- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

As a fledgling journalist, I once saw Edward R. Murrow about to go on the air at CBS in New York. I was in awe, as I was when I first met Duke Ellington. Mr. Murrow’s legacy at CBS still lives on — not through Katie Couric — but in the daring, long-range investigations of Scott Pelley at “60 Minutes.” He is not chained to such 24-hour-news-cycle stories as those about the Foleys and Madonnas. Like the Public Broadcasting System’s “Frontline,” “60 Minutes” shows that journalism can be not only the first drafts of history — but history itself.

On Oct. 22, during “Searching for Jacob” on “60 Minutes,” Scott Pelley went on a long, dangerous journey to find a boy whose schoolbooks were discovered in the ashes of his destroyed home in an obliterated village in Darfur. Mr. Pelley saw those notebooks, including pages of the ABCs in Arabic, in the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

To find Jacob, if he was still alive, Mr. Pelley traveled 7,000 miles into areas of genocide where he was forbidden to go, not only by the war criminals heading Sudan’s government but also by our own State Department. On this voyage to the scorched earth of the village of Hangala, once the home of Jacob, Mr. Pelley had the protection of armed rebels who have formed the National Redemption Front.

Since the United Nations and United States are frozen voyeurs of this genocide because they honor the sovereignty of Sudan, which refuses to allow U.N. troops to enter and end the mass murders, these rebels are now killing Sudan’s murderous forces and being killed by them — adding to the rivers of blood. (For more on this deeper abyss of terror in Darfur, there is the front-page story in the Oct. 23 New York Times on the National Redemption Front by another explorer-reporter of the old school, Lydia Polgreen.)

Searchingfor Jacob, Mr. Pelley found that the survivors of Hangala are in the Oure Cassoni refugee camp, where someone named Jacob had applied for a ration card three years ago. Mr. Pelley found Jacob’s teacher (“He is one of our best students”), who brought him to Jacob.

With a translator, Mr. Pelley showed Jacob the notebooks found in the ashes of Hangala. “All of this is mine,” said Jacob, and told of what happened to his family after the Janjaweed — the Sudan government’s hired rapists and killers — had burned down Hangala.

“Some were killed,” said Jacob, “and some of them ran away. We don’t even know where they are right now. We are so distributed we never got the chance to sit together and think of whom we have lost and who is still here, and our lives before.”

Mr. Pelley showed Jacob the ABCs lesson used to teach the alphabet. “This belongs,” he said, “to my younger brother. He was scared by the bombing (by the Sudan government’s planes) and when the Janjaweed attacked, he ran. Nevertheless, he was killed.”

“How old was your brother?”

“Almost 4 years old.”

“He never had a chance to have a schoolbook,” Mr. Pelley said.

“He never even entered school yet,” Jacob added.

As this section of “60 Minutes” was coming to an end, Mr. Pelley told us: “Jacob was glad to see his books again, but he asked us to take them back to the museums (they have also been in Los Angeles’ Museum of Tolerance) for the whole world to see. We took the books but we left Jacob as he was — one of more than 2 million refugees who can’t go home again and have no future here. As we headed out, Sudan’s government had launched its new offensive in this African holocaust — what may be its final solution for the people of Darfur.”

But from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, a front-page Oct. 24 story by The New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman was headlined: “War in Sudan? Not Where the Oil Wealth Flows.”

The report continues: “While one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises continues some 600 miles away in Darfur, across Khartoum bridges are being built, office towers are popping up, supermarkets are opening and flatbed trucks hauling plasma TV’s fight their way through thickening traffic.”

Investments are pouring into Lt. Gen. Omar Bashir’s Sudan from the United Arab Emirates (even though all the corpses in Darfur are of black Muslims), China, India, Malaysia and Kuwait. And a Coca-Cola factory is thriving in Khartoum. Meanwhile, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights “is urging the government of Sudan to order an independent investigation into recent military attacks.”

Gee, maybe Sudan’s dictator, Gen. Bashir, will invite Jacob to testify as to what he saw as his 4-year-old brother was murdered by the Janjaweed before he ever went to school.

And the world’s civilized nations, including ours, refuse to combine forces to go into those killing fields lest they disrespect the august murderous sovereignty of Gen. Bashir.

In the next Janjaweed raid on Jacob’s refugee camp, he may join his younger brother.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide