It’s not often that a rabbi sends out press releases announcing his arrest, but then it’s not every day one gets arrested with George Clooney.
That’s what happened Friday morning outside the Sudanese Embassy in Washington when Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Clooney, his father, Nick Clooney, Martin Luther King III, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and others were arrested and led to a Secret Service van in handcuffs for protesting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s violent treatment of the people of Sudan and South Sudan.
Clooney, speaking for the group, told a large crowd gathered at the protest, “We need immediate humanitarian aid into Sudan before it becomes the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” He delivered that message yesterday on Capitol Hill in testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and in an Oval Office meeting with President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Clooney recently returned from a trip to Sudan
Rabbi Saperstein, a prominent Jewish community leader and national advocate for social justice, said in a statement following his arrest that 2.5 million have already died and another 6 million people displaced in the ethnic cleansing of Sudan’s 30 years of civil wars, adding
"Today, knowing every unresponsive day means more pain, more suffering, more death, more orphans – today this is our answer: We must not, we dare not, we will not stand idly by."
Demonstrators carried a sign saying: “Sudan: Stop Weapons of Mass Starvation.”
Sudanese President Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir has been accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court and an arrest warrant has been issued, but nothing is expected to happen unless he leaves the country. The Arab League, African Union and Non-Aligned movement, Russia and China are opposing the court's decision.
South Sudan became an independent state last July and soon established diplomatic relations with Israel. Thousands of refugees and migrant workers from South Sudan are in Israel but are unlikely to return until conditions improve.