NEW YORK – With much public debate about the state of Syrian refugees and their fleeing to the United States, and elsewhere, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis issued the following statement:
Last week’s terror attacks in Paris sadly demonstrate the level of evil of which ISIS and other terrorists are capable. In attacking the Western world, they seek to destroy our way of life and they must be stopped. However, as we discuss the future of Syrian refugees in the United States, we must be mindful not to blame all for the sins of the relative few. We cannot turn our backs on innocent individuals fleeing the violence that is tearing apart their homeland.
While we recognize the plight of these refugees, we must remain vigilant against terrorists who would take advantage of our system of granting refugee status within our borders. This is a time for our political leaders to come together to reevaluate and devise the best plan possible to, first and foremost, keep us safe but also provide shelter for refugees. There is a balance here that we must reach.
As a Jewish people, we have a unique perspective on how discrimination and fear of the other can lead to violence. We can sadly remember all too well the Jews who were turned away when they sought refuge in the United States on the eve of, and during, World War II.
As the Torah teaches, "You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 22:20) May we be inspired by the immigration of our grandparents and great-grandparents. We must find a way to welcome these refugees while, at the same time, protecting our national security.