If Jews deserve to preserve their people and heritage, which I believe they do, then surely non-Jews such as the Germans, Swedes, Australians, English etc also deserve to preserve their heritage and keep enemy aliens (Muslims, Africans, etc) out. Every group deserves the chance to develop themselves free of outside interference and invasion.
Nathan Guttman writes: Of the four million Syrians who have fled their war-torn country in recent years, at least 135,000 of them require immediate resettlement.
But America has absorbed fewer than 1,000.
For Jewish activists pushing the government to shift gears, that feeble number and the accompanying bottleneck in resettlement of Syrian refugees are troubling reminders of their community’s own experience during World War II.
“Waiting two years for resettlement isn’t really rescue,” said Melanie Nezer, vice president for policy and advocacy at HIAS, the leading communal group dealing with the admission of refugees. “As a Jewish community, we understand what it means to be refugees without getting any help. We would have been in a different place if the world had stepped up then.”
The challenge facing Jewish groups assisting Syrian refugees is more complex than their past missions, which involved helping refugees from the former Soviet Union or from South East Asia gain entry to the United States. Security checks have been ramped up significantly in the past decade, slowing the admissions process to a grind. For many refugees, the road to a new life in America is a years-long journey. A less-inviting climate now prevails, regarding all forms of immigration. And there is an extra sense of suspicion in some political circles toward those coming from Muslim and Arab countries. This has made advocacy on their behalf even harder.
“There is a politicization of the refugee issue, which is concerning,” Nezer said.
Human rights organizations often refer to the Syrian civil war, now in its fourth year, as the biggest humanitarian crisis of our generation. Brutal attacks by the Assad regime against opposition forces have been followed by equally vicious responses by forces from the group known as the Islamic State, which has taken over parts of the country. The result so far is more than a quarter of a million casualties and a country in ruins. The 4 million Syrians who have fled their homeland have found temporary shelter in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Many more are described as internally displaced, a term used for those who were forced to flee their homes and towns because of fighting and are now living a refugee life in their own country.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the aid agency tasked with determining refugee status and identifying those in need of immediate relief, has been sifting through requests for resettlement in the refugee camps on Syria’s borders. The 135,000 already deemed by UNCHR to be at high risk in their current situations include single women or those with children but no father present, refugees suffering from illnesses, and those facing persecution, including journalists and political and human rights activists.
“I’ve seen families that are really desperate,” said Shadi Martini, a Syrian expatriate working from the United States to help refugees. “They want to survive, but they can’t work, and have to go through this very long process. They don’t have any idea when they’ll be resettled.”
Martini serves as a senior Syria adviser at the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, an ecumenical group working to assist refugees in the camps, including those wishing to resettle.
The Multifaith Alliance, noted Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, the organization’s director of communications, programs and interfaith relations, started off as a Jewish response to the Syrian crisis. A year and half ago the group reached out to other faith-based groups and to humanitarian organizations, inviting them to join the effort. The alliance is made up of 40 groups of all faiths, but Jewish organizations still play a prominent role in the coalition.
The alliance has deployed its funds to help Syrian refugees in camps and to raise awareness of the crisis they face among Americans. The group delivered part of its assistance through Israeli relief organizations working at the Syrian refugee camps. In an official publication, the alliance said it is “nurturing this development through transformative Syrian-Israeli civil society engagement to complement future governmental diplomatic work.”
It is uncertain how recent revelations of Israeli military assistance to Jihadist groups fighting in Syria may now impact the humanitarian assistance provided by these Israeli relief groups.
Meanwhile, back in America, the Jewish community’s efforts to resolve the Syrian refugee crisis include high-level advocacy aimed at helping more Syrians resettle here.
Traditionally, the United States has taken it upon itself to admit half the refugees worldwide who are identified by UNHCR as being in need of immediate resettlement. In the Syrian case, this translates into about 65,000 out of the 135,000 total. But so far, UNHCR, slowed by its own vetting process, has referred only 12,000 requests to the United States.
Experts anticipate that by the time the refugee evaluation process is completed, some 400,000 will be recognized as needing resettlement. This will present America with a request to absorb 200,000 Syrian refugees.
COMMENTS TO THE FORWARD:
* These Jewish Groups are willing for the U.S. to absorb 200,00 Syrians. How many is Israel going to Absorb if any. And if they are not: Why not?
* I guess that Nezer and Greenberg have taken it upon themselves to blow that stereotype about Jews being smart completely out of the water.
* Thanks to these naronim, our fate will be the same as that of the European Jewry – dilution of our vote and increase in antisemitism thanks to HIAS and friends.
* What on the surface appears to be compassion is under the surface arrogance. After 6 decades of “saving the world,” I tend to believe we need to allow the world to save itself.