Resolution on the Rohingya Crisis

Posted on: Wednesday February 28, 2018

Whereas the Rohingya, a Muslim minority resident population in what is now Myanmar/Burma that dates back to the 15th century, has suffered discrimination and persecution since at least the end of World II and 1948, when Myanmar/Burma gained its independence; and

Whereas proscription and persecution of the Rohingya under successive military governments have increased progressively since the late 1970’s, with denial of education, economic opportunity, even identity, ghettoization and loss of citizenship; and

Whereas the rabbis of the Talmud forbid selling “weapons or accessories of weapons” to dangerous individuals or groups, as well as “grind[ing] any weapon” or even selling a certain kind of iron predominantly used for weapons lest we find ourselves contributing to bloodshed (Avodah Zarah 15b-16a); and

Whereas Rambam explains that this prohibition extends to selling “anything injurious to the public, like the weapons of war or instruments of torture. . . in order to not aid the destroyers of the world in destroying.” (Commentary to the Mishnah, AZ 1:7); and

Whereas attacks on local police posts and one military base by small, uncoordinated insurgent groups of Rohingya in 2016-17 have been used as a pretext for the military to wage the equivalent of pogroms on Rohingya villages in the name of anti-terrorism, forcing an estimated 640,000, a majority of the population, to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, where they have been interned as refugees in what is, in effect, a massive rural slum; and

Whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United States Department of State, and the British government as well as global media like The New York Times have documented and condemned the assault on the Rohingya as ethnic cleansing, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum considers them the minority most at risk of genocide, and UN and US officials have discussed the possibility of   prosecution of those responsible for crimes against humanity; and

Whereas there is not currently a workable solution to the statelessness of the Rohingya, since absorption of 650,000 people with minimal skills and no resources is not an option, and a recent repatriation agreement is both unworkable and unenforceable;[1] and;

Whereas a minority population with no sanitation, no potable drinking water and no future is a threat to public health and regional stability with global implications; and

Whereas we as Jews are especially struck by the startling parallels between the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and German treatment of Jews – the Nuremberg laws, the “Kristallnacht” pogrom of 1938, the Einsatzgruppen in Poland and the Soviet Union;

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly and its members from nations around the world will urge our elected representatives to press the government of Myanmar/Burma in all possible ways such as trade sanctions, denial of arms transfers and denial of visas in order to protect the Rohingya community; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly and its members will join organizations already active on this issue through the Jewish Rohingya Justice Network  about ways we can help the Rohingya; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly commend the leadership of the United States Senate and House of Representatives for strongly passing resolutions condemning the violence against the Rohingya and calling for sanctions against the government of Myanmar; and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly will work to acquaint our organizations with, and remind our constituents of, the nature and magnitude of the ethnic cleansing being brutally waged against the Rohingya by Burma/Myanmar, and remind them that now is the time to speak out - Never Again.