WASHINGTON (JTA) – Nearly 500 rabbis urged President Obama to name a new special envoy to Sudan, saying the work there is not yet complete.
The rabbis’ 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 U.S. rabbis from several movements.
It 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 to help in the 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 limited initially to Darfur following reports at the beginning of the last decade about genocide there, 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 said, adding that 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 joined with other faith communities to form the Save Darfur organization.