Kenneth Bob, Ameinu President, and Gideon Aronoff, Ameinu CEO, issued the following statement on the Syrian refugee crisis earlier today:
As the largest grassroots progressive Zionist organization in North America, Ameinu is dedicated to promoting a Jewish vision of social justice in Israel, between Israel and her Palestinian neighbors and around the globe.
Today, we face a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions stemming from the Syrian civil war and the barbaric treatment of Syrian civilians by the criminal Assad regime and the terrorist gang calling itself the Islamic State. There are an estimated four million Syrian refugees who have fled their country and eight million people internally displaced within the country. Thus far, nothing has been done to end the five-year-old civil war, and the burden of caring for the refugees has fallen overwhelmingly on Syria’s neighbors in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. In recent months, the refugee crisis has spilled over into Europe where Syrian refugees are risking their lives — often in unseaworthy boats — seeking security and hope in Europe and other resettlement countries.
Ameinu notes with grave concern that the debate in the United States over resettlement of Syrian refugees has failed to recognize that refugees are the most highly vetted and reviewed population of migrants entering the United States. Instead, demagogic politicians are stoking fear and spouting racist and Islamophobic rhetoric directed at the Syrian refugees, immigrants in general and the Muslim and Arab communities of the United States. Ameinu rejects these statements and actions as morally bankrupt. They are factual distortions of the threats facing the United States and the Jewish community.
Ameinu has already joined fifteen other national Jewish organizations in writing to Congress in support of Syrian refugees. Ameinu plans to work with Jewish, interfaith and progressive communities to call on Congress to act cooperatively with the Obama administration and offer refuge to the largest possible number of Syrian refugees, as well as others fleeing persecution. Legislative actions to restrict refugee admissions should be defeated. Statements by prominent political and communal leaders that demean or threaten Syrian refugees, as well as our Muslim and Arab fellow citizens, should be soundly rejected by the Jewish community and others who care about the United States as a beacon of justice.
Finally, Ameinu notes that our call for compassion and resettlement of Syrian refugees is completely consistent with our horror and unconditional condemnation of terrorist attacks in Israel, France, Lebanon, Nigeria and elsewhere. Debating the facts, not acting on fear, enables us to support both the fight against terrorism and efforts to provide justice, compassion and protection for victims of war and terror fleeing Syria.
UPDATE, JANUARY 28, 2016: As progressive Zionists in North America, a key advocacy priority for Ameinu has long been greater protection for refugees — including victims of the horrific war in Syria. We are pleased to announce that we have joined the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees. Please learn more about this vitally important interfaith and humanitarian coalition.