Archive for ‘Sudan (North Sudan)’

July 12, 2011

South Sudan and Palestine: One is Different from the Other

by Gedalyah Reback

Benjamin Netanyahu was wise to immediately recognize the new Republic of South Sudan over the weekend. Some analysts saw it is as a convenient way to show Israel off as a consistent, ethical country. Recognizing a state which won its independence through negotiations is apparently the right message to send as it argues against Palestinian unilateralism. But the moment might present more implications for Israeli foreign policy which might have been unthinkable in 2010. An editorial by G Pascal Zachary recently published by The Atlantic challenged readers to rethink Africa and to rethink independence. He suggested that there is nothing rational about preserving Africa’s borders – they are artificial he reminds us, being inventions of European empires less than 200 years ago. They represent European divisions, not African ones, and forcing countries and their very diverse or combative tribes to stick together may be wishful thinking and mortally fallible.

The creation of South Sudan builds a case for more countries to be created. Somaliland, Puntland and Darfur are offered as African examples of appropriate candidates for independence by Zachary. The implications come in that Israel too should come to embrace this philosophy. This initially would seem counter-intuitive – pushing for the independence of new countries might justify the independence of Palestine at a time not of Israel’s choosing nor at its convenience. But this is not a self-defeating proposition. New countries offer new partners for Israel, whether they are partners in peace or partners in war.

It is in Israel’s immediate interest to facilitate the rapid build of South Sudan. The country needs roads, new oil pipelines and cheap means of transportation for 8 million people. It also sits in the heart of Africa and adjacent to traditional enemy, the Republic of Sudan, who has been caught twice in the past two years facilitating weapons supplies on their way to the Gaza Strip. So too, the deployment of ambassadors, CEOs and perhaps even generals is warranted to other would be republics in the now defunct Somalia, the “crumbling empire” of Sudan as Zachary so calls it, and all around the southern Sahara. Yigal Palmor said it himself in 2010, Israel might align with and recognize Somaliland as part of its fight against Islamic militants in the Horn of Africa

The Balkans and the Caucasus have seen the birth of Kosovo, Abkhazia and South Ossetia over the past three years. These examples will quickly be project into the Middle East. Libya faced the prospect of a long-term division just this year, and speculators foresee Syria too could split between ethnic rivals as well.

As Israel expands the reach of its ambassadors, it should opt for the less conventional path as well, embracing the breakaway states of the new world. These states face the same challenges tiny Israel fought in its struggle for recognition. Few states enjoy global support and some only enjoy the recognition of a single patron. Abkhazia and South Ossetia depend on Russia; North Cyprus on Turkey. They are likely to embrace back seeking support wherever they can find it. This could be the making of a modern incarnation of the Doctrine of the Periphery. It is well worth consideration.

October 26, 2010

Where is the Jewish community on South Sudan?

by Gedalyah Reback

We have witnessed an unsettling rebirth for Holocaust denial the last several years. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s pronouncements have had a shuttering effect in the global Jewish community, conjuring up the fears of our most devastating moment in history and being denied the right to mourn it. His, among others’, mindgames with the global Jewish community and Israelis especially has woken us up to the undying need to educate the world about the most systematic genocide in human history, as to better ensure that such a thing never happens again.

But if that is the goal, why are we so silent about what is boiling in southern Sudan?

After seven years of advocacy for Darfur, the Jewish community seems to have either forgotten or grown complacent with the ebb and flow of genocide in modern human history. And for this, we risk our moral standing as a people with a determined principle, not to mention our credibility. As the world we live in reflects its current displeasure with Israeli policies on Jewish communities globally, the community risks prioritizing the education about genocide over its actual prevention. Compound this idea with the fact the bulk of the Jewish community’s Darfur advocacy took place AFTER the main crimes had been committed in Darfur and we encounter a disturbing question. Is the Jewish community serious about “Never Again?”

Our warnings about an Iranian bomb and association of Iranian regional designs with psychotic policies of Nazi Germany have been promoted ad nauseum and have consequently lost their impact. This has fed a growing cynicism about comparisons with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, leaving us with a diluted weapon that had at one point invoked the personification of evil – an analogy with the Third Reich. Henceforth, we have let the Holocaust become a political tool, whether we intended it to be or not. Warning Iran has genocidal designs is not something taken seriously, reduced to a petty piece of Israeli, right-wing rhetoric.

And so, perhaps our own exhaustion from these campaigns have set in. Or perhaps the community was never in touch with world affairs as it commonly perceives itself to be. The Sudanese government is the world’s repeat offender regarding massive slaughter, with 2 million casualties from a 20-year civil war in the south, plus 300,000 massacred in its Darfur region in and just after 2003. And as we head toward one of the biggest moments in recent geopolitical history – the splitting of the largest country in Africa and transfer of major oil resources from the control of one government to that of another – we are oblivious to the visceral opposition to South Sudan’s independence in the country’s north and from the current regime. That regime has perpetuated monumental crimes against of humanities in two wars already and has a sitting president wanted for those crimes by the International Criminal Court.

And where the hell are the Jews? The global Jewish community has the duty to advocate for a stronger initiative to intervene in the event of a northern Sudanese attack on the nascent state of South Sudan. No other people has made it the cornerstone of its activist culture since World War II. The history feeds a sense of tackling injustice in the Jewish collective psyche. The risks of another genocide are immense and troops on both sides of the wouldbe border are mobilizing. Stories of mass slaughter, kidnapping and rape could very well repeat themselves in the months to come.

That is, save intervention.

Push your leaders to prevent a genocide in Sudan, no matter what country you live in. The threat to use force to keep out a northern onslaught maybe the only effective measure that can prevent such a calamity. As a people we can push our leaders wherever we are to set the precedent for an effective anti-genocide policy that sanctions the use of force in the event diplomacy fails to be effective. The entire Western world and even Israel itself have the ability to either covertly or overtly thwart a campaign by the regime in Khartoum. This cannot become another failure to add to Rwanda and Darfur.

Scars of Rwanda

September 30, 2010

Sudan: From a Jewish Perspective, a Case for War

by Gedalyah Reback

From the Israeli perspective, there could not be any more frustrating a dilemma. Since the advent of the Darfur genocide in 2003, thousands of Darfurian refugees have made the grueling journey to Egypt, and a sizeable portion of them through the treacherous heat and dangers of the Sinai desert, to reach Israel’s borders.

They represent the difficulty of balancing caring for the victims of an enemy state like Sudan with the need to preserve the Jewish demographic considerations of the country. The worry is that an explicitly open-door policy will encourage untold amounts more of refugees to come to Israel with no way of perceiving an end to that influx.

Israelis’ sympathies – dare I say, empathies – no doubt lie with these victims of murder, torture, and rape. They have experienced their own Holocaust. Unfortunately for them, their Nazis remain in power unchallenged by determined superpowers like the United States and the Soviet Union.

However, their entrance into a visual Israeli consciousness provides an opening for the country rediscover its sense of existence. With our legitimacy challenged and our existence persistently wished away, the proper response in regards to these refugees is likely the proper response for ourselves – to challenge the regime in Sudan.

Body left to rot after village pillagings during the Darfur Genocide, circa 2004

As we speak, the Darfur crisis is giving way to a potentially more potent and bloody conflict between the regime in the capital Khartoum, and the nascent state of Southern Sudan centered in Juba. In 2005, Sudan saw a halt to a long-running and brutal civil war between the northern and southern regions of the country, pitting the north’s authoritarian, Arab regime against black Christians and African traditionalists in the south. That war brought 1.9 million deaths, the indisputable majority of them southerners, plus 4 MILLION refugees, DOUBLE the number of people who have fled Iraq since 2003.

The agreement signed in 2005 enables the provisional government of Sudan organize a referendum to vote on the question of independence. On January 9, 2011, that referendum is scheduled to happen. The regime in the north is more than poised to prevent the region’s independence. The loss of 80% of current Sudan’s oil to the long-embattled south seems cause enough for the regime in Khartoum to prevent secession.

The brutality of Sudan toward its inhabitants – in Darfur and the South – and the failure of foreign intervention represent a collosal dilemma for the entire world. Rwanda and Darfur are on the verge of repeating themselves, and no one seems posied to stop a genocidal Sudanese army and its accompanying, pillaging militias.

On the other hand, Sudan is in the proximity of, as evidenced by the convenience for the country’s refugees, the State of Israel. Israel and Sudan are officially at war, a reason more tremendous than demographics to fear a sudden influx of Sudanese refugees. In recent months, the Israeli government has alerted border security and airport-based agents around the world to screen for Sudanese spies – but not from the incomign refugees. Suspicions abound that they are not just a threat to the security of Israel’s citizens, but are specifically on a mission to inform on the activites of Darfurian refugees who have made the harrowing journey to the Jewish state and thus make reprisals against their families more targeted.

Sudanese President – Omar Bashir

The Sudanese state was caught red-handed moving a shipment of weapons to Hamas during Operation Cast Lead. The Israeli Air Force annihilated the convoy while it was still in Sudanese territory, killing dozens of its organizers.

Israel has demonstrated an unusually strong capability to attack Sudan despite the logistical challenges. It’s intelligence services have adequately identified threates emanating from that country in several forms, and can continue to penetrate deeper.

As you read this, Israel’s, and the Jewish people’s integrity are on the line. Will the words “Never Again” actually have a chance to reign true against a genocide in the offing? Or will Israel join a pathetic assembly of countries that have dismissed their fortitude to prevent genocide? Armenia. Rwanda. Darfur. EUROPE.

The Question of a Jewish State should be paramount here. What does it mean to maintain a Jewish state? If the country’s residence cease to practice Judaism, does it remain the state that we envision it to be? Now consider the possibility that the mantra and accompanying values it entails, “NEVER AGAIN,” is ignored by the very country which has sworn itself to prevent such a targeted destruction again (not by Babylon, not by Rome, not by Nazi Germany and not by Revolutionary Iran). Will human rights not be a priority for the Jewish people and its nation-state? Should we expect ourselves to be taken seriously if while we give credit where it is due to an Israeli government constantly fending off charges of human rights violations, we fail to advocate for the needs of other nations?

Sudan represents an intense threat to Israel, but the refugees are not the source of it. By stemming the flow of these refugees, we can help them and ourselves. We might very well be at the epicenter of the most pertinent issue facing modern humanity. And thank God we are in a position where we have the logistical and intellectual capabilities to do something about it. Israel can be the advocate Sudanese victims have long sought from the Western world.

The Jewish people have long sought to prevent genocide and speak out against it. It is by all accounts a unifying point for the Jewish communities of the world. The rage created by the Holocaust has gotten Jews in the most unlikely circumstances to become outspoken, The one Jewish member of the Iranian parliament publicly took Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to task for his incendiary statements about the Shoah. Jews feel little fear in demanding respect for the victims and their descendants, despite fears it might provoke latent resentment.

That attitude is somewhat expected of the representative Jewish polity on earth – the State of Israel. In an age where Iran’s leadership downplays the significance and even very existence of the Holocaust, and Turkey’s Prime Minister denies that genocide is even possible at the hands of the Sudanese government, Israel must stand a challenger to a rising tide of cynicism toward human suffering. No policy of Israel’s has ever approached the atrocities committed by the Ottomans against the Armenians, Nazis against the Jews nor Sudan against Darfur. Before we learn to regret it, Israel as a mouthpiece for the Jews of the world should not be afraid of the cynical ridicule of Arab states when it gets up and challenges the policies of the Sudanese state in open forum, and perhaps with covert force.

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