We at the New Israel Fund continue to focus on issues of civil rights, social justice and religious pluralism in Israel—challenges that remain as pressing as ever. But this year, as we celebrate Passover, z’man cheiruteinu—the season of our liberation—we add our voices to those demanding an end to the genocide in Darfur.
We read in the Passover Haggadah about Pharaoh’s “oppression” of the Israelites. Today we would surely call it genocide:
And [God] saw our oppression that is, the conjugal separation of husband and wife, as it is written: God saw the children of Israel and God knew (Ex. 2:25).
Our misery refers to the drowning of the sons, as it is written: Every son that is born you shall cast into the river, but you shall let every daughter live (Ex. 1:22). First, Pharaoh drowns all newborn sons. Then he tries to eliminate the Israelites through forced labor and a program of zero population growth—“the separation of husband from wife.” The Haggadah recounts one of the earliest attempts at genocide. Tonight we must consider how we can help prevent the most recent case: Darfur.
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