My cousin, Adam Zuckerman, is featured in Sunday’s New York Times for his activist work on Darfur. Portland, Maine, where he and his parents live, has a substantial (80-100 people) population of Darfuri refugees. Inspired in part by speeches at his Reform congregation, Adam’s raised over $6000 to support the Save Darfur coalition, and organized a bus charter to bring Darfuris and Portland-based supporters to Sunday’s rally in DC. Not bad work for a high school senior…
As the NYTimes article points out, a project that brings together Jewish youth with Muslim refugees is bound to raise some interesting intercultural issues:
The Sudanese grew up immersed in the Arab news media, which meant that they barely saw Jews as people, said Izzeldin Abdullah Adam, 39, a Darfuri who lives in Portland. Now, Darfuris here say they believe Jews and other Americans care more than many Muslim states about what is happening in Darfur.
“We’re brothers in humanity; they know genocide,” Mr. Ahmed said.
Nagmeldin Arbab, a 20-year-old refugee, added, “The Jews understand Arabs more than others.”
Nice work, Adam. And thanks to everyone who participated in the rallies in DC and elsewhere yesterday.
Unfortunately, the political news on Darfur continues to be uniformly bad. The US – now through Robert Zoellick – is pushing for a more substantial, better armed force that could augment or replace the outmanned, outgunned AU force.
So far, Khartoum has resisted this suggestion, arguing that such a presence is a violation of national soverignity and provides support for the rebel forces. In the meantime, the government strategy of depopulating Darfur appears to have worked. Most Darfuris are living in refugee camps, surrounded by militants, unable to leave even to collect firewood without facing the danger of rape or assault. Without a much larger force than the AU troops, it’s hard to imagine that situation reversing any time soon.