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Prominent Rabbi brings Passover to Sudan's slaves

Press Release
April 6, 2011
Contact: Charles Jacobs - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 617 835 3584
Prominent Hillel Rabbi leads Seder in Sudan
Boston - Only moments after gaining their freedom, 150 slaves were eating matzah, hard-boiled eggs and sipping wine as part of the demonstration Seder in Aweil, Southern Sudan led by Rabbi Joseph Polak.
Their freedom was secured by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), an abolitionist group that over the past two decades helped South Sudanese to liberate nearly 100,000 of their countrymen. An estimated 35,000 continue serving their masters in Northern Sudan.
"At the time when Jews around the world prepare to celebrate our own liberation from slavery, tens of thousands of Sudanese are still being enslaved not that far from Egypt," said Rabbi Polak, director of the Hillel House at Boston University.  "That is why it is incumbent upon Jews to help free these modern-day slaves," he added.
Newly freed slaves are eating matzah
Chattel slavery, a centuries old phenomenon, persists in Sudan. During the second stage of Sudan's Civil war (1983-2005), a conflict between the African Christian/tribalist South and the Arab Muslim North, slavery was used to terrorize the Southern population. Various Northern regimes sent its soldiers and allied Arab militias to destroy Southern villages. As compensation, they were encouraged to take women and children as slaves, which some estimate numbered up to 200,000.
CSI's mission comes at a historic moment for Southern Sudan: last January nearly 99% of its people voted to create their own independent nation. The declaration is expected for July 9th, 2011.
A total of 354 slaves were freed over the course of few days.
Polak interviewed some of the newly freed slaves. "They showed me how their limbs had been maimed by their master's machetes. The women described how their genitals had been mutilated, and how these masters had taught their own children to be contemptuous of them because they (the mothers) were black and because they were concubines," he said.
The Rabbi shared with the slaves some of the Pesach practices and encouraged them to commemorate the day of their liberation.
"We were slaves thousands of years ago right up the Nile from here, in Egypt. God heard our cries and saw our tears and redeemed us. We were made slaves again sixty years ago in Europe. This time nobody saved us. Millions died. You are very special people because through Christian Solidarity International God is redeeming you today," he told the slaves.
The Seder was organized by Dr. Charles Jacobs, named by the Forward as one of America's top 50 Jewish leaders. Jacobs heads the American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG), Boston-based human rights non-profit that partners with the CSI.
"We are determined to eradicate the scourge of modern-day bondage in Sudan and doing everything we can to bring awareness to these people's incredible suffering," said Jacobs. "We hope that having this remarkable Seder will prompt Jews and non-Jews to act," he added.
The freed slaves joined Polak in singing "Dayenu," a traditional Pesach song that means "it would have been enough." The Rabbi altered the words to reflect the experience of these newly emancipated people. "Had you been freed, it would have been enough," he sang. "Had you been delivered across the border, it would have been enough. Had you been delivered into a newly freed nation, it would have been enough."
Singing Dayenu with freed Sudanese slaves
Dr. Jacobs encouraged everybody to join the AASG and the CSI in helping free the remaining slaves.
Videos of interviews with freed slaves are available upon request.

Press Release

April 6, 2011

Boston - Only moments after gaining their freedom, 150 slaves were eating matzah, hard-boiled eggs and sipping wine as part of the demonstration Seder in Aweil, Southern Sudan led by Rabbi Joseph Polak. 
Their freedom was secured by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), an abolitionist group that over the past two decades helped South Sudanese to liberate nearly 100,000 of their countrymen. An estimated 35,000 continue serving their masters in Northern Sudan.

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How black slaves helped set South Sudan free

This article was first published in The Jewish Advocate on July 21, 2011
By Charles Jacobs
On July 9, a new African nation – the Republic of South Sudan – was born and days later admitted to the United Nations as its 193rd member. This is an extraordinary development in the history of nation states, replete with marvels, contradictions and ironies: The partition of Africa’s largest country was the result of a halfcentury of armed struggle, yet it culminated peacefully via the ballot box. Courageous Muslim individuals contributed to freeing a Christian and traditionalist South from Islamic rulers. But most wondrous of all: It may well have been South Sudan’s black slaves who set their nation free.
Since the Islamic conquests a millennium ago, Arabs enslaved blacks in Sudan and throughout North Africa. The practice was largely suppressed by the British, but in the early ’90s, when Islamist rulers in the north declared a “holy war” to impose Sharia Law on the South, slavery dramatically surged. Arab militia, armed by Khartoum, stormed the mostly Dinka villages in the South, killed the men and enslaved the women and children. Rights groups reported that tens if not hundreds of thousands of slaves were captured to serve Arab masters in the north. Slave raids took place in the context of mass slaughter: In the ’90s, close to 2 million South Sudanese were killed in the conflict, according to US government agency reports. Reports in the Western media of what later would be called “genocide” were disappointingly sporadic. Christian groups in America dubbed the events in Sudan “the Hidden Holocaust,” but slavery and slaughter continued unabated.
During those years, South Sudanese intellectuals and activists who had fled to the United States tried to pressure American churches, human rights groups, lawmakers and the UN to stop the killings. They were ignored. A war in Sudan? It was one more African tragedy to an America with “compassion fatigue.”
In 1994, The New York Times broke the story of a modern day slave trade in North Africa – written by Mauritanian Muslim refugee Mohammed Athie and me. Athie and I met with leaders of the South Sudanese diaspora in New York and in Washington, D.C., and suggested they campaign against slavery in Sudan. Most agreed, but some were reluctant. Francis Deng, a prominent South Sudanese intellectual, worried that if the South brought up the slave raids, the Arabs would be shamed and then the two peoples could never be at peace. Some New York activists wondered why Americans, who did not bestir themselves over the slaughter of Africans, would care about slavery. Some felt it would be a humiliation to speak publicly of Dinka women and children serving Arabs as concubines and domestics. In the end, there was agreement. Human bondage is a crime against humanity. America is an abolitionist nation that almost tore itself apart over the issue of one man owning another. Americans disagreed on many things – abortion, homosexuality, war, taxes – but we were defined by our devotion to personal liberty. People would listen.
And they did. When the reports of slavery reached the United States, a neo-abolitionist movement took wing. In Boston and Washington, we created an unlikely left/right coalition that included Barney Frank and Pat Robertson; much of the Congressional Black Caucus; and Republican Senator Sam Brownback.
Most important, we linked with the slave liberator John Eibner of Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in Zurich. An American-born intellectualturned activist, Eibner patiently built an “underground railroad,” convincing Arab cattlemen who depended on Dinka grazing lands to return Dinka women and children from captivity. It was Eibner who trudged through the bush, arranging the emancipation of tens of thousands of slaves … all with personal stories of lives in captivity. We helped get these stories in the national press, and Americans took action. When the story of South Sudan is written, Eibner will emerge the shining, legendary figure.
Boston, the center of antislavery efforts during the Civil War, played a key role. Our organization, American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG), educated congressmen, churches and synagogues. Through the Sudanese community here, we discovered Francis Bok, an escaped slave, and helped bring his voice and his story to hundreds of thousands in universities, churches and synagogues across the country. Bok became the first escaped slave to testify in Congress and published a book about his experience.
Prominent black pastors from Roxbury like Gerald and Cynthia Bell and Ray and Gloria White Hammond, along with news anchor Liz Walker, flew to Sudan to witness CSI’s liberations. In September 2000, Coretta Scott King and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino presented AASG with the first Boston Freedom Award for its abolitionist work.
The Sudan Campaign, a national umbrella of concerned organizations, pressed US administrations to intervene. Finally, George W. Bush did. In 2005, under pressure from the United States, South and North Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that stopped the war and provided the South with the opportunity to choose independence. On Jan. 9, 2011, 98 percent of the South voted for secession.
This fight for freedom has its Muslim heroes: In 1987, Ushari Mahmoud and Suleiman A. Baldo, two Muslim scholars based in Khartoum, risked their lives documenting the resurgent Arab slave trade. Their report, “Al Diein Massacre and Slavery in Sudan,” evoked scenes that could have been right out of anti-Jewish pogroms and for me was a major source of inspiration. They were imprisoned for writing the report, a summary of which appears in the accompanying box. If these two men could take such risks to expose crimes of their fellow Muslims for the sake of humanity and justice, how could we sit and do nothing?
That lesson lives: Today South Sudan is free, and the slave raids are no more, but the political agreements failed to free the estimated 35,000 slaves remaining in the north. CSI and AASG are – still – determined, and working to set them free.
The massacre in Diein
Here is a summary of “The Diein Massacre and Slavery in Sudan,” written by two Muslim researchers, Ushari Ahmed Mahmud and Suleiman Ali Balbo: In March of 1987, in the town of Diein in Sudan, a group of Arab Muslims from Rizeigat ethnic group attacked a church and homes of their neighbors from an African Dinka tribe, killing five. When the news of the murder spread, thousands of Dinka fled to the nearby town to seek protection from the police and government officials. Some 500 Dinkas barricaded themselves at the police station, while the rest were sent to the train station. They were promised they would be taken to a safe place. As the Dinkas filled the wagons, hundreds of Rizeiga – armed with spears, swords, axes and guns – stormed the station. After preventing the trains from leaving, the mob set the wooden wagons on fire, burning the Dinkas to death. Grass huts were dissembled, the grass brought to the station to help build the fires. The same fate met those who stayed at the police station. More than a thousand Dinka men, women and children lost their lives. Hundreds more were abducted into slavery. One Dinka who survived described how an Arab woman stabbed her with a knife, stole her money and snatched her 4-month-old baby. The police did not intervene.

This article was first published in The Jewish Advocate on July 21, 2011

By Charles Jacobs 

On July 9, a new African nation – the Republic of South Sudan – was born and days later admitted to the United Nations as its 193rd member. This is an extraordinary development in the history of nation states, replete with marvels, contradictions and ironies: The partition of Africa’s largest country was the result of a halfcentury of armed struggle, yet it culminated peacefully via the ballot box. Courageous Muslim individuals contributed to freeing a Christian and traditionalist South from Islamic rulers. But most wondrous of all: It may well have been South Sudan’s black slaves who set their nation free. 

Read more...

Over 400 Slaves Freed In Sudan; A Former Slave Testifies in Congress

We had the privilege to accompany Christian Solidarity International-USA on its latest slave liberation mission to South Sudan. Over two days more than 400 South Sudanese were freed and provided with essential humanitarian aid.
Freed slaves with CSI's Sacks of Hope
Below please find a story of one of the freed slaves, Atong Mawien Tong, written by Pastor Heidi McGinness, CSI-USA Director of Outreach.
CSI-USA has also arranged for a former slave Ker Aleu Deng, who was blinded as a result of being brutally tortured by his master, to testify before Congress.
Emancipated Sudanese Slave Tells His Story To Lawmakers
Please watch CBN News report on Ker's testimony.
Ellen Ratner, the White House Correspondent and Bureau Chief for The Talk Radio News Service and a news analyst on The Fox News Channel who brought Ker to the United States, is now working on extending his visa to prevent a deportation.

October 17, 2011

We had the privilege to accompany Christian Solidarity International-USA on its latest slave liberation mission to South Sudan. Over two days more than 400 South Sudanese were freed and provided with essential humanitarian aid.

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                                 Freed slaves are waiting to receive aid

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Islamic State Circulates Sex Slave Price List

by Sangwon Yoon
August 3, 2015
A senior United Nations official says Islamic State is circulating a slave price list for captured women and children, and that the group’s ongoing appeal and barbarity pose an unprecedented challenge.
The official, Zainab Bangura, said that on a trip to Iraq in April she was given a copy of an Islamic State pamphlet, which included the list, showing that captured children as young as one fetch the highest price. The bidders include both the group’s own fighters and wealthy Middle Easterners.
The list shows the group’s view of the value of those it captures and surfaced some eight months ago, though its authenticity came under question. Bangura, who is the UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict and was also in Jordan and Turkey, said she has verified that the document came from Islamic State and reflects real transactions.
“The girls get peddled like barrels of petrol,” she said in an interview last week in New York. “One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men. Sometimes these fighters sell the girls back to their families for thousands of dollars of ransom.”
For Islamic State fighters, the prices in Iraqi dinars for boys and girls aged 1 to 9 are equal to about $165, Bangura said. Prices for adolescent girls are $124 and it’s less for women over 20.
The militia’s leaders first take those they wish, after which rich outsiders from the region are permitted to bid thousands of dollars, Bangura said. Those remaining are then offered to the group’s fighters for the listed prices.
Verified List
Bangura, a Muslim and former foreign minister of Sierra Leone, said that Islamic State, which rules some 80,000 square miles across swathes of Iraq and Syria, is unlike other insurgent groups and challenges all known models of fighting them.
“It’s not an ordinary rebel group,” she said. “When you dismiss them as such, then you are using the tools you are used to. This is different. They have the combination of a conventional military and a well-run organized state.”
Officials and scholars have struggled to understand Islamic State’s success despite breaking what are widely seen as rules for insurgents -- to be sure to mingle with local populations, not take on established militaries or try to hold territory. The group has broken all those rules and draws thousands of foreign fighters despite its well-publicized savagery.
Below is a scanned copy of the list obtained and verified by the UN.
Spread Fear
Kerry Crawford, who teaches at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, said that publicizing the violations is used to the group’s advantage by building internal ties and external fear.
“If you and your group are doing something that is considered taboo, your doing it together forms a bond,” she said. “Sexual violence does really create fear within a population.”
She also said that sexual abuse by soldiers has a long history including the so-called rape camps in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Islamic State has made a particular practice of enslaving communities it has conquered that are not Sunni Muslim -- Yazidis and Christians, for example. 
It portrays such conquests as God’s work, drawing disaffected Muslims from around the world.
Bangura said the international community and the UN have been taken aback by such practices because they do not resemble those of village militias in other countries.
“They have a machinery, they have a program,” she said. “They have a manual on how you treat these women. They have a marriage bureau which organizes all of these ‘marriages’ and the sale of women. They have a price list.”

by Sangwon Yoon

August 3, 2015

A senior United Nations official says Islamic State is circulating a slave price list for captured women and children, and that the group’s ongoing appeal and barbarity pose an unprecedented challenge.The official, Zainab Bangura, said that on a trip to Iraq in April she was given a copy of an Islamic State pamphlet, which included the list, showing that captured children as young as one fetch the highest price. The bidders include both the group’s own fighters and wealthy Middle Easterners.The list shows the group’s view of the value of those it captures and surfaced some eight months ago, though its authenticity came under question. Bangura, who is the UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict and was also in Jordan and Turkey, said she has verified that the document came from Islamic State and reflects real transactions.

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How you can help save terrorized Yazidi girls

http://savethewest.com/how-you-can-help-save-terrorized-yazidi-girls/

August 12, 2015

A Canadian businessman, Steve Maman, has taken on a cause like no other: to raise the money (donate here) to liberate thousands of Yazidi girls, some as young as 10, whom ISIS has captured and is sexually terrorizing, then selling off as slaves to other terrorists, and nondescript “Middle Eastern men.”

Fair warning: Reviewing this material requires a strong stomach.

Learn about Maman’s foundation here:

The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq

Read about Maman and why he’s doing this here:

Inspired by Oscar Schindler, Jewish Businessman Leads Effort to Rescue Christian, Yazidi Girls From ISIS

‘Jewish Schindler’ Saves Dozens of Yazidis and Christians from Islamic State

Listen to a 14:00 radio interview of Maman by Mark Levin, August 11, 2015 here

While our “news” media and “influencers” distract us with celebrity gossip and various nonsense, these girls are suffering, today, right now, and a courageous businessman is trying to save them. But it can’t be done without money.

Please donate today, here. And even if you cannot make a donation, please share this post through social media and email. Do it today.

Thank you.

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Yazidi women and girls who have been rescued from ISIS savages.

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