Ahead of this week's refugee summits, HIAS President and CEO Mark Hetfield took to the pages of USA Today to argue that, “now is the time for the world to recommit to the ideals and promises of the Refugee Convention.”
Hetfield explains that it was only after witnessing the second world war, that the “nations of the world finally united to establish a Refugee Convention and share responsibility for those who no longer had a home or a homeland.”
Yet with 65 million people displaced today, the most since World War II, he warns that, “refugees are again being wrongly perceived not as a people who are threatened themselves, but as a people who threaten our own security. This rationale was used to limit Jewish immigration in the 1930s and 1940s. Western countries, some more openly than others, today are using similar prejudices to limit resettlement of refugees from predominantly Muslim countries.”
Hetfield also highlighted the efforts of the American Jewish community to respond to the global refugee crisis, saying, “for many years, HIAS helped refugees because they were Jewish. Now we help refugees because we are Jewish…Welcoming the stranger is central to our tradition and to our shared experience, and we know there is too much at stake to become paralyzed by xenophobia and intolerance. Recognizing this communal obligation to act, nearly 200 synagogues across America have already signaled their willingness to help welcome refugees in their communities. Last year, over 1,200 American rabbis signed onto a statement in support of refugee resettlement."
To read the full article on usatoday.com, click here.