Commitment to Africa

65th General Assembly
December 1999
Orlando, Florida

In the Talmud, it is written that all people are descendants from a single person so that no person can say, "My ancestor is greater than yours" (Sanhedrin 37a). "God created us all from the four corners of the earth — yellow clay, and white sand, black loam, and red soil. Therefore, the earth can declare to no race or color of humankind that it does not belong here, that this soil is not their rightful home" (Yalkut Shimoni 1:1). As Jews, we worship a universal God, a God concerned with the suffering of all people and with injustice everywhere.

As Jews, living in the shadow of the near annihilation of our people, we know too well the danger, the horror, of global indifference. Too often, people turn their backs on those in danger or in need. Today, this is the case in many parts of Africa. In order to ensure that "never again" is not just a slogan, but rather a firm, moral commitment on our part not to stand by in the face of unspeakable hatred and violence, or unmitigated poverty, we must get involved. The world is appalled by the recent events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sudan. The nations of the world, especially our own, have a responsibility to fight oppression and poverty throughout the world.

The Reform Movement has long recognized the importance of cooperative and integrated economic relations among nations to improve conditions in foreign countries undergoing crises. We are living in a time when one-quarter of the world's population lives in poverty, 1.2 billion have no reliable access to safe drinking water, and 2 billion live without electricity. According to a USAID report, 31,000 children die every day in the developing world from low birthweight and other pregnancy-related complications, and 63% of all people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa. In recognition of those who are in dire need of basic resources — food, clean water, medicine and adequate health care — world leaders must take responsibility to assist those Africans in need to achieve the benefits of prosperity, peace and security that people in developed countries enjoy.

THEREFORE, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:

  1. Emphasize the need for greater attention to the African continent;
  2. Encourage and advocate for humanitarian assistance to and appropriate intervention in African countries during times of crisis in;
  3. Call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Canada, and all world leaders to condemn acts of violence against innocent populations, such as those perpetrated against the people of Rwanda, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Sudan;
  4. Reaffirm our commitment to basic international human rights, including, but-not limited to- political organization, free assembly, free speech, health care, family planning and reproductive freedom, education, a healthy environment, women's rights and labor rights, and the elimination of hunger and poverty;
  5. Advocate for a variety of increased economic development initiatives for African countries, including trade priorities, debt relief where appropriate, microenterprises, training and business programs (including those for women), which serve as catalysts for sustained growth and equitable development while protecting the environment;
  6. Advocate expansion of government funds for African development, including the U.S. Development Fund for Africa, to meet the pressing needs of civil society, such as measures to prevent the dissemination of HIV, develop treatments for AIDS, and eliminate hunger; and
  7. Reaffirm our dedication to combat global poverty by recognizing the priority of policies that focus on poor countries.