The crisis of Middle Eastern refugees from Syria and elsewhere has added to a global situation in which more than 60 million people worldwide are displaced. In response to the crisis, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau has committed to accept 25,000 refugees by January 1, 2016. Canada can play a vital leadership role by continuing to welcome refugees, urging European and other nations to accept more refugees and by addressing the root causes of the crisis.
As Jews with deep connections to Israel, we have long known of Syrian President Assad’s barbarism, reflected in atrocities inflicted on his own people. Repelled often in times of greatest need, and with our own recent memories of our grandparents and great grandparents who were refugees during the Holocaust, Jews recognize the necessity for havens for the persecuted. We are instructed in the Holiness Code (Lev. 19:33) to take to heart the lessons of our own history by treating aliens in our midst with justice and compassion. “The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were strangers in the land of Egypt."
Following recent attacks in Paris, some have misguidedly called for an end to the Syrian refugee resettlement program, in the name of national security. Though no system is perfect, the refugee resettlement program is designed to affirm a person’s status as a true refugee and to ensure they pose no threat. The Canadian refugee program allows us to uphold our values as a country that is a safe haven and beacon of freedom while also prioritizing national security.
Urge Prime Minister Trudeau to help address this humanitarian crisis by remaining firm in his plan to accept 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016. Now is the time welcome Syrian refugees and call on other countries to do the same.