Resolution on African Asylum Seekers in Israel

מאי דכתיב וגר לא תונה ולא תלחצנו כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים? תנינא רבי נתן אומר: מום שבך אל תאמר לחברך.

Whereas the Torah and the Sages insist that identifying with the vulnerable stranger is at the heart of what it means to be a Jew, and emphasize our obligation to protect those who seek refuge amongst us; and

Whereas Ben Azzai in his Talmudic discussion with Rabbi Akiva (Yerushalmi Nedarim 9:4) affirms that the most important principle in the Torah is, “this is the generation of man” (Breishit 5:1), affirming the Jewish connection to all humanity and acknowledging the global Jewish community’s deep historical connection to refugee issues, and

Whereas the State of Israel was established with a stated purpose of welcoming Jewish refugees and the Declaration of the State of Israel asserts that the Jewish State "will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel;" and

Whereas the International Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), written at the behest of the State of Israel and the Jewish People in the shadow of the Holocaust, signed and ratified by the State of Israel, guarantees the rights of refugees and obligates all signatory states to ensure such rights to those so entitled;  and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has continuously and consistently advocated for the rights of immigrants and refugees in resolutions passed in 1992, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2013;and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly is a founding member of the Save Darfur Coalition, and has been at the forefront of recognizing and condemning the ongoing atrocities and genocide committed by the government of Sudan in Darfur and elsewhere, and has repeatedly called for international intervention to protect the victims of these crimes; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly steadfastly supports Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, affirms Israel's right to protect its borders and ensure the security and well being of its citizens, and at the same time expects Israel to fulfill its commitments under international law, and is committed to supporting Israel in realizing its Jewish and Zionist ethical ideals; and

Whereas the State of Israel has granted entry to over 30,000 Eritrean and over 10,000 Darfuri and Sudanese asylum seekers, who came out of Egypt into Israel before the border with Egypt was sealed in 2012; and

Whereas Israel's Ministry of the Interior has been very reluctant to grant refugee status to bona fide asylum seekers and thousands are being held in extended detention facilities without access to a reasonable asylum claim review process, as called for by Israel's High Court of Justice;

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the Government of Israel to abide by the rulings of its courts and assess the asylum claims of all asylum seekers in her midst through a just, objective, transparent and expedient Refugee Status Determination process and grant temporary refugee status with all relevant rights to those who are so entitled;and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon the government of Israel to encourage the civic and economic participation of asylum-seekers, simultaneously solving deficits in the workforce and offering the opportunity for this population to live in safety and with dignity; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly call upon its members to support and aid the government and the people of Israel and refugee aid organizations in the absorption of refugees, through financial and other means, as part of our sharing in the burden and challenges of the global refugee crisis; and

Be it further resolved that members of the Rabbinical Assembly engage their communities in learning about this issue and advocating for refugees and asylum seekers around the world.