Darfur Rally Draws On Lessons of the Holocaust

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April 30, 2006There were many interesting and memorable images at the Save Darfur Rally in DC on April 30. Local residents of the Fur tribe mingled with the crowd, thousands of young children carried signs of protest and Elie Wiesel, Al Sharpton and George Clooney all spoke at the same podium. For me, what stood out most were the widespread references to the Holocaust.

When survivors Elie Wiesel and Nesse Godin finished their remarks early in the program, a young lady walked to the microphone and addressed the crowd of more than 75,000. She identified herself as a grandchild of Holocaust survivors and mentioned that this nation was silent when the Holocaust was taking place. "Today, we have no excuse," she said, followed by thunderous applause. Echoing her sentiments, a nearby sign stated "Last time we couldn't stand up. This time we will." This sign stood out, as it was immersed in a sea of signs reading "Never Again."

All of the Holocaust imagery was an unfamiliar sight in such a public setting. While the Holocaust was primarily a Jewish experience, the lessons of the Holocaust are universal and should be applied that way. At the rally, the Holocaust's lesson of silence was rightfully held up as an example of how humanity, through its silence and passivity, failed those in need before and since. Tens of thousands at the rally loudly declared that humanity would not be silent again. This brought to mind the words of Albert Einstein, himself a refugee from Nazi tyranny, who said, "the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."

On April 30th, the memory of the Holocaust could not have been honored more appropriately. When the Holocaust is spoken of, people listen. For many, hearing from Holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors about Darfur might have heightened their awareness of the crisis and if anything, added to their urgency in helping to stop it. There seemed to be no better venue than our nation's first anti-genocide rally that we helped to shape one aspect of our unique legacy.