A Tel Aviv woman has started the first movement in Israel to raise awareness about what is being termed the genocide of the people of Darfur in Sudan. Debbie Kaye, who moved to Israel from Australia nine
years ago, told The Jerusalem Post that after hearing about the conflict she searched for an outlet here that would allow her to get involved in preventing what human rights groups are calling the slaughter of civilians in the region located in western Sudan.
"I know that I personally cannot stop the conflict in Darfur but I wanted to feel like I was doing something," said the 31-year-old, who stressed that in the US, Jewish groups are very active in raising awareness and funds to help victims of this conflict.
Kaye's contribution is the creation and launch of a Web site (www. Israelfordarfur.org) last month finally providing Israelis with access to information about the three-year-old war and urging people to petition the Israeli government to step in and prevent further killings. Kaye created and paid for the Web site from her own pocket and has been in touch with US groups to gain information and suggestions on how to be active.
According to aid organizations such as the Coalition for International Justice, the death toll in the conflict has already reached close to 400,000, a figure also cited by the United Nations. On its Web site, the US-based Save Darfur campaign says that besides those who have been killed, more than two million civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad. More than three-and-a-half million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival.
"It is probably the most shameful thing that is going on in the world," said Kaye, who estimates that more than a thousand people have already viewed the new Web site so far.
Among those who have shown an interest in working with Kaye's on this project is an organization called Talmidim Against Genocide (TAG), an assortment of American yeshiva and seminary students studying here
who want to "raise awareness and money to end the genocideâ€¦" and Professor Elihu D. Richter of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine, who serves on Genocide Watch and has contributed a wealth of information to Israelfordarfur.org.
Kaye said that while some people have shown support for her endeavor, many of the people she has approached have turned their back on the issue.
"I sent the Web site link to more than 250 people," she said. "Ninety-eight percent simply ignored me, 1% said "this is great" and 1% said they did not care about this conflict because it was Muslims killing Muslims or because it was taking place in Africa and not here.
"I know there are issues in Israel that need to be dealt with, but confronting genocide should be an absolute priority for the Jewish state to care about," she added.
Another aspect of Kaye's campaign is to urge the Israeli government to absorb the 200 Sudanese refugees now living in Israel. Many of them are from Darfur and some are being held in Israeli jails. Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim told The Jerusalem Post in June that the Israeli government was ready to allow the imprisoned Sudanese refugees to stay here.