteriorated with increasing rapidity.
I have a nightmare that years from now, there will be a Museum of the Darfurian Genocide that will be part of the genocide trail. And tourists will go from Cambodia to Rwanda, from Auschwitz and Treblinka to Darfur, to learn of the pillage, rape, murder and starvation. And they will gasp and they will sob, and many among them will doubtless wonder: Where were our parents? Where were our President and Congress? Did they not know? Did they not care? We cannot let that happen.