What About Congo? What About Darfur?
Joel Simonds is Assistant Rabbi at University Synagogue in Los Angeles, CA. Ordained from the Hebrew Union College in 2009, he is passionate about Spirituality and Social Justice and serves on the National Board of ARZA.
I am a human being. I have eyes that have seen images of the victims and read about the atrocities. I have ears with which I have heard stories of the horrors. I have hands that have touched the shoulders of men who have been displaced from their murdered children and raped wives. From my head to my feet, I am disgusted with the crimes against humanity that have been raging for years in Darfur and Congo.
This past Shabbat, as I watched the news of our bombing in Libya, I was shocked. As our country joins other nations to intervene with military force in the struggle in Libya, I am pained by a nagging question. Why did we act so fast here, while, with millions murdered and attacked in Darfur and Congo, we done so little.
Our Torah teaches us not to stand idly by. We are taught not to profit by the blood of our neighbors. Are these teachings in vain? How many more biblical quotes can we recite before we are moved to action? How many more UN reports must be published before we are awakened to our responsibility to intervene? How many more news articles, High Holy Day sermons and “Walks To End Genocide” before we recognize that awareness is not enough unless it is accompanied by action? How many more?
In Congo, the perpetrators of crimes against humanity are profiting from the mineral mines that they control. The minerals such as Colton, that can be found in many of the electronics we use every day are often purchased from the “Conflict Mineral Mines.” We must refuse to support the rebel groups who control these mines, and force kidnapped women and children to work under intolerable conditions. The first step is to demand that our electronics are “Conflict Free” by requiring the companies that manufacture our phones, computers and televisions receive their minerals from “Conflict Free Zones.”
We must speak out loud for those who are suffering and those who have been silenced. Although our gunships and war planes may be occupied elsewhere, our voices and our buying power can still be used to help those who have long suffered under the brutal attacks of rebel forces. We will begin to organize our Synagogue around this issue, but in the meantime please go to the following links for more information and check out our UNITY message regarding Congo: