Clergy sign petition urging Obama to arrest Sudan’s president

Clergy sign petition urging Obama to arrest Sudan’s president

On the anniversary of the opening of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals, 220 Christian and Jewish members of the clergy have sent a petition to President Obama urging the United States to arrest the president of Sudan for his war crimes in Darfur.

Among the signers were Rabbi Randall Mark, president of the North Jersey Board of Rabbis and religious leader of Cong. Shomrei Torah in Wayne; Rabbi David-Seth Kirschner, Temple Emanu-El, Closter; and Rabbi Ronald Roth, Fair Lawn Jewish Center/Cong. B’nai Israel.

The petition, sent last Friday, the 64th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, was organized by the Washington, D.C.-based David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, and Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati.

“More than eight months ago,” according to the petition, “Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for ‘war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity,’ involving ‘intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing, and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians, and pillaging their property.’

“President Bashir has recently visited numerous Arab and African countries, including major recipients of U.S. aid such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, yet no action has been taken to arrest him.

“As members of the clergy,” the petition continued, we believe the United States and the entire Free World have a moral responsibility to capture and prosecute President Bashir. This step would help end the Darfur genocide and deter future would-be perpetrators of genocide.

“Mr. President, the Nuremberg Trials showed us the way. Let us heed that example and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the Butcher of Darfur faces his own Nuremberg tribunal.”

Other signers from this state included Rabbi Charles A. Kroloff, rabbi emeritus, Temple Emanu-El in Westfield, vice president for special projects at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Dr. (Sister) Carol Rittner, RSM, Distinguished Professor of Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; and Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz of Cong. M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill.

According to a statement from the Wyman Institute, “The petition represents an unprecedented collaboration between prominent figures from different faiths: Episcopal bishops; the head of the Unitarian church; prominent Baptist, Catholic, and Armenian church leaders; as well as leaders of the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Orthodox wings of Judaism (one of whom is the former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Museum).”

Also, the statement continued, the petition “represents the first major public dissent from the Obama administration’s new policy of dialogue and engagement with Sudan, which was announced one month ago. At the time, some prominent Darfur activists cautiously praised the policy. This petition indicates a growing dissatisfaction with U.S. policy among those who are most interested in Darfur.”

The lead signatories on the petition are the Rev. James A. Diamond, dean of Christ Church Cathedral; Father John T. Pawlikowski of Catholic Theological Union; Rabbi Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, founding president of the Jewish Life Network and former chair of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council; and Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, founder of Jewish World Watch.

Among the other notable signatories are three past presidents of the CCAR, Rabbis Peter S. Knobel, Charles Kroloff, and Sheldon Zimmerman; Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbis Jeffrey Wohlberg, president, and Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president, of Conservative Judaism’s Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi Daniel S. Nevins, dean of the rabbinical school of Conservative Judaism’s Jewish Theological Seminary, and Rabbi Dr. David Golinkin, president of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies.

Prominent leaders of Orthodox Judaism, including Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Kehilath Jeshurun in New York City, and Rabbi Michael Schudrich, chief rabbi of Poland, signed the petition.

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