University students rally to end the killing in Darfur.
The movement to end Darfur's genocide was rooted in a spirit of collaboration and participants grew to respect and value one another. The movement to end the Iraq war has been mired in a civil war of its own - or more precisely, an uncivil war.
Both are noble causes. Yet one has gained momentum and the other simply muddles along.
The likely difference: The Darfur movement embraced inclusion and anti-Iraq war leaders in so many words declared: "Jews need not apply." True, turnout for the April 30 Darfur rally in Washington, D.C., was wanting, but participants can take pride in the quality of passion that has marked their initiative. Despite the horrors they protested, there has been a feel-good sense about their venture.
Darfur refugees and others with a personal interest have gladly accepted the outsized Jewish role, while anti-Iraq war organizers have done all but call Jews "Christ-killers" to drive us out of the movement. As a Jew long in opposition to the Iraq war, I do not view that to be an exaggeration.
Noticing the multicultural crowd from his spot backstage on April 30, former Sudanese diplomat Lawrence B. Mogga told a Washington Post reporter, "I have never seen this type of organizational arrangement. I think this is the first of its kind."
Among other Post tidbits from the rally, Darfuri immigrant Younis Tagella, 40, recalled being taught in Sudan to recognize Jews as Islam's enemies, yet from New York City that morning he rode a bus financed by a Jewish organization. "This is not about religion. This is about saving humanity," he said. "The whole world is behind us. We are so grateful."
When Gary and Mira Foote, a Jewish couple from Westminster, Md., were approached by an African American woman who spotted a "Never Again" sign their children carried, the woman asked, "Can I borrow that?"
On the same grounds just four years ago, demonstrators voiced opposition to our entry into Afghanistan shortly after the Israeli military raided the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Speakers associated their pet causes to that of the Palestinians and declared, one after the other: "Today I am a Palestinian!!!"
Israel was accused of massacring innocent civilians, but once the smoke cleared nothing like that was evident. The Israelis discovered a military stronghold in the midst of the refugee camp, an illegal act that was obviously tolerated by the United Nations agency which operates the camp.
Key anti-war groups persisted in scheduling speakers at rallies who bashed Israel with vague generalizations and ignored Palestinian offenses. There has long been room for legitimate criticism of Israel, but with friends like these the Palestinians need no enemies.
I lost interest in anti-Iraq war activities during the run-up to the Iraq invasion because of the Israel-bashing, and many other Jews avoided the movement for the same reason.
Cindy Sheehan, whose son died in Iraq, persisted with the Israel-bashing tradition when she called for "Israel out of Palestine" during a speech in Dallas last Aug. 5. She later claimed that she does not blame Israel or American Jews for her son's death.
The anti-war movement can only take limited credit for the overwhelming apprehension of our presence in Iraq. The public mood swelled as the scandals multiplied, and in fact Americans associated such domestic fiascos as the New Orleans flood with the Bush administration's foreign disasters.
Besides, what kind of anti-war movement is it that produces the very kinds of divisions that lead to war? Too bad the organizers did not bother to promote the kind of humanity in the Darfur movement that inspires a caring, worthy society. Isn't that what it is all about?
-- Bruce Ticker is
the editor of Crisis:
Israel. A Voice for Diverse Commentary.